One of the most significant treasures you can have is the ability to learn quickly and recall information or anything at will. Without good memory, not only it will affect your progress in life, but you will always find yourself lagging behind the competition. Better you can recall, more efficiently you can work and get more done within a short period. Good memory not only serves well at work but also when you are interacting with people. So, when you are meeting different kinds of people, going to various places, having a sharp memory will help you cultivate friendships faster and help you communicate better if you can memorize more details about them. And if you can learn a new language, then even better!
How Do You Create Memories?
Understanding memory may seem tricky at first, but if you understand its fundamentals, you will be in a better position to take full advantage of it. If you know how the brain forms a memory or what stimulates it or what makes something even more memorable, you could consciously guide your mind or any information you think essential to the long-term memory bank of your brain or your mind.
Initially, you might find it a bit challenging to guide various information consciously to your long-term memory bank, but it gets much more comfortable with time. And the cool thing about the human brain is, it’s incredible at recognizing patterns. So, if you master one technique in one area of life, the odds are pretty good you can apply the same model to a different subject or another area of your life.
You might feel that you are born with a weak memory, or you might have some genetic disadvantage that is preventing you from having a good memory. To a certain extent, you might be right. You genuinely could be lacking something in your body that’s making it harder for you to remember things. If you feel that is the case, then it’s best to get yourself checked with a doctor first. You always want to make sure that you are in perfect health. Because at the end of the day, you need a healthy body to perform at your best. And once you’ve determined or know for sure that you don’t have any genetical or biological barrier, it’s time to flex your mental muscles to develop a better memory.
I am a firm believer that the human brain or the mind is heavily influenced by what we believe it to be true. Numerous case studies show that even if you damage your brain after an accident or other forms of tragedies, it’s possible to heal it naturally. If you take care of your health and cultivate a positive attitude, it helps your brain grow new brain cells or erase any biological disorder you might have. So, don’t feel crippled thinking you don’t have any control over your brain or mind. You can influence it significantly with your daily thoughts, feelings, and interactions with good people, etc.
Synapses in Your Brain
In a nutshell, you create a memory when you experience something. Whether that experience is something you see with your eyes, touch, feel or taste. Or in some cases all of them. The human mind or the brain tends to pay more attention to anything out of the ordinary. For example, if the brain sees ten people wearing black suits, it might not pay much attention to the details. But among them, if a guy is wearing a bright red suit, the brain will notice that even more. This attention or the things brain notices create a neural pathway in your brain. Some scientists refer to these routes as highways in your mind.
As you experience something over and over again, more precise the neural pathway becomes and more quickly you can recall. It’s one of the reasons why rote memorization works so well. Even though the book or the content is not sexy, if you repeat it over and over again in your head or couple of minutes, hours or days, it will eventually stick to your mind. However, that’s the slow and tedious way. There’s a fun way to memorize, and I’ve discussed the techniques below!
Do You Know How to Learn?
Can you confidently tell me the sure fire way to learn anything or a specific material? Admittedly, we are prepared to speak a language, how to write, how to talk to people but our teachers seldom focus on learning itself. Once you figure out how you learn best or what makes your brain tick, it will open a whole new world for you! Suddenly, you will find yourself reading faster, memorizing things effortlessly and learning will become faster.
When I started out with my career, I was into computers. I learned Web Design, Computer Programming, Web Programming, Marketing, Funnels, Copywriting, Sales and on top of that I had to attend schools, colleges, etc. So, that’s quite a bit of learning I had to go through. However, what’s interesting is, I didn’t master the art of self-education until 3 or 4 years back. Before that I was just reading out of whim, doing what everyone else did and ended up with mediocre grades or results. But now, whatever I focus on is not done willy-nilly, but I make sure that I know sufficiently enough about that subject before I decide to share with you.
Some people might argue that you just learn by reading, watching or doing something. And they would be right but partially. Those are the activities that lead to learning, but the actual knowledge takes place in your brain or the mind. So, the trick is to figure out how to make your brain pick up the necessary stuff as soon as possible and help it memorize them rather than depend on the mind to figure it out on its own.
Trick #1: Think in Images
Although we have various senses or we might learn better by listening or by touch, etc., the majority of our day to day activities rely on our visual senses. So, it’s safe to assume that your brain is more intuned to visual feedback and other senses probably come later unless you can’t see with your eyes. In such cases, different senses might be more dominant in your life.
