It’s when we are children that we learn at our most effective pace. As a child, every day is an opportunity to discover something new, a chance to learn something that interests us, an adventure to be relished. Of course, as we grow up we grow out of this attitude. The process of getting older almost inevitably brings with it a cynicism and a take-it-all-for-granted attitude that doesn’t actually serve us well.
It’s not too late to change.
Who said you have to stay like everyone else, cynical and bored with life? Why not step into that time machine and regain your old childlike attitude of wonderment and fascination with life. There’s no law against it. Just start looking at life through the eyes of a child again and prepare to be amazed! Your memory will definitely start to improve, because you’ll be reactivating parts of your brain that have started to atrophy through disuse.
Keep a journal
You might benefit from keeping a journal or blog. Again, this isn’t a cop out. As with using a personal organiser, it’s a way of organising your thoughts and getting them out of your head, onto paper (or onto the screen). It makes no sense to try to keep track of everything with your memory, when there’s perfectly good technology to take care of most of the boring stuff. And organising it with a blog or journal frees your mind up for the more interesting stuff!
As a side effect of keeping track of things in this way, your memory will automatically benefit.
Drink green tea – one of the nicest memory improvement tips
I could write a whole page on the benefits of green tea, but I’ll try to keep this short. This beverage has been used for centuries as a medicinal drink, and its properties have only recently been more carefully researched (to find out what the Chinese knew perfectly well a few thousand years ago!). It seems the reason green tea is so much more beneficial is that it is prepared differently from black tea, which is fermented, and thereby loses much of its anti-oxidant value.
Some of the many purported benefits of green tea include: weight loss, an easing of the symptoms of diabetes, reduction in blood pressure, reduction of ‘bad’ cholesterol, strengthening of the heart and blood vessels, improved dental health, reduction in cancer risk, lessening of the effects of depression, etc, etc. These are some of the supposed effects of regular use of green tea, but naturally I don’t suggest any of this as medical advice.
What I can say from personal experience is that green tea is a very relaxing, calming drink, and seems to aid the digestion. Anything that has a calming effect can only be good for the brain generally, and would, I assume, be an aid to the memory and other mental faculties.
Okay, a few of the reasons:
- it controls your actions
- you become its slave
- it makes you and your clothes smell
- it’s essentially pointless
- it’s expensive, and the expense never stops
- it interferes with your sense of taste and smell
- it’s a bad choice that you now have to live with
- it can make you feel like an outcast
- it alienates you from most of society
- it can cause several different types of cancer
- many people find it (and therefore you) distasteful
- it shows you’re not in control of yourself
- it can seriously damage your health, or even kill you
- it makes you an addict – you have no choice in the matter
- once you have formed the habit, it’s very difficult to stop
- if it didn’t exist and was just introduced, it would never be granted a licence
- … need I go on?
No More Excuses!
There’s no half measures when it comes to this, you should DEFINITELY quit smoking, and you know it! Research has shown that former smokers consistently score higher on memory tests than current smokers. So if you’ve been looking for a good incentive to help you quit, consider it found!
There are several very good stratagems for overcoming the addiction. You’re not alone in this, believe me. Virtually every sane person who is a smoker wants to quit. The thing that separates some from the rest of the crowd is that they are willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal. It won’t necessarily be easy (you just know it takes effort, right?), but the benefits of quitting smoking are just too great to ignore.
Plan your day
We function better when we plan, that’s a simple fact. It’s much easier to drift from day to day, but it’s not the road to progress. If you take just five or ten minutes before you turn in for the night and spend that time reviewing your day and planning what you aim to do the next day, you almost inevitably find you get more done. Needless to say, this more organised approach leads to a more organised memory.
If you’re not convinced, why not set yourself an experiment. Give yourself just two or three weeks (decide on a time frame before you start so that you have something definite to stick to), and then, for that period, work rigidly to an organised approach to each day. Just see if you get more done and if you feel more content and pleased with your progress. it’s no good taking things like this on someone else’s word, any more than it makes sense to reject it without giving it a shot. But just be aware that very effective people (what’s known as ‘high achievers’) don’t leave much to chance. They plan, they organise, and they expect to get things done.
