Did reading every day make me happier?

This week, I decided to read a book every day without any distractions. Like everything else I’ve tried, reading promises to lots of amazing things, like reducing stress and anxiety and improving memory and focus. I used to religiously read 10 pages every day and loved both the quiet time and actually reading all of the books we have in our apartment. I’m not sure when it happened, but I slowly started reading only every once in awhile and then only on weekends when I really felt like I had time. So, this week, I forced myself to sit and read every single day.

Over the weekend, as expected, it was really easy to carve out time to read, as it’s something I’ve already been doing fairly consistently. We went to coffee shops, where I now order something decaf, and read quietly with our coffee until we felt like we’re ready to do something else. It was relaxing, felt like such a nice break, and was much more satisfying than scrolling through the internet.

On weekdays, this was harder than I expected given that I used to read every day. There never felt like a good time, and when I tried reading before bed, I either fell asleep or got distracted really quickly, even though the books I finished (Algorithms to Live By) and started (Furiously Happy) are both incredibly interesting and great reads. This reminded me a lot of mediation; when it was working well, it was great, but it was hard to fit in to my life.

We also spent some time walking around bookstores looking for new books to buy, and I realized how much I missed the experience of shopping for books in an actual bookstore. This made me realize that there are probably other things that I tend to buy online that I should spend more time shopping for in person, both to enjoy the experience of looking through things and to be more thoughtful about what I’m buying.

Did reading more make me happier? While I enjoyed spending more time reading because I already like to read, I wouldn’t say this made me happier in the way that reducing my caffeine or dressing up for work did. I didn’t see a profound change in my stress levels or mood, and I ended up turning something I like doing into a task I needed to complete every day. For this one, I’m going to go back to sitting down to read when it makes sense, like on the weekends, and otherwise stop giving myself a hard time for not reading often enough.

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