What is the essential memory strategy?
What are the tactics for perfect recall?
How can I move onward into the vista of recollection, manipulating the fibers and strands of my conscious mental universe, creating, crafting and controlling, all-the-while not even breaking a sweat?
So you know what memory is.
Or at least you’ve heard of it…
But Grandmaster Kevin Horsley, given the title “Grandmaster” by the world memory championship, has a very close relationship with it.
He knows it well. Well enough to become a world memory championship grandmaster, as well as to memorize the first 10,000 digits of pi, breaking a world record.
And with this, he tells us memory’s innermost secrets.
3 Big Ideas
1. The SEE Principle
Ok. My number is 1324… 1324… 1243… 15… dah! What is it!?
The old repeat trick. Repeating something until it sticks.
Barely ever works and barely ever will.
Aaaand sometimes what you want to remember is halfway through the sequence. Kind of like when you try to do the alphabet backwards. You get ZYXW… abcdefg… and you have to go all the way back through until you reach the next letter from the back… aaaaaaand repeat.
But now, imagine if the alphabet was on a page in front of you. You would just run your finger from the end to the beginning – or even pick up right in the middle – or every other letter… backwards.
That is the power of image.
Here comes the SEE principle.
Senses, exaggeration, energize.
To remember something, you must make it real in your brain. Make the information tangible. Turn it into an object.
See it, touch it, smell it, hear it… then exaggerate it’s characteristics in the way it should be remembered.
He uses remembering Spanish words to illustrate this concept:
Tiger is Tigre. Imagine a tiger drinking his tea that has turned gray.
Sun is Sol. Imagine the sun is burning the sole of your foot.
Then you give your creation some energy, make it act or move. If you add some vitality, you’ll remember it better.
He illustrates this by how he remembers state capitals:
The capital of Australia is Canberra. “Imagine a kangaroo (which represents Australia) eating a can of berries.” Canberra.
The capital of Greece is Athens. “Imagine eight hens, which sounds like Athens, swimming in grease.”
The capital of Madagascar is Antananarivo. “Imagine a mad gas car crashing into your friend An, who is tan, on a river.” Antananarivo.
The more illogical the image, the more it will stick. Though of course try to keep it simple.
Apply your creativity to everything you learn and you will remember it better.
“The greatest secret to a powerful memory is to bring information to life with your endless imagination.”
2. Memory Files
You’ve been there.
You’ve got the memory.
The next day, you’ve still got it.
You check again the day after that… and it’s gone.
Weaseled its way out of your mind after it took all your stuff.
Next time, you need a trap.
You can use long term memories to trap information and short term memories – long term memories being things you are familiar with.
Take your body for example.
He uses the example of the ten intelligences from Tony Buzan and assigns each intelligence to a body part from feet to head.
Picture your body.
Your feet are on a lightbulb… and its hot. Number one is creative intelligence. Hence the lightbulb.
Where your knees are supposed to be there is a purse. You open the purse and your knees fly out. Number two is personal intelligence. Purse.
Up to your thighs and there is a party going on, with cocktails and socializing. You feel the feet of the partygoers on your thighs. Number three is social intelligence. They’re having a social.
And he continues, assigning representative scenes to body parts, up to 10.
You can also use your car to remember things and sequences. The layout of your car is familiar to you.
He illustrates Steven Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people in this example.
From the front of the car, back.
On the bumper: Habit 1: Be Pro-active. Visualize a bee that is a pro-golfer. Be pro-active.
On the hood: Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind. Think of a brain that is near the end of a race, with the finish line in sight. Begin with the end in mind.
On the passenger door: Habit 3: Put first things first. Think of a person on the first place podium, putting first things first.
And he goes through all seven habits on the car.
And the next method - his favorite - the journey method.
Again, we’re utilizing familiarity and long term memory. Pick a familiar journey, a walk in the park, the layout of your house, a level in a video game you know well…
Pick markers along the journey and assign your train of ideas to remember to each marker along the journey, using the SEE principle.
He uses an example of his house.
His first room is kitchen, in the kitchen there is a washing machine, fridge and stove. He remembers John C. Maxwell’s daily dozen this way.
He walks into his kitchen in his mind. The first one is attitude. So he imagines someone with a bad attitude is jumping into the washing machine. Clean up his attitude in the machine. The second one is priorities. He sees his priorities written on the fridge in permanent marker. And he smells the marker. The next one is health. Imagine a body builder sliding an apple pie into the stove. Health. Review the room and then move to the next one, continuing to assign. In the book he continues through four rooms, picking three things in each room to assign to, until he gets through all 12 of the daily dozen.
To make short term memories into medium term memories, you must trap them in familiar, long term memories.
3. Unlimited Memory
First date. You’ve found out that your date works for the government, so you decide you’ll show off your skills. You remember all the presidents in the history of the United States.
You prepare your date by saying, “check this out.”
Uh oh. You can’t even remember the first one.
We’ve all been there.
But we won’t be anymore.
For this new memory method, he shows us how to remember the presidents by demonstrating the linking method.
You craft a story, through a mental trail of memories.
Here’s the first bit of the story:
“I want you to imagine that you’re washing a tin. Really see it in your mind. As you wash the tin, it suddenly begins to develop a huge Adams apple. A chef and her son grab the Adams apple and pull it out. The chef and her son decide to make some medicine…”
And he linkingly memory-storys his way through the first 12 presidents like so, utilizing key words.
Here were the key words for that story:
Washing a tin – Washington
Adams apple – Adams
A chef and her son – Jefferson
Medicine - Madison
Listen to and visualize your story until it’s strong and even until you can play it backwards.
Then, “you can link each vice president to your presidents (…) you can also connect your links or stories to some of the other (…)(memory methods)(…). You can link more than one concept at a specific place or compartment on the car, body, (…) journey method. This way you can remember thousands of words or concepts by connecting links to a short mental journey.”
And beyond the actual methods, the other essential factor is review.
You must re-visualize your memory creations on a regular basis if you want to really remember them.
So memory does take practice and review. But if perfect memory didn’t take practice, then it would sound like a lot of hoopla.
A cool idea he suggests is to make a memory file and draw out your memory scenes in real life and file them away in a memory folder. Or just describe them in written word. Then you can review something real, that won’t fade.
Use the methods, be creative and review… And become a master of all things memory.
SEE. Senses, exaggeration, energize. Bring your images to life and you will remember them.
Make memory traps. Trap new things you want to remember in your more familiar memories.
Link, combine and review. Craft your own memory world inside and/or outside your head and realize your unlimited memory.
This book has a high rating for a reason.
This stuff works and I’ve been using it some.
So, that actually leads into something I have to tell you.
You may have noticed that I haven’t put out a show since the first one at the beginning of August. Well I was fired up, at the starting line. The light turned green and the car shot off. Then, the engine exploded and dropped out. I was not quite ready to begin Season 3 yet, apparently. That has to do with a number of factors, one being that I got a girlfriend as soon as I was beginning my all out commitment of time to our show. So… blah blah. Sorry.
And, funny enough, I’m almost certain the next show will be late. Because we’re doing Maps of Meaning. Which is nearly impossible for my feeble mind to comprehend.
Anyway I remembered my girlfriend’s friend’s dog’s name through a memory method. It’s name is Gladys. So I pictured it with giant human teeth in a smile. Glad. Gladys. And it worked. And I still remember. So, it works.
Back to the book, he also includes tips on how to remember names, playing cards and presentations –and he includes a few other memory methods like the peg method or memory by assigning shapes to numbers.
And a lot of the memory scenes he provides you with as examples are self-improvement and health focused, so that may suit your fancy.
I certainly recommend this book.
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