Monthly Archives: August 2010

Simple philosophies – live with less

Live simply so others may simply live
~ HH Dalai Lama

Six billion people live on this planet. Each and every one is worth just as much as the next. But many of them have to struggle to obtain basic human needs such as water whilst others are wasting it washing their cars.

According to the BBC:

The world distribution of wealth and income is highly unequal. The richest 10% of households in the world have as much yearly income as the bottom 90%.

Wealth – total assets rather than yearly income – is even more unequal. The rich are concentrated in the US, Europe and Japan, with the richest 1% alone owning 40% of the world’s wealth.

Distribution of global wealth

Individually, we may not be able to do much about this problem on a global scale, but we can do the best we can to be content with what we have, so that we may give some to others that may not be as lucky as we are.

We don’t even have to physically give. If we live a little more simply and just stop consuming as much, perhaps we can stop taking from the poor and giving it to the rich. Perhaps we can stop cutting down trees in undeveloped countries to make cheap furniture and paper we’ll end up throwing away anyway. Perhaps if we didn’t desire so many cheap electronics every Christmas, we’ll reduce the amount of stuff we end up dumping into Asia.

Perhaps if we lived with a little less, others can live a little more.

simple act

Grab a bag and fill it with things you don’t need: clothes, shoes, books, toys and anything else that’s gathering dust. Give it away to a charity that will sell it to make money for a poor country or better yet, will take your stuff and send there for real people just like you and me to get some real use out of it.

Simple Philosophies is a series of short posts about small things we can do to live a happier life. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

5 Lessons learned from a year of vegetarianism

For the last year, I’ve been on a vegetarian diet. I didn’t eat any meat (except for fish very occasionally) and based my diet on vegetables, rice and many other kinds of plant based foods. I made the switch by gradually reducing my meat intake during summer last year so that by the time I moved to uni, I didn’t have any problems cutting it out. Since I cooked for myself, it was very easy to buy ingredients and make whatever I wanted to eat (or not to eat).

However, unfortunately, once I fly for my year abroad, I will have to give it up. The reason why I can’t continue to be a vegetarian (as much as I would love to) is because it would impose a lot of difficulty on my host family. I think it would be too hard for my them to prepare a separate meal for me every single day in a country that pretty much bases its food pyramid on rice, fish and beef. I will try my best to eat as little meat as I can, but I also don’t want to ‘miss out’ on some cultural experiences.

Just a quick note, I’m not trying to convert anyone and I’m not saying eating meat is evil or any of that stuff. I’m simply just reflecting on the few things that I learned during my year of being a veggie.

lessons from the humble veg

1. Everyone has their reasons. I didn’t really tell anyone I was a vegetarian unless it was necessary, such as when they were making me dinner, or we if were going out for one. This was because if there’s one thing I can guarantee it’s that as soon as I tell somebody, the first thing they’ll say is “why!?“, after which I have to give my much rehearsed spiel of “it’s a combination of mostly health for me, but I also care a lot about the animals and the environment…” and so on. I’ve said it so many times that I wish people would just say something like “okay, cool” as if I had said “I don’t like the color pink” and be done with it.

I’ve learned that although I should be grateful that people are interested, many people simply just like to question your reasons instead of accepting what is.

2. Not everybody will understand. I used to like to eat meat, but I didn’t love it so much that I would defend it to my death. In the beginning, I didn’t know what to expect when people found out, but now I know that there are some who find it very hard to just be respectful about it. Some people were fine, they would ask me if it was okay for them to eat meat in front of me (to which I replied ‘I don’t care about other people, just that I didn’t eat it’). But some acted like I was trying to convert them or something and would immediately go on the defensive about it. “But those animals wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for us!“. “It’s not our fault we’re on the top of the food chain!“. “But don’t you need meat for protein!?“. At first I would argue that all of these reasons were pretty much invalid but in the end I just gave up having debates everyday before my dinner and just let it go.

