4 Ways a Lifetime of Reading Gives You a Competitive Boost

Live smarter, healthier, happier, and longer


What’s the one simple way scientifically proven to help you live smarter, healthier, happier, and longer?


Reading.


No kidding. Research backs it up. All you have to do to improve your life is pick up a book. Luckily, 76% of adult Americans report reading at least one book a year. The vast majority of us read and are better off for it.


1) Get smarter

When you read, you absorb information and ideas. You learn about different geographical locations and other cultures. You get smarter in multiple ways:

  • Your vocabulary increases, and vocabulary is linked to greater intelligence. It’s also linked to better communication skills, a trait that 69% of employers look for in new hires.

  • The earlier you read, the smarter you get. Studies show that children who are good readers by the age of seven score higher on IQ tests.

  • Reading improves your writing ability. The rules of grammar and style are absorbed without conscious recognition. The “sound” of conversation, the music of dialect, the elements of pacing are all internalized. Roz Warren, a teacher suggests,

“Reading exposes us to other styles, other voices, other forms, and other genres of writing. Importantly, it exposes us to writing that’s better than our own and helps us to improve.”

Being able to write a strong report, an accurate summary, or a compelling letter are skills that readers are better at than non-readers. Writing well is a career-building ability. Non-readers don’t write well.


  • You get emotionally smarter. People who read fiction score higher on empathy tests. Their awareness of how other people may perceive situations makes readers better in social situations because they are more empathetic, tolerant, and aware of other belief systems from having seen them in books.

  • Reading print books gives you a competitive boost on tests. You remember more and comprehend more than those who read digitally.

2) Be healthier

Neurology, a medical journal presented the results from a 2013 study:

From analyzing the brains of participants after their death, the researchers found that those who engaged in reading, writing, and other mentally stimulating activities in early and late life were less likely to show physical evidence of dementia, such as brain lesions, plaques, and tangles.
  • Proven to be even more effective than listening to music or taking a walk, reading decreases stress by 68%. Since stress contributes up to 60% of all illnesses, reducing it has huge benefits, including lowering your risk of stroke by 50% and the chance of heart disease, by 40%.

  • Even six minutes of reading a newspaper or a book lowers heart rates. Reading is as effective as yoga. Thirty minutes of it lowers heart rate, anxiety, and blood pressure.

  • You’ll sleep better and improve your health when you read a print book before going to bed. Electronic readers and smartphones emit blue light which impedes the production of melatonin, a biochemical needed for good sleep. Other than lighting an intellectual fire, books don’t emit light.

  • Reading books about mental illness or caring for someone with a mental health issue helps patients. In the U.K., there’s a program called Reading Well where medical experts curate books and prescribe them to people with certain conditions.

3) Feel happier

  • 12. Reading books decreases depression. because it makes people feel less isolated and alone.

  • 13. 38% of adults say that reading is their ultimate stress reliever. Relieving stress makes us less anxious and happier, and books are cheaper than pills and therapy.

4) Live longer

Who knew you could extend your life by reading? Such a simple, pleasurable thing to do to get extra living time.

  • People who read, on average, survive 2 years longer than those who don’t.

  • If you read 3-l/2 hours per week, you’re 23% less likely to die over the next twelve years than people who don’t read.

If you want a competitive edge by being smarter, healthier, happier with the ability to outlast and outlive your competitors, you’re in luck. All you have to do is read.

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