When you listen to the audio version of a paragraph, you might recognize it’s importance or might remember specific details. But if I flash an image even for a second, you will instantly capture a lot more information. For example, you might recognize the picture, what you saw, what is happening in the picture, what color it might’ve been and a whole lot more. So, when you are reading a paragraph or find something significant, take an extra 30 second to a minute or more to conjure up an image of that material. Later, as you review those materials again, try to remember the image you created on your mind. Not only you will understand the material better, but you’ll be able to recall that information very clearly.
How it Can Help You Memorize People’s Name
One of the techniques I found very useful is imagining a person’s name or an object closely related to their name in my mind’s eye. For example, say I just met someone named John. I tend to conjure up an image in my head that he’s wearing a John Cena cap and on that hat, the name reads “JOHN” in a big bold Comic Sans font. Why comic sans font? Because this font is a bit unusual and you don’t see it used often. So, crazier or weirder something is, more impact it has on your long-term memory.
Picturing someone’s name on top of their head helps as well. There were many scenarios where I did not recall someone’s name, but when I tried to imagine the image I created on top of their head, I could see the first letter of their name or some other clue that helped me quickly recall their name. Give it a try and practice memorizing people’s name and their face from Facebook or Linkedin. You might be surprised with the results!
Trick #2: Build Upon Existing Memories
If you want to improve your memory, you should not just rely on or master a single memory technique. You want to master much more than that. One of the coolest tricks I learned is to build a new memory over an existing one. Depending on your practice this might stick with you for life, or it could be a temporary way to memorize a list, etc. I have personally used this technique during exams or while giving a speech. Here’s how it works:
First, identify a workflow or a routine you remember very well. For example, some of the everyday things you probably do are:
– Wake Up
– Make Your Bed
– Go to the Bathroom
– Brush Your Teeth
– Comb Your Hair
– Get Dressed
– Leave for Work
Now, let’s say you wanted to memorize the seven wonders of the world. You can associate the seven wonders of the world with the above trigger points like below:
– You Wake Up with an aura around you (Aurora)
– While making your bed, you imagine that the sheets have the image of the (Grand Canyon)
– When you go to the bathroom, you notice that there’s a picture of the (Great Barrier Reef) on your towel.
– While you are brushing your teeth, you see that Tarzan’s girlfriend Jane and the macaw from the animated movie Rio are singing out the window (Rio de Janeiro)
– Next, when you are combing your hair, you notice that your strands are all sticking up like the (Mount Everest)
– Then, imagine you are getting dressed and see yourself wearing a shirt where Vladimir Putin is jumping off with a parachute and heading straight to a Volcano (Paricutin Volcano).
– Finally, when you leave for work, imagine a Victoria’s Secret model tripping over and falling, but you catch her 🙂
Thinking about a specific routine and imagining all those exciting details is much more comfortable for the brain to handle because it already has a neural pathway paved in. So, adding new stuff to an existing mental high way is much more comfortable than creating an entirely new image on your mind. Try the above technique and see if you can recall the seven wonders of the world in order.
Trick #3: Eat Brain-Boosting Foods
Learning and memorization is not an independent act. You also need to make sure your body and brain are in shape too. And one of the best ways to do that is by eating the right food and getting sufficient physical exercise. Fortunately, you don’t have to do strenuous workouts or eat foods that taste terrible. If you eat the right foods, it makes your brain even more productive and helps it stay sharp. You could learn all the tricks in the book, but a malnourished brain could be limiting your full potential. Eating the right food ensures that your brain is getting the best chance it can to serve you even better.
There’s no point of learning all kinds of techniques if you always find yourself mentally fatigue or drug yourself with pills or medicines, etc. Not only they will affect the speed at which you memorize new things or recall information; you will notice that you might not remember everything you need to make a meaningful impact. So, it’s critical that you make the following foods part of your daily diet to keep your brain and memory stay sharp naturally!
Doctors recommend avocados because they improve cognitive function, memory, and concentration. They are also known to help prevent brain strokes and provides other benefits to your skin and overall health.
Some folks might not like avocados because of how it might taste. In such cases, you could mix it up with some other food or create a shake out of them. The creamy texture is full of monosaturated fats that keep your blood sugar levels steady and might improve your skin as well. So, not only you will be aiding your brain but also improve your overall health.