I’ve learned that some people, rather than be understanding, respectful or even tolerable about it, would rather argue their own point to justify their meat eating.

3. It’s not just leaves. Now onto the good stuff. Since becoming vegetarian, I’ve learned to cook about four or five times as many different dishes than if I had stuck with meat. I learned to use different types of rice, all kinds of beans, nuts and lentils, mushrooms, vegetables I’d never tried before and lot’s of seasonal fruit. I would have probably missed out on easy and quick ways to put together salads, soups, pastas and entire courses if I’d just stuffed myself with a burger and chips. As a bit of a foodie, all of these lessons were absolutely enlightening. (Also, yes, I did lose a lot of weight ;))

I’ve learned a lot about my body, what constitutes a healthy diet and about preparing food in general.

4. Willpower can be amazingly strong. Personally, I have always found it difficult to resist really fattening things like chocolate, cakes and desserts. So I don’t buy them. But when they’re in the fridge for the rest of my family whilst I’m at home, it takes an absolutely enormous amount of willpower for me to resist it. When I first started to give up meat, it was a little difficult and I would almost forget sometimes. However, I’ve noticed that over time, it became easier and easier for me to resist until I got to a point where I just didn’t feel like I wanted to eat any at all. It’s very rare now that I want to eat meat, and I never have cravings for it.

I’ve learned that the way to treat cravings is to not feed them and eventually they will die. Now if only I could apply this to chocolate.

5. Fresh and simple food is the stuff of life. Finally, I’ve learned that food isn’t something we should feel bad or guilty about. It’s fuel for the body, and fuel for the soul. It should make us feel happy and healthy. It should give us energy, not drag us down. Preparing food should be a joy, not some stressful routine we have to endure. We should eat foods as close as we can to how they’re given to us by Mother Nature, not canned, baked, boiled and fried until it’s barely recognizable.

I’ve learned to be more grateful for my food and what it really means to be closer with nature.

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Image: Chez Us

The big reveal – my year abroad

A new road ahead

In the last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned a few times that I will be going abroad this September. I’ve been keeping it pretty quiet so far, but now I feel I am ready to finally reveal where I will be going, and what I will be doing.

Firstly, I get a lot of people asking me what I study. I’ve been reluctant to reveal this previously because I wanted Minimal Student to apply to everyone studying anything. I feel that I’ve accomplished this by not focussing on a particular subject, and by giving tips, tricks and hacks that anyone can incorporate into their lives as they wish.

But many of you have been so supportive of me that I no longer feel I have to hold back. So here it is, drumroll please…

what I study

I am currently studying Japanese and Management at the University of Leeds, UK.

The reason why I talk about happiness so much is probably because of my awesome degree. It gets me up in the morning to go to uni and I love every minute of it. I love learning the language, reaching new levels and finding out new things about myself, my own language and my country that I’ve previously taken for granted. I love being able to communicate with people from the other side of the world. I love sharing ideas, opinions and cultural views on universal subjects. And most of all, I love the challenge of taking on a completely foreign language and building it up completely from scratch.

Thus far, I’ve been holding back this piece of me because I know that not everybody would share a love for Japan as I do. I think it’s an absolutely fascinating country, and many things from Japan has manifested itself onto this blog, such as Zen Buddhism and what makes an  ideal minimalist diet.

year abroad

On September 6th 2010 I will be flying from London Heathrow to Kansai International Airport (with a stop in Rome).

I will spend the year studying at Konan University in Kobe, Japan.

Konan University, Kobe

In Japan, my academic year will run from September to May. After which, I plan to stay in Japan for a few more weeks before going travelling around Asia and Australia for 3 months.

