I never liked reading when I was young. I always liked computers. But in my early twenties, I decided to get fond of reading. My strategy was simple. Read every day. I followed the strategy through and today I love to read.
I have three simple rules. (1) The first one is to not go to sleep if I haven’t read at least one page of a book. It’s something you can realistically commit to. (2) The second rule is to read at least 50 books per year. And the (3) third one is that when I wait in lines or anywhere else, or when I’m in an idle state somehow, I read.
I can honestly say that reading is probably the number one thing that changed my life to the better forever. If there are only two things I have to recommend to anyone in this world, they would be exercise and reading.
I know it’s hard to find the time to read books. But with good time management techniques, it can be done. You just have to see all the benefits and be motivated enough.
My intention with this blog post is to encourage you to read more. But in addition to that, you will also learn:
- The number one reason why you should read every day
- Other benefits of regular reading
- How to become fond of reading
- My personal experience of how reading changed my life
- Reading metrics you should follow
If nothing else, read the paragraph below:
You have one of the most capable computers in your head available for use, a product of billions of years of evolution. Next to that, you have most of the knowledge ever created by humankind available only with a single click on the mouse. Why would you use your brain and the internet for browsing funny pictures of cats?
The most important reason for reading every day
The most important reason to read (non-fiction) every day is regular maintenance and updates for your brain.
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Imagine your body is a piece of hardware and your brain is the organ that runs the software to operate your body and how you experience life – from making everyday decisions to how you feel about certain situations.
Even if the brain is a remarkably powerful organ, the software it runs among neurons is quite buggy. Extremely buggy, actually.
Brain bugs come from many different sources, like suppressed traumatic experiences, cognitive distortions, limiting beliefs, lack of awareness, false knowledge transmitted from others (the Earth is flat?), and so on.
Now here’s the awesome news. By reading, listening to lectures, talking to people, observing different situations, reflecting and other similar situations, you can update your software to be less buggy.
Updating your brains (learning) = Download + Process + Apply
You have the ability to make your software more powerful, more capable, more accurate and with fewer bugs. In other words, you become more intelligent when you regularly update and maintain your software.
Among all the ways of “downloading” knowledge to update the “software” that your brain runs, reading is one of the best and the most popular ones.
Reading opens new perspectives and angles to you, it enables you to familiarize yourself with how other people see the world, it enables you to acquire skills, improve your communication abilities and much more. You can understand the world and yourself much better.
That’s why most of the extremely successful people, no matter the industry, read; and they read a lot. Well, a few industries like the entertainment industry may be sometimes an exception. But you get the point.
Reading = One of the best ways to download knowledge
Now only (1) downloading knowledge makes no sense, if you don’t (2) process it and then (3) run it or apply it. It’s like downloading a program on your computer and not installing it, much less using it. That’s why you also need to process knowledge and put it to use.
Processing knowledge means reflecting on new information, connecting it to what you already know, analyzing what you’ll start doing and stop doing based on the new information, talking to other people and engaging in discussions, sleeping it over, and so on.
Applying knowledge means putting it to use. Starting to interact differently with your environment. Becoming a better version of yourself, in action. Practically, that means that you put to use a new skill you’ve acquired, stop procrastinating, undertake a new adventure, make better decisions, manage relationships better, and so on.
Downloading, processing, applying. That’s also why we know passive and active methods of learning. Passive methods of learning are the ones where you just “download” knowledge. As mentioned, reading is one of the most popular ones. Here they are:
- Listening to lectures
- Listening to audio recordings and watching video materials
Active methods are the ones where you don’t only download knowledge, but also process and apply it. Active methods of learning are:
- Group discussions (process)
- Real life experience (process, apply) – Validated learning – Practical knowledge
- Teaching after real life experience (process, apply)
Applying theoretical knowledge means gaining experience. With experience and gathering feedback comes even more practical knowledge. Experience is simply the best way to remember new knowledge. But a theory is what gives you the coordinates of where to start.
Reading is a great start. I’m trying to convince you to read more here. But reading is not enough. Thinking about it is not enough. Only reflecting is also not enough. You have to change your behavior in the end. Download, process, apply. But reading is where you most often start.
You have learned something new when you do things differently.
Regular reading doesn’t only mean fresh updates for your brain; it also means regular brain maintenance. Research has shown that reading improves your memory and greatly decreases the chance for cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.
It also helps slow down your cognitive decline with age. Reading is the workout for your brain. You have to take care of your body and your mind.
