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Read Slowly, Change Quickly

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Reading something is one thing, understanding what you have read is another.
Reading one book can be more valuable than reading fifty.
Re-reading something can be more valuable than reading something new.
You can learn more by reading less.

We are continually overloaded with info. We tend to skim read this because we have FOMO (fear of missing out). All this is a symptom of consumerism. Without focusing it is hard to remember what we've read.

This is a quote from the awesome article from which I got the info for this blog:
"Willpower and decision making are limited resources. Both require the use of our executive function which is our choice maker. When the executive function becomes exhausted we become less and less capable of making good decisions. At a certain point we’re rendered incapable of making any choice at all."

Information overload wears us out, reducing our desire to exercise and eat right, and making us feel overwhelmed when faced with decisions, even (or maybe especially) small ones.

We store info in two ways - remembering and knowing. Remembering is what we do to get us through an exam before we forget it all again. Knowing happens when we accept info as truth and let it become part of us in such a way that we are able to explain it to others.

When we read info on a computer we usually rely upon remembering. When we read on paper, we are more likely to learn thoroughly, quickly, and end up knowing stuff. Maybe we see online info/facts as disposable or as something to save for future reference, but knowledge from books inspires us, changes us, and becomes part of who we are.

When we read fast, and challenge ourselves to read more books, we see them as something to consume; and the memory is short-lived. If we want a book to affect our life, if we want to adopt an author’s ideas, and make it a personal experience, we have to read slowly. We read slowly to understand what we've read, then other thoughts come, and we make connections to what we’ve learnt elsewhere. It is these connections that make us know permanently, rather than remember temporarily. And, by reading while we are relaxing, we decrease stress, focus better, learn more effectively, and are more likely to experience light bulb moments.

To practice reading in a way that means my life will change as a result, I need to change my habits. I need to turn off the computer, (or if I'm reading something on the computer, resist the temptation to check emails) and focus exclusively on my book, taking time to fully understand and reflect on what I've read, writing notes, and re-writing them until they say what I need them to say. Depending on the book, I may need to read it several times before I fully get what is being said.

Which book(s) (see already I can't accept the thought of just reading one book!) should I read first? If I am going to be giving so much time to reading just one, which should it be? I have loads of books, hundreds actually, so I will be going through them and picking out those that I have already read at least once. I have some that I've read several times already, highlighted them and underlined them. These are the books I will start with. I will gather them together and choose from that collection. These are the books that I want to change my life.

Thank you for reading (slowly?)
Stay safe.
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