What are you reading?

Reading good books is such a great way to learn, grow, and improve your life and relationships!  Whether you prefer biographies, “self-help,” Scripture, literary classics, Christian classics, inspiring novels, histories, Christian fiction, or others, there are so many good books available through the public library, our local bookstores, and numerous websites.  (www.addall.com is my favorite, because it searches for your book on all the top book websites, then lists them in order of total purchase price.)  There is so much wisdom, knowledge, adventure, and inspiration just waiting to improve our lives, if only we will take the time to pick up a good book.

The two primary reasons people tell me they don’t read much are: “I don’t have time,” and “I get bored with reading.”  I think there is one major factor that contributes to both of these “excuses” for most people –

We devote so much of our time to electronic entertainment that we have little time left for real life (including reading, relationship building, exercise, and numerous other essential activities), and we train ourselves to enjoy only that which gives us maximum sensory stimulation with minimal effort on our part.  We love our adventures, high drama, romance, and risk-taking action – we just prefer to absorb it rather than put in the time or effort to experience it for ourselves.

Now, this may be a bit exaggerated, and you may be tempted to tune it out, thinking it just doesn’t apply to you.  In fact, even as I write it, I wonder if I went a little over the top in that last paragraph.  And then I think about my own struggles with “media time” versus “real life.”  I think about the lives and schedules and habits of family and friends.  I remember the statistics I learned while working on my PhD in Mass Communication and Family Studies.  And I have to say this bold assertion is the uncomfortable truth for the typical American today.  Check me out against your own life, and see if there is truth to what I’m saying.  For one week, keep track of how much time you spend with TV, movies, music, internet, video games, personal computer use (entertainment) – then compare that with the amount of time you spend reading, exercising, working on relationships, or just being quiet (real life).

If you are bold enough to take this to the next level, take note of how much you value your “entertainment” versus how much you value your “real life.”  Which one do you look forward to more?  To which do you devote your best time?  Which do you enjoy more?  Etc.  Be bold.  Be honest.  Check yourself.

I’m not trying to convince you that entertainment is bad, or that you should get rid of your TV, or something of that nature.  In fact, reading good books (which is where I started this article) can be very entertaining, in addition to being educational, inspiring, or whatever else.  I am suggesting that reading good books is a good investment of time, when done in moderation, and can bring about genuine improvement in life if you pick your books well.  I am further suggesting that, in order to have the time and attention span necessary to really get something from reading, you may need to seriously cut down the amount of time and focus you devote to entertainment.  If this is not true for you – fantastic!  You are an exception to the norm, and I hope you will try to influence others.  For most of us in America today, entertainment serves as one of the biggest distractions to real living that I know of.  So, pick up a good book, or put on your jogging shoes, or really talk to that important someone in your life.  Whatever you do with your time, I hope you will really live – and live well.

More later.

Roger

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