According to research by the University of Sussex, reading can help reduce stress levels by more than 66%. It works better and more quickly to diminish tension than going for a walk, having a cup of tea or listening to soothing music. Psychologists believe that this is because our minds have to focus on reading rather than on what is causing us anxiety, and that in turn eases the tension in the muscles in our hearts.
After reading a friend’s blog post, I started thinking about what I’m reading and what inspired my love for words. It all began in Mrs. Roth’s first grade classroom. She invited us out of our seats to gather around her for storytime. The first book she read was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I was immediately drawn into another world. I could picture all the little creatures and the juicy peach rolling down the hill. The book opened my imagination, something that doesn’t come naturally to me. And that was that: I was hooked on reading.
Years later, I read that same book to my children, as well as many other books I have come to love. I have read from almost every genre and endeavored to pass my passion onto my children. This week I read some Robert Frost poetry to Ben and Emily and they were inspired. Surprised by their enthusiasm, I pushed the limits and tried a little Shakespeare out on them after dinner. I read a short portion from Romeo and Juliet and they literally rolled on the ground with peals of laughter. The thee’s and thou’s and wherefore’s were just a little too much for them. Well, maybe I’ll try again in a few years.
There are many benefits to reading, but the one I have found most satisfying is that fact that reading encourages change. By reading I have become more compassionate, less judgmental, gained knowledge, improved my analytical skills, found a greater appreciation for beauty and deepened my relationship with God. Reading has changed my life.
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Proverbs 1:5 ESV
How about you? Have you opened yourself up to the possibility of change and growth through learning? Don’t let another day pass without living an extraordinary life!