Five ways reading fiction makes you better at your job

“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.” ― Doris Lessing

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It is not a secret that most successful businessmen and astute professionals are readers. Good reading habit keeps one at the top of new trend and exposes one to new techniques that can be used in your career. Facebook’s Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, last year started a monthly book review on his facebook page which has helped a lot of his followers to explore new things and access to valuable information.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet also at the end of each year share their favourite books, though the list is usually filled with non-friction books.

Is fiction all about entertainment? The answer is no. Michel Morvan, Founder and CEO of CosMo, reads through some chapters of a crime novel story every night. He noted that: “To run a business, you have to be deeply involved in all the minutiae, from strategy to product to hiring,” he says. “Diving into the story, identifying with the characters, and trying to solve the mystery has two effects on me. First, it is a very efficient way to disconnect from all the problems I face in the business. Second, it immediately unlocks my creativity. My mind has no limits while I’m reading, and it shouldn’t while I’m conducting business.”

Researches have found that reading fiction help improve skills and technical knowledge as you might gain from autobiography or biography. Here are five things a fiction does to your brain:

1. Enhanced Balance Skills

According an English Professor from University of Puget Sound, Michael Benventiste, fiction gives you insight that help you work beyond logic. Also, scenarios presented in fiction help one cultivate qualitative reasoning skills and gained valuable experience.

He further noted that “...fiction offers a space for speculating about the constitutive role that ‘fuzzy’ values like beliefs, norms, and experiences play in social contexts.”

2. Understanding of Complex Problems

A study by the University of Toronto confirmed that people who read fiction gain broader understanding of others and issues.

The impact of fiction on the brain is classified as a “computer simulator for the brain”, Keith Oatley remarked during an interview with the New York Times.

3. Empathy

Fiction helps develop a more empathetic perspective about people in real life, as a fictional story helps connect the story to personal experiences. This is because thoughts and emotions are always tailored to be consistent or viewed from a storyline read in a novel.

Mar, during a speech at the American Psychological Association, noted that “…experiences that we have in our life shape our understanding of the world…and imagined experiences through narrative fiction stories are also likely to shape or change us. But with a caveat–it’s not a magic bullet–it’s an opportunity for change and growth. Even though fiction is fabricated, it can communicate truths about human psychology and relationships.”

4. Stress Relief

A study by University of Sussex noted that reading generally relieves stress better than listening to music, taking a walk or having a cup of tea. Reading is believed to reduce stress by 68%, and in just six minutes lowered heart rate and eased tension of the reader.

David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist, stated that “… losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.”

5. Strong Role Models

Fictions have been noted as an effective way of instilling character or specific traits in people. Many young people today want to a government spy like James Bond or a hero like Captain America.

As noted by Juliette Wells, Associate Professor at Goucher College, Beltimore,  “I’ve often found myself silently quoting Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, who declares, ‘my courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.’”

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