In the age of countless self-help articles with just one kooky trick and Instagram influencer’s constantly telling you how they made $600 a day by selling one small figurine, our reservation’s towards believing that one small change can have a dramatic impact in our lives makes sense. But it is often the smallest things that do have the biggest impact, in fact I can assure you that implementing the change I’m about to mention will make you more imaginative, improve your memory, likely improve your personal relationships and just make you a nicer person overall. On top of all this it actually costs nothing (except time), and anyone reading this can do it. As you've probably guessed by now (hint: its in the title) I’m talking about reading.
Now I want to set something straight. I’m not talking about reading your textbook or case studies for university, nor am I talking about reading the packages you got for work or other administrative purposes; none of the type of reading you have to do nowadays just to get through life. I’m talking about pure unadulterated fiction; stories, narratives, tall tales and short summaries. The sort of stories that place you inside another persons head, the ones that let you travel to places you've never been and never will be. Where you are existing alongside the characters, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear and most important of all feeling what they feel. Because it is this, that allows us to better understand our faculty of this concept called “Theory of Mind”. Theory of Mind (ToM) is the intuitive ability to understand what is going on in someone’s mind through our perception of their expressions. In late 2013, two researchers (David Kidd and Emanuele Castano) did an experiment revolving around just that. They presented three different types of literature to different groups; educational (textbooks, manuals etc.), thrillers/plots (focused on events happening) and the last were stories focused on the people from a different perspective, their thoughts and feelings. After each group read their assigned type of literature they were shown photographs and asked to describe how they thought the person was feeling. The group who was given the last form of literature (character perspective) marked significantly higher on these tests than the other groups overall.
This is important for more reasons than the obvious one. It allows you to view the world in a different way, allows you to imagine being somewhere else, doing something else. This is extremely important. Often our problems overshadow everything else in life; getting a bad grade, not finishing a project you wanted to on time or countless other tribulations constantly come up. And throughout these experiences its hard to take ourselves outside of the situation, to remind ourselves that its not the end of the world. But reading forces you to do just that, reading forces you to remember the countless other stories being told, to remember that just because this certain thing sucks doesn't mean everything does. That the sun is still shining somewhere and the moonlight still illuminates the darkness. So remember, its always good to take the time to read even when you have none.
And if you ever are confused as to where to start or what to read here are a couple options! Name of the Wind by Patrick Rofthuss, Honeybee by Trista Matter, Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson. Also if you don’t have any books, or want to read a new one feel free to hit me up and I can lend you from my small little library.
Zaid Amer GBDA'21
Zaid Amer is a second year GBDA student at the University of Waterloo. He still doesn’t have his drivers license, and for as long as he can remember he’s loved cheap food … and bad jokes. Currently figuring out what he actually wants to do in life, Zaid pursues his passions of writing, design and photography on the side. Open to talking to literally anyone (seriously he doesn’t shut up), feel free to connect with him on either Instagram below or anytime you see him around.
Instagram: @Zwrites_ and @Zaidd_Amer