Just how good is your memory?
It is said that elephants never forget anything.
Though this may have started off as some fable, there is now considerable scientific evidence showing that elephants do indeed have a phenomenal memory.
How would your life change if you could remember more things related to your work?
At one time, people’s intelligence was gauged on just how much they could remember. The more they could impress others with their memorised facts, the “smarter” they were deemed to be.
Indeed our education system even now seems to reward those students who are able to cram in lots of information and regurgitate during exams, without ever really understanding what they have “learnt”.
Today there are a huge range of resources online and offline to help you improve your memory and creativity.
Some people are even genuinely gifted with the ability to remember a huge amount of data – I always remember the scene in the movie Rain Man in which Dustin Hoffman’s character is able to memorise the sequence of playing cards in a casino.
Of course any such gift of prodigious memory should always be used with integrity.
At the same time, it isn’t always useful to cram your head with unnecessary mundane things.
With the advent of the internet and the sheer volume of information available, I don’t see the need to learn too much general knowledge.
You can always go and find out more. Of course any general knowledge you pick up during the course of your day is a bonus.
Nowadays, I focus on minimalist living – do check out this new Minimalist website just launched by star blogger Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.
Minimalist living clearly applies also to how much you read and absorb – you could even go on an information diet as advocated by Tim Ferris.
Which brings me to my point of this article – what is the number one secret to developing a great memory for when you must learn something?!
It really is simple
Be interested and passionate about your life and about your topic.
You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. ~ Clay P. Bedford
If you simply do not care about your subject matter, it is so much harder for you to learn anything.
In the bigger picture, if you don’t have any vitality and zest for life, it will be much harder for you to learn anything.
Next time you have to learn and memorise something, focus on your reason for learning it and on the longer term benefits of doing so.
Then go and use any of the myriad range of memory and learning tools out there.
However, what if you are not passionate about something that you are forced to learn? In that case, either get passionate about that topic or find something else. Sounds simple, but why spend your life doing something that doesn’t excite you?
“Life is way too short to be mediocre, to be average, to be bland. Stand out. This is the time you have to make your mark in history. To change an industry. To change the world.
Believe that you will achieve whatever goals you set.
Let passion infuse every single area of life.” ~ Anonymous
Of course some things in life you just have to do even if you can’t stand them – in which case just get your head down and focus on finishing them as best as you can.
From now onwards, be truly passionate about your life and watch the power of your memory expolde.
Be a Jumbo, not a Dumbo 🙂
I’m really looking forward to seeing your new design.
The number one thing that has improved my memory has been consistent effort to remember. You don’t do well at first, but you just keep getting a little better.
Hi Justin, I am working all day on the new design and it will be launched in the next 48 hours. Of coure like us humans it will be always be a work-in-progress:-)
Consistent effort to remember – I like your approach. Now if only I can remember to apply it….
Round about my 45th birthday I had to figure out a way to do a better job of remembering. I’d always had a good memory, and it began to desert me. What I do now, when I have something critical to remember, is to imagine a mental pushpin sticking the item to my mind. I even imagine the color. This has helped a lot. I imagine I am bringing color and vision to help fire up those deteriorating nerve endings:).
Thanks Lisa for visiting – good to see you here!
Great idea about the mental pushpins – but I guess if you have to use a lot of pins,it could get a bit painful:-)
I took this great picture last weekend, at my peace retreat, of a head shaped pot with some sort of cactus growing out of it – I can visualise ones head looking like that with all these pushpins sticking out!
I shall send you the image right away:-)
Arvind, great article. Indeed going on an information diet strikes a chord with my own thinking and reasoning.
As an actor memorization is something that is needed to learn 50 or more pages of text for a play. Yet I found out that I have a specific style for learning. I need to move. So whether I learn a text or I learn some new data in any new field of interest, I am running around while impregnating it on my brain. I found this out pretty early in my life.
The key is to be curious and listen to your self, what feels good to do and feels enjoyable during your learning might be a great way for you to increase your learning capacity.
Otherwise follow the road of the mnmlst.
Patrick, it seems that we are all on the path of minimalism!
Let us teach the world to go on an information diet – and bring about more joy in the process:-)
As for memorisation, movement is a great idea. In NLP terms you are anchoring the information whilst you are moving along and you are using more of your modalities. We should use whatever tools and prompts that helps us remember more easily and quickly.
I have big memory issues, I always find myself forgetting important things and yet remembering details that I never put effort in remembering, but I guess that happens to everybody. My parents told me that when they were at school they had to stand up and recite poems by heart; if they failed they would beat their hands with a wooden ruler!!!!
