For many of us, the journey to optimal wellbeing is the pursuit of many kinds of rewards. We want to reach a healthy weight. We want to be more active. We want to feel better. We want to be more confident. All of these are worthwhile goals, but the ultimate reward for following the Habits of Health is the potential to live a longer, healthier life.
A longer life means more time with the people we love, and that’s priceless.
To enjoy that time, we need our minds to be sharp and agile. After all, being physically present is not much of a reward if we don’t have a healthy mind to capture and retain those memories.
Brain health is a complicated topic because the health of our brains is impacted by virtually every other habit in our lives, from what we eat to how much we exercise to how well we sleep. Since we have so many blogs and articles written about those topics, I wanted to take the time to write something focused specifically on exercising your mind so that you can improve your brain health and unlock other rewards along the way.
That Habit of Health: Reading books.
After years of working with clients and hearing their experiences with my books, I’ve learned that everyone approaches reading differently. Some people want the deep, thorough dive of Dr. A’s Habits of Health where every fact and detail is explained thoroughly. At the same time, others prefer the interactivity of Your LifeBook. They want something that’s digestible and actionable, that doesn’t take too much time but still has an impact on their lives.
So, I know when I say, “read more,” you might be part of the audience that immediately assumes this is not a fit for you. That doesn’t have to be the case. Reading has been one of the most fruitful, rewarding, and growth-driving practices of my life, and I want that for you too, even if you don’t consider yourself a reader.
Here’s how to grow a reading habit even if a book isn’t your favorite form of entertainment:
- Start small. Reading one page a day may not seem like you’re reading a lot, but it’s the beginning of a habit. If you can read more, read more, but if you can do one page a day for 30 days, reading will start to become a regular part of your routine.
- Try different books. Part of becoming a reader is finding the kinds of books you like to read. For me, I like to read books about self-development and about health to continue learning from experts in the fields that are important to me. This might work for you, but perhaps you find enjoyment out of historical nonfiction or perhaps sci-fi. There are no wrong answers if it gets you picking up books more often.
- Take notes. One of my favorite parts of OPTAVIA events is seeing how people have personalized their copies of Dr. A’s Habits of Health. They fill them with notes and highlights and tabs, and you can make each book you read your own in this way. This is especially useful for nonfiction. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with yourself in the margins so that you get more out of your reading.
- Reflect on what you read. As you read, fold that reading into your journal practice. Did you learn something new? Did you encounter something thought-provoking? Capture your ideas in your journal. Writing those ideas down might lead you to finding new ideas.
If you already have a reading habit, share some of the books you’re reading in the comments below. Your reading recommendations might help someone discover their new favorite book!