I will most likely be meeting a friend from my home-town whilst I’m in Japan, then flying to all or some of these places:

  • other places in Japan
  • Soeul, South Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Austrailia
  • New Zealand
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • China
  • Vietnam

Given that it is a little while away, we haven’t solidified our plans yet but it will happen. I will have about 12-15 weeks to spend exploring Asia and hopefully having an amazing adventure.

minimalist travel

Even though I will be very busy (and have been for the last couple of weeks) preparing for my trip and sorting myself out after I arrive, Minimal Student will of course continue. I have no intention of stopping MS in the near future. It really helps me stay on track of my goals and the support that I get in the comments from you guys is so encouraging.

In lieu of much travelling to come, I’ve started a new category, ‘Travel’ which will group together posts mostly about minimalist packing, freedom and travel. I have a few posts in the pipeline which I will probably schedule to publish in the future.

So please don’t be alarmed if MS is off schedule every now and again, I will still be writing as much as I can, but there may be occasional Wednesdays and Sundays that I miss. Please understand that I love writing, and I will be doing the best I can. Hopefully once I settle down, everything will be back on track.

I will still be a student, and I will still be writing about minimalism, so even though there will be new subjects I will be able to talk about, Minimal Student will still be here, as always.

101 things in Japan

A once in a lifetime trip to Japan would be wasted if I didn’t blog about it, so I will! If anyone shares their love for Japan with me, please check out my new blog 101 things in Japan. It is a much more personal blog than MS – it’s more chatty, with a dash of humour and sarcasm. It’s a blog about a list of 101 things I want to accomplish whilst I’m in Japan, from sushi to sumo, from Harajuku to Hokkaido, almost anything worth doing in Japan. Somehow, I get the feeling I’m going to have a lot of fun trying to tick everything off.

Right now, I’m ready to start a new chapter. I’m really excited about all of the massive changes that will come into my life. I’m ready for my fresh start, for the highs and the lows and for all the things I’m going to discover about the world on my travels. Wish me luck!

and finally, thank you

Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you for everything so far. Please keep reading and please comment and share Minimal Student on Twitter, facebook, stumble upon, digg, reddit or anything else you can do would be a great help. MS costs me quite a lot of time and money to maintain, so if you could possibly help me out with a even just a teeny donation, I will be forever grateful.





So with that, I’ll see you very soon, or as the Japanese would say, またね!(matane!)

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5 lessons learned from 10 years of living by the beach

The beach where I grew up.

For me, the start of a new academic year has always been more significant than the start of a new calendar year. It will probably change in the future but having been a schoolkid/student all my life, September brings a much bigger change for me than January does. That’s why I’ve decided to start the 5 Life Lessons category to put them all together.

As the end of summer approaches, I always begin to look forward to the next big step in my life. Last year, the ‘big step’ was moving away from home. This year, it will be moving away from my home country. I know I won’t be returning for a full year, so lately I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve learned from growing up by the beach.

I mention the beach in a lot of my posts, and I like to use beach pictures for the illustrations because it has played such a massive role in my growing up. Just like any environment would affect anybody’s upbringing, here are some things I’ve learned from spending every spring and summer by the sea.

lessons from the sea

1. Perspective changes. When I first moved here, I was just a kid. The beach was so magical back then, all I wanted to do was make sandcastles and splash about in the water. As I grew into a teen, it became ‘uncool’ to do such things, instead, it was more acceptable to sunbathe because our looks were all we cared about during those years. It was in those times when I felt most self-conscious wearing a bikini, and even though I was not totally comfortable, it was worse not to wear one when everyone else was. Eventually, we grew up, built some self confidence and sunbathing/bikini days became barbecues, bonfires and drinks on the beach with friends.

I’ve learned that as we grow up, our outlook on even the same things change over time. Everything is in constant flux, nothing stays the same forever, especially ourselves.

2. Nature is beauty. From the first time I saw it until now, and every time in between, I’ve never grown tired of looking at the great blue sea melt into the horizon in the distance. I’ve never grown tired of watching the sunset or sunrise change the colour of the sky, painting it all shades of pinks, purples and oranges. I’ve never not felt soothed by the feeling of sand between my toes or the sound of the waves washing into the shore. Part of the reason why I love mediation so much is because I have such a great place to do it.

