If you know that feedback is good for you, why do you sometimes respond defensively when you hear it? It’s natural to want to protect your feelings, but cutting yourself off from useful input interferes with learning and growth.

Fortunately, defensive mechanisms are learned behavior that you can train yourself to overcome. The next time you feel like you’re under attack, keep these points in mind.

Accepting Feedback – Understanding Your Defense Triggers

1. Examine your past. Feeling like your being judged unfairly can dredge up unresolved issues from earlier years. Ask yourself if you’re responding to the immediate situation or still caught up in trying to justify yourself to a parent or ex-spouse.

2. Consider the source. Maybe you’re okay with feedback in general, unless it comes from a stranger or someone you don’t get along with. Keep in mind that strangers and adversaries may bring up valuable information your loved ones tiptoe around.

3. Keep it private. It’s more uncomfortable being lectured in front of an audience. Let others know that you’d appreciate talking one-on-one.

4. Reframe conflicts. Airing grievances has its upside. You bring disagreements out into the open where they can be resolved instead of festering into something worse. Plus, the process of collaborating on solutions tends to deepen the connection between colleagues, friends, and family.

5. Shift your mindset. Look at feedback as an opportunity to grow instead of a sign you flunked some big test. You’ll feel empowered rather than threatened.

6. Affirm your value. Shore up your self-esteem so you’re ready for your next performance review or family meeting. Remembering your accomplishments as a top salesperson or gourmet cook will give you the confidence you need to brush up in a few more areas.

Accepting Feedback – Working on Communication Skills

1. Slow down. Pausing for a deep breath will give you time to calm down and hear what’s being said. That way you can decide how to respond instead of automatically shutting down or lashing out.

2. Listen to your body. If being defensive has become a habit, you may need to watch closely to notice the symptoms. Check whether your pulse is racing or your jaw is clenched.

3. Face your feelings. It can be hard to look at ourselves honestly and navigate a sensitive conversation. Acknowledging that you’re stressed or uncomfortable makes it easier to deal with your emotions.

4. Avoid retaliation. Your first impulse may be to strike back by pointing out the flaws in others. If you resist that temptation, you’re more likely to have a productive discussion.

5. Offer validation. Let others know that you respect their opinions and want to understand their point of view. Repeat back what you heard in your own words. It will give you time to think and show that you’re sincere about collaborating on solutions.

6. Search for truth. Sometimes feedback is off base and delivered without much skill or good intentions. Before you dismiss it entirely, remember that there may still be some valid insights buried in there. Think it over or ask someone you trust to help you sort it out.

7. Suggest alternatives. Receiving feedback skillfully doesn’t always mean acting upon it. That decision is up to you. You may want to explain your position and express your willingness to work things out some other way.

Constructive feedback helps you to enjoy more happiness and success. Being open to comments and criticism will strengthen your relationships and put you on the path to achieving your potential.

Do you feel that therapy isn’t working for you? You don’t have to settle for therapy sessions that leave you upset and confused. There are things you can change today that may provide more effective results.

Consider these options:

1. Recognize the need for change. The first step is to recognize that you may need to make changes in how you receive or use therapy.

* First, ensure you’re giving therapy a chance. You don’t want to quit after one session. However, if you’ve been in therapy for months without seeing an improvement, then it may be time for a change.

2. Talk to the therapist. You can’t expect to change anything if you don’t address your concerns. Explain to your therapist how the therapy isn’t working for you. Perhaps you and your therapist can devise a different approach to your issues.

* It’s important to focus on specific things, so your therapist can understand how to help you. Discuss what you would like to change. Talk about the roadblocks that seem to be stopping you from seeing success with your therapy.

3. Consider another therapist. In some cases, you may not work well with your first therapist. It’s possible that you simply need to find another person who will better understand you. You may even need to try several therapists until you find the right one.

* It’s crucial that you investigate any therapist that you may be considering. Ask questions. Ensure they’re licensed, professional, and know about your condition. You may need to seek out a specialist.

4. Check out other types of therapy. You may benefit from a different type of therapy. Individual therapy works well for many people, but it may not be the right thing for you. You may do better with group or couples therapy. Be willing to explore other therapy options.

5. Medications. It’s possible that therapy isn’t enough by itself to make a significant change in your life. Perhaps medications will help. Talk with your doctor about medicines that could make a difference, and their side effects, so you can make an informed decision.

* You may also want to think about a combination of medication and therapy. In some cases, this combination more effectively provides the results you seek from your therapy.

