benefits of reading

Reading for personal growth: How a reading habit can lead to self-improvement

Reading can refine your intelligence, help you discover practical insights on life and even reduce your daily stress.
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When you have a busy schedule, finding time for yourself can be harder than you think. A regular day for most of us is spent multitasking between work responsibilities and household chores, social commitments and much more. When you have so much on your plate, how do you make time for activities that can assist you in your quest for personal growth? A simple solution would be to develop a reading habit.

You can begin by picking up a self-help book from your shelf or reading an article on the internet. It won’t take much time to read an article as compared to finishing a book in one sitting, given the time constraint. Once you develop the habit, keep some time aside every day for reading. Read five pages of a book a day, and gradually build on it. Doing so daily can enrich your life in many ways.

Reading can refine your intelligence, help you discover practical insights on life and even reduce your daily stress. It is a great tool for personal growth, leading to a lifelong process of self-discovery and self-improvement. By incorporating a reading habit into your daily routine, you will learn new things every day and reinvent your worldview.

Here are six effective ways in which reading can help you become a better version of yourself.

Improves your communication skills

A reading habit is important both for your professional and personal growth. Books, blogs and insightful articles give you the ability to roam the world, travel back in time and look into the future, right from the convenience of your home. You don’t just gain knowledge, but also acquire the wisdom and intelligence to expand your imagination. When you have a strong knowledge base, it becomes much easier to communicate with people. Reading also enhances your conversational abilities. As you read, you become more comfortable with the language and can use it more confidently both in oral and written communication.

Boosts your cognitive skills

According to the National Institute on Aging, USA, reading keeps your mind engaged as you grow older and reduces cognitive decline. Another study showed that people who read every day maintain and improve their cognitive functioning. This is because the brain, like the rest of the body, requires exercise to remain agile and alert. The more your brain is used, the better it works. As you read, you will be able to exercise your brain and also maintain your focus for longer periods, thus leading to personal growth.

Makes you empathetic

Books are portals to another world and time, both real and fictional. When you read, you find yourself walking in the shoes of the characters and experiencing the world from different perspectives. For example, if you read psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, which narrates his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, you can feel the vivid account. When you read, you explore the inner lives and thoughts of the unique characters and individuals, which gives you a heightened ability to connect with their feelings, beliefs and their way of life. This enables you to better understand the world around you and how other people think and feel. You gradually become more empathetic in your own life as well, which is an essential element for personal growth.

Elevates your mood

Reading can transport you to an entirely different world, providing you with a temporary escape from life’s daily rush and everyday stressors. According to a study conducted by the University of Sussex, England, participants who engaged in just six minutes of reading—whether a newspaper or a book—experienced a slowed heart rate and reduced muscle tension. Also, reading has been shown to produce effects similar to meditation by providing deep relaxation and inner calm. So the next time you’re feeling anxious or stressed, just pick up a good book to take your mind away from what’s worrying you.

Strengthens your brain function

Reading can help improve overall brain function and memory. A study found that becoming engrossed in a novel improves connectivity in the brain. The study further revealed that the changes in the brain caused by reading fiction novels were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something that it is not. This phenomenon is known as embodied cognition, which helps improve imagination and build creativity. Another research conducted by Emory University showed that MRI scans of participants who read the thriller novel Pompeii by Robert Harris over an extended period had “heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language.” Therefore, reading can help your brain process information verbally and visually.

Expands your vocabulary

Reading is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve intellect and build your vocabulary. You will gain consistent exposure to new words, learn their meanings and understand the context in which they are used. You will certainly expand your vocabulary base since you will know more words and new ways to use them in a conversation or writing. The greater the variety of your reading, the more diverse your vocabulary will become. You will also be able to articulate your thoughts better and express how you feel, which will further aid in your personal growth.

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