Don't Forget Your Memory

Steven Gillman

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Remembering Things

I remember a birthday party I went to as a child. There was a contest that involved looking at a table covered in 15 various items. After a few minutes, the things were taken away, and then we each got a piece of paper and a pencil. The object was to write down as many items as we could remember. I struck out after seven or eight, but one little boy got all 15 items, and won the prize.

Only years later did I learn why he was able to do that. His father had taught him a simple technique that none of us other kids knew. All you have to do is tie the items together in an imaginative story. Imagine, for example, that you want to remember a list of the following things: milk, soap, forks, honey, and flowers.

Create a story, and see it vividly in your head: You are in front of the bathroom sink, and you reach for the soap. The soap dish is filled with milk, so you wash your hands with that, then comb honey into your hair with a fork, pick up a bouquet of flowers and smile at yourself in the mirror. Say each item as you review this “movie" in your imagination, and you'll remember all five things, even the next day.

Some Other Memory Tricks

Start telling yourself to remember. If you just learned a person's name, for example, tell yourself, “remember that". This signals the unconscious mind to rank this input higher in importance.

Tell yourself why you want to remember something, and how you will remember it. To remember a person, think about how that person will be important to you in the future, where you'll see them next, and anything you notice about them. Clearly seeing the importance of remembering will help a lot, and the additional associations (where you expect to see the person next, for example) will set the memory more firmly in your brain.

Have you ever forgotten where you set down your car keys? You have probably tried retracing your steps, or at least doing it in your imagination. This works fairly well, but do you ever create the scenario beforehand, so you won't forget? Try it. When you set down the keys on the chair, see yourself walking in and setting the keys on the chair. You'll remember where they are if you do this.

Create Good Memory Habits

Do you know what the biggest problem with memory techniques is? Remembering to use them. No joke. Many popular methods work, but if you don't have the habit of using them, you'll forget to when you need them most. So if you take the time to learn a technique, make a conscious effort to use it until it becomes automatic.

Steve Gillman has been studying brain improvement, concentration, creative problem solving, and related topics for years. You can visit his website, and subscribe for free to his Brain Power Newsletter at:


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