6. Be brave. It’s difficult to admit that something isn’t working for you, but you’re committing time, effort, and money to have therapy. If the process isn’t working, it’s important to speak up. You won’t see any changes until you address the issues.

* Consider, too, how much you’re really exerting yourself. Are you following the therapist’s advice and implementing it? Are you ignoring the techniques and homework? Therapy won’t work unless you’re willing to use the information you learn.

Therapy is an individual process and may need to be adjusted along the way. If you feel that your current therapy isn’t working for you, have an open discussion with your doctor and consider alternatives. You may find the solution that makes all the difference!

If you’re trying to cut down on caffeine or you accidentally run out of K-cups, there are other ways to wake up fast in the morning. Rub your eyes and take a look at these tips for natural energizers.

Breakfast Ideas for Waking Up without Caffeine

1. Drink water. Your body needs water to function efficiently, so a big glass in the morning will prime your metabolism and help you digest food. Rehydrate with 16 ounces of water served up at room temperature or colder if you prefer.

2. Peel an orange. Citrus smells have a stimulating effect, so indulge in oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines. Whole fruits have an advantage over juice in giving you more fiber.

3. Add mint. Mint is another invigorating choice. Brew a cup of mint tea, sprinkle mint on your eggs, or pop a breath mint on your way to the office.

4. Reach for protein. When you’re planning your breakfast menu, opt for dishes high in protein to give you energy. Some delicious choices are eggs, Greek yogurt, and bean burritos.

5. Focus on complex carbohydrates. Stabilize your blood sugar by eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Starting the day with fruits and vegetables will also help you to reach the recommended 7 to 9 servings.

6. Prepare the night before. What if you’d like a hearty meal, but you know you’ll be in a rush? Arrange the ingredients before you go to bed. Whip up a smoothie that’s ready for the blender or a casserole you can pop in the microwave.

7. Pack it up. Design your breakfast to go. Buy individual packages of yogurt drinks or unsweetened cereal. Bring your hardboiled egg to work and eat it at your desk.

Other Lifestyle Ideas for Waking Up without Caffeine

1. Let in the light. Exposure to light signals your brain that it’s time to stop sleeping. Turn on your bedroom lights as soon as your alarm clock goes off. Open a window or go outdoors for at least a few minutes.

2. Skip the snooze button. Those extra few minutes of slumber are actually sabotaging your efforts. You wind up feeling more groggy than if you jumped out of bed. Put the alarm clock out of reach if you need help resisting temptation.

3. Take a cool shower. Count on cold water for an instant jolt. If a freezing shower sounds unpleasant, cool water will do. You can also splash cold water on your wrists and face.

4. Work out. Exercise is a great pick-me-up, especially in the early hours. Join a 24 hour gym where you can visit at dawn, and avoid long lines for the rowing machine. Sign up for a tai chi class in your local park.

5. Have a laugh. You can’t feel drowsy when you’re whooping it up. Spend a few minutes playing with your children or pets. Listen to a funny program during your commute.

6. Make some small talk. Engaging in conversation will challenge your brain to start thinking clearly. Share interesting news stories or daily plans with your family at the breakfast table. Greet your neighbors and chat with retail workers while you run errands before work.

7. Go to bed on time. Giving your body adequate rest is the ideal wake-up strategy. Turn off the TV and computers so you’ll have a full night’s sleep.

Moderate amounts of caffeine are considered safe for most adults, but you don’t have to depend on coffee to help you rise and shine. Even when there’s no Starbucks in sight, there are plenty of options to help you start your day bright and alert.

Fear is a part of life, and some fear is helpful. You’re afraid to stick your hand into a fire or to jump off a cliff. If you weren’t afraid of anything, you wouldn’t live long. But most fears are crippling and influence your decisions in negative ways.

Imagine you’re walking through the woods and get a thorn in your arm. You would likely remove it and go about your life with little thought of that mild injury. But imagine if you didn’t deal with it.

Eventually, that thorn would affect many of your decisions:

* It would become infected and sore.
* You would be careful not to bump anything.
* You’d avoid most sports.
* You would protect yourself anytime someone walked to close.
* Eventually, you might even develop a special cover to tape over it.
* Then you must worry about finding clothes that fit over it.
* You couldn’t swim because the tape might come off.
* It would affect your sleeping position, and so on.

