Wednesday, October 16, 2013

31 Days to a Happier Life - Day 16

We have exercised our bodies, now it is time to exercise our minds.

Reading a book, learning a new craft or skill, learning about different cultures, expanding our horizons or gaining more in-depth knowledge of things that interest us, all help to exercise our mind and add value to our life.

Let's take reading for example. When we read a book we are learning and being entertained at the same time. We absorb it more than if we were to just watch the movie of the novel. The words speak to us. There is more room in a book to expand characters, to divulge more detail. There is more space to cultivate the setting. And we tend to retain more from reading. We may pick up new words, or new ways of expressing a feeling, or a beautiful way to describe the night sky, or the way coffee tastes.

Reading takes us on the author's path into our own imagination. It is the perfect blend of the author's words and our pictures. We can imagine how our hero looks, or how he talks, or that battle scene's details by using the words as a tool like paint. We use the words to paint our own picture.

Sometimes the words themselves are the picture - they flow like honey in our mind, and enrich our life forever.

You can always think of your favorite book. Whether it be from your childhood, or a recent discovery. They stick. They may even change you - how you think about a situation, a person, a culture, an event.

Now, there is a big difference in the types of books you read - popular novels of today may make the best seller list and make the most profit, but do these types of books provide any real benefit to our mind, to our imagination, and to our society?

Edie Wadsworth of LifeInGrace has an excellent post about one such popular novel - it is worth a read, and definitely highlights my main reason why I only read literature - there are so many wonderful amazing brilliant books out there to read, that I wouldn't want to waste my (very small, especially valuable) time reading a book that adds no value to my life.

Reading also helps us slow down. In this fast-paced world we need time to re-group, to focus, to meditate. Reading, or learning a new skill, is an excellent way to focus. We are barraged with images, and noise, and things to do, and things to look at, and decisions to make all day, everyday. No wonder it is so hard to focus these days, and for our kids to focus at school. We have taken the focus away from reading and replaced it with visual stimuli - with a flash of images, all too fast to absorb with any real effect, or advantage to our developing mind.

Reading gives us a break. Calms the mind.

Nana reading to the girls.
At the end of the day, right before dinner, when the witching hour is upon us (and the kids are running around like crazy), I stop them, separate them, and tell them to read. It is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The transformation is truly incredible. They both sit, and are quiet, and they read. They get lost in their book, and when dinner is ready they are calm and ready to sit down to a family dinner. It is a beautiful thing.

I am currently on a classic kick. It started with Homer's The Odyssey, and I am currently reading Ovid's Metamorphosis. With a few more in between, this has been a wonderful, challenging year of reading. Some I just could not get through (Plato's The Republic), but plan to revisit. Some are on my most-favorite-books-ever-list (The Odyssey) and will be ones that I will re-read. I have also speckled in a few lighter reads in there to break up the denseness of classic literature (especially over summer).

I try to read every night. Sometimes it doesn't quite work out, but when you have the right book bedtime becomes even more enjoyable. It makes me want to wrap things up, get cozy in bed and read (at least for 30 minutes). It also has a lovely side effect - it takes your day's worries and makes them disappear. It replaces them with the beautiful images of the novel, and lets you fall to sleep with a more peaceful mind.

Give it a try :)

Happiness Links

Great Article - why reading is imporatnt.

Book Designs - geek cool!

Dream space - number one on my list for next house...or maybe this one too.

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