Rituals That Can Make You Mentally & Physically Strong - #3 Reading

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My previous two posts highlighted two rituals — journaling and sauna — that can make you mentally and physically strong.  My third post in the series is my favorite hobby — reading.

The light of the television flickered across the pages of The Midsummer Nights Dream. Other times, while my cousins watched Bonanza or High Chaparral, I sat in a corner on the floor with my nose buried in a Hardy Boys mystery. I can still remember as if it happened just last night.

As a child, I was often alone. Most days, I was the only girl among several boys and men in my cousin’s household. The loneliness I felt burrowed itself in the depth of my psyche as I lost myself in reading. I got caught up in the fictional lives of make-believe characters. Then I would fall asleep, wishing I was one of them.

My crave for reading started because my grandad regularly read the bible to me well before I knew how to walk. I can still remember sitting at his feet on the steps leading to our home as I listened to the story of Jesus.

Going to the library was one of my most incredible experiences. I was the only 8-year-old who was allowed to check out multiple books at a time. Because the librarian knew I would be back the next day. Hunting for more adventure.

Reading allowed me to explore worlds I couldn’t visit. As a child, I often imagine myself as Nancy Drew. Solving mysteries. Many times I daydreamed about being Cinderella, whose mother came back for her. Reading expanded my imagination and helped me develop a love for writing.  

My favorite hobby gave me an escape from my loneliness as a child. But the hunger I had for books was due to my unquenching thirst to know more about a world that was so different from the one in which I lived.  

 

Some studies show that those who read have enhanced mental health and well-being. A 12-month study also shows that the therapeutic benefits of reading exist for people suffering from depression. 

For me, reading stimulates my mind and enhances my writing skills.  

I was born poor in a third world country. [click_to_tweet tweet="Yet it still surprises me that 32 million Americans cannot read. This is indeed a tragedy. These adults are missing out on the extraordinary benefits that reading adds to their lives." quote="Yet it still surprises me that 32 million Americans cannot read. This is indeed a tragedy. These adults are missing out on the extraordinary benefits that reading adds to their lives." theme="style4"]

However, it will be an even bigger tragedy if we continue to fail to read to our kids. It is a great disservice to our children if we rob them of the opportunity to learn to read. I can’t imagine a world where my imagination would not be sparked because I couldn't read. or was not encouraged to read.

My recent podcast guest Jed Doherty, agrees that even if we are bonding with our child over cooking, the child can read the recipe. It’s almost like sneaking flax into oatmeal or spinach into chicken soup—anything to let them receive the benefit of something that’s good for them.

If you are not a reader, why not start today? If you are an adult that struggles to read, many places can help you learn.

Books are the most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers.  ~~Charles William Eliot

Finally, if you are a mom too tired to bother, maybe you can find ways in everyday activities to encourage your non-reading child to read. Ask them to read the instructions on the detergent container if you are doing laundry. Or per above, read the recipe or the label on the barbecue sauce. At the very least, it will help your child develop curiosity towards reading. And give you a guilt-free way to encourage them to read.  By not knowing how to read, an individual misses out on exposure to other cultures and experiences that spark the imagination.

Long-term harm can come to an adult who lack the ability to read contracts and simple instructions such as contained on a traffic ticket.

We not only nurture our sacred relationships through rituals, but we are nurtured by them as well. In ritual, we move, and we are moved.”  – Alison Leigh Lilly

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