Fears are the same way. A fear of talking to strangers affects the decisions you make in your social life and career. We avoid all types of things to ensure we don’t stir up the negative emotions caused by our fears.

The more fears you have, the less freedom you enjoy.

Try these techniques to transcend your fears and claim the level of freedom you deserve:

1. Become more aware. There’s a big world out there with a variety of perspectives. Yours might not be the best perspective. You might believe that a fear of public speaking is totally normal and justified. But is it? What is the worst that could happen if you make a mistake? No one is going to stone you.

* Look at all your fears and make a list of them.
* Decide which are causing your life the most grief. Which fears do you spend the most time working around? Which are the most limiting?

2. Determine why you’re afraid. What are the possible consequences that cause you to be afraid?

3. Deal with your fears a little at a time. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, try giving a speech to your child, nephew, or niece. Then trying giving it to three of them. Build up your tolerance until you can speak to thousands.

4. Use techniques to lower your fear. There are many tools for dealing with fear:

* The Emotional Freedom Technique is popular.
* So is the Sedona Method.
* Hypnosis and meditation are also options.
* You can also use a psychologist if you’re not making a lot of progress on your own.

5. Use a journal. Writing can often be more helpful than thinking. We take the things we write more seriously than our self-talk. You talk to yourself constantly throughout the day. What will one more thought accomplish? Use a journal to record your thoughts, fears, and your progress.

6. Develop a new understanding of failure. Many of the silly fears we have are related to a fear of failure. Ask yourself what can happen if you fail? Failure can be a great thing if you learn from it and apply it to your life.

Imagine a life without any irrational fears. What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failing? You can measure your personal freedom by number of fears you possess. Everyone develops fears as a natural consequence of living. You have a choice. You don’t have to keep your fears. Spend some time each day dealing with your fears and reclaim your life.

If you have food allergies, it’s crucial that you avoid cross-contamination. Whether you’re allergic to peanuts, wheat, or another product, these tips will help you stay healthy and avoid trips to the hospital.

Cross-contamination is especially dangerous if you have severe food allergies.

Follow these techniques to avoid eating anything that may be contaminated with the food you’re allergic to:

1. Make your kitchen free from allergens. Depending on your food allergens, your family may or may not be able to eat the same things. It’s common for families to have different sensitivities to the same substances.

* It helps to keep the entire kitchen free from the specific foods that cause your allergies.

* Even if one of your family members isn’t allergic to that item, they can contaminate surfaces that you come into contact with when they eat it in your house. It’s easy for a few crumbs to be carried all over the house.

2. Be careful with restaurants and fast food. Cross-contamination is a big issue in the food industry. A restaurant may claim they can make an allergen-free dish. However, it may still be contaminated by other items in the kitchen. Even if they have a separate space or utensils for these purposes, you run the risk of cross-contamination in your meals.

* For example, a chef may use the same knife to prepare all the food. A waiter may touch the dishes and cross-contaminate them. Food preparers may use the same gloves to make multiple dishes. Cross-contamination is a real threat when you’re eating out, so you may want to avoid it.

3. Read labels carefully. Even if you’ve bought the item before, it’s important to check the label each time. Brands and manufacturers frequently update their ingredient lists and change recipes.

* Possible cross-contamination may be listed on the new label. Food manufacturers are required to note on the label if there is a risk of contamination with the top allergens such as wheat, eggs, dairy, and others.

4. Ask questions. If there’s any doubt about what might be in your food, it’s important to speak up and find out if any of your allergen could be present.

* When it comes to food allergies, politeness needs to take a back seat. It may seem impolite to question a host or waiter about the ingredients in a dish. However, the consequences of cross-contamination can be devastating.

* Find out what ingredients are in each dish and ask about shared kitchen space and utensils. Many people don’t realize that cross-contamination can occur on several levels.

* Consider telling your dinner companions about your food allergies in case they need to rush you to a hospital or use an epinephrine pen.

* Questions are the key to knowing more about your food and keeping yourself safe.

Cross-contamination may have serious consequences if you have food allergies. Take the necessary precautions to ensure that your allergen doesn’t end up in your meal. Then, you can eat heartily and enjoy!

Have you heard the hype surrounding tiger nuts and resistant starch? They’re a popular paleo food option, and an essential part of some diets. If you’ve been wondering what they are and how to use them, then the following tips will help.

