We Should Read to Give Our Souls a Chance to Luxuriate
George Orwell, the great writer said the words above. – They captured my imagination because I resonated with the word luxuriate and more than merely enjoying reading literature, Orwell meant for us to indulge and savour it.
The idea of the soul luxuriating made me even further appreciate the benefits of creative writing, and regret the decline in people enjoying literature. One benefit of many was pointed out in an article in the Washington Post in 2016 – it stated the fact that literary fiction could increase empathy in people who read it.
“A number of recent studies have demonstrated that fiction — particularly literary fiction — seems to boost the quality of empathy in the people who read it, their ability to see the world from another person’s eyes.”
So reading can bring great benefits to our well-being, but sadly the number of people reading books is going down. – Let’s explore this further.
The National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) released a report that shows reading books is in the decline – and it is sad to see this is happening across all age ranges and sexes. There is a marked decrease in the number of those reading, and although this report is focused only on readers from the United States – there are similar declines in other countries around the world, as also noted in the UK from this study by the National Literary Trust
I have studied positive psychology and written papers that show the benefits of reading. I know from the array of information and my own experience that an individual’s psychological well-being can be increased by simply reading. We can be absorbed and engaged in stories that evoke wonderful feelings and improve our mood. We can gain a far greater understanding of the issues that concern us the most and have a much richer comprehension of the world around us just from reading. So reading literature can be the perfect self-help tool to help humans flourish and also understand themselves far better…
The Washington Post article showed that literary fiction could increase empathy in people who read.
Empowering individuals with greater knowledge, empathy and also a far more in-depth understanding of other people’s worlds, shows that reading is a powerful source of enlightenment. There are, of course, other complex issues occurring in modern life, such as social media that are destroying people’s empathy, as noted in an article from live science. Evidently, social media has not and cannot replace inspirational literature, and if not used wisely can be damaging.
This is only a short post on the decline of reading and how reading affects our well-being. I do urge you to examine this issue further, or at least get reading regularly if not doing so already. Here is a further article on some interesting facts and thoughts about the effects social media is having on individuals – We hope, like us at the Writers Initiative, you appreciate why we should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.