Memory improvement … real memory improvement
So, you want to improve your memory? Great, glad to hear it, you’ve come to the right place. Memory improvement is one of the most valuable aspects of self improvement, so I congratulate you. I’ve put together a site that you should find interesting, and useful. You’ll find detailed explanations of various memory techniques on this site, and they should enable you to experience some real memory improvement. Some of them are simple and basic while others, like the Major System, are a bit more involved. They call for a bit of practice and a bit of faith in yourself. But, assuming you’re willing to spend a little time practising, I’m sure you’ll find that they’re well within your capabilities, and once you learn them you’ll be amazed how useful they are.
Why bother to improve your memory?
Some people might think it’s not really worth the time and effort to focus on memory improvement, but I disagree. I think it’s one of the most important things you can do. Memory is the cornerstone of all learning. It doesn’t really matter how well you understand a subject if, after a while, you’ve forgotten most of it. All the hard work you put into learning about the subject in the first place was wasted really, since it’s gone now, effectively wiped from your mind.
To really benefit from learning you have to both understand and remember. You have to absorb the subject in such a way that it remains with you longterm. Of course, this applies to ordinary everyday situations as well as subjects you might be studying at school or university. You have to keep track of things of all kinds, even things as simple as the names of friends and acquaintances, and even if you’re no longer involved in organised study of any kind, and the only way to do this effectively is to improve your memory skills.
You need to learn … and remember
This is a basic fault with the education system, in my opinion. Students are taught with the aim of passing exams. This is necessary, of course, but it seems to have become the main objective, as schools are increasingly answerable for the results of their students. I’m sure you’re familiar with the situation where someone studies hard for an exam and then, a short while later, can remember very little of the subject they studied. This is fine, according to the education system, since exams have been passed and targets met, but it’s not really the best outcome. Ideally, you should remember what you’ve learned longterm.
I’m not saying that everyone should remember everything they’ve ever studied (although that would be amazing, if it could be achieved), just that people should be taught in such a way that information automatically becomes part of long term memory. If the focus was switched to learning in a different way, so that things are lodged firmly in the long term memory right from the start, the results could be so much better.
Memory improvement would go a long way to remedying this situation. Studying with the aid of effective memory techniques can be so much easier and so much more rewarding. Why memory improvement techniques aren’t taught in schools I can’t imagine. To my way of thinking, memory improvement should be a cornerstone of teaching.
Learning using memory techniques
Most people have their own personal way of learning, methods that they’ve come up with almost by chance, and sometimes those things work very well for them. For many people though, it’s very much a hit-and-miss affair, which accounts for the fact that they never really absorb the information in a more permanent way. They depend on repetition and more repetition, followed by … well, even more repetition. Which can work okay, but is a very basic method of memorisation, and not always dependable. Fortunately, repetition is not the only way to make sure you remember things longterm.
This is where memory techniques come into their own. Just as you wouldn’t be expected to work out how to tackle quadratic equations all on your own, you shouldn’t be expected to work out how to best use your memory all by yourself. It’s a specific skill, and it has to be learned. Fortunately, there are proven techniques, which have been developed over a long period of time by people who have devoted a lot of time and effort to the study. Consequently you don’t have to ‘re-invent the wheel’. All you have to do is study the memory techniques that have stood the test of time, and put them into practice.
And let me be clear – you don’t have to learn and master every technique on this site in order to improve your memory. They’re presented here as a sort of memory techniques smorgasbord, and you’re welcome to take a little bite of this and and little taste of that and see how you like it. If you find something that resonates with you, study that, it might be all you need. That’s fine, you needn’t overburden yourself by learning things you have no need for. Just find what works for you, then apply it.
Imagination and creativity
Memory improvement is basically very simple, and it should be enjoyable as well! Essentially, all memory is by association, and the best way to associate one thing with another is by using your imagination creatively. Your brain gets bored very easily. It encounters thousands of sensory inputs every day (actually, millions would probably be closer to the mark), and if it tried to categorise and memorise them all it would be a truly monumental task (and most of it, frankly, would be a complete waste of time).
After all, do you really need to remember the weather conditions that prevail today? Or what you had for breakfast? Or how many people you spoke to throughout the course of the day, and everything that was said? Of course not. And the brain, being quite … er, brainy … knows this. It knows very well that most of what happens in your life is mudane and unimportant, and it’s not worth its time and effort to remember it all.
Fortunately, the brain has found a way to deal with this situation; it makes an executive decision whether something is important or not, and if it’s found wanting it disregards it almost immediately.
You remember what interests you!
So what makes a thing important enough for the brain to take notice? The answer’s pretty obvious really; when something appears to be new, the brain suddenly gets interested (mmm … this looks interesting … could be important …) The brain just loves novelty! It indicates that the thing could indeed be important and worthy of attention, which results in the formation of a memory. Also, when something appears to be interesting the same thing happens. So basically there are two situations that stimulate memory:
1 – The information appears to be completely new
2 – The information appears to be very interesting
When either of these things happen, the brain gets busy creating a long lasting impression (which is just another name for a memory). So all you need to do to improve your memory is to make sure at least one of these things is happening. Of course, the fact is that very often they both occur at the same time. New things, by their very nature, often seem interesting. And if they don’t, you can always fix that!
Creative imagination – the power behind memory!
So if you can use your imagination creatively to come up with something novel, something that the brain will find interesting and absorbing, you’re halfway there. And if the subject you’re focusing on isn’t particularly interesting, then make it interesting in some way (again, a job for the imagination).
In both these situations you can use your imagination creatively to come up with a new way of looking at something, or a new way of linking one thing to another in some unusual and interesting way. That’s basically all memory improvement boils down to – making things interesting, and linking things to things you already know, in interesting ways. And the best way to achieve this is by using the proven memory techniques you’ll find right here, on this site.
Where to start?
You can start anywhere you feel like, there’s no hard and fast rule, There’s plenty here to read and lots of things to study. But, just a suggestion, you might like to start by looking into one of the simpler memory techniques like the Alphabet List to start off with. The hard work’s already done – you learned the alphabet at school – so associating things with it is a walk in the park!