Secrets of Success: How Reading Gives You an Edge

Secrets of Success. How reading makes you smarter and happierEver 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. 

Feeling ready to crack open a book or two?

Good. I have some suggestions! Here are two great books, both written by friends of mine, that will inspire you and make you smarter and happier- guaranteed.

Business & Work Book Pick

Out of Office 13916587865_5a2747116d_z

by Simon Salt

If you are thinking about how to set up a home office and what all the options are, you will love Out of Office. Simon goes into great detail on how to set up productivity systems, boundaries (both personal and psychological), and how to work with remote teams.

I like Simon’s book so much, I endorsed it. If you have any questions about all the ways you can work out of office, this is a great choice. Find Out of Office here.

Life & Inspiration Book Pick

Hope Runs Hope Runs

by Claire Diaz Ortiz

  I can’t say enough about this book, and Claire’s story of meeting and bringing Sammy to the U.S. under her guardianship. I met Sammy when he and Claire spoke at BlissDom together a few years ago.

 As I read the chapters he wrote (he and Claire co-wrote the book) I was amazed at his perspective, his strength, and his ability to thrive despite such hard circumstances early in life. Here’s a bit of the beautiful story you will find in this book:

“When Claire Díaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mount Kenya, and then head back home. She entered an orphanage, seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek.

Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to illness, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with several other children and very little food. He entered an orphanage, seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.

Hope Runs is the emotional story of one American tourist, one Kenyan orphan, and how one day became one year that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It’s about opening your heart to outrageous possibilities. It’s about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see.

It’s about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.”

Hope Runs is a fast read (I read it in a day) and if you have tweens and teens, you may want to give your copy to them to read when you are done. The book is an adventure and a lens to a very different world. Sammy’s chapters will be especially fascinating for boys. My older guys loved it.

*Speaking of people who love to read, Claire can read me under the table. She reads 150+ books a year.

I have never done a giveaway on this site before, but I love this book so much I’ve decided to give 5 copies away.

Simply leave a comment below and 5 people will win a special copy!


  • Christine Mathias

    This is so true! Great reminder…reading is such a great way to keep your mind sharp. I’m so grateful my kids are readers.

    PS: Both of those books are going on my must-read list. Thanks!

  • Carol Jones

    Yay for we readers! And honestly, I needed the reminder to get offline and read a book! :) (slinks away from computer, after making this comment of course)

  • Jennifer Gerlock

    I just attended an amazing talk by Dr. Ben Carson during which he described his journey from the bottom of his class to the top over a year and a half. His secret? READING. So guess what my entire family has just begun focusing on again? :)

  • lucrecer

    Reading is hands down one of my favorite activities. I’m up to 26 books so far this year.

  • cboorn

    Such a good reminder. How simple it can be to close the laptop and pick up a book. I love Claire’s story so much. The perfect weekend read.

  • Dana Hilmer

    Claire’s story sounds inspiring and such a good reminder that one person can really make a difference. I’d love to read this book! Thanks Alli for bringing it to our attention!

  • KathleenHeuer

    I could not agree more about the benefits of reading, though I am incredibly biased. I was one of those kids who loved to read so much that I would even devour every word on the back of the cereal box when I wasn’t allowed a book at the breakfast table. Can’t wait to check out both of these titles!

  • Anne Parris

    I read every day, both for pleasure and for education. I find it does help me relax, focus my thoughts, and teaches me new things every single day.

  • Heather Taylor

    *jumping up and down* Pick me! Pick me! Reading and I go waaaaay back. :-)

  • darnold23

    I, too, am an avid reader–think I learned to love books from my mother who was always reading. That love had been passed on to our daughter and now to her children. If for no other reason than to see the joy in my grand children’s faces as they read, I would read as well. Having taught for 30 years, mostly English and Pre-AP English, I have had the pleasure of sharing the love and adventure of reading with thousands of boys and girls. What a gift I was given!

  • Tammy

    Well said! I’m a reading specialist who always looking for one more way to motivate readers.

  • Christie Morgan Ison

    I used to be a good reader, and I’ve slacked lately. I only read non-fiction stuff, mostly business-y and self-improvement-y stuff. Plus a few nerdy tomes about food history, science and medicine. If I win, maybe I’ll get back in the groove!

  • Guest

    I’m so often reading to learn and evolve (self help, research, philosophy, psychology) but I don’t read enough inspiring travel and human books. Thanks for the recommendation, this looks great. :)

  • blueskychica

    I’m so often reading to learn and evolve (self help, research, philosophy, psychology), which are great, but not as relaxing as you’re suggesting reading can be. I don’t read nearly enough inspiring travel and human books. Thanks for the recommendation, this looks great. :)

  • Debbie Wenger

    I seriously hated to read growing up, through my early 20’s. Now I’m getting closer to 30 and I’m finally enjoying it (maybe because I can choose what to read?). I probably read more in the past year than I have in my entire life (no joke). And the things you said are so true! I feel less stressed, more humbled, more productive, and more content with my own life (not comparing myself to Pinterest/TV shows/etc.). Now to help my kids not hate reading like I did . . . :)

  • Morgan

    I love this post! And thanks for the book recommendations. I’m always looking for more to add to my growing (250+) Amazon wish list :)

  • turner_bethany

    I keep hearing about Hope Runs, and I can’t wait to get a copy in my hands! :)

  • Janelle E.

    Reading is the best! And Hope Runs has definitely been added to my reading list :)

  • Julia McPherson

    I love to read. I find that I get topic obsessed and immerse myself in what’s going on in my life–right now it’s business and marketing books. I have to remember to mix it up with a little joyful pleasure reading. With my twins (mine are 6), I’m encouraging them to read for pleasure as well. Thanks for the recommendations–I’m checking them out.

  • Stephanie Sheaffer

    I was just another blog this afternoon that recommended “Hope Runs.” It’s clearly destiny! ;) I’ll be picking it up at my local library or bookstore if I don’t win it here.

  • igobooks

    I read this to mydaughter and she is still not convinced. I totally agree and would like this book for both of us to read! Thank you for a great post!

  • lesleymamie

    Reading is one of my favourite things to do. I’ll have to check out those books. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Christine Elizabeth

    I’ve always been a reader! When I was little and got in trouble, my mom would take away the book I was reading…haha, then send me to my room where I had a hundred more ;) I’m convinced that reading has been a huge part of my becoming bilingual and starting to learn other languages as well. And I can’t wait to read Claire’s book!!!!!!! My sister was a teacher in Ethiopia and adopted 2 little boys and they’re amazing! And now I’m working with a team to build a clinic in South Sudan, and all these photos of children affected by the fighting are making me want to bring ALL of them home with me.

  • Molly Sparks

    I heard about Claire’s book. I want to read it so badly! Her story is so inspirational, especially for someone who has a life goal to travel. The things that God did in her life (even just the things I gathered from the synopsis) are incredible and truly humbling. God is so good!

  • skedersha

    Great post! Not much more I like to do then read. Thanks for the suggestions above as well!

  • Britt Reints

    This sounds like a great book! Adding it to my reading list now. (And I am so, so grateful that both of my kids are readers – it makes up for the fact that they also love all things digital. lol)

  • Lisa

    Sounds like a very inspiring read!

  • DessertForTwo

    Such a great reminder. I’ve put down my reading-for-fun books lately, and my stress levels have increased. Even just a few minutes a day calms me so. Thanks for the reminder :)

  • NamasteNY

    Great news – I love reading! It’s also nice to have a reminder that social media or tv is the less than preferred route.

  • Kat

    My boys and I love to read! With summer coming I am already getting my “Must Read” list ready :)

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