Narrative connections

Saving Your Life: Read

Saving Your Life: Read

If I told you that reading could save your life, would you do it?

We've lost our way and much of it is because we don't read. We all know that we are addicted to devices and we've seen how they dictate our lives. We mindlessly stare at our screens watching other people live their lives or scroll endlessly in the hopes of finding something new and stimulating. But, our minds are not stimulated at all.

We are not sitting quietly, turning the pages of a book and visualizing the thoughts that are going on in a story. Rather than painting the pictures in our own minds and owning those pictures for ourselves, we are outsourcing the process to Google, TikTok, and every other instantly gratifying app. Our minds no longer know how to visualize without assistance.

Visions, just like our memories, are formed by experiencing the environment around us and using our imaginations. We cannot Google our memories. They are all ours and nobody else’s. And reading is a vehicle to create visions that are also uniquely ours.

Reading in print has a haptic quality that connects us to the visions that we create in our heads. But, reading in any form is private. In other words, reading affords us the chance to be alone with our thoughts and gives us time to think and process other people’s perspectives.

We are lost and reading is what can bring us back. Recently, I told my kids to take 30 to 60 minutes a day to read something thoughtful in order to save their lives. It could be a book or article on business, faith, philosophy or fiction. I encouraged them to read so that they could start using their own unique brains to formulate insight and ideas that stimulate their minds.

We no longer have to blindly accept things. We gain perspective within the solitude of reading. The world is too damn loud and sitting quietly without digital intervention has healing power. It is peaceful, uninterrupted and nobody is doing it. Therefore, it is absolutely a positive competitive advantage and enriching on so many levels.

There is something sophisticated about turning the pages of a magazine or a book. And when you feel real pages in your hands, you are more connected with the words. The bottom line is that our imaginations are being wasted. And if I told you that the only way to save your life is by stimulating free will and imagination, then you might ask how to do it. And I would tell you that reading is a good place to start.

Reading is a much more complex task for the human brain than watching a silly YouTube or TikTok video. I mean, we’re literally getting dumber by the minute as we watch other people live their lives on video. So, why not read, strengthen our own insights, and help our own brains build new connections?

Not many people dispute that we have the collective concentration of a gnat these days due to digital addiction. Reading, however, improves our concentration. The people who can sit and focus on a story they’re reading have a calmness about them. They are not falling prey to the fear of missing out or worry that they might miss the latest TikTok trend. The people who read are relaxed in both mind and body—a feeling we all could use these days.

Reading does save lives. It educates, but more importantly, it gives us context. I believe that we are Googling our way through life. In other words, we are taking what others have done before us and simply adding it into our world. We use no discipline to gain knowledge for ourselves through observation, real world experience, and, yes, reading.

By picking up a book—yes a printed book-–we can start to build a store of background knowledge, which helps us all live more inspired lives. We can have our own thoughts rather than outsource them to digital devices. We can expand our vocabulary and improve our communication skills. And, most critically, we can reignite our imaginations.

When we read, our brains translate the descriptions, places and things into pictures, and we’re engaged in a story because we’re imagining how the characters are feeling. We use our own experiences to imagine how we would feel in that same situation. It’s not painted for us like it is in the digital world. When we read, we do the painting.

Reading develops empathy. When you delve into a story, you tend to internalize how characters are feeling, thus connecting with your emotions. And in an emotionless, digital world, I’ll take that any day of the week. People who read are more thoughtful, do better in school, are more sophisticated and more caring. So, yes, I believe that reading saves lives. Plus, it looks really cool in a coffee shop!

Mark Potter

Mark Potter

Founder / Consultant

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