I’ve recently taken up reading again and every time I sit down with an interesting book, I’m glad I did. There’s something about getting your mind to focus intently on one thing for an extended period of time that puts my mind in a better state. I can literally feel my brain working tightening to interpret the words, and I think that’s a good thing. I think it’s good for the brain to think really hard, keeps the attention span long and strong. And, reading has a way of “stirring” up my imagination. I start thinking of the kind of person I want to be and the life I want to lead. It stirs up past memories that were warm and positive. Makes me feel good again. It gives me a sense of higher awareness and rationale. Despite all the things I worry about, it gives me a sense of calmness that things will be ok. Material that is technical and thought-provoking will really force the mind to work hard. Maybe it forces your conscience into thinking about the material at hand, instead of allowing your mind to drift away from the here and now that’s so valuable. I definitely think the modern, fast world that jerks your attention so quickly from one task to the next is EXTREMELY detrimental to our attention spans AND our creativity. Creativity comes from wondering and being curious. There’s no room for that sort of thinking when there is always a task demanding your attention. Traffic, pedestrians, emails, phone calls, people talking in general. If you don’t get away from it all, then you don’t really own your attention anymore. The outside world does. And remember, when you control your attention, your control your life. If you lose control of your attention, then I also think you lose control of your life. Think about an overbearing boss constantly assigning you tasks or projects, making you come in early and stay late. You don’t own your life anymore, he does. Or if you become angry whenever you find something in the world that is unjust. That’s out of your control. If you spend energy getting angry, it’s only wasted, negative energy that brings you down. It’s literally not possible to focus on everything. You simply must ignore a certain part of the world, in my opinion. But back to reading, I really believe that it’s a great habit to adopt. Just like exercising the body, it’s great for exercising the mind. Fiction, non-fiction, doesn’t matter. I like to read both. Non-fiction when I want to learn more about a certain topic in the world, or to learn a new skill. Fiction stirs up some imagination and allows my emotions to take an adventure. Either way, I think it’s great for the mind, attention, and imagination.
I’ve realized now, that reading is infinitely valuable – not for the actual content itself. But for the imagination that it stirs. Reading a great work almost always invigorates my mind like shaking a snow globe. It runs wild.