We all dream of achieving goals, but it takes knowledge and action applied in practical, everyday ways to obtain them. One easy way to make sure that we always have concrete ways of achieving our goals way is by reading a book a day. This single activity keeps our brains healthy, too.

Let’s say you dream of achieving more wealth, starting your own company, or growing spiritually. Maybe you want to have better relationships, be more giving, or see life with a more poetic lens. Has learning how to play a musical instrument or to speak another language appealed to you? Do you want a better body, greater health, and more energy? Maybe you dream of solving one of the world’s biggest problems – like poverty or pollution. You can achieve these dreams, while staving off dementia in your old age, simply by reading.

Books Can Make Dreams Come True

All these dreams have been made real before. There are millionaires who made fortunes form nothing. People who had the worst relationships imaginable became the friend and lover of many. People with third-grade educations have invented life-changing technology. Still others who were spiritually bankrupt found inner peace and affected the world around them by living in spiritually ascended ways. Their knowledge is your knowledge if you just ask for it.

This knowledge – the know-how to build a fortune, compose a hit single, or love like you’ve never loved before – is contained in books. There is practical wisdom so abundant that you could learn to do all these things and more if you simply read a book a day, and apply just a fraction of what you glean from those pages.

When we read a book, we become inspired with new ideas. For the cost of a paperback book or an hour of our time at a local library, we can learn a new skill, gain a new insight, or solve a life-long problem. Some books require an investment of mere pennies at a Goodwill store or at local used book shops.

Reading is Brain-Healthy

We also stave off Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases by a huge percentage when we read.

A study by a team from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found regular mental stimulation accounted for a significantly slower rate of memory loss compared with rates in people who did not participate in activities like reading in their lifetimes. This was true even after the findings were adjusted for differing levels of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, which are hallmarks of dementia and, especially, Alzheimer’s disease.

For the study, published online in the journal Neurology, 294 people were given tests that measured memory and thinking every year for six years before their deaths at an average age of 89.

Post mortem, their brains were examined in autopsies for evidence of the physical signs of dementia, such as lesions, brain plaques, and tangles. The rate of decline in those who had been unusually mentally active was reduced by as much as 32 percent.

Read: 5 Studies Showing Why Reading is Healthy

Daily Reading Is Important for a Healthy Old Age

Dr. Robert Wilson, the study’s lead author said:

“Our study suggests that exercising your brain from childhood through old age is important for brain health in old age. Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.”

Brains need a good workout, and reading turns out to be more neurobiologically-demanding than processing images or speech.

Ken Pugh, Ph.D., is president and director of research at Yale-affiliated Haskins Laboratories, which is devoted to the science of language. He says that when we read:

“…parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging. A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain.”

Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University agrees.

“We are forced to construct, to produce narrative, to imagine. Typically, when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don’t press pause.”

Want more?

In the following TED Talk, Tai Lopez explains how reading a book a day separates his life from the average individual’s, who may dream big dreams, but never achieves them. He actually is referencing hanging out with mentors who are 10 times ahead of us in whatever field of interest we are trying to achieve a goal in, but if we don’t have access to one mentor in person, we have access to a hundred in books.

With just an hour of reading, we can have so much more at our fingertips than we did before. Now imagine doing that 365 days a year. Maybe a book teaches you only one small lesson – but that can be priceless when you add up many small lessons over a year, over several years, over a lifetime.

There are likely “life hacks,” novel approaches to everyday problems, and industry insider secrets that are revealed in good books. We can access all of that without having to invest in the years of trial and error that experts in their field did to be able to ‘write the book’ on it.

As long as you keep reading, you are sure to benefit. Your dreams become more attainable – and you’ll still be able to remember you have one by decreasing the incidence of dementia!


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Post written byChristina Sarich:
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.