Watch your language!
If a friend of yours was constantly criticising you, you wouldn’t be happy about it. If they kept telling you your memory was hopeless and you were never likely to make anything of yourself, you’d start looking for a new friend. Yet, if you’re like most people, you probably put up with this kind of thing all the time. But not from a ‘well meaning’ friend, but someone infinitely more important – yourself!
Most of us, most of the time, are guilty of negative self-talk. It doesn’t really make much sense – why on earth would we tell ourselves, again and again, that we “can’t remember”, that we’ll “just never understand this … or that”, that we’re “just not talented in that way”. It’s remarkable, when you think about it, that the one person whose advice we value most (ourselves), is constantly telling us we’re just no good.
Start changing it right now! Watch what you say, and start replacing negative remarks with positive ones. If you find yourself thinking “I just can’t remember …”, change it to “I’m having a bit of trouble recalling that, but I’ll get it in a minute, my memory is fine, the information’s all there, I just need to relax and let it come”. You can even prepare for this – just write down all the bad comments you make to yourself (come on, you know what they are!), and write down an opposing comment for each one, a positive one, one that will empower you instead of weakening you. Then start putting your plan into action, replacing negative with positive. You’ll find it will have quite an effect, and quite quickly too.
You could also use Motivator, a tremendous little piece of software that will help instil new ideas and behaviours painlessly, while you use your computer.
Use all your senses
The more senses you employ in the memorization process, the stronger that memory will be. It makes sense to take a multi-sensory approach to memorizing if you want to be able to recall stuff later on. This is where imagination and visualisation really come into play – you need to not only ‘see’ things in your mind, but ‘hear’ them too, and involve the other senses as well, where appropriate.
Get used to mentally circling things in your memory, seeing them from every angle, and zooming in for a close look. Touch things, feel the various sensations that go along with it, make it almost come alive in your imagination. Make it so real that your brain will be desperate to cling onto its perception of it – that’s what it takes to make a lasting memory.
Lay off the soft drinks
It’s important to keep well hydrated, but you’ll never achieve that with soft drinks crammed with way too much sugar and other additives.
How many times do you need to hear that this kind of drink is not good for you? Hm? You know it’s the truth. Just leave a tarnished penny in a saucer full of cola and check it out later – nice and shiny. Mmm … now then, if it’s acidic enough to do that to a piece of metal, can it really be good for your insides? And need I repeat, anything that affects your health, potentially affects your memory.
Repetition, repetition, repetition …
It’s an old fashioned way of learning things, but it works. If you’ve just met someone and you know from long experience that you’ll have trouble remembering their name, repeat it to yourself a few times. Write it down as well, if you have the opportunity, and introduce the name into the conversation, naturally. You’ll find it’s much easier to recall the name once you’ve made a bit of a performance of memorising it.
If I asked you to study the alphabet backwards till you’ve committed it to memory, you’d think that was a difficult task, yes? But as a child, you learnt the alphabet forwards, and you could barely read and write or string a sentence together. How did you manage it? Repetition! It might seem like a lame, old fashioned memory technique, but it works, and it works well.
If you’re studying a subject, make notes (or mind maps), and review them regularly. Let your brain have acccess to the information it needs. Help it along. Don’t expect miracles. You have to do it, and do it again, and again, and …
Start a challenging hobby
Remember, you’re a lot smarter than you think. So set yourself a challenge. Think about it carefully and come up with something that will really stretch you. And no cheating – don’t make it easy!
What’s it to be? Learn a language? Take up painting? Skydiving? Study for a degree? Only you know the answer to this one. But one thing you can be sure of – the very fact that you’re setting yourself up to study and achieve something will have a knock-on effect on your mental capabilities, including your memory. The very fact that you are challenging yourself to perform at a high standard raises the bar and requires you to over-achieve.