Remember This Memory Trick

Stay with this one. You’re going to learn something really cool. (Does anyone else ever say that anymore?)

You know the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?”

Answer: “One bite at a time.”

Relevance: The best way to solve a big problem is to break the big problem up into a lot of little problems and tackle them one at a time.

Well, not really…because the human brain isn’t linear. We don’t go from A to B to C. We go from A to X to V to C to M to Q and back to A again.

In other words, human thought is randomized…and we spend our entire lives trying to think sequentially with our randomized brains. Therefore, attempting to solve problems one at time is pointless. Visualize all the parts of the problem. The one for which a solution is ready to come forward will light up and attract your attention. That’s the part of the problem you are ready to solve.

Proof: Human beings evolved from a category of prey animal, you know, as in we were preyed upon by other creatures. We weren’t big enough to fight off the predators, or fast enough to outrun them. We only had two tools at our disposal. Two eyes frontally located on our faces with good peripheral vision and a pair of ears located rather far back and low on our skulls, which provided excellent bi-aural hearing that not incidentally enabled us to locate the source and distance of sound makers. This is valuable because sound makers are usually predators. Predators don’t have to worry about making noise because there aren’t any predators preying on them. That why lions roar and mice squeak.

Our eyes and ears conditioned us to be reflexive animals. We spooked easily, because we were weak. We spooked frequently because we knew that we were slow and needed to get a head start on the the animals who were trying to eat us.

This was the the beginning of intelligence, the ability to scope out an environment, spot threats quickly and respond them even more quickly.

We needed to be able to calculate speeds and distances really quickly. The relatives who didn’t accomplish this ended up being someone else’s dinner. The evolution of intelligence. Recognition, then calculation.

So, we developed a really powerful set of survival tools. We learned to process visual data, identify threats, and calculate exit strategies…and we did this long before we developed language. If we hadn’t learned to do this before we developed language the human race would not have survived long enough to develop language.

Language is really our undoing as a species because language forces us to use memory wrongly…and we do it all the time. It forces us to use symbols to represent objects instead of using the objects to represent themselves.

We all have very strong visual memory. We never forget anything we see, but we have been taught to rely upon a process of converting visual observations into an auditory storage system in which words were developed to represent visual impressions. Unfortunately, while we can never forget anything we see, those sequences of words that represent objects and thoughts are very slippery and research shows we can only hold up to nine or ten of those representational words in active memory at any one time, except for the geniuses among us.

We didn’t lose our unique ability to process visual data directly without “thinking” about it. We simply misplaced that ability and this is about getting it back.

You can substitute the auditory channel and the same observations apply. We learned to associate certain sounds with specific dangers and other sounds with specific opportunities to obtain food.

As we developed into language using animals, we learned to convert visual images into their literal counterparts, using words to describe what we heard just as we used those words to describe what we saw.

We had to do this for the same reason that bees do their dance, because we had to communicate this information about threats and opportunities to our fellow human animals but in so doing we lost the ability to fully utilize our visual and auditory memories.

Here’s where it gets practical.

Ever forget where you put something? If you are like most people, you will start thinking about everything you did until you work your way back to the last time the lost item was in your possession. You are using your auditory digital channel, which is the least efficient way of finding stuff. You are actually talking to yourself, as you are doing right now when you criticize this article instead of going along with the flow. Stop that.

Here’s a better way to find stuff, assuming that the stuff didn’t just drop out of your pocket:

Visualize it.

Start by visualizing the object, simply remembering its size, shape, and color, sticking strictly to the characteristics of the object that you can perceive visually.

Next, pan backwards in your mind so that you begin to see the object in a context, with a background around it.

You are now probably looking at exactly where that object was the last time you saw it…unless someone moved your cheese without telling you.

If you have a parent or an elderly relative who is having memory problems, teach them this technique. If you, yourself, are starting to have similar problems, practice this technique.

Practice this way: Several times during the day, stop what you are doing, spend a few seconds simply looking at what is in front of you, then close your eyes, and visualize exactly where you are and what you were seeing before you closed your eyes.

The more times you do this during the day, the more firmly you will anchor yourself in your memory’s visual environment.

Important: when you are doing this, try not to talk to yourself about what you are seeing. Just visualize. Don’t talk to yourself about what you are seeing. Just see.

You can also try the flicker method. Open your eyes. Take in what is in front of you. Close your eyes and visualize what you saw. Open your eyes again, taking a wider viewer, close your eyes and add more details to the remembered image. Do this more and more quickly. (Do not do this with other people around. They will call ambulances and do other embarrassing things, like asking if you are all right.)

When you exercise, you use weights to train your body by pitting your muscles against gravity. This is the same thing but it is building up your mental acuity instead of your muscles.

This is the exact opposite of meditation. In meditation, you withdraw from your immediate environment. With these awareness techniques, you immerse yourself in and attach yourself to your immediate environment.

You can do the same thing with auditory impressions, adding more sounds each time you take a sample of the sounds going on around you.

Warning: you can get very high very quickly when you do this, so DON’T do it when you are driving or handling dangerous machinery.

Second warning: Don’t do this when the sun is in your field of vision.

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