One popular Happiness Project resolution and habit people most want to form is to read more. Reading boosts happiness in many ways—it can help you unwind, learn new things, and connect with others.
But reading takes time, and it can be challenge to prioritize over other tasks that seem more important or productive. Here are some habits to help you get more good reading done.
1. Read books you enjoy.
You might be surprised how much time you find to read when you're reading a book you love. Which is another reason to stop reading a book you don’t enjoy.
Especially when reading newspapers and magazines, you might get as much from skimming as you do by a leisurely reading. You have to remind yourself to skim, but you'll get through material much faster.
3. Get calm.
Sometimes it's hard to settle down with a book if you keep wanting to jump up and take care of some nagging task. But that’s no way to read. Exercise or stretching before reading or writing can help you sit still.
4. Don’t fight your inclinations.
Sometimes we feel like we should be reading one book when we actually feel like reading something entirely different. Let yourself read what you want, because otherwise you'll end up reading much less.
5. Always have something to read.
Never go anywhere empty-handed, whether it's a print book, e-book, or audiobook. With so many options, there's no reason not to have something on hand when you find a few minutes to sneak in some reading.
6. Maintain a big stack.
You might find that you read much more when you have a pile waiting for you. And when you're ready to pick your next book, you can shop your stack for the book you're most interested in at that moment.
7. Choose your own books.
Books make wonderful gifts—both to receive and to give—but try not to let yourself feel pressured to read a book just because someone has given it to you.
8. Quit reading.
Give yourself permission not to finish every book you start if you're struggling to stay interested. Life is short. There are too many wonderful books to read.
9. Set aside time to read taxing books.
In Better Than Before, her book about habit-formation, Gretchen Rubin discusses "study" reading. Every weekend, she spends time reading books she finds fascinating, but that are demanding, and that she might put down and neglect to pick up again.
And finally, three more tips from great writers and readers:
10. Randall Jarrell: “Read at whim! Read at whim!”
11. Henry David Thoreau: “Read the best books first, otherwise you’ll find you do not have time.”
12. Samuel Johnson: “What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.”
Maybe you don’t love to read, so finding more time to read isn’t a challenge for you. The larger point is to make sure you’re finding time to do whatever it is that you find fun. Having fun is important to having a happy life, yet it’s all too easy for fun to get pushed aside by other priorities.
Also, having fun makes it easy to follow good habits; when we give more to ourselves, we can ask more of ourselves. If reading is a treat for you, it's a good idea to make time for it.