Books, Your Mind, and Your Surroundings

03.12.21 |

Habits of a Healthy Mind touch all areas of brain health and emotional management, from eating the right foods to protecting your longevity to using hobbies to keep yourself sharp and active.

One of the things that make Habits of Health so powerful is that even if we adopt a habit for a specific benefit, it often has secondary rewards that ripple through the rest of our lives. This “halo effect” is even more powerful when we become aware of it because it raises the value of each choice. We can see not only the immediate reward for making the healthy choice in front of us, but we can also see all of the benefits we reap throughout our lives as well.

Reading is one of those Habits of Health. This week, I challenged our community to install the micro Habit of Health of reading one page of a book per day, and that’s because reading has more rewards than many people realize.

First of all, we know that reading has the immediate benefits of the following:

  • Exercising our brains, building new neural pathways
  • Expanding our horizons with new ideas and perspectives
  • Entertaining us in a way that gets away from phones and televisions
  • Improving our sleep if we read before bed

And there’s more. Depending on what you read, you can also use books to unlock these rewards:

  • A new voice of support in your health bubble. I may not be your personal health coach, but an experience like Your LifeBook is written to make you feel like I am there with you on your journey, having a conversation with you about your life and your goals. In this way, the right kinds of books can add an extra layer of support to your daily life.
  • Access to a new community and new friendships. No matter what type of book you read, you can find communities around those books where people want to discuss and share ideas. This might be a formal book club or a casual co-reading list with a friend, but these relationships can enrich your life and lead to a hobby that also supports your wellbeing.
  • Personal growth and development. Self-help and educational books directly serve this purpose, but great works of fiction can also challenge us to think differently about the world and about how people interact with each other. Learning from books this way to both keep our minds active and to grow as people, learning new skills and understanding new ideas.
  • A more active role in your own life and your own story. As far as entertainment options go, books require more input and brainpower than a television show or a movie. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a film, of course, but reading regularly reinforces what can become a broader theme in your life: You’re at the steering wheel with your imagination and your choices taking you to new and exciting places.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: You don’t need to be “a reader” to unlock these rewards. Start small, reading just a little bit each day, and read something you enjoy. The Habits of Health Transformational System is a good option, but if you think it would be interesting to read about Civil War history or about an athlete or even a medieval fantasy epic, those are great too. As long as you’re reading, you’re heading down a good path.

What’s on your nightstand now? What are you reading? I’d love to hear!