Blueberries not only taste good but they also pack a significant punch to your brain development. They are full of gallic acid which protects your brain from degeneration and helps you deal with stress. So, if you ever feared Alzheimer’s disease or the idea of brain damage scares you, you can sleep peacefully knowing that the antioxidants and its other properties are awake and working hard to protect you from such harm.
Broccolis are probably one of the most common vegetables known to man. Everyone knows about it and at some point despised it. However, it is extremely rich in Vitamin K and Choline. And these ingredients help you develop a very sharp memory. So, even if you don’t like how it tastes or had a poor experience with it, try to make it a part of your diet. If you are a freak like me, you can even try to Blend broccoli and make an energy-rich shake full of vitamins, antioxidants and more!
More or less everyone loves chocolates. But if you are thinking of chocolates like KitKat, Hershey’s, etc. then forget about it. Those chocolates are usually heavily processed and don’t have the same benefits as the darker chocolates. Dr. Axe recommends avoiding white chocolates or the ones heavy with Milk. If you want the brain benefits, then Dr. Axe suggests having chocolates that are at least 70 percent cocoa!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is very rich in polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant which improves your learning and memory. So, not only you will keep your brain in good shape, but you will also boost your overall rate at which you learn and even reverse aging. Extra virgin olive oils also fight off ADDLs to reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
If you are not already taking Omega-3 as your supplement, then you should. Because Omega-3 is essential to keep your brain running smoothly and to improve your memory. If you don’t like taking supplements, then Salmon is your best bet. Salmons are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids. One caution though. Dr. Axe recommends the Alaskan wild-caught salmons over the farmed ones. He found that the salmons raised on a farm could be full of harmful toxins.
I saved the best one for the last because Turmeric is probably one of the most misunderstood spices in the western world. In the East, Turmeric is heavily used to make delicious curries, but little do they know, they are also keeping their brain fit.
Turmeric boosts oxygen intake in your brain and as a result, keeps you more alert and focused. So, if you ever feel groggy or notice your focus drifting away, adding a bit of turmeric to your diet can work wonders. Besides, curries taste fantastic!
Trick #4: Meditate Daily
Meditation has been around for hundreds of years if not a thousand. Both Western culture and Eastern cultures have been practicing meditation, and over the years various forms of meditation have been introduced. Meditation in general forces you to take a break from your busy life. Ask yourself when is the last time sat down for absolutely no reason and did absolutely nothing for no reason. And that includes not even touching your phone. We are so busy all the time that it’s as if we have been habituated to keep working or keep our mind busy all the time. First, you have to deal with school, then work, then family, then social media and so on.
All these distractions and the constant flow of information to your eyes, brain and your mind tires you out quickly and deteriorates your focus or your mind. As a result, you end up with mediocre results, find yourself cranky or could even have trouble handling other things. There are plenty of situations where someone snapped at someone not because they were angry at that person, but they were way too agitated and stressed out with all the distractions they have to deal with daily.
The benefits of daily meditation are enormous, and people like Tim Ferriss publicly share their experiences with meditation. I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over two years now, and so far it has made all kinds of positive changes in my life. Starting with reduced stress, sharper focus and more clarity to my day to day tasks. Before learning transcendental meditation, I would rely on TV, Music or other people to keep me in a good mood. But daily meditation made me more proactive and much less reactive to outside events.
Some folks might laugh at you or find meditation a silly thing to practice, mainly because how they portray it in Hollywood. But you have to understand that the actual practice of meditation isn’t a voodoo magic. Meditation is the ability to calm your body, mind and let them rest steadily for few minutes. Just like your hand gets tired after continually working, your brain and mind work the same way. They too need a break to reenergize themselves.
How Do You Meditate?
If you practice daily meditation, I am willing to bet that it will change your life. You will be surprised to see how good you become handling stressful situations. Anyhow, here’s what I recommend you do to get started. If you wish to get even more advanced, I strongly suggest looking into TM (Transcendental Meditation). It is a great skill to master!
The first thing you want to do is get yourself to a beautiful quiet place where you’re most comfortable. You can sit or lay down however you like. You necessarily don’t have to cross your legs, etc. If you enjoy crossing your legs sitting down then do it. Otherwise, it’s not a necessity.
