Month: May 2018
Theme: Learn about the Art of Memory
Mission: Learn how memory works and find ways to train it.
Do you usually forget where you left your keys, your cards,…your kids? :D. Do you suffer from the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon1 in conversations? or do you have difficulties remembering phrases in a language that you previously learned?
Besides those daily occurrences, I’ve been fascinated by the memory and how it works since I was a little kid when one morning I was woken up by my grandma and my first question was: “What did we do yesterday?”. Even though I knew where I was, who I was with and what my favorite dessert was, despite my grannie’s explanation, I could not remember anything prior to that morning. (Nowadays I know this is how it must feel when Men In Black use their neuralyzer2 to erase memories :D)
That event in particular and other ones in the upcoming decades like break-ups, celebrations or embarrassing moments got stuck in my long-term memory to the point that dates, words, smells or even songs became triggers that bring back memories to the surface, including associated feelings. That’s the reason I decided to devote May 2018 to dissect this topic.
At the beginning of this month – #mayArtOfMemory – my perception of memory training was completely off from what I ended up discovering about this ancient practice.
True, we live in times when technology outsources our memory. That’s definitely smart. No one wants to remember 8 digit phone numbers when there are smartphones.
Memory training is not about remembering the trivial stuff in our daily chores, but instead, the continuous exercising and expansion of our creativity. As Joshua Foer said in his book “Moonwalking with Einstein”: “The more you know, the easier is to know more. Memory is like s spiderweb that catches information. The more it catches, the bigger it grows. And the bigger it grows, the more it catches”.
Why do we need to practice memory training? Because it fosters creativity in our minds! We need to make up weird, bizarre, funny, naughty, surrealistic images in order to remember the important stuff. Furthermore, we need to create associations between previous knowledge to anchor the new info into our long-term memories. Picture this scene: Michael Jordan stomping on the Mona Lisa (J of clubs, J of Spades and J of Diamonds). It happens only in a person’s mind. No machine is capable of creating a scene like that (yet).
What and How?
It would be great to first get a PhD degree in Neuroscience specifically related to Memory, but…. we’ll leave that for another #30DaysChallenge :). If you want to get the most benefit out of your memory, these are the key areas that I suggest to learn about and how to work them out:
Create and constantly use your Memory Palaces. At least two Memory Palaces, with 10 items in each one, are enough to store all sorts of information there. Check out this video from Ron White to learn how to create them. Anything from this moment on can be stored in your Memory Palaces.I’d suggest to have at least two palaces so that you don’t run into a “Ugly Sister Effect” situation3, where old memories stored in a locus surface instead of the one that you’re looking for.
- Need a playground to exercise your palaces? Not a problem! This Udemy Class called Becoming a SuperLearner – Learn SpeedReading and Boost Your Memory, provides several free Memory Games and tracks your progress!.4
- Use the Major System and Chunking. Watch an explanation by Nelson Dellis of the Major Memory System here. Once you remember this system, you can convert chunks of numbers into words and then store them in your Memory Palace.
- PAO – People – Action – Object. Extra points if create your own PAO Table from numbers 00 to 99 as explained in Week 2. I know it’s a lot of work, but playing with the combinations in your mind when you need to memorize something will paint a smiley (most likely) in your face. Very similar to playing Cards Against Humanity, #memorableCombinations
- I realized that combining and training these techniques all at once is achievable through a Deck of Cards. The main goal is to use the order or them as fast as possible. To do that, I used Memory Palaces, Chunking, PAO and occasionally the Major System.
- Therefore, get yourself a Deck of Cards or try out the Memory League App.
- Names and Faces. This is the video by Ron White that I used as a guide to help to associate names with faces.
- If you are an introvert, this one may be a little challenging. Anyway, any kind of social reunion or networking event is your new dojo.
- Manufacture synaesthesia:5 Don’t know what the color blue sounds like? That you don’t know what the number 8 smell like? Then imagine it! Seriously, this is super important. The more neural connections we use to encode the information that we want to store, the easier that it will be to retrieve it.
- Association. Linking previous knowledge to new incoming information is more likely to help to anchor and retrieve the new memory encoded.
Still not convinced about how to use them? Check out Joshua Foer in action:
Spaced Repetition – Anki
We are all victims of the Curve of Forgetting6 but don’t panic!. Storing important information in the long-term memory can be achieved by Space Repetition. As we reviewed in Week 3, software like Anki Web helps to consolidate that knowledge.
Books to read
- Joshua Foer – “Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything”
- Aleskandr R. Luria – “The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory”
- Art Markman – “Smart Thinking“. From this book, I’d suggest chapters 3 and 6 because they are mostly focused on memory.
I compiled a Video Playlist of the best memory related videos that I found and were key knowledge in everything that I learned over this month. #knowledgeShortcut
What Not To Do
When you try to improve your memory, be careful of these three aspects that may hinder your progress:
- Drinking alcohol
- Poor sleeping quality
- Always using the same Memory Palace
When and Where?
When and where are memory techniques useful? Some of my personal applications of the knowledge gained over this month are:
- Work/ School
- Want to study better, that is, learn anything quickly and have an easier time recalling what was learned? Memory Palaces and Major System are the way to go.
- Do you have presentations at work or maybe are you into Public Speaking or Storytelling?. Memory Palaces will make the work.
- Language learning
- Having a hard time remembering that word in French, Chinese, Spanish or German? Use association and link it to a sound from your native language to remember it!
- Meeting new people / re-encountering people
- Remembering people’s names and pronouncing them properly will make everyone happier and will smooth your way in life. As D. Carnegie said: “PRINCIPLE 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.“7
- Creation and modification of habits
- Our habits are basically memories that are so internalized in our minds that we make almost no effort to retrieve them and act accordingly to what they command. If you need to create or modify habits, understanding how your memory works will help with that process.
- If you want to know more about this topic, I’d suggest one of my favorite and totally suggested books about Habit Management called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.
These are the mnemonists/mental athletes that I found during this month. Their stories, techniques and memory skills will definitely motivate you to work out your own mind:
- Joshua Foer – Journalist and 2006 U.S.A. Memory Champion. Author of “Moonwalking with Einstein”
- Nelson Dellis – 4 Times US Memory Champion and Memory Expert.
- Ron White – 2 Times US Memory Champion and Memory Expert.
- Dominic O’Brien – 8 Times World Memory Champion. (yes, Eight Times!)
- ArtOfMemory.com – The most extensive blog about memory that I found on the web!
- Dr. Julia Shawn – Psychologist and popular science writer who specializes in false memories (also known as “Memory Hacking”)
- Tony Buzan – English author and educational consultant, Founder of the World Memory Championships.
How much time & money?
Time invested: 39 hours.
- Weekday Avg: 1 hour 8 minutes.
- Weekend Avg: 1 hours 45 minutes.
Those 39 hours were spent in learning theory, practicing and attending to social/networking event.
|Two Networking Events||17.33$|
|Deck of Cards||3.99$|
|Udemy – Become a Superlearner 2 Speed Reading Memory Accelerated Learning||6.92$|
From this month on, the way I see the mind has changed radically. Our minds remember better when presented with images, that’s the reason the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so true (and learning to draw is equally useful. Check out April – Drawing Summary if you missed it).
Our body is the vehicle of our mind. Both are equally important. Only one of them is limitless. If you remember only one lesson from this post, let that be it. #StrongBody-StrongerMind.
See you on #juneSleeping and keep learning!