Secrets of Success: How Reading Gives You an Edge

Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved reading. I was the girl who checked out all 20 books, until they told me I couldn't check out anymore at one time. My favorite books were always about practical wisdom. (I've always had a special appreciation for Benjamin Franklin!) I'm all about Secrets to Success. By this I mean key lessons, beneficial behaviors, and bits of wisdom that just work.

One of the best secrets to success? Reading. What you're doing right now, in fact! Congratulations, you successful person, you!

In all seriousness, did you know that by reading more you can actually become smarter, lower your stress levels, keep your brain young and fit, and flat out be happier? It's true. You can.  Here's the how it works.

4 Ways Reading is a Key to Your Success

1. Reading is the best way to relax

Have you ever felt stressed and opened Facebook or turned on the TV? More than likely, you felt more stressed or just as tense after scrolling online or watching TV. Reading helps us all chill out, and it is a healthy escape from the stresses of day-to-day life. Only six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds.

2. Reading helps you focus and boosts productivity

If you are like me, you are online a lot. We all know that the fast-paced world we live in is not great for our brains. All the back and forth distractions can hurt our ability to focus.  We need to balance the time we spend racing around the Internet and skimming articles, with time spent focused on a great book.

I've found that even reading for a short period each morning helps me to be able to focus, remember things more clearly and be more productive during the day. If that isn't enough, reading can help fight dementia and even Alzheimers as we age.

3. Reading gives you a competitive advantage

Reading a great nonfiction book will give you an edge because you will gain wisdom you can use in your career. You will be smarter if you are an avid reader. Period. Here's something to think about. Have you ever noticed how reading biographies and memoirs of people who have overcome crazy odds and challenges and done great things encourages you to do your best?

I'm way less likely to feel sorry for myself if I lose a sale or get a nasty comment about my work when I compare my circumstances to the experiences of pioneers and leaders who've gone before me. That is seriously humbling!

4. Reading gives you a psychological boost

There's nothing like diving into the story of a person who lived life well to remind us that life is more than the (sometime depressing) images and messages we see on TV, life is beautiful and full of opportunity to live it well. Studies show that reading self-help books can also help lessen depression.