Way before, memory was a key tool but notice this was before the use of the printing press by the European civilization (I think Chinese were using it way before), so it was pretty necessary and was seen as a virtue. (The Iliad and The Odyssey are epic poems that used to be recited, that is why when we read it, some lines that continuously repeat themselves may call our attention, but those are there because they were formulas that the people reciting the poems used as memory tricks). When I chose Greek I and II for my mandatory Ancient subjects at University I had to learn everything by heart, I got excellent grades because I wrote and exercised over and over again and in the final oral exam the professor made me say by hard some verbs and I did great, but after a year, it was all gone!!! It has happened to me during my whole life. Now I know that the things that we learn that way will still be with us if we use them, I have had many professors that did not want us to study by heart because they already know that that happens, the just want us to understand.
I agree with you in the fact that you need to be interested in what you are remembering but you can also manage to remember pretty boring stuff (although it may feel like a living nightmare) I just don’t believe that being curious is enough to remember the things you memorized a year ago and that you have never used since then.
My advice for memorizing anything, even if you don’t like it is:
1) write it down a couple of times,
2) then repeat it in your head paying extra attention to the lines you a re forgetting 3)write it down by heart
4) You can try writing also on a whiteboard, so you see it all the time (my Greek professor used to say “make yourself a list of all these variations and stick it in every room, even in the toilet”)
5) DO IT AS MANY TIMES AS IT TAKES!!!
If this does not work, ask a friend to beat you up with a ruler…
Thanks for your long comment and wonderful tips!
I grew up in Kenya and I remember as a child we too had to learn and recite – failure to do so was a smack in the palms with a ruler. We soon learnt our times tables!
Next time I really need to remember and learn something, I shall try getting passionate and interested about it – and then apply your 5 tips.
Failing that I may just have to find a wooden ruler for myself…:-)
Great article! It made me remember a time when I worked with people who had learning disabilities and what fascinated me was that conventional teaching methods often didn;t work however when they were passionate or curious about a subject, like anyone else, they remembered all the necessary details. One young man with Down syndrome was told by his teacher that he would never understand maths and was exempt from maths class – however this young man could tell you exactly what was on the regional, national and international football and rugby score boards and accurately relay to you what teams required to win a league. His curiousity extended to all other sports also. So clearly, passion and curiousity fired his memory. His curiousity did not, however, extend to algebra or any other part of the Maths curriculum much to the consternation his teacher!
Looking forward to the new design.
Susan, welcome to my blog – and thanks for your first ever comment in the blogosphere!
Clearly passion and curiosity really do inspire us to remember more. I have one cousin with Down Syndrome and though he may appear to be “slow” he can remember many things that all around him have long since forgotten.
It really is time to revisit how we define “intelligence”.
My new blog design is going up over night:-)
Hey Arvind – nice job – and still an excellent point!
Passion seems to be the key to so many things in life, and I don’t think it is something you can fake or create. We all have oodles of passion – the only question is; where is it? what inspires or releases it? I find it is usually simple themes that can help us key into the passion that is already here.
The good news about that is – when you simply have to do something that seems un-inspiring or passionless – you can look back to your ‘passion themes’ and notice where they are present in the task at hand.
For example – one of my ‘passion themes’ (that I know you share) is ‘Service’ – so as long as I can relate a task to service – I engage my passion!
So, thanks for inspiring these thoughts! I hope they serve!! ;0)
And I’m looking forward to seeing the new design!
Love & Blessings
PS That Salad u made was yummy!
Thanks Joel for your feedback.
Glad you liked the salad – amazing what happens when you put a lot of TLC into yuor food!
Thanks too for the elephant image – I was not able to use it since I needed the whole “jumbo” and not just his face. Great image though!
I am very passionate about helping people discover their passion – and I am glad you brought up the point about simple themes.
As always there is no rocket science to any of this – look for your passion in anything you have to do and you are bound to find it to some extent.
Arvind, An very interesting post and comments. My take is that understanding what you read or study is much more important than memorizing. When I read a number of books on the same general topic, I remember what I read. However, I do not actively try to memorize anything.
Certainly, passion plays a big part in learning and understanding. If something doesn’t interest me much, I don’t read much about it. Take sports: I don’t have a lot of facts about sports stored in my head.
Madeleine, in this day of instant access to information we are all tending to use our memory muscles much less.
I also believe that students today are “learning” even less. Not many are actually passionate about their studies and therefore struggle with their learning and memorising. But at the same time, most students are very passionate about their sports teams:-)