Learning To Read

The first time that I read a book from cover to cover was when I was in highschool. Our English teacher assigned us a project of reading a book and then making a review out of it. Being a highschool kid who never had any interest in books, I got myself a random fiction book called “The Twelfth Angel” by Og Mandino. It was a book that told the story of a little American kid who’s into competitive baseball.

And the book taught me the value of “never, never, never, never, never giving up.

A Whole New World

Reading the book was fun and exciting. It was like I was dragged into a whole new world with interesting characters, and where I can think and feel what the characters think and feel at the moment. After two months, I finally finished the book. Man, does it feel good to finish a book from cover to cover! Then my sister showed up. She asked me if she can borrow the book. I agreed. She took the book from me, she read it on her spare time, and then after one week, she was finished.

She finished the book in just a week, while I struggled to complete it in two months.

That was the time when I said to myself, “I have no talent in reading. I hate reading books.

Three Reasons To Read

Everything changed when I got into the later years of my college days. I now consider myself an evangelist of reading. In fact, just last year, I finished reading 41 books within a single year. I’m still a naturally slow reader, but I try to atleast put a portion of my time towards reading.

And here’s why I think you should too. I can probably list tens, or maybe a hundred, but I’m going to give you just three reasons why you should read books:

First, because the world-class guys do it! Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Benjamin Franklin. If I am to name one thing that these guys have in common, it is that they realize the importance of reading. These guys have been reported to be voracious readers and that their reading eventually contributed to their success. If these guys who are already at the top did it, and are still doing it, why aren’t we?

Second, because it’s fun. Books can take you not only to different places, but to different eras and even different worlds as well. Imagine, time travel at the palm of your hands! Who would have thought that I could get to experience being in the Romantic Period of Europe? Or who would have thought that I could learn the childhood years, the aspirations, and the habits of one of the Founding Fathers of America? Books open to you how big the world is.

Third, because it makes you smarter. Studies have shown that reading books improves the following: Concentration skills, creativity, self-awareness, knowledge, empathy, and that’s just to name a few.

Reading As An Investment

The simple act of reading might be one of the best investments that we can make. It improves many aspects of our life, and it improves us as a person and as a society overall.

If you can remember what I just shared earlier, I have no talent in reading. I was born a slow reader. And I just got into reading late into my college years. But I now realize the importance of reading.

And a thing that I also believe is this quote that I found to be true. It’s goes like this:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

As my sister and I was standing on the grounds waiting for the concert to start, we began to feel the ache in our knees and our soles. We’ve been standing for 1 hour, waiting in line, and finally here we are, willing to stand for another 4 hours for the duration of the Switchfoot concert.

 

Then finally.

Five.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

 

The people screamed. Switchfoot stepped up to the stage. They started by playing a song that was dedicated for us Filipinos, “Float“. The people were screaming, jumping, and singing along, and a lot had their cellphones lifted up to record the rare scene.

 

Switchfoot played a lot of their famous songs, from “Only Hope“, where Jon Foreman did a funny speech about Mandy Moore getting all the credit from a song she did not write. To “Dare You To Move” where almost everyone banged their heads in the air in sync with the beat. There was also a part where Jon requested all the stagelights to be switched off as we sang along with the band. All you could see are the lights coming out from our phone cameras. It almost looks like we were a sea of stars in an ocean of darkness. It was a beautiful experience and sight to behold.

 

As I was standing there, looking up at the band, feet aching, sweat dripping, a question dawned on me. Why am I here?

 

There is probably no other band whose lyrical work hits it home like Switchfoot does. It feels like they’re a band with a purpose. A band with a message for the world to hear.

 

To quote Jon, they want to be “a band that gives hope.”

 

Hope.

 

Hope amidst our broken humanity. Hope from the regrets of our past. Hope from the scandals of our brothers and fathers. Hope from this imperfect world. Always reaching out, always seeking, always struggling.

 

A lot of their songs tackle the tough questions of life. Of death. Of the problem with pain. And the promise of hope. And Foreman does this in a poetic and musical way, borrowing words and ideas from classic philosophers, theologians, honest introspection, literature, and timeless truths. It almost feels like he’s willing to face the darkness of our humanity for us, a darkness that so few of us are willing to face and even accept. And from this darkness, to light; Towards Hope. Because according to them, “The wound is where the light shines through.”

 

Switchfoot ended the adrenaline-filled concert with a song called “Where I Belong“, waving a big white banner with big words written on it: “Still looking for a home in a world where I belong.

 

 

Do yourself a favor. Check out this underrated band’s work. Search through their lyrics and ponder on its meaning. Attend their next concert. And probably just like me, you’ll love them too.

 

Let Me Paint You A Story

A little girl was asked to wait inside a room with nothing but a chair and a big white marshmallow on a table. The teacher told her that she can either eat the marshmallow right away or wait until the teacher gets back so she can have another marshmallow. The teacher then left the room.

 

Eat the marshmallow right away, or wait until the teacher comes back for two marshmallows.

 

The little girl sat down. She looked at the marshmallow in front of her. She smelled it. She touched it. She wanted to taste it, but she waited.

 

Tick tock. Tick tock. 5 minutes has passed. No teacher yet. She stared laser-focused at the juicy marshmallow. She wanted to eat it so bad. But she waited.

 

Tick tock. Tick tock. 8 minutes has passed. The teacher still isn’t back. She took the marshmallow. She opened her mouth to take a bite. But then she didn’t. She put down the marshmallow. She decided to wait a little more.

 

Tick tock. Tick tock. 12 minutes has passed. No sign of the teacher yet. Finally, she took it again, made frequent small bites of it, until the marshmallow was no more.

 

This is an actual study that is now famously called the “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment.” In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately, or two small rewards if they waited for a short period of time. In the follow-up studies, the researchers found that the children who were able to wait longer for the rewards tended to have better life outcomes, better scores, better educational attainment, and was more successful overall. This concept is also commonly called as “DelayedGratification“, the delaying of present gratification for the hope of greater future rewards.

 

This now begs to us the question: “Why should we care?

 

First, several studies have concluded that the ability to delay gratification is critical for success in life. Don’t believe me? Google it and find it out yourself. If you want success in life, then the experts said: Learn to delay gratification.

 

Second, the ability to delay gratification is like a muscle. You can choose to flex it or not. It’s never too late to work out. It’s never too late to practice delaying gratification.

 

Third, you can learn to delay gratification in a number of ways. You can train your willpower by using several methods: physical exercise, doing breathing-meditation, taking enough sleep, having a healthy diet, or you can trick your mind by using strategies, like the DistractionStrategy.

 

I have only skimmed the surface of this very interesting topic, but if I have caught your interest, then I have succeeded in my attempt to do so.

Let Me Tell You Something True

We all have this monster inside of us. I know I have this monster inside of me. Whenever I’m late and I’m caught in heavy traffic, this monster inside of me screams. Whenever my alarm goes off early in the dawn and I’m still sleepy, this monster argues to me that I need to sleep a little more. Whenever someone praises me or when I achieve something, this monster flatters me and gives me gifts called “Pride”. Whenever I’m hungry and my patience is being tested near to depletion, this monsters claws at me from my stomach to my head.

 

But then I decided. I want to tame this monster. Until I learned how to. And it’s an everyday battle.

 

We can live the good life now. We can gratify ourselves instantly and almost everyday. Or we can face suffering, learn to wait, and hope for greater future rewards.

 

We can have a good life now, or we can have our best life later.

 

This choice is mine to take.

 

This choice is ours to make.