By David Joel Miller.
Your memory can be improved with a little effort, some motivation will help.
This month let’s take a look at memory, its role in our life and how you might improve it. Contrary to popular belief a good memory is not something you are either born with or you will never have.
There are ways to work on improving your memory regardless of how good a memory you started with. I want to keep this Memory March discussion on a practical basis. There has been a ton of research on memory over the years. This research has given us some insights into how the brain works but that information has not always translated into anything all that practical.
We can describe memory “systems” and parts of the brain involved, but the systems do not at this point correlate well with the brain parts and those parts of the brain serve many functions beyond memory.
From a practical point of view there are ways to improve your memory, thinking and mentally acuity that has little to do with the way your brain is shaped and how much supposed intelligence you have or do not have. We have noted in past posts that some very smart people can do dumb things and some average people come up with some surprising ideas.
Having a good memory may begin with how much storage capacity your brain has but the efficiency of storage and how you use those abilities can make a tremendous difference.
A long time ago before we discovered ADHD and learning disabilities, there used to be some programs on memory improvement and mind development. New advances in medications and learning techniques have been helpful, but to date we have found no magic pill that makes your memory better and the elusive part of learning remains learning how to learn.
Things you can do to improve your memory and mental efficiency.
A good memory is not something we are born with. In the early years children’s memories are primarily stored as pictures. There are processes for consolidating those memories. As children move into the school years what they can remember is largely influenced by how many words they know. Memories begin to be stored in the brain as stories.
Much of our memory is about being a good storyteller. Very young children are often good “story tellers” meaning they can invent fantastic tales full of creativity. What they lack is the ability to consolidate those stories’ so they can be retold time after time. As we get older our storytelling abilities crystallize.
Fortunately for those of us with sometimes faulty memories, learning to remember stories is a skill that can be learned.
Don’t confuse a good memory with IQ or being smart. There are plenty of people who are smart in the IQ sense. They score very well on standardized tests. But can they remember anything? Not much! Those stories about the absent-minded professor have a lot of truth to them. Being smart does not mean you can remember anything outside your primary interest.
Having a good memory is more a skill than something you are born with. Skills can be learned and they can be improved with practice.
Over the course of Memory March I will try to offer some everyday suggestions on how to improve your memory, your mental efficiency and your productivity. There will be some suggested exercises. You may do them or not. I have borrowed some of these ideas from old memory improvement and mental efficiency texts but where possible have updated them for our current terminology and understandings. Can’t say the ideas are all that original and I will try to give credit where credit is due.
My hope is that these memory posts will be helpful. We will also need to say a few things about motivation. Being motivated to remember things helps the memory. I have written in the past about internal and external motivation. Through the month I plan to talk some more about motivation.
Links to a few of the older posts on both memory and motivation will appear at the end of these posts.
Let’s end this post with a simple memory prompt.
Please remember to leave a comment about memory, motivation and how this may lead you towards your happy life.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
- Forgetting things may not be a memory problem (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Your autobiography as therapy (counselorssoapbox.com)