How do you recall 10,000 digits of Pi from memory? By training your memory. But you may be asking, “Chris, I don’t care about memorizing an endless string of numbers.” In truth, neither do I, but if you are learning a new language, you may want to memorize 10,000 words or signs so you can more easily communicate without forgetting or grasping for the right word or sign mid-conversation.
Author and grandmaster chess player Kevin Horsely wrote a book called Unlimited Memory where he outlines various memory techniques that can drastically help you improve your memory. But first, let’s talk about one myth that needs to be busted, then we’ll cover 3 memory hacks that can help you never forget again.
The Myth of a Bad Memory
Have you ever said, “I have a bad memory”? I myself have uttered those words more frequently than I’d like to admit, frankly because I always thought it was true. I had a hard time remembering anything from people’s names to trying to recalling the last book I read.
However, one thing I learned from Unlimited Memory is that when you use doubtful phrases like that, you end up setting up that standard for yourself and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
“If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree!”Kevin Horsley
I love the above quote because so many of us, myself included, convince ourselves that there isn’t much we can do to change something about ourselves such as our memory. We either have a good memory or a bad memory. However, that is simply not the case. Memory is a skill that can be developed with practice! Here are 3 great memory hacks from the book that can help you stop forgetting.
Memory Hack #1
One simple technique from the book that can be used to help remember information is the SEE strategy.
SENSES: learn to engage your senses and make it real.
EXAGGERATION: the more you can exaggerate an image, the easier it will be to recall that information.
ENERGIZE: make a mental image, and make it as vivid as possible, not boring and flat.
If we do those three things with new information that we have learned it will stick in our minds much more vividly than if we just passively take in that new information.
Memory Hack #2
Another great technique is attaching something that you recently learned that is stored in your short-term memory (STM) to things that are already embedded in your long-term memory (LTM). For instance, you could use a mental image of a car and “attach” new information to it.
For example, say you wanted to remember the 7 habits mentioned in Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Habit 1 is being proactive. You could create a mental picture of a “pro” golfer sitting on the front bumper of the car to represent being “proactive”. Habit 2 is beginning with the end in mind. For that, you could think of a checkered finish line across the hood of the car. Habit 3 is put first things first. Try placing a big giant trophy in the passenger seat. Remember, make these mental images come alive by engaging your senses, utilizing exaggeration, and make it as vivid as possible. Going through this process can make recalling information a breeze (and even entertaining).
The book is chock-full of very effective techniques like this and can help anyone drastically improve their memory. In fact, in 2013, Grandmaster Kevin Horsely used many of the techniques he teaches in the book to help him break a world memory record by memorizing over 10,000 digits of pi! The techniques and strategies he teaches can be applied to anything you want to learn!
Just a couple weeks ago I taught some of these techniques to a 9 year old student at a school I work at and after about a month of practice, he was able to memorize the various algorithms in order to solve a Rubiks cube from memory.
Memory Hack #3
Make it interesting. Think of the all of the different things that you can pull from memory with ease. Whether it is the names of every member of a band that you can’t get enough of or quotes from a favorite movie, you remember these those things because you find them interesting.
You can remember mountains of information when you are interested in the subject. It almost feels automatic and your concentration is at a peak. Your deficits or attention are mostly interest deficits.– Kevin Horsely
What if the thing you are learning is boring? Ask questions and become curious. Ask questions such as, “How will this help me achieve my goals?” or “How can I apply this to help me improve.”
If you are finding it hard to learn sign language from online ASL dictionaries or books, you need to find more entertaining ways to expose yourself to the language. For example, find a sign language YouTube channel that you find entertaining, check out movies that touch on Deaf culture, or watch TV shows such as Switched at Birth that incorporate deaf actors/actresses and use sign language through out the show with subtitles.
For more fun resources for learning ASL, check out this article here with lists of YouTube channels, movies, TV shows, documentaries, and more.
An Untrained Memory
I personally have been able to apply what I’ve learned in order to memorize key facts, historical dates, the periodic table, statistics from studies I read, and important tidbits from previous books I’ve read. It really has changed the way I think and helped me understand that I didn’t have a bad memory all these years … I simply had an untrained one.
That leads me to why I am recommending this book. If you are learning a new language, one of the more frustrating aspects of that process is forgetting what you had already learned. If that is something you are ready to get past, I’d highly recommend giving this book a read. As an added bonus, it’s currently available for free on Kindle Unlimited. There is also an audiobook version available you can listen to if you have a distaste for reading.
So, get ready to train your memory and making forgetting a thing of the past!
Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsely