To many people, reading is a waste of time. “Get out, take action, and go!” is what they say. But I think it was Abraham Lincoln that said, “Give me three hours to cut down a tree and I’ll spend 2 hours sharpening my ax.”
There are so many reasons why we should read every day – hundreds of them actually – but today we are going to look at the top three. When I say every day, I mean literally every day. Successful people in any field (business, sports, food, investing, etc.) are never the product of one event that made them successful. Their success is the sum of daily disciplined tasks, rituals, and routines that make up who they are. Reading is one of the most important daily habits. It dramatically correlates with higher education and income, as well as overall happiness.
1. Exercise Your Mind
We regularly obsess over the best ways to exercise our bodies: how to trim or strengthen them and what to feed or keep away from them. According to a study at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, mental stimulation like reading can help protect memory and thinking skills, especially with age. The authors of the study even suggest that reading every day can slow down late-life cognitive decline, keeping brains healthier and higher functioning for longer.
Another study on the brain benefits of reading fiction was conducted at Emory University. The researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Interestingly, reading fiction was found to improve the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of muscle memory in sports. Reading has been shown to help prevent stress, depression, and dementia, while enhancing confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction.
2. Constant Education
I liked The Hunger Games as much as the next person, but I’m much more excited about changing the way I live because of ideas that I find. Reading will develop the ideas, thoughts, and processes inside of you. It also helps with vocabulary and allows you to communicate in a way that is more understandable to people.
I’ll use Warren Buffet as an example. Buffet says, “Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
I try to read one spiritual, one business, and one other type of book at all times. Many times, the other is a “How-To” book of some sort. At the time of this post, I just finished a book on being a better negotiator.
3. Habit of Millionaires
Want to know one habit ultra-successful people have in common?
They read. A lot.
They believe that books are a gateway to learning and knowledge (see point #2). Take one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, who reads 50 books a year, or Warren Buffett, who spends as much as 80% of his day reading. Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said “I read books.” Mark Cuban also reads more than 3 hours every day.
According to Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, rich people (annual income of $160,000 or more and a liquid net worth of $3.2 million-plus) read for self-improvement, education, and success. Whereas poor people (annual income of $35,000 or less and a liquid net worth of $5,000 or less) read primarily to be entertained. Successful people tend to choose educational books and publications over novels, tabloids, and magazines. And in particular, they obsess over biographies and autobiographies of other successful people for guidance and inspiration.
You are not Warren Buffet, nor do I expect you to be. The key to being great is to take the first step. Give yourself a daily reading goal, such as 30 pages, and you will get a ton of wisdom under your belt.
Block it off. Make an appointment with yourself to read daily. I promise you will not regret it.