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Improving Your Memory

Improving Your Memory



Can you remember a dozen instances in which you forgot some thing during the past week? The answer to that question makes little difference, because you have been forgetting things--little things and big--and if your lapses have been forgotten, so much the worse. But, since you're reading this page right now, it's probable that your forgetfulness has been plaguing you more and more frequently. And you don't know what to do about it.

And you're asking me.

And I’m asking you: Have you tried to figure out why you've been forgetting? Have you noticed when you've failed to remember? Have you noticed what things you've forgotten? Of course you have got a memory, and unless I'm wrong, it's a pretty
good one. If you wanted to take the time, you could sit down and rattle off literally thousands upon thousands of facts ...the "seventimes" table, who's president of the United States, your middle name, if you have one, or, if not, that you haven't got a middle name, the formula for baby's breakfast, what causes hiccoughs, how to spell "hiccoughs," how to cure a rasher of bacon or a rash, how to obtain a writ of mandamus, how long it takes to boil an egg or get to Pittsburgh
when traffic's with you ... you've got enough facts in your mind to fill a
hundred jumbo filing cabinets!

But for all that you still forgot to bring the car in to have the oil changed last week, your telephone bill sat in a drawer and went three weeks overdue, your secretary had to remind you that it was your wife's birthday, you put your report card down somewhere and then completely forgot where it was ... and you're getting pretty discouraged over this whole memory situation.

Remember this: Unless you learn something--really get it into your mind in tile first place--you're not ever going to remember it! Unless you understand something the first time, the odds are that the next time will be just another first time.

Trace the thought back a step further, and consider this: Unless you pay attention, you probably will not learn. And another step--unless you're interested for one reason or another, you won't be paying attention.

So you're not going to remember anything in which you don't take an interest upon first encounter.

Of course it's obvious that you must often rely upon your memory to bring you information about things which don't interest you. If you've been asked by the lady next door to pick up a quart of milk on your way home, maybe you don't care whether she drinks her coffee black or not; suppose you don't like your job, or school, or cleaning the house ... these are responsibilities which you've got to meet. Even if
you're not genuinely interested in some things, you've got an interest in them, right?

So: since the best way to remember things is to take an interest in them, and since you've sometimes got to remember things about things in which you're not ordinarily very interested ... what's the answer? Create an interest in them!

-- Ah, come on, how do you expect me to get interested in addressing two hundred envelopes, or putting out the garbage, or algebra?

Simpler than you think! Get interested in exercising your memory muscles! Make your memory your hobby, watch it work, teach it new tricks, carry it around with you and show it off, and pretty soon it'll be taking fine care of itself!

In the following chapters I'm going to suggest a few of the tricks that you can play with your memory, in order that many of the things you've been forgetting will become more fun to remember. At the same time, you'll begin to realize that some things aren't worth the time and effort it would take to commit them to memory, if they can be taken care of in some easier way; part of this book will be devoted
to a number of memory-minimizers--suggestions for avoiding memory tasks which might cost a bit too much of your time.

It won't be a system, or a course, or just a book of puzzles to test your rote powers ...but a discourse on the practical application of memory principles. And as you learn more about your own memory, you'll take a greater interest in it, and use it to better advantage. The results of all this will be evident almost immediately--in your daily life.

After a very short while, you'll start to get the hang of it yourself. And as you become more familiar with your memory you'll derive pleasure and satisfaction from the game of finding new ways to strengthen--and reinforce your memory.

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