Remember To Remember By Recalling Your Favourite Place

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The art of memory has been declining for centuries.

About a thousand years ago, books were expensive. Of course they were there. Forget the raw materials, which could not be cheap – someone had to write them by hand.

If you had books, you were rich.

If you had a library, you had to be a modern billionaire.

It meant you could not buy a book for a few dollars on Amazon. If you could read and write, good books were rare and precious resources.

Which meant that you were more likely to borrow someone's book than own yours.

Which, in turn, meant that you had to make the most of it. You had to extract all the wisdom, knowing that you could not verify it later.

In other words, you had to have an excellent memory.

Then the printing press arrived. As people no longer have to write books by hand, their price has dropped.

Then the computers arrived, facilitating the storage and retrieval of the data.

And with the Internet, it has become even easier.

Now there is no need to memorize anything – not when you can just read it.

I do not pretend that there are no real and incredible benefits to that.

But since we do not rely so much on memory, we do not practice it.

Even if a good memory is a valuable asset, even today.

Having a better memory has obvious advantages. From complex business principles to birthdays, you need to remember and recall information. Having this information on hand makes you faster, smarter and more efficient.

But most importantly, memory exercises are perfect for your mind. They strengthen the connections in your brain and improve your overall performance.

Even though we had cybernetic implants that stored all our memories for us, I would still recommend a memory workout for that reason alone.

How do you train your memory?

This is the most common technique – everyone's favorite, from scholars to modern mental athletes:

The palace of the spirit.

The idea is quite simple. You think of a place you really know well. This can be your childhood home, your favorite park or the office where you work. I like to use my grandparents' house, which for some reason is especially clear to me. As long as you can imagine, it's okay.

Then you think about what you want to remember, whether it's a shopping list or a complicated mathematical procedure.

The next step is to place these objects – or something that reminds you of them – in your mind. Walk around and leave these clues for yourself.

When you want to retrieve them, you just have to retrace your steps in your palace of the spirits.

Now it takes practice. Placing objects in your spirit palace is a skill. Recovering them later is a separate skill. To understand clearly how to represent abstract ideas is another.

But with practice and some practical systems, you can memorize anything from cards mixed to random numbers.

You do not have to go that far, though. Simply memorizing simple things (like your shopping list) is enough to sharpen your mind.


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