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Your Brain of Tomorrow

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

Neuroplasticity. Emotional Intelligence. Creativity. Empathy.

Reading for Empathy

These are all considered good things to have. I can’t think of the last time I met someone who said “I wish I was more closed-minded, didn’t understand anyone, and had a more typical plodding view of life.”

What does this have to do with reading? Specifically reading fiction? The answer is everything.

When you remember your life, when you talk about your day, when you perceive the world, you do so by means of stories. I mean this at a neurological level. We are story tellers at heart, and we understand the world through narratives. Normally the closest narrative is our own narrative. We perceive the world through the story of our life, where we are the lead actor and the rest of the world supporting players. It is surprisingly hard to enter into the mindset and the world of someone else, even people close to us, because we are not in their head, and we do not walk the world in their shoes.

Enter literature.

One of the remarkable features of literature is its ability to transport readers into worlds vastly different from their own. Whether it's a historical drama, a futuristic dystopia, or a narrative from a cultural standpoint unfamiliar to the reader, literature provides a window into diverse perspectives and lived experiences. This exposure to a range of emotions and viewpoints cultivates empathy, a cornerstone of emotional intelligence.

Research indicates that individuals who read fiction regularly exhibit higher levels of empathy compared to those who engage less with literary works. As readers connect with characters facing various challenges, they are prompted to understand and resonate with emotions outside their immediate sphere of experience. This empathetic development not only enhances interpersonal relationships but also fosters more compassion and understanding.

In practice, reading serves as an emotional gymnasium, exercising the muscles of empathy and emotional understanding. The narratives in which we immerse ourselves become playgrounds for the exploration of diverse emotions, contributing to the nuanced development of our emotional intelligence. As we navigate feelings on the pages of literature, we simultaneously enhance our capacity for empathy and emotional resonance in the real world.

The greater value of daily reading lies not only in individual moments, but in the cumulative effects over time. The more consistently you engage with reading, the more pronounced and lasting the benefits become. From improved cognitive function to heightened emotional intelligence, these advantages accrue, contributing to your overall wellbeing and personal growth.

I have talked several times on this blog about the positive benefits of reading, but just as our writing section is going to enter into a sort of how-to guide, this section in reading will talk for a time about practical guides to finding time to read even in a busy life, which we all have.

Stay tuned, and until then, pick up a book, and read.

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Michael Cote
Michael Cote
05 dic 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

I really liked both the way this was written and its content. I plan to use it in one of my classes next semester and will give the author full credit!!

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