Reading Is an Investment in Well Being
Reading is good for you. That’s not just my opinion, it’s the consensus of a growing number of people and researchers who see reading as not only vital to our ability to learn new things but also important for our overall state of mind.
I’ve written about the haptics of paper and how the physical nature of printed words on paper has edifying advantages over pixels on a glowing screen. It turns out, most people know in their hearts that reading a book is something they should be doing. According to a poll conducted by Harris for Scribd, more than 80% of those surveyed say they don’t read as much as they’d like to. An even larger majority (85%) believe reading is an investment in themselves and their own well-being.
One hopeful stat from that same survey . . . more than half of the people said they would need to read for just 15 minutes in order to feel like they had accomplished something worthwhile. Imagine how much stress we could relieve and how much self-esteem would be raised if each of us sat down with a book for 15-20 minutes each day?
A daily quarter hour of reading is a very achievable goal with a huge payoff.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool found that readers are and 10% more likely to report good self-esteem than non-readers. And not only will you feel better about yourself if you read every day, you’ll probably be smarter too. A study of college students from around the world conducted by Prof. Naomi Baron of American University, found strong agreement that reading a lengthy text in hard copy is preferable to reading the digital version. About 80% of surveyed students said they’d rather do their reading on a printed page rather than on a monitor. And that holds for assigned reading as well as pulp fiction.
The main reason? Digital is distracting and paper makes it easier to retain information. Nearly every participant in the Baron study said it was easier to concentrate on a hard copy text than an online text. For one thing, once you’re online we’re conditioned to anticipate dings and pop-ups at regular intervals. And easy access to the internet makes multitasking a too tempting alternative to losing yourself in the words. Paper also provides the easiest place to make notes and annotations that jog the memory.
I’m going to take the challenge and read for at least fifteen minutes every day. That’s all it takes to reprogram your brain and boost your mood. Will you take the challenge with me?