I’ve learned that Mother Nature is so, so beautiful.

3. Pollution is a crime. On that note, there’s nothing worse than spoiling all that because of pollution. In my eyes, pollution is laziness. Normally, I am a very liberal person and I wouldn’t think twice about letting people do what they want (as long as they’re not hurting anyone) but I’ve realized I am quite intolerant of this kind of behaviour. If you can’t be bothered to throw away your rubbish in bins just a few meters away, then don’t ‘bother’ coming to the beach at all. Also, although there aren’t any visible factories in the area, on some days, the sea looks more green/grey than on other days because of junk being thrown into it downstream. And although I still think it looks beautiful, it is never the clear blue kind of sea you see in brochures.

I’ve learned that if people weren’t so selfish, we would all be living in a much better world that would benefit everyone.

4. Fresh air is vital for health and growth. Another thing the beach has helped me do is get fit by running and cycling. When there is such a great and natural place to run everyday, I wonder why anyone would go to the gym (yes, people around here do!) to breathe in that recycled air-con air. I know not everybody lives by the beach, but I think that getting outside is very important when growing up. I was actually born in the city, but I still learned to ride a bike outdoors in the street. We spend too much of our days trapped in our houses/cars/offices/schools/work places that I think it would be good for everyone should try to go outdoors as much as they can. Also, I find the sea air quite healing, and perhaps that’s part of the reason why I almost never get sick (touch wood).

I’ve learned that fresh air is a gift that we should always be grateful for.

5. The world carries on. Everyday, the sun never fails to rise and set. The tide never fails to come in and go out.  The birds never fail to call every morning. There are some things that will never change (for a few million years at least) which shouldn’t be surprising except that I didn’t realize how much life will go on without me. Of course nothing would stop just for me, but I remember coming back to the the beach for the first time in a long while and thinking “It’s all still the same”. Although it was a little upsetting at first, I came to think of it as a reassuring thing that I can rely on at least some parts of my life to stay just like it was when I was a kid.

I learned that the familiar sound, smell and feel of the beach means it will always be my home.

Have you learned any lessons from where you grew up? I would love to know if I’ve missed out on anything. Please let me know in the comments!

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How to create memories that will make you smile for a long long while

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Part of being minimalist is being frugal. But not frugal in the way that you don’t spend money on anything. On the contrary, a lot of minimalist spend a lot of money. Some love minimalist design, and would splash out on modern minimalist furniture. But there’s also a different kind of minimalist, one that likes to splash out… on experiences.

experiences vs. stuff

When you buy a lot of stuff, you are hoping that all of these things will make your life better. Some of them might, like a new laptop to replace your old failing one, or even a whole pile of books. But buying too much of certain things like clothes and gadgets etc. can blind you to the fact that there’s no way that they’re making you truly happy. Sure, you’ll be smiling for a while about it, but it will only last a few days, or until the thing is lost or broken. What you’re really doing is ‘hopping’ from one source of happiness to the next, which creates the illusion that you’re happy.

If you think back to your fondest memories, what are they? I’m sure it’s not all about having the presents you got for Christmas or your birthday, but rather the memory of being surrounded by lot’s of people who cared enough to give you one, and all the fun you had playing with them… it’s the experience that counts.

Memories are a powerful thing. We all want to create happy memories for ourselves, which will keep us smiling for decades. How do we do it? By spending our time, effort and money on creating them through great experiences.

how to create memories

1. Throw a party. If you have a friend’s birthday coming up, or even if you don’t, why not throw a party? It can be big with lot’s of people and balloons or just a small one with a few select friends. Either way, bring a camera, dress up, (drink?) and smile. With lot’s of people gathered around, fun things are bound to happen. Make it a night you’ll remember for years to come!

