Being happy is becoming more and more challenging these days. Despite living the easiest, most peaceful, and having constant access to all the resources we can possibly need, true happiness is harder and harder to find.
Depression and anxiety are more common now than they ever were in our history and stress is now such a great part of our lives we consider it second nature. And we are, of course, on a constant quest to find the happiness we desire and deserve. Whether we go skiing, skydiving, golfing, or riding a bike, the ultimate goal is to achieve a thrill that brings us joy.
But what options are there for us, book lovers who would rather stay at home and snuggle on a couch with a good book? Can reading make you happier, or is this a feeling that is only reserved for thrill-seekers?
Can reading make you happier?
The very first thing we need to understand is what happiness actually means. While this concept has kept philosophers busy for centuries, hopelessly trying to come up with the perfect definition of happiness, the official, technical definition of happiness today stands as follows: an emotional state defined by feelings of satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, and general contentment.
The problem with happiness is that it can mean completely different things to different people. While the feeling is pretty similar, the way of achieving it differs immensely from one person to another. While some might feel happy after climbing a mountain, sitting at the top, and enjoying the view, others would be miserable experiencing the exact same thing.
Reading has been shown to have a positive effect on our mood though. Several studies have been focused on the effects of reading (especially reading fiction books) and the results have been positive in every single one. Researchers found that reading, recalling, and even discussing fiction books can indeed make us happier. Reading can change our mood for the better, improve mental health, reduce stress, and even expand our life span.
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How can reading make you happier?
Even if you are not a big fan of reading in general, this activity comes with a series of benefits that are hard to overlook. There are few things that require this little effort and provide such a wide array of benefits, including the fact that it can make us feel better. But how exactly does reading make you happier? There are many components to this equation, one more interesting than the other.
Reading can be a form of meditation
Mindfulness and different forms of meditation have been increasing in popularity in the past years as a good technique to increase happiness in our lives. What few people know though, is that reading can also be a form of meditation. Especially while reading an interesting book, we sometimes find ourselves immersed in a story that has nothing to do with the reality we live in.
Reading fiction in particular can have an effect similar to a trance, where we completely forget about the world around us and become so involved in the story and the imaginary reality we read about, that we re-create it with vivid imagery in our mind’s eye.
Even though this form of escapism is not always healthy, especially if we overdo it, sometimes that is exactly what we need in order to become happier: to get involved in a story to the extent where we become weightless, we forget about ourselves for a while, and get completely disconnected from everything that surrounds us in real life.
The cognitive reactions from an intense reading session, as well as the physical act of reading, make this activity a very effective form of meditation and it provides us with a state of mindfulness and absolute focus on a single activity.
It reduces stress
More often than not, the key to being happy or having a positive outlook on life is as simple as eliminating the negatives from our life. Being happy is sometimes the result of eliminating the things that are making us unhappy. Being relaxed requires nothing else than eliminating stress from our life.
And believe it or not, stress and happiness have a very strong connection. A stressful life is rarely a happy life, which means that eliminating stress or at least reducing it, can make us a lot happier.
Reading has an amazing effect on our stress levels. Research has shown that even as little as six minutes of reading a day can help us reduce stress by a whopping 68%. Since we can’t all afford to go to the Caribbean Islands every time we are stressed, it’s great news that reading has pretty much the same effect on our stress levels.
Reading can reduce anxiety and depression
Since we’re on the subject of eliminating the negatives from our lives for a happier existence, it’s also important to keep in mind that reading can be a powerful tool in our battle against anxiety and depression.
Reading encourages personal growth, can improve self-confidence, can help us interact better with others, speak better, and have better social skills. Since both depression and anxiety are oftentimes rooted precisely in our poor self-image and lack of confidence, reading can help us quite a lot to overcome these conditions.
Not only that, but since reading reduces stress and makes us calmer, we will be able to see things more clearly and it will make it easier for us to identify the things that make us depressed or anxious.
Using reading as a tool to overcome certain ailments is also called bibliotherapy and has been used for centuries now, even though the actual term was coined much more recently. Bibliotherapy can be used to overcome a wide series of affections, both mental and physical, and it keeps gaining more and more popularity as time passes.
It can transport you to a completely different, imaginary world
The beauty of reading comes from the fact that it gives you complete freedom and allows your imagination to fill in any gaps in the stories you read. While reading fiction, you get transported to a different world, one that is oftentimes idealized, a lot more interesting than our own, and where pretty amazing stories unfold. The freedom of reading allows you to choose the world you want to get immersed in, depending on how you feel.
