Thursday, December 20, 2018

Building a reading raft to help you through tough times

The readers among us know more than most about the power of the written word. Readers know nothing can transform your thinking like the perfect book at the right time, or the blog post you needed to see written. The moment you absorb the words on that page or screen, you feel better able to face whatever is ahead of you. You may even change your mind about something or firm up your thoughts. Either way, you feel stronger and better about your choices with those words in your mind. It doesn’t matter whether you read them on a page, a screen, or a Kindle. The point is that you read them and let them work their magic. 

For you non-readers out there, it can be hard to understand the power words can have. If a book has never changed your life before, it can be difficult to see how that would be possible. If you’ve never read a sentence that's reached in and spoken directly to your soul, it’s easy to underestimate the power of the written word. But even those who don’t enjoy reading may come to find that words can transform their lives at certain times. To prove that point, here are four times of strife when words could be more than enough to see you through. 

At times of change

Even if you're embarking on a change you want to make, it can be a fraught and sometimes unpleasant experience. We're creatures of habit, and change can shake us up in ways we don’t want it to. You might be relocating, changing careers, trying something totally new, facing a fear...whatever it is, you may experience doubts and struggles along the way. Luckily, there are endless books on shelves about changes like these. The Lonely City by Olivia Laing explores the concept of loneliness to the backdrop of her own time moving to and living in New York. A memoir like this could become There are endless business books if you need a push with the career change, but business blogs like The Balance Careers can also be a huge help in that arena. Blogs like that one also provide you with posts written from different perspectives. Unlike a book, that can ensure that you consider things from every angle which can help you overcome hurdles and prepare for every eventuality. That’s a benefit you'd never be able to experience if you didn’t read.
In the face of new challenges
Reading in all forms can also be a lifesaver during times of challenge in your life. A prime example of this would be parenthood. Even though many moms I know say their reading slows with a new baby at home, many parents turn to books like Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. These outline a frank side of parenthood you’d struggle to find elsewhere. Many parents also find that blog posts like this one are lifesavers when it comes to easing parental worries. Rather than phoning the doctor for everything, blogs like these prepare you for what’s normal and what’s not. Of course, parenting isn’t the only challenge which is made easier through reading. Marathoners like my coworker turn to books like Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor. There are even memoirs which can help us through serious illness by showing how people have coped before. And, all this comes through the power of the written word. 

How to cope with heartache

We all know songs can be fantastic for getting through heartache because lyrics that perfectly describe the pain we're all belting out alone in the car are a form of lyrical poetry. Like the song that displays your pain perfectly, nothing beats finding a book or article with words describing the pain you’re feeling. It can help you feel less alone and show you a way through the darkness. Books like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, as found on her site has been a balm to the souls of many (the Eat part spoke to me, the Pray and Love not so much). This is why we get invested in someone else’s real as hell blog posts - it helps us see ourselves and our situations and realize we're not alone. Through reading, we process. Sometimes we process without even knowing it. By the end of the book, we might realize the relationship we're mooning over wasn’t as healthy as we thought, the loss not that great. With a travel heartbreak memoir like Gilbert’s, you can sort of feel you yourself have been on this transformative journey without leaving the couch. Books can take you anywhere without leaving your couch. And trust, a book is much cheaper than an actual trip around the world.

In the face of self-doubt

If you've read here a while, you know self-help books aren't my thing but I know some of you love them. I still skim articles like this one on Goalcast (because if there's a 5 books you should lead in, I'm likely going to read the article). Anyway I do think well written books have the power to transform thought processes, and self-help books written by renowned counselors mean you basically get expert advice for the cost of a paperback. And if you buy it, you have it as a resource that's always on your shelf.

Readers know these are by no means the only times that reading can transform your life. Books are constant companions to me through every situation - good, bad, ugly. If you’re a reluctant reader, though, it may be worth turning to a book in one of these times to jump start yourself. If reading helps you through one of these scenarios, you might turn to it in other times as well.

Peace, love, and books -

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