Read those values.
Have you ever been in a situation where you question what you ate for dinner last night, and literally cannot recall? After minutes of pondering, sometimes it may click, whereas other times a friend or family member may have to remind you of the food you ate, or you have to think of something which symbolizes the food. For example, maybe you ate roast lamb (sorry vegans!) and see a lamb on television which triggers your memory of you eating lamb – only if, for whatever reason, you were actually trying to remember what you ate for dinner last night. On the other hand, maybe you just list all the different foods you typically eat and pinpoint the one which you ate last night – or you have adapted to a certain eating pattern that it’s just second nature for you to know what you ate for dinner last night, which, too be honest, is kind of boring; where’s your sense of adventure?!
Now, let me ask you another question. At what point did you suddenly forget what you ate for dinner? Was it minutes after eating it? Did the memory slowly begin to vanish, or was it sudden? Or do you simply not know, or even care? Maybe you just need to eat something better. Just kidding … but seriously.
Memories of something trivial, such as that poor, innocent lamb you ate for dinner last night is a part of the visual memory. This type of memory largely impacts the daily life of a typical person. It performs simple tasks such as allowing us to remember the face of someone, remembering where you last placed your wallet (or purse), and most importantly: remembering where your phone (and keys, for that matter) was last placed. As you can see, our visual memory is terrible. Okay – so maybe that isn’t true. Without the ability to visually remember things (or an adequate comprehension), wouldn’t we just be blind humans with working eyes? Imagine walking past a stranger, and instantly forgetting their face, gender, etc. That is, of course, providing no interaction was present whatsoever.
So, now you may be asking yourself, “Well, what about blind people?” which is a very good question. Blind people are far superior with memory than those who aren’t blind, which may be surprising to some of you (or not). As blind people have no visual input, this is their brain’s way of making up for their lack of visual perception. They are able to remember words far better than most people, with less ‘false’ memories. They remember in other ways, such as smell, feel, taste and sound. Obviously there are other contributing factors to their memory ability, such as if they were blind from birth, being a major one.
So, why are we often unable to remember such typical things, like what we ate for dinner last night? Unfortunately this is a daily occurrence in the everyday life – it’s because essentially our brain hates information; long term, anyway. Have you ever wondered why most HAVE to study to pass a test? It’s because the information is stored in your short term memory and will essentially be wiped or considered obsolete as new information is stored. There is no instant cure to this terrible, terrible illness, unfortunately – other than retraining your brain and memory.
That being said: just because you forget about something does not mean it has been removed from your brain forever, which is something people are often unaware of. It simply means you are unable to retrieve given information which has been stored in your long-term memory at any given point. Just because you can’t remember what you ate for dinner last night doesn’t mean you won’t remember just before falling asleep.
Okay, now let me test you. Remember the seven different values I wrote at the top of this article that you were probably extremely puzzled about when initially reading? If you don’t remember reading them at all, then I sincerely hope you get checked out! Seriously though; presuming you read over them, or at least glanced at them: I want you to recite them WITHOUT looking back. If you can do this, then you’re a cheater.
So, without further ado, I present information as to WHY you may find yourself in similar situations previously mentioned (forgetting keys, where your phone was last situated, what you ate for dinner, etc.) and how to avoid these situations as much as possible.
1. Your Brain Hates You… Kind of.
Firstly, it’s not because you’re moronic (although that may be a contributing factor) but because of several other factors. One of the most common reasons many are unable to remember specific information is because, essentially, it’s not life-threatening. Basically, your brain doesn’t REALLY care about where you left your car keys; it only cares for survival. You might care (which will improve your memory) but your brain certainly opposes it. Have you noticed how you never forget to drink water (or any form of liquid)? It’s because your body forces you to be reminded of these things as a form of survival. I have said it once, and I’ll say it again: your brain couldn’t care less about your phone – as much to your disgust, simply because you can live without it.
2. Learn Properly!
Although your brain hating you remembering things is a significant reason as to why many have poor long-term memories, there are several other less significant factors contributing to your poor memory, such as not learning the information correctly. For example: studying for a test. Maybe you were too distracted or only remembered small parts which made it hard for the rest of the information to make any sense. Or maybe you simply didn’t understand the information logically at all, and it was simply all words to you. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! So essentially you never actually learned this information correctly to begin with, so obviously you won’t be able to remember it… if it was never stored in the first place, right? Having the passion and motivation to remember information is going to enhance your memory because you desire learning of the new information. Make sense?
3. Stop Repeating Yourself!
Furthermore, as you learn and remember more and more things, those new things could interfere with past memories resulting in a loss of memory. For example: have you ever been to, say, a significant location twice, and don’t remember which time you went when “that something” happened? Maybe you went to a theme park twice in your life, and can’t recall at which time a certain ride was broken down. That is probably a poor example, but one I hope you can grasp and actually makes sense.
As you may have been able to establish from this article, your brain really doesn’t like to learn new things uncritical to your life. As a result, I hand it to all the doctors, lawyers, engineers and other advanced professions (sorry, art professionals!) having to learn new information for years upon years just to become what they want. I certainly couldn’t do it! So with those three tips mentioned earlier, you should be well on your way to enhancing your memory skills.
Marc Green is a highly passionate researcher who is enthusiastic about the human memory, and how to effectively retain information. He runs a website called Wider Memory, which is packed with information regarding how you can do better when it comes to remembering things.