It is cold outside, in fact it is snowing right now so better make yourself a hot chocolate, add some delish cookies and let’s talk about books. Oh and make sure you have the fluffiest blanket of your choice and a good view of your Christmas tree. Now tell me that this is not perfect.

 

Let me share a story with you. I grew up in Bulgaria and when I was a kid, I had to study a lot. I remember…since day one at school I had tons of homework every single day which took me an additional 3/4 hours after school to finish them… and no, we did not draw or colour stuff. It was the real deal; we had math, reading, writing, history, biology, geography etc. and we were tested the next day of what we have memorized. I do not complain because first of all, it left me with very rich general knowledge and second, I created many useful habits during that time, which I use to this day like having good time management skills, being efficient, understanding the concept of responsibilities and the consequences of not taking care of them and many more. In other words, our early educational system was good and I am thankful that I was part of it. However, the constant pressure and the strive to be good at everything left me with a bit of bitterness as well. The reason was that it was expected from us to have good grades in every subject which let’s be realistic, it is impossible because we are built differently, we are good at different stuff and we learn differently as well. So what happened was...at one point I stopped enjoying studying from textbooks because it became a boring chore and sometimes the textbooks were awfully “dry” as well. I realized for myself that I absolutely love learning, but I do not like studying. Studying brings me back to that “chore” I used to have, it makes me feel forced and this kills my creativity and imagination which happen to be a very important element of the learning process particularly for me. When you feel obligated rather than interested then the end result could be focused not so much on learning something new but to get over and done with it so you can focus on more enjoyable task afterwards. I want to quickly mention that I understand completely that different educational systems have their pluses and minuses and this post is not about how to improve them, but rather to share my story on how I discovered my love for books...hopefully, you can relate and maybe got inspired to read more as well.

 

I remember every summer, when I was a child, having those book lists which were 80% mandatory to read during the summer breaks and the rest were optional, needless to say that I never even looked at the optional section. I still recall many of the books which were classic literature pieces and now I am very thankful that I was “forced” to read them, but back then…oh boy, it was a different story. What I am trying to say is that I was not one of those kids that couldn’t wait to go back home and read, I rather played outside. Then suddenly I was in high school and I loved spending time with my friends talking about the way “more important” stuff like our crushes…helloooou! Ok, we all have been there and it would not be normal to not go through those phases. There were always some people who were naturally more curious, often introverts which is also okay because those were some gifted and very smart kids who truly blossomed a bit later and most likely those kids now are having stunning careers so their work paid off. What I am trying to say is that we cope with growing up differently, but the majority of us fall into the trap of getting distracted from studying. Even though sometimes this was my case, I always loved learning and knowing which was heavily influenced by my family. I am lucky to have such smart individuals around me who fed my brain with ideas and the dinner table was and still is our place for interesting, educational topics. I have always known that being smart is not one dimensional, it is not only about memorizing particularly years or historical names, but having diverse knowledge in general, being able to get involved in almost any type of conversation…all of that is powerful; knowledge is one of the most powerful weapons for success.  There are so many available sources of information nowadays, which classified us as some of the most privileged generations ever lived yet there are still a lot of people who choose to ignore them altogether. This is the single biggest mistake that anybody can do because knowledge stays with you and never goes out of fashion. By being on a certain intellectual level, you will be able to attract different crowd - some successful, interesting individuals whose presence will set you up to success overall. Jim Roah said it beautifully “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

 

By being aware of the power of knowledge, I decided at one point that I need to make my learning experience more pleasant and besides the textbooks I started reading books in my free time. This is when I discovered how much I enjoy them because they fulfilled my hunger for knowledge, they were not mandatory or tied up to any deadlines yet they made me use my imagination by converting the words into images and reliving the stories. There are so many genres out there and the beauty of it is that you can take something valuable from any book no matter if it falls into the category of self-help, classic, spiritual, biography etc. A book will bring you back in time and show you how people lived; it will broaden your perspective by a new theory or opinion; it will make you go through somebody’s actual experience and at the end of the day the idea is to shift your mind, to make you think and to enrich you. Even though some of the books are based entirely on authors’ opinions rather than a proven fact they still can be beneficial because it provides you a different angle. It is not needed for you to reinvent the wheel it is enough just to read more books because there is an enormous amount of wisdom and truth gathered in them which can help you progress faster. For privileged people like you and I, it is a matter of desire because books are right here – on the internet, in bookstores, in libraries. It is never too late to start reading more and one of the goals of this blog is to encourage you to pick up a good read more often and to benefit from it.

 

No matter where you live around the globe if you have access to books, you are already rich and please take advantage of your privilege. In my posts about style I always emphasize on the importance of taking care of how we look, but taking care of our brains is equally important and books are great trainers. Believe me, smart is sexy!

 

Keep it stylish inside out.

Sofiya


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