Do this and it will make you better every day

What the one thing, that no matter how much you do it, it will never be too much?

The one habit that you either need to build or make better, to constantly improve in life?

“I inhaled books like other people breathe oxygen. I didn’t just read for knowledge or pleasure, I read to live.”
― Yeonmi Park, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom

Reading. There you have it. Reading.

And if you are already reading, or reading a lot, then read more, read a broader variety of books, read to others, etc.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

There is not and will never be a situation in which you will no longer benefit from not reading new books and material, you will never reach a limit where there is no more for you to learn, new insights to gain, new viewpoints to obtain, etc.

With something along the lines of 2.200.000 new books being published every year, trust me, you will never run out. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_published_per_country_per_year)

And by reading, I don´t just mean books. It can also be audio books, articles, newspapers, podcasts and Ted talks. Even documentaries could fit into this category. Anything that teaches you anything really.

Of course, a lot of the stuff that gets´s written, recorded, published and whatnot is not worth your time, is deliberately wrong due to some ulterior motive, written by someone misguided or just not to your interest, but worry not. As long as you stick to the rule of not following any one author, guru, opinion, etc, as the true gospel, and display a healthy level of common sense, you should be fine.

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”

― Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee — Wisdom for the Way

And remember not to discard a read because it disagrees with you. Those might be the best ones, as they will open you up to new angles and points of view. Even if it doesn´t sway your opinion on a certain matter, it will at least give you more understanding of the opposing point of view. And remember:

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

― Bill Nye

If you always remember that and try to take in what you can from what you read, a read will never be wasted.

If you are deeply religious, you might get interesting new out reading the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and if you are a militant atheist, you might get interesting new insights out of reading the Bible, to take an extreme example.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

 

And try to read books on new areas than your own area of expertise or own interest. This is the best way to not just learn, but to open your mind to new things, to peak your interest, to get more understanding and respect of other people and trades and to increase your points of reference.

Many non-fiction books, like The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, are the culmination of many years of research, so by reading that book, you take in what scientists have spent years trying to uncover. That is a lifehack if ever I saw one!

Be open, be open to reading new books, to taking new recommendations, to not thinking one book is the truth, but be open to more points of view, and you will be pleasantly surprised time and time again.

Recommend books. Use them as tools. Use them as therapy if you see a friend, family member, colleague or anyone else go through something you have experienced where a certain book helped you, recommend it!

Generally, just recommend good reads to the people around you, but also, and maybe even more importantly, ask for recommendations! Especially ask for recommendations on people who are interested in something else than you or hold a different point of view to you.

Say something like:

“That does sound interesting and if you had to point me to the one book/article/podcast/Ted talk etc, that would introduce me perfectly to the subject, what would it be?”

Or

“I disagree with you, but I respect your point of view and would like to understand it better. If you had to point me to the one book/article/podcast/Ted talk etc, that would clarify your opinion further to me, what would it be?”

And cap it off by recommending something else the other way. Perfect this and you will never stop learning.

But also, don’t be afraid to put down a book if it doesn´t interest you, even if you´ve had it recommended or if you have heard it´s accolades and praises sung. If it is not for you, it is not for you. Put it down and pick up another. Or skip the current chapter. Don´t try to churn through something that you are doing out of chore alone. There is bound to be something more interesting for you out there.

There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.

—Frank Serafini

Now you may think: “Yeah all that is good and fine, but I live a very busy life, how am I supposed to read more with all that I have going on”.

Well, I am glad you asked, because I too struggle with a busy life, yet do my best to find time to read (and write!). I find that it always boils down to prioritisation (as it mostly is when people say they are too busy to exercise). If you wanted, you could find 30 minutes here and there to pick up a book. Especially considering that many books may give you insights that will help you manage whatever it is that´s making you so busy, better.

If you still find it hard, here is a list of a few good ways to squeeze in some reading:

Instead of the Netflix show before bed.“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
― Groucho Marx

Audiobook while working out, walking the dog or driving or walking to work.

Reading on your commute.

Playing audiobooks at higher speed (I do 2x, to be able to consume more book in less time).

Don´t read books that don´t appeal to you, as it then becomes a chore which is easier to postpone. If a book doesn´t appeal, skip a chapter. If that doesn´t help, put it down and pick up another.

Read during your lunch break. Remember, it doesn´t really matter what people think of you, if people mock you for doing so, say, instead of smoking, gossiping or other useless activity, they are the ones losing out.

Read in bed before sleeping, again instead of the tv.

Fall asleep to an audiobook.

Get up earlier and read before work. Especially useful advise if you´ve read any of my other articles about getting up early and efficiently.

If all of this does not entice you to pick up that book, then just think of the following:

Reading teaches you, expands your mind, gives you an understanding of new areas and viewpoints, can be therapeutic and can be the motivational push you need in any given situation.

Reading provides context to life.

Reading enriches life.

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”
― Fran Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Ps. Notice how I haven´t given any book recommendations? Because this is not meant to be a book recommendation list, not a braggy article about “how much I read” (I don´t read nearly as much as I would like to!). This is meant to emphasise how important it is to READ! What you read is not so important.
However, if you are interested in book recommendations, please reach out, and I will be happy to share. And the same if you have some good recommendations, I would love to hear them.

You can drop me a message on my Facebook page here.

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