Make Time to Read
March 05, 2015
Filed In: Philosophy
There are limitless ways for us to use our free time during the day, but most activities leave us feeling empty. Watching a TV show can be entertaining in the moment, but when the moment has passed, it's plain to see that nothing really impacted you during the previous half hour. The plot may have been captivating and some of the lines may have even elicited laughs during the broadcast. Yet, once the credits start rolling, you're back to your life right where you were before you started watching.
Time is invaluable. By choosing to do something truly meaningful when you have some free time in your schedule you can have a meaningful experience that will be lasting. Sinking an hour into TV a day isn't bad, sinking hours into TV every day is.
One of the activities that I've found to have an immediate and lasting impact is reading. Growing up, my parents reinforced the importance of reading by setting aside 30 minutes in the evening where we'd all retreat to our corner of the house and dive into a book. Perhaps my greatest regret from college was the fact that I didn't read as much as I could have.
When you take time every day and dedicate it to reading, even big books can be tackled. Books are more than a constructive activity, they're a gateway. New ideas, fun escapes, and food for your imagination all come from books. If you want to grow as a person, reading is the best way to do it.
A habit of reading will expand your mind. Not only does reading allow you to explore virtually any topic, the vocabulary of a well written book will expand the number of words at your command. No matter what your interests are, with millions of books in print and circulation, you can find a book that interests you. When you've read that book, find another. Reading is a lifelong activity that won't go out of style and you'll never bore of it. Certainly there will be books that you don't like, but in those cases, you can simply put one down and pick up another.
If you're on a budget, then reading is the hobby for you! Reading is free. It doesn't cost you a dime. In fact, you don't even have to own a single book in order to source copious amounts of reading material. Your local library has tens of thousands of volumes and access to millions more through inter-library agreements. Even better, so few people use the library in our modern era that there's little competition for books. If you don't want to go the library route, I'm sure you have a bookcase or two in your home full of books you've never read. If you don't, your friends and family do. Getting access to books isn't all that difficult and by utilizing the resources of your library, friends, and family, you'll continue to discover new works.
Reading grows you as a person in new ways. When we consider formal education, especially when you get to the higher levels, courses are mainly guided by reading. Certainly math may be the exception to that rule, but by and large, college is nothing more than reading books in a group and discussing them. That means that anyone can be smart. It doesn't take a college or graduate level education to be wise and well informed. Books are written by experts in a particular field, meaning you can learn concepts and ideas directly from experts. Reading helps you to explore new worlds and better understand the one that you live in.
Best of all, reading doesn't require a significant amount of time. 30 minutes a day, the time recommended by my parents all those years ago, is enough to make significant progress. With a small investment of 30 minutes a day you'll read more books than you ever have. I've found it's best to read in the 30 minutes or hour before bed. It winds down my mind and helps with melatonin production. I've noticed a significant difference in time to fall asleep when I read before bed.
Most Americans, after finishing their formal education, will not read a single book for pleasure. If your mind isn't growing, it's regressing. Save 30 minutes a day, go somewhere comfortable, and read a good book.