2. Go for a day out. Wherever you live, there’s bound to be something interesting to do. You just have to look for it. Luckily, we have Google Maps 😉 Why not grab your best friend and go to the zoo/aquarium, skydiving/bungee jumping, to the the local museum, out for a fancy dinner, to the beach… the list goes on. If you manage to do something that you’ve never done before, you would have achieved something amazing that day.

3. Give an experience. Instead of the usual gift of bath soaps, CD’s, or gift vouchers, try giving somebody an experience. Take them out or pay for something they can do. If it’s a little more expensive, ask around for friends to chip in. If they have a lot of fun, they’ll be much more grateful for your present than if you gave them a regular one.

4. Take a holiday. You can go on ‘holiday’ anywhere, even just a few miles from your house. But if you go to a different country, try to go to a place that has more to offer than just the sun. Sunbathing is highly overrated and a complete waste if you ask me. If I wanted to lounge about, I could have done it in my garden. Instead, go to places where you can only do stuff only in that country. Like tasting the local cuisine, chatting to the local people or hiking/climbing towards breathtaking views.

5. Travel. Finally, I believe that some of the best experiences in life come from travelling. I don’t just mean taking a holiday for a few weeks, I mean travelling. There aren’t many experiences that are more fulfilling than seeing the world. One of my blogging heroes Chris Guillebeau knows it all too well, and his goal is to visit every country in the world. Starting this summer, I will be travelling abroad for a whole year (a post about this is coming soon). I will be studying, working and seeing a world a lot different than mine. Doing something drastic like this can completely change your whole outlook on life. Yes, I will be spending money, but somehow I know it will be much more satisfying than buying that ‘xyz’ I saw in the store the other day.

EDIT: Just as I finished writing this post, I noticed an interesting article in my feed, check out the links for solid research evidence.

“If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” is the name of a study being published in The Journal of Consumer Psychology according to this New York Times article which talks about how spending money on experiences can give you more lasting happiness than spending it on stuff. It also features another one of my blogger heroines Tammy Strobel from Rowdykittens.com.

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How to transform your life in 5 steps

 

“Live the life you love and love the life you live” – Bob Marley

There are two kinds of routines. One you’re unhappy to be in, and the other you’re happy to be in.

A few months ago, my typical week consisted of late night library hours and cramming in studying and assignments between a ton of social commitments. There was a period when I got up at noon whenever I could and I didn’t eat too well either. I felt like I was stuck in a rut and I couldn’t get out. I had so many commitments and responsibilities that I was having a bad time just trying to please everyone.

After a few weeks, I had enough. This wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I wanted better grades. I wanted to start running again. I wanted more.

So I decided to buckle down and radically change my life.

Soon, I felt so much better as my routine became more revolved around what I wanted. Now, everyday, I get up early, I run for a few miles, shower, read a book, write, strum my guitar and study. Every couple of days, I go out with my friends or family and do something fun, like going to the park, out for a meal or to the cinema. I love the way I live now because it’s stress-less and allows me to have a lot of time to myself so that I can do whatever I feel like.

Granted, I wasn’t exactly living a horrible life before, but it was far from ideal. I made a decision to change my life, so I did.

what not to do

The worst thing to do when you don’t like things the way they are is to simply complain about it. Lot’s. I know that life isn’t always rainbows and roses, but complaining about it won’t help you because:

  • Complaining is infectious. It makes you look like a negative person. People will begin to drift away from you if you drag their mood down, even if it’s only a little.
  • Hardly anything bad that happens to someone is aimed directly at them. Most of the time the universe does random things, good and bad things can befall everyone. The universe revolves around no one.
  • Rarely does complaining actually make things disappear.
  • Shouting at someone means that person believes their problem is more important than respecting another human being.

People complain because there is a dissonance between what is and what the person thinks it should be.

