Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well and encouraged.
This week we ask the question:
Nothing is more effective at elevating our lives and expanding our views than leveraging purposeful, intentional thoughts - as opposed to purposeless and habitual thoughts.
Just as what we eat is reflected by our bodies, it stands to reason that our thoughts are a reflection of what we have read, heard and seen. And I have found no activity more powerful at producing empowering thoughts and influencing our actions than reading empowering books.
Think about the stories you heard about literacy and how valuable it was to the person who “possessed it”; how only the upper class of society was literate up until and including part of the 19th century. Owning a book was sometimes deemed as owning a treasure. People couldn’t wait to indulge in stories and learn about other parts of the world that may have been so far and foreign or simply listen to a good story that would give them wisdom and hope for tomorrow. Finishing a book created rewarding and fulfilling sentiments. Did we, today, lose that sensation?
Consider the feeling you have after burning an hour or more randomly changing channels on the TV, or more-so today, surfing the internet.
Recent research has revealed that nearly 80% of articles posted by Facebook subscribers have not been read beyond the headline. Because it takes less effort than reading, notice how video has become the preferred format to hold our attention.
So why do we often feel a bit drained after scanning channels and surfing the internet? What do you feel after participating in such a numbing distraction? It can feel a bit like a hangover - leaving us with the feeling Mick Jagger so poignantly conveyed:
“I can’t get no satisfaction”
Why is this?
Because true satisfaction comes from effort - not purely entertaining distraction. Sure, have fun, but don’t expect fun alone to be rewarding and fulfilling.
Most of our surfing of the available media today lacks any real purpose beyond mental distraction and escape; and can end up being more depleting than energizing. Surfing the internet the minute we’re not engaged in an activity or turning on the TV once we get home from work may have become a reflex and numerous studies were published discussing the detriment these activities cause in our lives. Does that extra twenty minutes in bed in the morning ever really provide more energy? How about investing those twenty minutes on a treadmill? Which is more effective at kicking off an awesome day? Sure, we all can appreciate fun distractions, but true satisfaction is found in an expended effort toward a worthwhile goal.
Consider the illusion of retirement as being this amazing permanent vacation. Read the studies - disillusionment often comes quickly - it’s not long before having no reason to get out of bed just leads to depression. It seems we are all born to grow and have purpose in our lives.
When seeking to grow and learn, we can get far more from an actual book than just about any other resource
Because reading demands effort; effort in concentration and effort in creativity. Reading can have huge payoffs to those willing to put forth the effort to do it. Just as exercise can have huge benefits for the body, reading can have huge benefits for the mind.
Why so much value from reading?
Since a book page most often lacks any visual entertainment value, the reader has to bring forth their own ability to create pictures in their mind or to see the action “play before their eyes” based on the description provided by the author. Even audio books have inserted a mediator between you and the text putting forth their own inflection and doing the actual work of reading. Don’t misunderstand me; I very much enjoy audio books, but never as much as actually reading the text myself.
Reading the book yourself allows you to read at your own pace, to reread a passage, to stop and reflect, and to even underline passages or make notes in the margin - most of my books reflect my interaction with the text. Consider the often said comment regarding movies that come from books - what is it we often hear?
“The book was better”.
My Mother was a prolific reader; she gave me many books when I was a child, but unfortunately they were most often not at my reading level. Little did I know that she knew my potential and she did so to encourage my creativity and development. However, I came to believe early in my life that I was not a good reader, that I was a slow reader. In fact, outside of school, I didn’t voluntarily read a book until I was 30 years old - and only then because I had broken my ankle sky-diving. I was forced to spend the majority of the summer on a couch and had just gotten so bored with TV. The gift of that accident was the opening of my world through books.
I became so concerned I would stop reading, I would immediately dive into a new book after completing one. To rid myself of that anxiety, I discovered that beginning another book before I finished my current book assured I would always be reading. This blossomed into beginning multiple books and shifting from one book to another depending on my mood or what was going on in my life. Today I am always in the midst of several books: self-help books, inspirational books, historical fiction, biographies and have ongoing bookmarks in all of them. And of course I have many iBooks downloaded and available on my phone- they are particularly handy on flights. I do really enjoy movies, but nothing compares to what I gain by stopping my own minds endless chatter and inserting the thoughts of the most creative and most insightful men and women who have ever lived - via reading great books.
If I could give you only one recommendation for personal transformation, to feed your mind and soul with the abundance that is currently present in your life, I would simply say: READ!
Thank you for being a Why Team member and for reading the Why Team Weekly. I hope this week’s message will inspire you all the more to read more.
Make it a great week!