“Memory is a muscle. If you do not use it, you will begin to lose it.” Do you remember the pre-smartphone era? Do you remember the days when we could easily memorise a couple of hundred phone numbers? Do you remember the days when we could remember addresses and could navigate locations without any support from GPS? The days when we could effortlessly remember birthdays, anniversary dates and names of people we met.
How are you faring now? In the age of smartphones with instant access to calendar, reminders and online search engines, we have significantly reduced the usage of memory function all humans have been blessed with. A lot of emphasis is being given to on-demand access to information and as a result, we are unknowingly emasculating our long-term and short-term memory muscles.
I consider it a superpower because it reduces my reliance on any gadget. I can also say that having a good memory also gives us high self-esteem. When we remember important things, people and places we do not curse ourselves too much. We also eliminate the destructive self-fulfilling thoughts that we are becoming a person who does not have a good memory. Here are ten simple hacks that you can use to reclaim your memory power. You do not have to use all ten of them but if you do; you will soon see a transformation in your memory skills.
It all starts with a belief that you can have a good memory and there is no real reason why you cannot recall what is already inside your head. Never ever develop the self-destructive belief that you have a bad memory or are losing memory. What you eventually think about your memory skills will come true. I cannot tell you how suicidal it is to constantly tell yourself that you have bad memory skills. Every time you say this, you metaphorically kill some brain cells and make it okay for yourself to forget things.
Develop physical habits that re-energize your mind and body. A basic 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep couple with ten-minute power naps are great for a good memory. Eat the right foods and supplements and regularly rehydrate your body. Blueberry fruits, almonds and walnuts are considered to be great brain foods. Physical exercise and right posture are also very important for optimal brain functioning. Rejuvenate and recharge your mind by watching something comedic or with regular laughter doses. This reduces stress hormones in your body and the memory function of your brain also improves.
Most of us suffer from attention deficiency. If you want to remember things you must develop the ability to concentrate on what is happening around you. Be present in the classroom or the boardroom through active listening skills. As a reminder, I constantly ask myself am I mentally, emotionally and physically at the same place? When you are truly present, you do not have to struggle to remember things.
If you want to remember a name, use it in a conversation with a person. If you want to remember a skill, use it again. Repetition is the mother of all skills as well as the key to remembering what you want to remember. Recite often what you want to memorize.
Have you ever wondered why we are able to remember movie dialogues or a song’s lyrics so effortlessly? This is the magic of audiovisual inputs. If you can develop the ability to replay on the screen of your mind any event that you wish to memorise, you will surely remember it for a longer duration. You do not have to remember everything, I mean your daily train ride or car journey to work is not of much consequence. However, after every important class, meeting or call can you take a couple of minutes to run a movie in your mind that summarises what happened. Rhyming the key content in the form of a poem or song is also a great way to put things in your long term memory
Do you know that there are lots of puzzles and games that are available in the market. Develop the habit of solving brain puzzles, mathematical problems and even learning poems. Make sure you do regular left and right brain exercises. Use your smartphone to search some exercises or puzzles good for your brain. Reading is another good way to train your brain to concentrate and learn what you read.
You will always repeat the behaviour that can get you rewards. Motivation for remembering a name or an event has to be identified at your end. Unless you find the ‘WITFM-what’s in it for me’ or motivation to memorise something, you will not take the action. Also when you remember something, reward yourself by self-appreciation. Try to develop a reputation for someone who always remembers things and events and then work to defend this great reputation.
As I am asking you to use to memory skills more frequently, this does not imply that you stop documenting what needs to be remembered. Always try to document what is important for you by writing it down. There is something magical about writing something down, as it helps in forming more neural connections in our brain. This is the reason why we must write our goals down daily. The sticky reminder on the refrigerator always helps.
In Neuro-linguistic programming field of study there is an intervention called anchoring. If you wish to remember some event in the long run, try to associate emotions or physical trigger points with that event. Have you ever wondered how a particular song can trigger a memory in your mind? This is anchoring at work. Associate key moments and people in your life with an anchor. It could be a song, a funny picture, a rhyming poem, or any other physical action. The key concept to understand here is that motion and emotions help us remember things. We all remember situations that made us laugh.
What you want to materialise you must ritualise. You need to ritualise the good memory habits mentioned in the above points. You are a collection of your memories and your very identity depends on what you remember about yourself. Make sure your daily routine has space for mind-movie exercises, organising, documentation, nutritious food breaks, brain-puzzles, meditation, power naps and physical exercises.
I believe these ten hacks will make you feel inspired to work on your memory and take the desired actions to become a moving encyclopedia or a good memories hard-drive.