Okay, so sometimes we have to vent a little. And we don’t have to like everything the way it is, but that’s ok, as long as it leads to positive action. A person has to be proactive to change what they disagree with. In other words, if they really don’t like things they way they are, they should do something productive about their situation, instead of moaning about it.

how to radically change your life

1. Mentally commit. Firstly, you have to decide you want to change, and then stick to it. There’s no point in being weak willed when it comes to radically changing you life. It’s easy to slip back to what is easiest – which is no change at all. Once you’ve decided that you’re sick of the way you’re living right now, you can look forward to how you’re going to change it. Start telling people that you want to change, and you’ll find yourself doing it so that you won’t let them, and yourself, down.

2. Make specific goals. Have clear aims about where you want to be by when. Write them down in big letters and stick it somewhere you can see everyday.

  • “I want ___ grade by ___”.
  • “I want to earn ___ by ___”
  • “I want to be ___ by ___”

Commit them to memory. Use them as mantras.

Break goals down into how you will achieve them. If you want to have really good grades this year, how good? How many hours study will you do a day/week? Then, stick to it and keep going. If you are persistent, a breakthrough is inevitable. If your goal is measurable, don’t forget to reward yourself when the time comes.

3. Say no. Learning how to say no to others is learning how to say yes to yourself. It sounds selfish, but it’s not. Yes, there are times you should spend with others, but it’s your life, you should be doing the things you care about. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to. Don’t make promises that you can’t fulfil. Real friends would understand that you have your own needs and they should respect whatever you choose to do.

4. Minimalize. Throw out anything you don’t need. This includes commitments with people/clubs that your heart isn’t into any more. Get rid of the things that make you unhappy. Get rid of the things that aren’t making you happy. Get rid of things that are cluttering up your space and taking up your precious time and effort. The purpose of this is to get rid of all the things that don’t matter that are distracting you. That way, you can focus on your goals.

5. Be fearless. Don’t just stick with whatever other people are doing, go for your own thing. Do what you love. Set one crazy goal. If you don’t challenge yourself, you’re not making a real change. Ditch your comfort zone and go for it. Don’t care what other people think. Dare to be different.

how I applied these steps to my life

When I started this blog, I had no idea that people would actually read it (thank you!). I wrote a couple of posts about minimalism because I felt more committed when I told other people. I wrote down specific goals about what I wanted to achieve with my grades and with incorporating minimalism into my life (like halving my wardrobe). I said no to partying as much as I used to and I felt tons better for it. I had more time to focus on what really mattered. Finally, I dared to be different from other students. I didn’t want to be the typical broke/alcoholic student, nor did I want to be a social recluse. I challenged the conventional way of thinking – I refused to have a car even though I had a choice and I found my own brand of minimalism. I chose the life I have now, I’m really happy with it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Are you living your ideal life? How did you/will you get there? Let me know in the comments!

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So what if I’m only human?

 

Credit: First Light

  • When people realize they’ve made a mistake, they say ‘I’m only human’.
  • When people feel like they can’t achieve any more, they say “I’m only human”.
  • When people feel like they’ve lost control of themselves, they say “I’m only human”.

But what do those words actually mean? That ‘being human’ is some kind of weakness? That it is a disadvantage?

What if there wasn’t anything “only” about being human?

Realizing that you’ve made a mistake means that you have the ability of self-awareness. Not a lot of creatures are capable of such a simple act that we take for granted. Animals can be disciplined or tamed, but they can’t learn from their mistakes like we can, and plants don’t know or care if they’re growing in somebody’s way. They just do whatever their instincts tell them. Self awareness is an invaluable tool so that we can learn from our mistakes and know how to do it right next time.

As humans we have the ability to push ourselves beyond what we are capable of right now. We have the power of imagination, and the power of dreams to fuel us. Who knew a hundred years ago that you would be able to grab almost any piece of information in the world by just waving your fingers? Where you put limitations today, might not be there tomorrow.