Then, like the Tibetan monks, start counting from 1 thru 10. And during each count, you want to relax every part of your body. And while you are taking a breath and letting it out, you want to breathe through your nose and breathe out through your nose. Some people suggest breathing through your nose and breathe out through your mouth, but I learned that your nose has a more significant filter than your mouth. So, when you breathe in air through your nose, it filters out more junk. And if you breathe out through your mouth, it dries up the mucous lining of the airways and could lead to various complications. So, it’s best to let your nose do all the breathing!
After you reach your count up to 10, you want to count backward from 10, 9, to 8 and so on. And repeat the cycle back and forth. During this time you could focus on one single thought. You might find your mind drifting away, you might start daydreaming, or you could start thinking about something random. Don’t let that bother you. It’s just how the mind works, and it’s continually trying to accomplish something. But if you only allow the thought to leave and bring your focus back to your original thought, your mind will learn to concentrate on that.
As you practice this for 20 minutes or even half an hour, you will find your body and mind completely relaxed and might also fall asleep. It’s entirely ok to fall asleep during meditation. And what’s interesting is, say you want to meditate for 30 minutes. And during your meditation, you fell asleep. More or less, precisely 30 minutes later you will wake up from sleep! I still haven’t figured out why this is the case but it happened to me numerous times, and it continues to happen still today!
Many entrepreneurs, celebrities and people from all walks of life practice daily meditation. Some choose to meditate on their preferred times. But I suggest doing it twice daily. Once in the morning after you wake up or before you leave for work. And the second time in the evening.
If you want to learn more about meditation, I strongly suggest looking more into it. Daily meditation will boost your memory, cognition, alertness and reduce stress drastically.
Trick #5: Get Adequate Sleep
If daily practice is the mother success, I think adequate sleep is the father of learning. How’s that possible? How can you become more successful by sleeping? Aren’t you wasting your time? Actually no!
If you spend your waking hours wisely by learning new materials, practicing your craft or trying to solve a problem, it creates a buffer in your brain. Not all the information are processed immediately by the brain. The brain needs time and rests to handle all those info. So, when you get adequate sleep, the brain processes all those information further and stores them in your long-term memory or purges the ones it finds useless. So, when you wake up and review the problems or whatever material you tried to learn, it seems much easier after a good night’s sleep!
So, what that means is, when you know for a fact that you need 2-3 hours to read or to work on something, you also need to account for your sleeping schedule as well. If reading and studying alone were sufficient, we all would be geniuses. We would read once or twice, and everything would just engrain in our mind or the brain. But in reality, that’s not the case. You need to account for how many breaks you might need after you stress your brain for some time to learn something new. The famous Pomodoro Technique suggests working or reading for 25 minutes and taking a 5-minute break. And take a 30-minute break after you’ve studied for over 1 hour and 30 minutes. Why is that? Because your brain needs that break to process everything you’ve read or worked on so far.
When you don’t get sufficient sleep, or you think you are getting more done by staying up all night long; you are decreasing the quality of the work. If you were to sleep 5 – 6 hours each night, your progress might be 40% the next day. But if you sleep sufficiently well (e.g., 8 – 9 hours), your overall improvement could be well over 80%. So, don’t measure your success by how much work you get done but measure it by the quality of the work you get done. If you find yourself making mistakes or notice that your ideas are not flowing, the odds are pretty good you need to get some sleep!
If you do a bit of research online, you’ll find that people like Bill Gates and many successful Entrepreneurs make sure they get adequate sleep before they begin any work. A right amount of sleep gives them both mental and physical energy to focus on their end goal with full attention and drive. So, if you have been putting off rest or not taking sleep seriously, it’s time you make that your number one priority. Sleep will not only keep you healthy, but it will improve your focus and speed up learning as well.
Tricks are cheap. It’s the fundamentals that will always matter when it comes to achieving something meaningful. You certainly can learn all kinds of skills like building a memory palace, creating mnemonics or making images on your mind. But all of those are useless if your brain and overall health are not functioning at their best. So, the real secret to a sharper memory and good memory is mastering the art of taking care of your brain and health. And you can take good care of them by eating foods that benefit the brain and give both your brain and mind sufficient amount of rest to recover.
If you know any trick to boosting your memory, please let us know below!