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When Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, was asked how he learned to build rockets, he had a simple answer. “I read books.”
Now I can’t guarantee that reading books can enable you to build rockets, but reading can do something better. It can change your whole life.
Other immensely successful leaders and billionaires like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet have all credited their reading habit to playing a crucial role in their life and success.
In the age of social media and streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon, the habit of reading books has been pushed further into the background. However, here’s why reading books, especially biographies, and ones related to personal growth is extremely powerful and shouldn’t be ignored.
"The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest people of the past centuries.” – Descartes
Our education system is thoroughly limited in its scope and does little to prepare us for the real world. It teaches us theories and concepts, most of which will never have any practical use in our lives.
Reading good books, on the other hand, enables us to learn from the actual experiences, insights and knowledge of others, which we can practically apply into our own lives. They are tremendous resources that let us tap into the timeless wisdom of people that have lived hundreds of years ago up to the present age.
Broadens your horizons
Reading expands and opens up our mind to new ways of thinking and can make us aware of possibilities that we didn't even know existed.
Through books, we can see the world from another person’s eyes which also increases our ability to empathise and relate to others.
Inner and outer discovery
Reading is a constant act of discovery. Reading biographies and books related to personal growth lets you discover new and useful knowledge, practices and habits. It may even lead you to discover interests you never knew you had.
In my own life, reading the book, Autobiography of a Yogi helped me to realise that I am spiritually inclined.
Books can help us to discover more about our personality, inclinations and desires as it naturally makes us look inward and reflect.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
Books are guides which helps us to live our lives better without being limited by what we have only personally experienced and realised.
They have the power to inspire us to do things we may otherwise never consider doing.
Two books I read over the course of one summer (Eat, Pray, Love and Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master) inspired me to do something I would have never imagined doing. Solo Travel. It has been something I found not only to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience but one that’s also had a big impact on me.
Books also provide us with valuable knowledge in whatever areas we are interested in be it, business, health, personal growth, or to lead a better life in general.
The tremendous knowledge that we gain from reading can also help us to make better and more informed decisions in our lives.
It’s healthy for your brain
Reading is a healthy way to keep ourselves occupied, which can not only be entertaining but also provide us with great value. Unlike other mediums, there are no side effects to reading and comes with a host of benefits.
A research conducted by the University of Sussex found that reading for even six minutes can reduce our stress levels by 68 per cent!
While it might not be possible for most of us to read 50 books a year like Bill Gates, we can nevertheless reap the rewards of it by making it more a part of our daily lives.
When it comes to reading, finding the time can often be an issue. Perhaps a solution can be found by making a habit of reading before going to bed. At the end of the night, all of us could make use of some good sleep. And this has been shown to improve the quality of our sleep. It also provides for a better alternative to going through our electronic devices before we wind down for the day as they have been found to negatively impact our sleep.
If you are not in the habit of reading, reading up on topics that interest and fascinate you, can help you to get started. Just aim to start small by setting aside time to read a few pages daily and build from there.
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Photo credit: Thomas Hawk