Bruce Lee  is one of my greatest heroes. Not only did he push his body to almost superhuman levels, he changed many lives with his philosophical teachings. He said,

If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality and into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

We shouldn’t underestimate ourselves. I just finished reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins and if there’s one thing I learnt is that humans are unique in that we can override our genetic programming that tells us to constantly eat, sleep and breed. We don’t have to be lazy, greedy or aggressive. Instead, we spend our time and energy doing greater things like educating ourselves, getting really fit and helping others.

And why should we help others? Because we’re lucky enough to have a conscience – an inner sense of what is right and wrong. We are capable of following a morality system that reduces suffering and increases happiness. We have the ability to control our desires and emotions so that some people don’t have to eat like dogs whilst others live like kings.

So on that note, yes being human is fantastic, but it doesn’t give us the right to lord it over other people or creatures. This wasn’t an arrogant horn tooting about how great we are. Humans have done incredibly stupid and harmful things throughout history. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. But for every warlord there was a saint. For every act of cruelty, there is an act of kindness. Yes, we do make mistakes, but we can achieve great things too, because we’re human after all.

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5 ways to kick start and feed your reading habit

 

“Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers” ~ Harry S. Truman

For a lot of people, reading is ‘boring’. To them, books remind them of something they ‘had to do’ at school. Until recently, I didn’t realize the extent people actually rejected reading, as if it was something to avoid. I’ve seen dozens of facebook profiles with “don’t read” or even a “you’re joking” in the favorite books box.

Do these people know how much they’re missing out? I mean, what about all that fantastical adventures, beautiful romances, emotional turmoils, romances, tears and guilt? What about all the battles, betrayals, heroes and villains of the past that you haven’t heard of? What about all the fascinating things about the world that you don’t yet know about? From reading, you can learn the lessons of geniuses, revolutionaries and from the greatest leaders of all time. So the real question isn’t “why should I read”, it’s “why shouldn’t I?”

how to develop a reading habit

1. Know where to start. If you’re not already an avid reader, you might feel a little overwhelmed at the choice of books available. In that case, why not try some reliable lists, for example:

2. Get it cheap. You don’t have to spend a lot of money at all. Never pay RRP for a book. My first point of call is always Amazon, but the Book Depository is usually cheaper for new books and worldwide delivery is free. Of course there’s also the library, charity shops, sites like Paperback Swap. If you know people who read, you can borrow or swap with your friends, family and even professors (who are especially helpful with hard to obtain/expensive books in your field).

3. Read everyday. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, it will all add up week by week. Always try to have a book handy somewhere to pull out when you’re standing in line or sitting on the bus. Or you can keep a book by your bed to relax you into sleep (not put you to sleep!). I usually look forward to evenings when I block out a bit of time, make a warm cup of tea and snuggle in my duvet with a good book for a few hours. Even the thought of it makes me smile 🙂

4. Aim. You could read casually or you could set up a goal. If you choose a field, by reading one book on it a week, you can become an ‘international expert’ within few years. If that’s a little too much, you can easily make up your own goal such as two books a month (1 book per 14 days), or twenty books a year (about 1 book per 20 days). By having an aim, you can more easily write/decide your list(s) and possibly get through many more books than you would otherwise.

5. Balance and diversify. Almost everyone has a subject/genre that they are really interested in. It doesn’t have to be an ‘academic’ subject either. Whatever it is, choose it and read as many books as you can find about it. However, you should also have a go at something completely different – how do you know you won’t like it until you’ve tried it? Why not wonder into a completely different part of the library, randomly picking up a book and reading the blurb or first page? You never know, you may discover a new passion. The key is to balance depth and breadth.

So, try not to think of reading as a chore. It’s not homework. It’s not work at all. It expands your horizons, pushes your imagination and can change your life. Don’t miss out, kick start your reading habit today.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island” – Walt Disney

Do you have any more ideas on how to read more? Or any book recommendations? Or maybe you’d like to share what you’re reading right now? Please comment below!

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