Novels may have more power than you think. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a reader’s thoughts and behaviour can begin to mimic those of one’s favourite character in a current book being read. Increasingly, despite the daily onslaught of visual media and social networks, research finds that reading books provides people with opportunities for enhanced social connections and the reassuring feeling of being connected to something greater than oneself.
WHAT’S YOUR DIET?
Whilst food and water nourishes the body, reading nurtures the mind. This begs the question then, how do you ensure that you have a balanced diet of reading? Much like preparing your meals around the different food groups, experts suggest creating a reading plan that consists of the important components that will rejuvenate and expand your mind:
According to * Kevin Eikenberry, life - coach, author & motivational speaker, the elements of a healthy reading diet are as follows:
These are the materials you are reading to help you reach a major or important life goal. The subject matter of this reading may change over time, but your diet will be most effective if it is consistent and consciously focused on an important topic (or range of topics) for a considerable length of time, as opposed to changing topics with each new book. Consciously reading towards a goal will make the reading more effective and will keep you motivated as well.
Each day make time to read something that inspires or lifts your mind and attitude. This might be poetry, religious reading or other related materials. By feeding your mind these materials, you elevate your normal levels of thinking and attitude.
This is the required reading for work or your profession, assisting you in keeping abreast with industry trends and relevant information.
This is the news and current events – coming from a newspaper or the web. You likely need just a little of this, yet for many, this area is as over-weighted as sweets are in our diet.
This is reading from unexpected sources, meant to provide new ideas and creative thought. This could be reading from sources you typically don’t read, following links you receive in email, or semi-purposeful web surfing.
This is whatever you read for fun! Of course you may read much more here, but don’t do it at the expense of some of the other areas above.
This is the equivalent of snack food in our diet. This might be celebrity news, much of your social media consumption or other light reading that doesn’t provide any nutritional value but fills up our mind (and time) and keeps us from the healthy inputs our brain needs.
WHY IS BALANCE IMPORTANT?
Because, like with everything else in our lives, moderation is key. Collectively, these groups provide the optimum amount of words, inspiration, ideas, and challenges that can contribute to the growth and development of the mind and ultimately, your personal achievements.
But reading too much of one genre can lead to the stunting of thought, much like eating only one type of food can lead to various health issues.
TO READ OR NOT TO READ?
Even in today’s age of multimedia, it has been proven over and over again that none of these avenues has the success rates of educating the masse as reading has enjoyed:
• Reading teaches us the skill of not only processing information but also makes us proficient conversationalists; it broadens our mental vision and enhances cognitive and psychological development.
• Avid readers enjoy a sort of “shield” that helps them retain cognitive skills against the mental decay caused by other popular forms of media.
• The sensual stimulation of reading makes it easier for brains to absorb and process new nuggets of information over a longer period of time, thus allowing a reader to enjoy lifelong learning.
• Exposure to fiction has proven to improve levels of creativity – a skill vital for logical and abstract problem solving.
• A broad reading spectre bolsters critical thinking, improves self esteem and remarkably aids brain flexibility in delegating tasks and compensating damages.
MEASURE THE (MUSLIM) NATION BY ITS READERS
“Only two persons deserve to be envied, firstly, a person to whom Allaah has given wealth and bestowed upon him guidance to spend in a righteous cause, and secondly, a person upon whom Allaah has bestowed wisdom by which he judges and which he teaches.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
With reading comes knowledge. Whilst there is no argument that Islam, from the very outset, persuades us to seek Islamic knowledge, many choose to forget that general reading is also encouraged. Whether one reads about world trade, farming trends, boarding schools or the Mariana trench, one absorbs facts about Allah’s world and His creation. Reading a wide variety of books equips the Muslim with the tools and skills needed to survive and to succeed in the ever changing world we inhabit.
A Muslim reader has a great advantage when picking up a book, for when reading for beneficial knowledge, the pursuit is considered an act of Ibaadah. So yes, reading maketh the Muslim man. However, it is what you read that will inevitably determine the Muslim man (or woman) you will become.