And here’s some more good news. The more you learn, the more synaptic pinpoints you have for the new knowledge to be at your disposal faster and more permanently. When you read, you’re making your hardware and software more and more capable. The benefits accumulate.
Reading is the workout for your brain.
Other benefits of regular reading
Now you know the main benefit of reading. Updated software. Reading changed the quality of my life forever. More about my personal experience later. Besides updated software, there are many other benefits of reading. I found more than 15 of them.
Some of them apply to non-fiction, others to fiction books, but most of them to both. I encourage you to read both. Now let’s go to the benefits. And here is the first one:
Seeing into the minds of other people
Many times, I ask myself how it would be to experience life as another person. Everybody has their own life story and individual experience and subjective interpretation of the World.
There are unlimited combinations of gender, cultural history, sets of beliefs, religious and political backgrounds, age, and so on. Everyone has their own individual experience and life story, and you being limited only to your own is a big deprivation.
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. R.R. Martin
By reading books, you can kind of see into the minds of other people and better understand a small fragment of what was/is their experience of the world – including the people who already passed away and thankfully decided to share their piece of the world through the written word.
Here are only a few things you can experience with reading:
- How other people perceive the world (alive and dead)
- Other cultural backgrounds and places without even traveling
- Human history and ideas about the future
Isn’t that simply awesome? By reading, you have the ability to enter the minds of other people. Don’t waste that ability.
By understanding different ways of how life can be experienced, grasping different angles of looking at different situations and having more knowledge, you develop empathy.
Being empathic is one of the most important social skills. Reading is the thing that helps you enhance your empathy.
Especially by reading non-fiction books, you can enter more mental states, understand people better and thus cultivate more complex and deeper relationships. You can see more relationship dimensions and be a better friend. What an awesome benefit of reading.
Stimulating your imagination, creativity and ideas
When you watch a movie or a TV series, you have visual material in front of you. But when you read, especially fiction books, you have to imagine things. Imagination is unlimited.
You can imagine a situation or a thing you read in many different ways and with dozens of different mental pictures. You can play it over and over again in your mind by adding things and taking them away. It’s a big stimulation for your brain’s neurons.
By reading books, you’re making your own mental movie; or even many different versions of them.
Better imagination leads to more creativity and ideas. If I need more ideas regarding any subject in life, the first thing I do is to read as much as possible on the topic. When I read a critical amount of ideas, views and knowledge, new ideas start to pop up.
So, if you feel stuck with ideas at any time, start reading and reading a lot, and ideas will come naturally.
Better analytical skills
It’s not only your imagination and creative abilities that are stimulated by reading. Your analytical skills can also be improved. Every (non-fiction) book has a body of knowledge that’s structured in a specific way.
If, before reading a book, you analyze how the book is structured and why that is so, why the author decided to structure knowledge in such a way, it helps stimulate your analytical skills a lot; especially after you do that with hundreds of books. You learn how to structure things quickly and logically.
An even better method is to make a mindmap of the most important ideas after reading a book; or join online forums and discuss the book with others and defend a certain view on what the author meant with specific ideas, and so on. You know, you get out what you put in.
I also mustn’t forget curiosity. Curiosity is one of the most important values of intelligent people.
The more you read, the more you see what you don’t yet know, the kind of cool updates you can install to your brains and how unlimited your imagination is, the more you will want to read, the more you will want to know.
Stay hungry, stay foolish. Read.
Inspiration and mentorship
Books, especially biographies, can be a great deal of inspiration. Struggles, stamina, motivation, creativity and powerful life visions of other people can be a great source of inspiration for you to achieve your peak performance.
Biographies and advice books can also be a way of being mentored by successful people without even meeting them in real life.
Fictional characters also deserve a place at this point. They can be as motivational as biographies of real people. They can influence your style, the words you use, your hobbies and the things you like.
Their actions can be a great inspiration for you to act and realize your potentials. You know, especially if there is a bit of a nerd in you, think of all the action characters.
Developing communication skills and expanding your vocabulary
Outstanding communication skills are one of the most important skills in life. Being a good communicator helps you build strong relationships, assert yourself, express your thoughts and develop your verbal abilities.
Reading books exposes you to a much greater vocabulary than watching TV or talking with other people. Knowing more words means that you can better express yourself and better describe different situations in life.
Smart is the new sexy, right?
Better writing skills
An important part of communication skills are writing skills. You don’t have to be a blogger or a professional writer to pay attention to your writing skills.
Everyone writes today – emails, social media, slides for public presentations, etc. We are in the knowledge society, where it’s difficult to escape from writing.
