Our bodies, thoughts, and memory are truly the only things that really belong to us. These things can never be taken away. Learn how to leverage your brain power to provide a sense of comfort and achievement with memory training.
Being physically out of shape is definitely a handicap, but being mentally out of shape is an even more profound handicap. Quality of life is improved by having a sound mind and body.
I often hear people complaining about how their memory isn’t what it used to be. Old age doesn’t necessarily mean memory loss. I believe that the human brain when trained just like any other body part, can continue to strengthen and improve over time.
Stimulate and expand the memory
I was browsing a used bookstore when I was in my twenties and came upon “The Memory Book”. As I read the simple and comical techniques, I became more fascinated with the potential of applying this to my everyday activities. I found the techniques to be very valuable and practical, and I believe some of these actually helped me get through Army training courses during that time period.
I’ve since expanded on what I learned and found some other memory resources over the years that validate what was taught in that first book.
Start with the basics
Although some of the memory tricks contained in the book may seem rather silly, they work.
A well-developed memory is a life skill. By spending a significantly small amount of time training your memory, it is possible to memorize large strings of numbers. Memorizing numbers is but one small sub-skill in memorization techniques.
Children are especially good candidates for memory training since they seem to absorb their surroundings in a photographic manner.
By quickly learning the mnemonic sounds for the first 10 digits which form the foundation of this system, one can carry and further develop this skill for a lifetime.
Memorizing numbers can be difficult and slow if using pure rote. What about phone numbers and addresses? In a digital world, it’s not necessary to memorize phone numbers.
Memorizing numbers has become a lost art thanks to our electronic devices. This convenience has a cost of an under-developed and weak memory. Some folks don’t even know their own phone number. The human memory needs to exercise just is like the muscles in the body.
What if we could convert numbers into easy-to-remember pictures? What’s easier to remember, a picture of a can of cash that’s fake with a knife named Josh, or the ten-digit phone number 7276872866?
To develop such a memory requires putting in the time initially to build the foundation by memorizing the consonant sounds of numbers.
The form of number memorization that I learned and practice is called the “Major System”. This system has been around for perhaps thousands of years and was thought to have been invented by the early Romans.
The Major System is a simple system based on the premise of different consonant sounds for each of the ten digits. These consonant sounds can be put together to form words or imaginary images.
It is based on the premise that the human mind is better at storing images as opposed to abstract or rote thoughts and numbers. Training the memory using rote methods of repetition has its place but is not very efficient. Storing images is almost permanent and the brain has an unlimited capacity for storing them.
By learning these basic associations, we are able to see numbers in every word, and images in every number. These will be lasting images and never again will there be a struggle remembering numbers.
To take it a step further requires one to create places in the mind to store images. This is referred to as the “memory palace” and builds on the student’s home and surroundings. For instance, I use my home and yard as one of my memory palaces. I am so familiar with all of the rooms and areas that I can visualize any room in my house without physically being there. Any familiar place can be used to store things in memory.
Start by creating a memory book and write down or sketch out your memory palaces.
Even if you have no desire to learn these aforementioned techniques, there are many other ways to stimulate the brain and keep it flexible. Games, reading, and interacting with good conversation, to name a few.
To learn more about the exciting world of memory and how to use it, check out these other resources:
Hone your fine motor skills with cursive handwriting
I realized I hadn’t written in cursive since elementary school. I once took great pride in forming the letters by hand, but it became another forgotten skill that fades and leaves us for other skills.
The spark that got me reacquainted with cursive writing was from a conversation with my son about how he likes to draw and sketch. I told him that he should continue to develop the skill and he does seem to have a knack for drawing. He then asked me what I liked to draw and I mentioned that I used to like to handwrite. I believe it must have been about fourth grade when my teacher required us to have a cartridge pen as our main writing instrument. I thought this was a pretty neat writing tool and I enjoyed writing letters and numbers. Thinking back on this gave me the idea to use handwriting as a mental and fine motor skill exercise as a sort of hedge against old age. I also believe that handwriting stimulates creativity while engaging the hand and wrist.
These days, I find handwriting in cursive to be relaxing, almost meditative. I practice most days and use it in everyday writing.
The template that I use is free and can be downloaded and printed over and over as needed.