The Top 7 Ways Reading Can Enrich Your Life

Top 7 Ways Reading Can Enrich Your LifeBe honest: if it wasn’t for a grade, how often would you sit down with a book and read simply for the sake of reading? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably not a daily priority.

Each day, the average American has about five hours of leisure time (any time not spent sleeping, working, or eating). That’s not much to begin with, and with the array of devices and other distractions available, it’s no surprise that we only spend about 1.3% of the average day reading.

We’ve all seen hundreds of think pieces complaining that no one reads anymore, but as redundant as they can seem, they’re not wrong. The sad truth is that most of us don’t read nearly enough, and there are actual scientific reasons why that’s a problem:

#1. Reading Helps You Better Understand the World

You won’t know much about the world around you if you’re kept in the dark. Fortunately, one of the best ways to broaden your perspective is to pick up a book.

Reading new information challenges our preconceived notions. It can open you up to new perspectives on an issue and help you think more analytically, as well as introduce new and unfamiliar concepts that can change how you think and act.

Reading a nonfiction book, for example, gives you insights and context on an issue of which you may not have been aware before. This helps you can better understand that issue, and can give you greater insight on how to handle it.

#2. It Exercises Your Brain

Not everything you read needs to be high literature. Just the basic act of reading has a positive effect on your brain’s long-term health.

Studies reveal that even a basic children’s book contains 50% more rare words than prime-time TV or even an average conversation between two college graduates. It doesn’t seem like much, but just taking in those words on the page, decoding them, and analyzing what they mean is to your brain what jumping jacks are for your body.

Reading can help slow cognitive decline to keep your mind sharp and improve your memory as you get older. Reading regularly even plays a major role in preventing Alzheimer’s Disease, the sixth-leading cause of death in the US.

#3. Reading Reduces Stress & Improves Mental Health

Is there anything better after a long day than curling up in a comfy spot with a good book?

Reading is a great way to relax; in fact, one study demonstrated that reading can reduce your immediate stress level by as much as 68%. Slipping into a book allows you to escape for a while from the issues that might be weighing on your day-to-day life. That’s especially valuable for people who experience heightened anxiety, as reading can be a genuinely therapeutic behavior.

Regular reading has also been known to improve symptoms associated with mood disorders like depression, and may help people experiencing mild symptoms of Bipolar disorder and other challenges.

#4. Improved Grades

Reading regularly helps you achieve better grades in all your classes…not just English and writing courses.

As mentioned earlier, reading regularly is exercise for your brain. It improves your memory and comprehension, which makes it easy to understand and retain new information. This way, reading improves your performance in other subjects like math and science. You can get a handle on new concepts and ideas faster, and remember them better when test time comes around.

#5 Reading Makes Us More Empathetic

You can better understand other people and their experiences by reading about them and their stories.

This goes for fiction as well as nonfiction. People who regularly read fiction, for example, are better at processing and understanding other people’s emotions. Because you experience stories from someone else’s viewpoint, it makes it easier to imagine another person’s perspective.

This makes you more empathetic, meaning that you can identify with and understand people better on an emotional level. Reading gives you a grounded and more complete understanding of the world and makes it easier to relate to others.

#6. Better Focus & Concentration

There are a lot of different items jostling for your attention, and it’s hard to focus on any particular one for more than a few seconds. Most of us try to handle this challenge through multi-tasking which, as we know, isn’t actually a thing.

We’re trained to constantly split our attention between multiple points, so it’s hard to focus on one thing when we need to. However, reading helps train us to focus our attention, giving us the ability to concentrate on one matter for an extended period. Bottom line: the more you read, the more productive, focused, and on-task you can be.

#7. Reading Helps You Sleep Better

Your body relies on a regular, nighttime routine as a signal that’s it’s time to get ready for sleep. As reading can improve focus and help you relax, including a book as part of your evening regimen can help you unwind right before bed.

This benefit is tied specifically to print books and non-light-emitting e-readers, though. Studies suggest that reading off electronic devices like a tablet or your phone can make it harder to sleep, as the type of light emitted interferes with the brain’s understanding of those bedtime cues.

Don’t Wait for an Invitation to Start Reading

Of course, these are just a few of the best reasons to incorporate more reading into your day. From improved vocabulary and better writing skills to more imaginative thinking, we can’t oversell the many ways that reading enriches your life.

Go ahead—pick up a book and dive in!

David DeCorte

David DeCorte

David DeCorte is a content writer, humorist and freelance creator. When he's not producing online content, he's also a sci-fi writer and is currently working on his first full-length book. Find him on Twitter: @David_DeCorte.
David DeCorte