A little fiction might help open up your mind

Not too long ago I met a young lady who is very committed to her work, whatever that work might be. She was just starting at a new position and a new company when we had a chance to talk.

She made a very positive impression on me, but there was one thing she told me that was quite disappointing. You see, she told me that she almost never read any fiction because even though she liked it, she thought it was a waste of time.

That’s something that has been on my mind a lot, since I figured that there probably are many out there who think the same way. If you happen to be one of those people, I’ll tell you the same thing I told her: a little fiction might just open your mind to new ideas.

Recent history is full of cases of people who went out and actually created the things they read about in fiction novels. This is especially true of science fiction novels since they seem to inspire the more technically creative people. However, I don’t wish to just point at the mobile phone, which was inspired by the original Star Trek series’ handheld communicators, and other such developments. That is just one example of how fiction can offer a contribution to people’s lives.

When you get home after a hard day’s work, you might be stressed out, or just plain tired. Reading a good book and really diving into the story is a great way to reset your mind. It makes you rapidly forget any problems or stressful situations you might have faced during the day.

This not only helps you relax, but it gives you an opportunity to exercise your imagination. After all, reading a book is quite different from watching TV. You don’t get to “see” how things look; you have to imagine it, based on the author’s descriptions.

If you read different types of books, such as thrillers, science fiction, fantasy and romance, you’ll find yourself moving between very different types of worlds and descriptions, which I believe makes for an even better exercise for your mind. As you read more books, it gets easier for you to picture in your mind what the author describes, even when you are reading about a totally different world or universe.

This capability to “see” these worlds in my mind is something that I find really helps me when I’m approaching a new situation. As someone describes a problem that needs to be solved or an idea that he or she wants to implement, I go through a very similar process, assembling the pieces in my mind to get a better idea of the whole.

The next time you are in a bookshop, think about this. Perhaps you might just take home a book to help you both relax and exercise your mind at the same time.

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*Picture: SpaceX (not fiction) – Interior of the Dragon V2 space capsule

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on June 3rd, 2014.