Memory Championship Techniques

Recently, the annual USA memory competition played out in New York City. Joshua Foer, the 2006 winner and author of Moonwalking with Einstein, reassures us that winners of this competition have very ordinary memories. What they do have or use, however, are memory championship techniques that take advantage of some very basic principles of how our minds work.

Memory Championship Techniques

You too can use memory championship techniques to remember names and faces, lists, or a shuffled pack of playing cards.

You too can use memory championship techniques to remember names and faces, lists, or shuffled packs of playing cards.

The most important of those principles is that we remember when we pay attention. We remember when we engage deeply, when information is made meaningful, when it’s colorful, when we’re able to integrate it into the web of all the other things we know. Memory techniques, like the memory palace, may sound like miraculous shortcuts. But in fact they work precisely because they make you work. They take effort. They force a kind of depth of processing and a kind of mindfulness that many of us don’t normally walk around exercising. But that’s what it takes to remember — and to live a memorable life.

For example, if you want to remember someone’s name, the first and most important thing you can do is pay attention — real attention — when a person introduces herself. Most of the time, we forget a person’s names because we never properly encode it in our memories. Our minds are elsewhere, or we’re too busy thinking of the first clever thing we’re going to say back.

If attention and engagement are the secret to remembering, then that raises an interesting question. How much of our lives — our already short lives — are we comfortable losing because we’re buried in our smartphones, or not paying attention to the human being across from us, or because we’re simply too lazy to try to engage deeply with the world around us? The feats of memory champions prove that there are incredible memory capacities latent in all of us, but if you are going to live a memorable life, it takes effort. You have to constantly force yourself to pay attention, to make information meaningful, to engage deeply. You have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.

You can read the full article here .

So there you have it — being mindful of our surroundings, engaging deeply in the situation, as well as having a system for encoding the information in our brains seems to be the foundation of memory championship techniques.

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