Make your memory your superpower!
🤔 Can you improve your life by improving your ability to remember? Five-time USA memory champion Nelson Dellis thinks so. He can memorize 339 digits in five minutes, 217 names in 15 minutes, and 9 decks of cards in 30 minutes. Oh, and he’s also an accomplished mountaineer. Nelson insists he wasn’t born with a better memory than you or me, so what’s his secret? Most of us learned to memorize through repetition. Nelson calls this painful form of memorization the blunt force method. He trains his memory daily in an enjoyable way using the brain’s natural talents for visualization and storytelling. “I kept training every day because I loved going to these places in my mind to memorize stuff…and at the same time it was making me feel like I had a superpower.” - Nelson Dellis 💡Key idea: You can train your memory and take it to a whole other superpower level. Just remember two things: 1. Pay attention and 2. Turn what you’re trying to remember into a memorable mental image. “The true art of memory is the art of attention,” wrote Samuel Johnson, a man who needed a good memory because he wrote the first English dictionary, published in 1755. You will never be able to have a lasting memory of anything, including cool Samuel Johnson quotes, if it doesn’t interest you and hasn’t become the center of your focused attention. Yes, but how can you direct your attention in a way that makes it fun and easy to memorize? Use the See-Link-Go tool. See = Create a picture of what you want to remember in your mind. Link = Connect the image to something you already know. Go = Make the image as wild as you can by making it weird, funny or just plain gross. Draw on your senses of hearing, touch, smell, or taste. Most importantly, make your image move. Let’s give See-Link-Go a try. Say you’re at a party and you just met Helen. She has red hair. You SEE her red hair on fire that you LINK to hell and GO wild with as you imagine HELL-en wielding a pitchfork that she uses to jab you. Isn’t that more fun than trying to mentally repeat Helen’s name over and over in your head and hope it sticks? ⚠️ Caution: Don't tell Helen, or anyone with a striking physical feature, how you were able to remember their name.
But if you do forget Helen’s name, don’t blame your memory. Your memory didn’t fail you. You failed your memory by not paying close enough attention or by not giving your brain a strong enough see-look-go image. Trusting your memory is key to building your superpower. Why does the see-link-go method work? It draws on our earliest method of memory formation. Before there were numbers, names, addresses or poems, our ancestors had to draw on visual memory to identify what they could eat and what would kill them. The Bottom Line: Create wild pictures in your mind and memorization will be a breeze. Do it now: What types of things do you care about and want to make a see-link-go effort to commit to memory? Poetry, names, famous quotes, the top ten most populous countries? Pick a topic and a target for memorization, then try see-link-go for yourself. My experience with see-link-go: I wanted to use the visual memory trick to learn the vocabulary I receive each day in my Greek word of the day.
To memorize the word for cow that’s pronounced ayelada, I imagined a cow shouting a “Aye!” while driving a Lada car in circles. It’s a lot more fun than repeating the word αγελάδα, imagining a cow, and hoping the memory sticks.
I’ve also used the see-link-go method to successfully remember Emily Dickinson poetry. It’s pretty easy because her poems are perfect for strange imagery... Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops at all. “Memorizing is fun, silly, empowering, and the greatest skill you’ll ever learn. Have fun with it.” - Nelson Dellis Get charged up on building your memory superpower: 🕸️ Nelson Dellis has a memorable website. 📚 Dellis has written two books on memory, one for adults called Remember It! and one for children called Memory Superpowers! I have read both books and recommend the children’s book over the adult book. Memory Superpowers! is shorter and more playful as Dellis takes you on a journey to Mount Foreverest to defeat the Memory Thief. (Dellis also prefers his children’s book.) 🎧 For those of you who would rather listen to how to improve your memory than read about it, here’s a Finding Mastery interview with Nelson Dellis. 🔋 Favorite Recharges from around the Web Want more willpower? Believe that it’s limitless. (BBC Worklife) 🎳 Rather than bowling alone, we’re browsing alone. Let’s put an end to our social recession. (Substack) 🚿💡 The science of why you have great ideas in the shower. (National Geographic) ⚛️ Atomic Habits author James Clear shares a goldmine of habit formation wisdom. (Tim Ferriss podcast transcript). 🛁 Explore how moving your body gives your brain a bubble bath of neurochemicals, and other ways you can nourish your noggin with neuroscientist and self-described “hippocampal nerd” Dr. Wendy Suzuki. (Feel Better Live More podcast) Memorable Recharge Quote of the Week from Wendy Suzuki
Wishing you a memorable day with many shiny new brain cells, Lynne