Bibliotherapy: Reading Makes Us Happier (science Says So)

Literature helps us improve our psychological health.

Reading can be a great experience if we immerse ourselves in an exciting novel, and it can also make us smarter if we spend our time reading about topics that bring us new knowledge. Our readers know it, and that is why they follow and visit us daily.

And is that reading, in addition to being entertaining, can be a great source of information. But science has wanted to go further and has discovered new benefits of reading: according to different research, reading makes us happier. Do you need more reasons to keep devouring books? …

In today’s article, we will discuss precisely the relationship between reading and happiness and the effect of the bibliotherapy in people. Interesting, right? But first of all, we want to help you be happier, that is why we are going to recommend you some posts that you cannot miss:

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  • The 20 best Psychology books that you cannot miss
  • 5 books on psychology to read this summer
  • Top 10 Self-Help and Self-Improvement Books

Science confirms it: reading makes us happier

But what exactly does science say about happiness and reading? Well, in summary, science says that reading improves both our emotional and physical well-being and helps us cope with existence. According to the results of a study carried out by the University of Rome III, regular readers are happier and more satisfied. Not only that, but they are also less aggressive and more optimistic. The researchers analyzed the data provided by 1,100 subjects who were interviewed. And to carry out the study, they used different indices: such as the Veenhoven happiness measurement or the Diener scale. The latter records the degree of satisfaction with life.

On the other hand, according to an article in the newspaper El País , which echoed a research carried out by a team of neuroscientists from Emory University (Atlanta), reading helps reduce stress and increases  emotional intelligence (mainly self-knowledge and empathy) and psychosocial development.

Bibliotherapy: therapy through books

“Regular readers sleep better, have lower levels of stress, higher self-esteem and less depression,” according to  an article in The New Yorker which talks about bibliotherapy, a therapeutic method or resource that is based on promoting different skills that improve the well-being of people and the relationship with others, taking into account the interpretation that patients make of the content of books.

“Reading puts our mind in a pleasant state of mind, similar to that of meditation, and provides the same benefits as deep relaxation,” says the same article. Those of you who enjoy page after page when reading books may not be surprised to learn that reading has many benefits for mental and physical health.

Librarians are aware of the benefits of reading and, therefore, these professionals recommend different specific books to their patients. Bibliotherapy can have different forms of application. For example, one-on-one in the patient-therapist relationship, or courses for older people with dementia or prisoners. One of the best known forms is “affective bibliotherapy”, which focuses on the therapeutic power of reading fiction. And it is that sometimes it is difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of others, but it does not cost much to get fully into the role of a character.

Bibliotherapy improves the capacity for empathy

The biblical therapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin tell The New Yorker that this practice dates back to ancient Greece, where you could see, at the entrance of the Thebes bookstore, a sign that read: “place of healing for the soul” . So for those who think that reading is for lonely people, let them know that they are wrong.

“We have begun to identify how literature is capable of improving people’s social skills,” Keith Oatley, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, in the United States, explains to The New Yorker . Research has shown that “reading fictional literature improves the perception of empathy, which is crucial to the theory of mind: the ability to attribute thoughts and intentions to other people.”

You can learn more about the theory of mind in this great article by the psychologist Adrián Triglia: ” Theory of Mind: what is it and what does it explain about us? “

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