What Does Watching TV vs. Reading a Good Book Do to Your Brain?
September 7, 2015
If you had to calculate how much time per day you spend watching TV vs. reading a book, what would your totals be? No fudging the numbers! If you’re like most of America, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014 report, people over 15 watch an average of 2.5 hours of TV per day during the workweek, while only reading for leisure about a half hour.
While surfing the web and otherwise being glued to smartphones also takes up a considerable amount of leisure time, there are more and more ways to get one’s fill of their favorite shows nowadays. Yet, it’s estimated that 42 percent of college graduates will never read another book after they finish their degrees. That’s a long life of missing out on (literal) page-turners.
Are there scientific reasons as to why putting down the remote and picking up a book may be better for your health? A Japanese study earlier this year found that TV watching actually can alter the composition of your brain. Studying 276 children and teens led to the discovery that higher amounts of time in front of the tube increased frontal lobe grey matter, yet lowered verbal IQ.
Another study, however, discovered lasting positive results from reading a novel. They performed MRIs to college students before, during and after reading a novel and found increased connectivity in the parts of the brain responsible for language receptivity—so much so that the heightened connectivity was retained days later, much like “muscle memory.”
Dr. Gregory Berns, of the Emory University study, stated, “At a minimum, we can say that reading stories—especially those with strong narrative arcs—reconfigures brain networks for at least a few days. It shows how stories can stay with us. This may have profound implications for children and the role of reading in shaping their brains.” Pretty profound, indeed.
What else can reading do for the mind? A study at the University of Sussex found that participants who were stressed needed only six minutes of reading for their heart rates and muscle tension to subside. Six minutes!
- Overall, reading reduced stress levels by 68 percent,
- closely followed by listening to music (61 percent),
- drinking coffee (54 percent)
- and taking a walk (42 percent).
- Dr. David Lewis describes the effect, “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.”
With most 15-19 year-olds only reading 9 minutes per day (compared to 2.6 hours of TV) and 75 and older folks reading an hour per day (yet, 4.4 daily hours of TV), perhaps tipping the scale toward paperbacks could make a big dent in our overall stress levels.
Sure, unplugging from the day in front of the tube can feel like it’s just what we need, but what if we really unplugged and, instead, picked up a good book? With websites such as Good Reads and What Should I Read Next? on our sides, this can become a (non-virtual) reality.
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Let’s say you want to be rich, famous, healthy, and happy. What would be the fastest way to get there? Well if for the last 10 years you had been reading 1 book a week what would be different in your life right now?
4 books a month,
50 books a year,
500 books in a decade.
Imagine the knowledge of those 500 books embedded deep within your brain. You would be a genius. You could not even help but become rich, famous, healthy, and happy.
There is something wrong with the world today. This simple solution isn’t the mainstream mentality. I always tell my coaching students, “All the knowledge in the world at our fingertips and we know less than my grandpa did.”
We have Google, ebooks, Facebook, audio books, Kindles and Nooks but it seems like no one is really getting smarter.
But even with all this technology I still prefer good old fashioned books.
Here is why books work. It goes beyond just the simple knowledge they impart.
Books operate with a deeper, more powerful ‘mechanism’. Think of it this way. If I said to you, “Hey would you like to spend 1 hour a day for the next year being mentored by the worlds’ top billionaires, celebrities, authors, fitness trainers, professors, and world leaders?”
Your answer would be “of course”.
That’s precisely what books do. They give you direct access to the mentors you would never be able to meet in real life. Because most of the people worth listening to are either busy or already dead.
Success comes through osmosis. It rubs off on you. Change who you spend time around and you will change your life. Books are the easiest way to spend time around high caliber mentors.
There is no faster way to transform your life than to simply read more. No one, no matter how high their IQ, knows it all. The body of knowledge in the world is simply to vast to learn alone. Learning through trial and error is a fools game.
“It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” – Warren Buffet
That is what books do for you. They cut the learning curve by years, even decades.
Reading is the habit of billionaires. Never forget that.
If you travel on Warren Buffett’s private jet guess what he does the whole time? He will shake your hand, make some small talk, and then pull out a stack of reading material and spend the rest of the flight catching up on his reading. In fact, he spends almost 8 hours a day reading.
Charlie Munger another famous billionaire says:
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time – none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren Buffett reads – at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”
I remember an interview with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in which they were asked what superpower they wished they had.
They both agreed that they would want to be the fastest readers in the world. They didn’t wish for more power or money. Just the ability to read more books. Because they know that get the book thing right and the rest will naturally flow your way.
I’m sure you agree with what I’m saying. Most people do.
