How would you define the feeling of contentment? While the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word contentment as “[t]he action of satisfying; the process of being satisfied; [and] satisfaction,” most people find it hard to describe the feeling that comes along with it. Finding the words to string into a sentence that explains the feeling of total contentment can be tricky. Some may say it’s impossible to describe the feeling that is frequently so hard to come by. For me, one of the moments that I find myself to be the most content is when I am reading the final few pages of a good book.

For most university students, the words contentment and literature do not pair well together. Many find them to be opposites such as hot and cold, or sun and rain. With our busy day-to-day lives in which we juggle different aspects of our lives such as schoolwork, family, friends, and a job, you’d think that sitting down to relax and read a good book would be appealing. But no. At the end of a long day, a good chunk of students gravitate towards activities which are  mindless in nature. Activities such as watching Netflix or scrolling through social media. 

Reading, in general, has become something many university students dread – but why? This may be because reading plays a significant role in many university students’ lives – although not in the way of enjoyment. Rather, many university students find themselves dreading the required readings for a course, or re-reading an essay before submitting (something so unappealing many people skip altogether).

As more and more students begin to look at reading as a dull and tedious activity, negative connotations and stereotypes start to surround it. People often associate reading with personality characteristics such as being a ‘nerd’ or someone who is extremely introverted. However, what people don’t understand is that being a ‘nerd’ and someone who enjoys and thrives while being on their own are not bad personal qualities. It doesn’t mean that you sit in the corner of a dark room with your nose buried in a book while wearing thick-rimmed glasses. Or that you shy away from all engagement with other people, both like-minded and not. The idea of reading a good book is an activity of self betterment that everyone should take advantage of, regardless of their personality type. I think that it is time that people begin to understand that being interested in and reading a good piece of literature can make you a better version of you!

While this may come as a shock, reading is accompanied by many positives. After a long day of hard work, sitting down to read an enjoyable book allows your brain to tap out of the hectic world you’re currently immersed in and enables you to engage in something new. It also provides yourself, both physically and mentally, with an opportunity to sit down and rest while only focusing on one thing – your book. It allows you to reduce your stress levels, it helps you sleep, and can have the ability to alleviate depression. Heck, reading even expands your vocabulary and strengthens your brain! 

Another wonderful thing literature gives you the chance to do is educate yourself. By educating yourself, I don’t mean on a boring subject, I mean, on current social issues and events. Reading allows you to take on new perspectives while allowing you to explore topics that may be outside of your comfort zone or lived experiences. It grants you the opportunity to understand varying points of view and connect with other stories that may act as an eye opener to new ideas and perspectives. I would like to encourage EVERYONE if they have the means to, educate yourself and the people around you. It is important to not only educate yourself, but to also encourage the people around you to constantly educate themselves while embarking on a continuous learning journey. Through reading, you will be able to engage in important, essential, and meaningful conversations. The list of benefits to reading is endless, and so you better start exploring them all!

I was given a piece of advice at a young age that I would like to share with all of you. Every time you finish a book, jot down the name and the title. By doing this, you keep track of the books you read, and grant yourself an opportunity to feel accomplished and content. A next step up from this would be setting a yearly goal for how many books you’d like to read. Although be sure to be easy going on yourself – it’s okay if you don’t meet your goal. Even just trying to read more than you did in the previous year is an excellent place to start.

So, now what? You can start by finding yourself a good book! Maybe find yourself a book you know you have enjoyed in the past and read it again! Begin to engage with literature again – and leave those negative connotations behind. Reading truly can be a wonderful way to better yourself and the people around you continually. Take the opportunity to read more in your day-to-day life and reap all of the benefits that it has to offer. 





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