|Posted on May 10, 2016 at 8:55 PM|
“Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning.” Yes, I’ve got to say it. If all you do all week is watch reality television and the most popular cut-throat shows on all the channels, I’m sorry to tell you - that’s the very ordinary route of the very average person and you will likely never see your dreams manifest. If you ever dream or hope to be one of the happy, healthy, successful (extraordinary) few, you are going to have to do something different. One of the keys to extraordinary people is they seek out opportunities to learn and grow. The best way to learn and grow is … reading to expand your knowledge and your mind.
If you’re among those who insists that you don’t read books (as a very dear friend has told me) or that you don’t have time to read (as many have said), I got news for you – you are truly positioning yourself for possible failure in achieving your dreams. In the last post, I referenced an interesting Harvard research study that identified the top 8 habits of happy, healthy, successful people. Last blog discussed the #1 Habit as praying and meditating daily, which I found surprising and exciting. In defining the 2nd habit, the study supported that this blessed group of extraordinary people not only read; but read one book every week. If that did not hit you as a moment of awe, that means they read 52 books a year!
Now I will admit that I have to do better in this category. I generally read an average of 2 books a month; but reading truly is FUNdamental…and I love learning to expand my knowledge base! So I can add a couple of more resources to my reading agenda each month, especially after doing the research for this article and realizing the benefits of incorporating reading into your weekly success strategy. Don’t freak out as you think about the reading strategy. A book can be a small, easy quick read or it can be a leadership, deep read. The key is to read something of value and worth. Extraordinary people don’t waste significant time and energy on things that don’t take them closer to their goals and their dreams.
A few of the phenomenal reasons reading should be such a vital part of living a happy, healthy, successful, extraordinary life, include the following:
Mental Stimulation / Memory Improvement:
Studies strongly support that maintaining a brain’s mental stimulation can significantly slow and in some cases actually prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The brain is a muscle. Just as with any other muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes and the longer it does what it was designed to do. The top three ways to continually stimulate the brain’s cognitive capacity is reading books or reputable magazines, doing puzzles, or playing focused games (like chess). Research also supports that those who read have higher GPA’s, higher intelligence (smarter), stronger general knowledge base, and stay sharper in the aging process than those that don’t. Thus, reading is a fundamental way to keep the mind sharp and ensure your brain functions as it was intended for the long-term.
Improved Focus and Concentration:
In our internet-obsessed, face-paced world, many are strongly focused on constant checking emails; posting and reading on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets; chatting on-line (most often about insignificant matters); monitoring smart phones; etc. Social media definitely has its advantages; but it also has disadvantages if not managed properly. In a 20 - 30 minute span of time, an individual’s attention can easily be drawn in a number of directions at once as they divide time to check all their social media outlets. What has not been publicized broadly is that this ADD-type behavior of social media frenzy causes stress levels to rise and lowers individual productivity.
When you read a book, all attention is focused on the book’s area of focus and the rest of the world chaos is minimized for a time. Research suggest that the habit of reading helps focus in all areas of life. So if you are thinking that you can just read random articles online and get the same benefits as reading a book…think again! That strategy actually causes the direct opposite of what is best for your mental focus and concentration.
Knowledge Expansion / Enhanced Professional Image:
Everything you read or watch fills your head with new bits of information. The question I ask is “is the knowledge you are currently gaining doing ANYTHING to take you closer to your dream… or is it useless pieces of data that you are gaining from random, useless sources”? What successful, extraordinary people realize is that the more useful, impacting knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to deal with the challenges that you will face on your success journey.
Additionally, reading valuable books or other materials, greatly expands one’s vocabulary and communication skills. The more words you are exposed to, the more your vocabulary is expanding and used in your everyday dialogue. The broader your vocabulary, the more you will be perceived as articulate and well-spoken. Communication research has found that the one consistent trait that successful, high ranking professionals across all professions have in common is strong communication skills and ability to articulate with anyone at all levels. Such abilities also lead to increased self-confidence and stronger writing skills. Also, those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly (and more often) than those who are not deemed as well-read, articulate or competent.
Stronger Critical Thinking Skills:
A recent psychological study found that critical and analytical thinking skills are strongly enhanced though reading. To ensure that you truly understand how crucial critical thinking is, consider the following:
- Critical Thinking is a general thinking skill that forms the basis of a person’s ability to think clearly and rationally, which drives success in whatever you do in life. It is the basis for an effective problem solving strategy, both personally and professionally.
- Critical Thinking is essential in this new knowledge era in which we live. The global knowledge economy is driven by information and technology; critical thinking enhances the capacity to absorb this knowledge and effectively apply that knowledge to life’s issues.
- Critical Thinking enhances presentation skills and personal creativity. Thinking clearly and systematically (critical thinking) improves one’s capacity to wisely evaluate ideas, creatively conceive options, and clearly express one’s responses or feedback.
- Critical Thinking is crucial to one’s ability to self-reflect and evaluate when or where personal changes are needed in order to achieve goals and make good life’s decisions.
In this fast-pace, high energy environment we live in today, it is critical that we take every opportunity to release stress in order to maximize health and wellness. For the average person, there is elements of stress at work, in personal relationships, in social engagement, in church activities, etc. Many fail to employ a de-stress routine to keep their lives in balance and, as a result, live high stress lives that can lead to numerous health and mental issues. However, an easy fix is to pick up a book and immerse in the focused strategy of reading. This simple strategy allows the stress of the day to slip away for a few minutes and allows the reader to relax in the focus of the book.
So, if you are ready to win in this life, pick up a book or download an e-book. I know some think that hard copy books are obsolete. However, if money is an object, the good think about a hard copy of a book is that the local library has thousands to choose from for free; and all you need is a library card.
So, incorporate reading in your success strategy to make your dreams your reality. While you grow your knowledge base and increase your competencies to succeed at your endeavors, don’t forget to continually incorporate Habit #1 – to pray and meditate daily so God can order your steps and keep you aligned with your destiny. If you want something different than you have lived thus far, you must do something different. Get positioned to win!
We’ll discuss #3 on the list of 8 Habits of happy, healthy, successful (extraordinary) people in next week’s post. It’s so simple, it just might blow your mind:D.
Chat with you soon!