So if I asked you what keeps you from reading a book a day, or a book a week, I would guess your answer would be, “Tai it takes me too long to read a book, I don’t have the time.”
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If you feel you read too slow you aren’t alone. In fact Warren Buffett once said “I’ve probably wasted ten years reading too slowly.” And remember this is coming from Buffett who by the age of 12 had read every book in the Omaha public library system on investing. Even he felt it was hard to catch up.
Somehow I was lucky enough to learn speed reading as a teenager and over years of practice I can finish a book pretty quickly. I devote a few hours daily to reading 1 book a day.
That is how I came up with this book club idea. It was almost on accident. A lot of my friends said they didn’t have time to read and asked if I would just do the work for them and summarize what I read in an email everyday.
This is what I have created … A simple email newsletter you can join for free. Each day you will get a summary of the books that I think are most important for changing your life.
I read 4 different types of books on the subjects that I consider the foundation of living a good life.
Allan Nation, one of my mentors, taught me that it’s vital be eclectic and read from a wide base of knowledge. The books vary from classics written centuries ago, all the way to cutting edge modern bestsellers.
The first subject I cover is physical health.
If you are laying in bed sick you really don’t care about anything else. So I consider educating yourself on health, nutrition, food, exercise, sleep, water, stretching, etc. to be the obvious first step.
You will be getting books like:
- Health & Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston Price;
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan;
- Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer’s Guide to Farm Friendly Food by Joel Salatin;
- Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.
The second subject is on wealth and business.
If you calculate the percentage of your waking adult life that you will spend working it’s literally OVER 50%! We spend more than half of our life making money and yet we devote so little time to learning about money and wealth creation. I consider this one of the travesties of modern times.
I don’t care if you are broke or a multi-millionaire. Books hold the key to you unlocking massive wealth. And more importantly making money doing something you love.
Great books like:
- Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger by Peter D. Kaufman
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins;
- Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life by Ken Robinson;
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber;
- How To Be A Billionaire: Proven Strategies from the Titans of Wealth by Martin S. Fridson
The third subject is on love.
I was just hanging out with Dr. David Buss who in my opinion is the smartest man alive on the subject of love and human attraction. He is the author of some amazing books that you will receive in my newsletter like “The Evolution Of Desire“. Nothing has the ability to make or break your happiness more than your love life. Humans are social creatures. Get the social ‘game’ wrong and your life goes straight downhill.
And of all the 4 subjects we will cover, without a doubt the most misinformation exists about love and romance. The good news is that there are a tremendous amount of amazing books out there that dispell the lies and bring clarity. I am going to send you book summaries that will revolutionize how you see love and romance.
Fascinating books like:
- Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Alan S. Miller
- Why Women Have Sex: Women Reveal the Truth About Their Sex Lives, from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between) by Cindy M. Meston
- The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley
- Sperm Wars: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles by Robin Baker
The fourth subject is on happiness.
If you study Maslows hierarchy of needs the top of the pyramid is self-actualization. Life becomes somewhat pointless without some sort of purpose that is higher than yourself. Most people find this higher purpose through their children and grandchildren. Hopefully you will go even deeper than that in your own life.
The book of the day newsletters will cover books with massive insight on civilization changing issues:
- Mother Teresa: In My Own Words by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado
- The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt
- Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
- Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
- The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny by Robin Sharma
So if you are not already on my book of the day list simply sign up on the form on the top of this page.
Remember that life is full of entropy. If you are not careful your life will slowly slip backwards. You have to inject new energy, new inspiration, deep into your mind to ensure that entropy does rob you of true happiness.
There is no cost to you and you will get all the benefits of reading a book a day without actually having to take the time to do the work yourself.
It works pretty simply. You sign up free and every day you get an email with a new book summary. It’s similar to the Cliffnotes you might have used back in school.
But I put a little spin on things with my own opinions mixed in. I will also give you my recommended book list so that you can you know what to buy next time you are on Amazon.
Remember a lot of books nowadays have a lot of fluff that you really don’t need. So I help you skip all the unnecessary info and skip to the core concepts that you can implement immediately.
So take 2 minutes a day to read the summaries for the next month.
Take my challenge. If at the end of the 30 days you think it wasn’t worth your time send me an email. I have NEVER had one person write in. This ALWAYS improves lives.
Try this book of the day club for 30 days straight and watch the prosperity pour into your life.
Let’s change the world together.
Question: Are you ready to change your life by reading a book a day?
No MONEY: Free books at your local library.
Director Richard Taylor BS, CAMF
Certified Anger Management Facilitator
Diplomate American Association Anger Management Providers
Atlanta Anger Management
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