Learn about tiger nuts:

1. What are tiger nuts? The name is misleading since they have nothing to do with tigers and aren’t actually nuts.

* Tiger nuts are tubers that grow wild around the world. They tend to be small and brown in color. They’re considered a root vegetable, about the same size as a chickpea. You may have seen bags of them at a whole food store.

* In Africa, tiger nuts have been eaten for centuries.

* They’re a nutritious food source, so they’re popular around the globe. It’s believed that ancient Egyptians ate them.

2. Health benefits. Tiger nuts are a rich source of vitamins and minerals:

* They have high levels of phosphorous, potassium, and vitamins E and C.

* Tiger nuts also have zinc, magnesium, and iron.

* They’re a good source of protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and fiber.

* They can help you stay full after a meal, so you’re less likely to overeat. They can also help regulate your digestive system because of the high amount of fiber. Tiger nuts don’t have gluten or dairy, so they’re safe for people with these allergens.

3. Resistant starch benefits. One of the reasons why tiger nuts are so popular on the paleo diet is because of their resistant starch. They have more resistant starch than potatoes and other vegetables.

* Resistant starch is important because it takes longer to digest, so you feel fuller and don’t eat as much. This is one way that some are able to maintain a target weight or lose weight.

* Another benefit of resistant starch is that it may help colon health.

* Research shows that this type of starch may also help control blood sugar levels, prevent or fight diabetes, and reduce your appetite.

4. How to find and eat tiger nuts. Tiger nuts are generally available at many health food stores. They can also be purchased online. They’re mostly sold in bags.

* You can eat them straight from the bag. Some prefer to soak them in water, so they’re easier to eat. However, eating tiger nuts raw is fine according to nutritionists.

* You may also see tiger nut flour. This will give you the option of cooking or baking with this root vegetable.

* Tiger nut milk may be available in your area. Since it doesn’t have dairy, it’s a common option for those who can’t tolerate lactose or are allergic to milk.

* Experts recommend looking for organic and preservative-free tiger nuts. You want to avoid tiger nuts that have been processed with chemicals or have added artificial ingredients. It’s also crucial to avoid the tiger nuts with extra sugar in them since it contradicts the health benefits. Tiger nuts are naturally crunchy and not sweet.

Tiger nuts are a source of resistant starch that helps you stick to a nutritious diet. They’re a generally healthy option for those who follow paleo and other food trends.

How would you like to burn more calories without spending more time at the gym? You don’t need any magic formula to break through a weight-loss plateau or slim down faster. A few simple changes can make your workouts more efficient.

Burning more calories is a matter of what kind of exercises you do and how you do them. Read these tips before your next workout.

Burning More Calories by Changing What You Do

1. Run it off. Running deserves its reputation for keeping you lean. The average adult burns almost 9 calories a minute at a moderate pace. Pumping your arms or carrying weight will raise those figures even more.

2. Take a dip. If you love the water, swimming torches more than 500 calories an hour. If you prefer to stay dry, rowing consumes almost 700.

3. Jump rope. When you’re pressed for time, lose 10 calories a minute by jumping rope. The results will add up quickly.

4. Strap on skates. Skating requires about as much energy as running, but you may have so much fun you’ll forget you’re exercising. Many rinks provide lessons in case you’re a newcomer or want to brush up on the skating skills you learned as a kid.

5. Play sports. Lots of sports provide an intense workout. Basketball and singles tennis can burn over 700 calories an hour. For a gentler experience, how about volleyball or softball for about half those figures.

Burning More Calories by Changing How You Exercise

1. Train in intervals. Many studies show that alternating between high-intensity exercise and low-intensity recovery periods can double the amount of calories you burn, and those effects continue for hours afterwards. Try jumping rope for two minutes and then walking in place for 3 minutes.

2. Mix it up. Your body quickly adapts to any workout program. Rotate your activities to create a greater challenge.

3. Stand tall. Do you sit down when you spot a free bench at the gym? Remaining on your feet requires more effort as your body works to balance itself.

4. Aim low. Spend more time targeting the bottom half of your body. That’s where the larger muscles are in your hips, glutes, and legs. Pick up the pace with squats and lunges.

5. Keep moving. Shorten the time you spend resting in between exercises. If you’re lifting weights, try doing compound sets. That way your back can recover from pull-ups while your triceps are hard at work doing presses.

6. Eat before and after. Your body will be able to exert more force when you give it the nourishment it needs. Enjoy a small meal high in protein and carbohydrates a few hours before working out, and a similar snack afterwards. Manage portion sizes so you’re not overeating.

