The linchpin for all learning endeavors… your memory!

June 1, 2016 by

So this week, I'm starting my journey to practice what I preach. Before any other types of learning can take place, you have to condition your mind to retain everything you're trying to load it up with. I can't stress this enough. Without a good memory, anything you try to learn is going to be an uphill battle.

Another benefit of having a well-trained memory is how people perceive you. Being able to rattle off facts and figures from memory, or being able to walk through a party or convention and remembering, not only the names, but a laundry list of things about the people you talk to, causes people to look at you differently. They become impressed and view you as a highly intelligent person. The funny thing is, anyone can do that parlor trick with just a few days, or in some cases, just a few hours of work.

Before the rise of mass printed materials, it was often necessary to be able to memorize entire passages of books in order to become a successful orator, teacher, or philosopher. For example, Simonides and Carneades were noted for their ability to recall information due to the mnemonic techniques they used to recall information.

Unfortunately, in some ways, the development of writing, and to a larger degree, mass printing technology, started to cause the ability to remember information less important. In a way, people offloaded the ability to remember stuff to books. Why spend hours or days memorizing something when you could just pull down a book or two and read the relevant information. With the advent of the internet, the problem has gotten significantly worse. Now, instead of remembering something, we just whip out a smartphone and pull up the information in a search engine.

So now, anyone that's able to recall specific information about a topic without relying on technology appears to be brilliant. It also means that students are starting to fail academically because when it comes time to recall information, they don't have it readily available. Being able to come up with new information and methods of doing things relies heavily on the ability to take information you have in memory and combine it in new and different ways. Trying to use Google to help you come up with new ideas because you're not committing information to memory isn't an option.

So the first order of business in any self-improvement learning program HAS to be training your memory. To that effect, I'm using several different books and self-improvement programs. The primary one that I'm basing this area of study on revolves around the Mega-Memory program by Kevin Trudeau, mainly because it was the first memory program I ever came across many years ago. I'm not saying it's the best program (it probably isn't), but it covers most of the basics, and since I've uses some of the techniques outlined in the program in the past, it'll be easy to get up to speed on them again. Most of the other programs and books I have use very similar techniques, so it's more a matter of familiarity. As I go through this part of my training/education, I'll list off other books as well. Eventually, I plan on having a Amazon Associates storefront that has all these books listed, so keep an eye out for it.

As another note, any cursory search for Kevin Trudeau will bring back a slew of reports about scams, lawsuits, etc. Whether they're true or not isn't a concern in this case. The information in his program and book are solid, if not the best resource available today. Again, it comes back to the fact that I've used some of the techniques in the past, so they'll be easier to relearn quickly, which is the goal for this process.

With that said, I've already worked through the first few exercises that lay the groundwork for developing a trained memory. The exercises I've been practicing are:

  • Basic association (probably the worst way to remember information, but it helps work the memory and mental processes for later techniques)
  • Chaining/linking (A powerful tool for remembering information that's unrelated)
  • Pegging (Another powerful tool. It basically allows you to build a mental filing cabinet)

The big tools a trained memory uses is chaining and pegging. Where pegging can be described as a mental filing cabinet, chaining/linking would be better described as a mental tape recorder. Both are valuable, but they're each used in different circumstances. They can also be combined for even more power and flexibility.

So at this point, I'm hoping to be able to have this part of my study done by the end of June. Granted, I can learn the basics of all the techniques in about a week, but to make the techniques automatic and unconsciously performed, I'll need around a month or so to ingrain them enough to become habit. Hopefully I'll be able to provide an update next week on my progress.

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