By reading a lot, your writing will improve – from being better with words, expressing yourself more clearly, to making fewer grammar mistakes, and so on. And if you ever want to be a professional writer, reading a lot is even more important.
You become a more interesting person
By having a better imagination, outstanding communication skills, knowing how to express yourself and understanding different topics, you become a really interesting person. You can always find a topic to talk about and you always have something smart to say.
You don’t want to only appear intelligent; you really want to be intelligent, and you can achieve that by reading a lot.
And when you become an enthusiastic reader, you will also develop better listening skills because you can better understand the other person (remember empathy) and you become aware that you don’t have to learn only from books.
You can also learn from other people. There is always an opportunity to learn something new, as long as you keep your mind open.
Knowing more, being more educated or even being a walking lexicon will also help you with self-confidence. Make knowledge your type of an expensive car.
You can never be overdressed, overpaid and overeducated.
It’s a way to connect with other people
The easiest way to connect with other people is through common interests. A book is a great common interest for starting a new friendship.
You have hundreds of pages to discuss. All you have to do is to be proactive enough and reach out to people.
Online forums, online book clubs, real life book clubs, there are numerous ways of connecting with new people all over the world, exchanging views and making new friendships.
Make sure you reach out to people after reading every book. Take a step further. That’s what will make you successful in life.
Well, and if you feel lonely and need some company, book characters are always good to hang out with.
You’re never alone when you’re reading a book. – Susan Wiggs
Concentration abilities and focus
Reading, much like running or listening to music, can be a form of meditation. Even more, by reading regularly, you develop better abilities to focus and concentrate.
With all the distractions nowadays, people have really big problems with focusing and concentrating. Don’t be one of them.
The higher your power to concentrate, the better the position you’re in. You can more easily complete demanding tasks, you can work and create in the flow state for hours, and more easily set priorities in life.
Self-discipline and consistency
If you commit to reading every day, we can add developing self-discipline and consistency next to concentration abilities and focus.
If you read at least one page a day, self-discipline and consistency will help you do the same in other areas of life as well, from sports to meditation, and so on.
Getting to know yourself better
The first rule of a happy life is to know yourself really well. The best way to get to know yourself is the so-called search mode. You try to experience as many things as possible and see what fits you and what doesn’t.
But reading can also be a way to learn a great deal about yourself. If you reflect on experiences of other people in books, you can analyze which ideas you like and which ones you dislike.
You can also get many new ideas for what to try in life. Remember, there’s a lot of things for which you don’t even know that you don’t know.
That’s where reading can open you up to completely new perspectives and horizons. We can even say that reading can influence you to such a degree that it helps shape your personality.
You’re doing a great thing for your kids
If you love to read, there’s a much greater chance that your kids will love to read. That means that your kids will develop better communication skills, they will be more intelligent, will have a great head start in life, and so on.
Discussing a book can also be a great way to connect with your child intellectually. Remember, you have to be connected to your kid physically, emotionally, intellectually, materially and socially.
Reading is a great inexpensive relaxation – assuming you aren’t forced to read and aren’t reading any heavy texts (legal papers, etc.).
When you lose yourself in a book, you can simply forget all the daily worries and enter the creative world of imagination, creation and progress.
Reading just before sleep can also help you to enter the sleep state faster and to sleep better. Reading before bedtime is absolutely much better than watching TV. every time someone in your family turns on the TV, go on and start reading a book.
Every time someone turns on the TV, go on and start reading a book.
A way to practice technology detox
With all the screens you’re exposed to, from computers to smartphones and TVs, you have to take regular technology detox breaks.
One of the best ways to do a technology detox is to go to a mountain cottage for an extended week with a bunch of books.
You can also do mini technology detoxes through the day. As mentioned, instead of watching TV, wasting time on useless websites or numerous apps, simply take a book and read.
By being more educated, a better communicator and having better analytical and creative skills, you gain the ability to earn more money. Don’t you want to earn more money? Well if you do, then read more.
It’s (almost) free
If you compare how much it takes to write a book to how much a book costs, the price of the book is ridiculously low.
Next to that, if you don’t want to spend money on books, you have libraries. So reading costs you nothing, except your time investment; and by reading, you’re investing into yourself, which is the best possible investment.
The best things in life are for free. Reading is one of them. Just try it.
You can do it almost anywhere
You can read almost anywhere and at anytime, like having sex. When you wake up. While you eat. When you wait in a queue. During boring meetings. To relax after you come home from work. Before sleep.
If you can’t sleep. On a plane or a train. There are numerous possibilities. Actually, I was wrong, there are many more opportunities for reading than for having sex.
How to become fond of reading
As mentioned before, when I was young, I disliked reading even though I was a good pupil. Like I hated exercising. And olives. But now I love exercising.
And I love reading even more. I also eat olives. There’s no romantic story or secret behind how I made the switch.
If you consistently do a thing, you develop a habit. It may be hard at the beginning but with time, your taste, values and preferences change.
You can start to love things that bring a better quality of life in the long term. The easiest way to develop a new habit is to develop morning or evening routines. And routines slowly turn to habits, where you need no effort to do an activity.
Read a few pages when you wake up or when you go to sleep (reading is part of my morning kick-off routine). Start with a topic that interests you the most.
And go straight to the best knowledge. Don’t read things for mental masturbation and entertainment (“10 potatoes that look like Brad Pitt” and “15 different ways to fart”). That doesn’t count. Read quality books. Quality fiction and non-fiction.
Build yourself a supportive environment. Put some books on your shelf and the night table. Use an app to measure how much you read. Join Goodreads. Find a reading buddy. Set a reminder that it’s time to read. Timebox reading time in your calendar.
And the most important fact: you must have a powerful why. You must know what you want to get out of reading.
Does it relax you, stimulates your imagination, do you want to grow and improve in life, be more successful, smarter or whatever. Even if I didn’t like reading, my why was so powerful that I had no problem sticking to my set routine and meeting my daily goals.
How reading changed my life – a personal experience why you should read a lot
My why that motivated me to read was pretty simple. I needed new software to download. First of all, I was raised in a socialist country, where being successful, rich or outstanding was forbidden.
I was also raised in a broken family with many toxic beliefs and brain bugs.
I needed new software that would lead to better decisions regarding health, wealth, relationships, happiness, productivity and other areas of life.
The only way back then to get new software was by reading books (back then, the Internet was not like it is today). So, I went to the library and started reading my first book.
The first book I ever read for my personal growth was Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. I still remember that day.
I started to read a lot. I made notes in notebooks. I had dozens of notebooks with extracts, summaries and quotes from the books. I bought more than 1,000 books.
I donated all of them a few years back since I now only have eBooks as part of my asset-light living strategy.
I upgraded my software a lot since I read my first book. Today I have a completely different view on life than I had 15 years ago.
With that old software, I’d be stuck in a job I hate with an average income and abusive relationships, never taking care of my body or finding happiness.
Even if I upgraded my software a lot, I’m still at around 30 % of where I want to be. I still have many bugs that cause negative thinking and troubling emotions.
I still have many intellectual skills to develop, like programming, improving my English and sometimes, when I read something incredibly smart from other people, I just ask myself what else I don’t even know I have to learn.
So join me on a trip to become the best version of yourself. The best version of you should constantly have new upgraded software for your brain.
One way to achieve that is also with reading, and again, I mean reading a lot – every day. And applying knowledge, of course. Just make sure that you don’t lie to yourself about how much you read. Measure it and then manage it properly.
Reading metrics you should follow
Interestingly, when I talk to people, I’ve noticed that most have a problem admitting that they don’t read at all or read very little.
I guess you come up as more intelligent if you lie to yourself and others that you read a lot. It’s one of the brain bugs.
Make sure you don’t have this brain bug. You don’t want to only appear intelligent and fake intelligence; you want to actually be intelligent and smart.
Thus it may make sense to follow some basic metrics for how much you read in a specific period, and you should also set some limits (minimums) to make sure you do meet your daily, weekly and monthly goals.
You don’t want to only appear intelligent and fake intelligence; you want to actually be intelligent and smart.
Here are a few reading metrics you can follow:
- How many books (and other texts) do you read per month (aim for 2 – 4)
- How much you read per day (aim for 20 – 40 pages per day, but read at least 1 page no matter what)
- How fast you can read (you can take a test online)
- How long you can read without losing concentration (aim for 1h+ and you can also test your maximum abilities, for example try to read a book in one day)
- Reading comprehension and vocabulary
And a few additional metrics:
- How many books you discuss with other people (kids, spouse, friends, business partners,)
- How many mindmaps did you make based on the books you read
- The number of new things you learned and applied in real life (you can do that when you have self-reflection time and decide what you’ll start doing, stop doing and continue doing)
- How much new knowledge you shared with others (social media, in your own book, lecturing,)
- How many new people you meet and how many new friendships you made where a book was the icebreaker.
I hope I convinced you why you should read every day.