7. Invite a friend. Workout buddies and group fitness classes make demanding workouts feel like playtime. Find a friendly coworker who might want to join you for a run after work. Sign up for acroyoga or badminton lessons.

8. Go outdoors. Appreciating the beauty of nature is another way to take your mind off how many miles you’re running or how high a cliff you’re climbing. Research what your local parks and community centers have to offer.

9. Listen to music. Inside and out, a lively soundtrack makes you want to move. Music helps you to coordinate your movements and overcome fatigue.

Keep in mind that safe weight loss usually requires changing the way you eat, as well as becoming more physically active. Combine a balanced diet low in calories with a fat-burning workout program, and you’ll see results sooner.

Are you aware of the connection between physical pain and depression? It’s important to understand the link, and how it affects your body and mind. This understanding can help you with treatment and therapy.

Learn more about this depression and pain dilemma:

1. Understand the depression and physical pain cycle. Health experts share that depression and pain appear to share a cycle. This cycle makes it difficult to see where one issue starts and ends. There is overlap between depression and pain, so it’s hard to tell them apart.

* As your depression gets worse or better, your physical pain responds and may get worse or better in sync. The two are interlinked in a complex way that makes it harder to treat.

* Pain can also make depression more difficult. If you’re not able to work or do the activities you enjoy because of physical pain, you suffer and feel isolated. This can increase depression and feelings of worthlessness.

2. Consider inflammation. Recent research points to the role of inflammation in both depression and pain. More inflammation is likely to make depression worse. Likewise, if you have high levels of inflammation in your body, you’re more likely to have higher levels of pain.

Fighting Back Against Depression and Pain

If you’re battling depression and pain, using these strategies may alleviate your symptoms:

1. Seek help for your depression. You may benefit from therapy or medications specifically designed to manage depression.

2. Get help for your physical pain. You may have to make multiple doctors’ appointments to get to the root cause of the pain. But you want to ensure that whatever is causing your physical pain is also being treated in the best ways you have available.

3. Stay active. It’s easy to allow depression and pain to take over your world and hide. However, it’s crucial that you exercise and stay involved.

4. Lean on your support network. Whether it’s your friends, family, or coworkers, you need people in your life who understand you and can help you during a time of need.

3. Find something that you love. Experts point out that pursuing a hobby or activity that you enjoy can help bring you out of the cycle of depression and pain.

* Find something that brings you joy on a daily basis. This can range from cooking your favorite meals to dancing at a popular club. You can also find joy in smaller activities such as talking to a friend, reading a book, or writing down your thoughts.

* The key is to focus on positive activities that uplift you and help you forget the pain.

4. Learn to speak positively to yourself. Positive self-talk has been shown to reduce both depression and pain.

* Many athletes can talk through the pain to finish a competition. Many celebrities use positive self-talk to get out of depression. You, too, can use this technique to help manage your pain and depression.

* It’s important to focus on positive aspects of your life and personality, so you don’t feel guilt or shame. Avoid berating yourself over mistakes. Shift your focus away from negative ideas, habits, or suggestions.

* The more you practice positive self-talk, the better you get at it, and the greater influence you’ll have on your results.

Depression and physical pain are linked together. It’s not easy to see where one starts and the other ends. Nevertheless, you can take action to alleviate both pain and depression. Try these techniques to make a positive difference in your life.

Do you find yourself often judging others and criticizing them? Are you also critical of yourself? You may have formed a habit of judgmental thinking that you didn’t realize you had.

Judging is a common issue and can have negative emotional consequences. Although some level of criticism is normal, frequently judging others or yourself can lead you down the path of negativity, suffering, and misery.

Learn the emotional effects of judging:

1. You decrease your own happiness. Judging usually involves negative emotions. You focus on the negative qualities you see in others and yourself. You miss out on the positive aspects.

* This leads to dissatisfaction with the world, your life, your friends, and other things.

2. You hurt others, and harm yourself in the process. Because of the negative feelings you cause when you judge or criticize, you can destroy friendships and relationships. You can sabotage connections at work or other places. Life can become very difficult.

3. You become more critical of yourself. One of the worst negative emotional effects of a judgmental mindset is that you criticize yourself as well as others. Your self-talk becomes very negative as you mentally beat yourself up, and your self-confidence plummets.

Tips to Avoid Judging

If you’re struggling with a judgmental mindset, take heart! Whether you’re criticizing another person or feeling bad about yourself, you can break the cycle. You don’t have to remain in the pain that it causes.