Would it make you feel better to read about a utopian society that puts our reality to shame? Go ahead and do that. Do you want to see our reality in a better light by the time you finish reading the book? Pick up George Orwell’s 1984 and explore the dystopian society that makes our own look like a walk in the park.
Regardless of your particular needs for feeling better and being happy, there is at least one book out there to meet them and that is why reading can sometimes be your key to happiness.
Reading will make you more empathetic
Believe it or not, reading has a positive effect on how empathetic we are. Research has shown that by reading (especially fiction), we get a better understanding of how and why people act the way they do because we expose ourselves to different life stories, and we learn to see the world through the author’s or the main character’s eyes.
The more we read, the better will we be able to understand the people around us, and the reasons behind their actions or reactions, which will make it a lot easier for us to accept them for what they are. Acceptance is one of the many keys to happiness, and reading can help you be a more accepting and understanding person.
Reading makes you feel good while you do it, but also changes you as a person in the long run, for the better.
It can help you get better sleep
One of the many negative effects of insomnia or sleepless nights is a state of constant frustration and irritation. Not only is losing sleep a very unhealthy thing to do, but it also does a lot of damage to your mood.
Since we already established that sometimes the key to happiness is just eliminating the things that make us unhappy, it’s safe to conclude that constantly being well-rested and getting good sleep can make you a happier person.
Reading can help you fall asleep quicker and get much better and restful sleep. By reducing stress levels, decreasing heart rate and blood pressure, and keeping your eyes away from the dreaded blue light that is emanated by our TV or phone screens, reading is a sure way to improve your sleep.
How to read more and be happier?
So, can reading make you happier? There is only one way to answer that question, and that is with a resounding yes. Even if you are not the biggest book lover or literature fan, reading has overwhelming benefits and if you teach yourself to include it in your daily routine, you will be a lot happier and you will thank yourself for your choice.
With today’s fast-paced life, having less and less time for ourselves and having to battle infinite distractions, finding the time and motivation to read is no walk in the park, unfortunately.
As with many things these days, the good news on this subject comes in the form of an app. We know that the modern reader requires modern solutions, and that is why we decided to help you read more and ultimately be happier.
Basmo is a reading tracking app, a little wizard on your phone that can completely change the way you read and you see reading as an activity in general. The key to reading more is creating healthy reading habits, and that is exactly why we included some life-changing features to help you out.
Basmo helps you create a reading schedule
Adding order, discipline, and structure to any activity will increase your productivity and efficiency. Reading is no different and having a clear reading schedule will work wonders for the amount of material you manage to go through.
Basmo helps you create a personalized reading schedule so that you manage to include it in your daily routine in the most convenient way. You can select different days of the week for your reading sessions and schedule them at the time of day you know you will have some free time.
Not only will Basmo allow you to add a structure to your reading habits, but it will also make sure you follow through on the promises you make yourself. You will be gently reminded of all your upcoming reading sessions through notifications, so you will never forget to do the reading you’re supposed to.
Set yourself the right goals
Having good motivation and the right mindset will have a series of benefits on the amount of reading you will get done. That is why it is important to set yourself certain goals and work your way through to achieving them.
Basmo offers you the choice of using two different goal types: a daily reading goal, which focuses on the time you want to spend reading every day, and a yearly goal, where you will need to choose the number of books you want to get through by the time the year is over.
Knowing your goals and having the helpful statistics that Basmo also provides you with is going to help you read more.
Keep your emotions in check
Just doing the reading is sometimes not enough to make us happier. We also need to make sure we read things that bring us joy, books that pick us up when we are down, or that help us see the world with better eyes.
Keeping track of your emotions is oftentimes challenging, but Basmo has a solution for this as well.
At the end of each reading session within the app, you will have the option to select from a series of emojis, the one that best represents your emotional state. The information will remain saved within the app and you will have the option to go back and analyze the way your emotions changed throughout certain books or while reading certain genres.
That way you will have a clear idea about the books, authors, or genres that make you feel good and you will “hack” reading into making you even happier.
Ready to take your reading game to the next level?
Try Basmo book tracker today!
It’s 100% free to download, so what have you got to lose?
So, does reading make you happier? It certainly can, but you will need to be mindful about your reading, and realize what your needs are and how to meet them. Basmo can help you all along the way and is going to help you develop healthy reading habits and keep you happy in the long run.