Use this process to avoid judging yourself and others:

1. Notice when you’re judging. The first step is to recognize how many of your thoughts and feelings are judgmental. Monitor your thoughts. Notice how much time you spend on judging and criticizing, both yourself and others.

* Once you learn to recognize a critical thought as soon as it happens, counteract the negative thought with a positive one.

2. Recognize the feelings. You probably don’t enjoy being judged by others, and remembering these feelings can help you avoid doing it yourself. To help you be more patient, keep in mind that everyone’s human and will make mistakes from time to time.

* Instead of jumping to negative conclusions, look for positive qualities.

3. Remind yourself that you can’t see the whole story. No one can see into another person’s soul and read their past! In fact, you most likely don’t know why they think or behave the way that they do.

* For example, you may be critical of someone who eats a lot of junk food and struggles to lose weight. You may feel this person isn’t leading a healthy life, and you know some simple changes can help them. However, you aren’t aware of the real reason they eat, such as emotional issues or years of abuse.

* When you find yourself being critical, remember that you don’t know their story. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They may have perfectly valid reasons for their thoughts or actions.

4. Practice acceptance. Everyone has faults, idiosyncrasies, and issues. Learn to accept these challenges you see in others without judging them or making them feel bad.

* Work toward accepting your own faults as well. Perfectionism is overrated and unachievable. Errors can teach you more than success.

* Acceptance can lead you to sympathy and empathy. It can also open up the doors for you to truly connect with others. Practice acceptance and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

Judging makes life more difficult and interferes with your wellbeing. You end up creating pain and suffering that isn’t necessary. You miss out on the good and positive qualities in others and in yourself.

Alternatively, you can turn on joy in your life when you take steps to become more accepting!

Reading More Made Easy

Half of American adults read less than 5 books in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center. When it comes to literature, consumption has fallen to a 30 year low. The National Endowment for the Arts says only 43% of adults read even a single novel, story, poem, or play in 2015.

Maybe you want to read more, but one thing or another keeps getting in the way. If you’re going to boost your record, it’s important to do more than wait around for vacations or sick days to catch up.

Try following this recipe for consuming bigger portions of the written word.

Make Reading Interesting

1. Follow your passions. There are books on every subject. Start with something you love, whether it’s quantum physics or old movies.

2. Expand your options. Are you feeling guilty about the bestseller that’s been sitting on your nightstand since last Christmas? Keep a variety of fresh reading material around to stimulate your curiosity.

3. Know when to quit. If you’re bored with one title, move on. Stay engaged by reading only what you care about.

Make Reading Social

1. Share lists. Does a local shop have a section for staff recommendations? Create your own suggestions to share with family and friends.

2. Lend and borrow. How about sharing the books while you’re at it? Reading will be more pleasurable when you can look forward to discussing your reactions with others. You may learn more about yourself and your loved ones.

3. Post reviews. Sites like Amazon and Goodreads make it easy to voice your opinions about any author and their works. You may find that you read more carefully when you know you’re going to report on what you think.

4. Join a club. Reading doesn’t have to be solitary. Look on Meetup for a book club near you or start one of your own.

Make Reading Convenient

1. Fill in gaps. If it’s difficult to carve out a full free hour, read when you can. That could include the time you spend on hold or standing in line for groceries.

2. Carry supplies. Put a paperback or magazine in your tote bag, so you can take it along with you wherever you go, or keep your e-reader handy. Stash some books in your office, car, and kitchen.

3. Install shelves. How many bookshelves do you have at home? Having your books visible and accessible will make you want to read more.

4. Plan ahead. While it pays to incorporate reading into your daily routine, you can also take advantage of opportunities to dive deeper into great works. When you’re recovering from surgery or taking an international flight, you can use the time to brush up on Russian poetry or Greek art.

5. Keep it brief. On the other hand, if you’re swamped, you can still squeeze in some essays and short stories. Do what works for you.

6. Choose your format. E-readers and traditional books both have their advocates. Experiment with whatever options are most comfortable for you. You may even find that you like both approaches, depending on the subject matter or time of day.

7. Renew your library card. How long has it been since you visited your local library? Unlike most hobbies, reading can be totally free of charge.

Grow wiser and have fun by reading more books. Reading sharpens your thinking, reduces your stress levels, and helps you to feel more connected to the world around you. The next time you’re watching TV or checking your Facebook page, consider picking up a book instead.