According to HowStuffWorks, there is quite a bit to know about how a person’s memory actually works. This includes how memory encoding works, a brief summary on short and long term memory, memory retrieval and the effects of aging on memory. Why am I interested in how memory works? Because it affects my productivity, focus and most other creativity factors in my life. When a person can remember more in their life they can save time and cherish special moments more often. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to pull from the emotions and feelings from these “special moments” as much as possible. They are more important than we sometimes give them credit for.
Here are some examples of these types of moments in my own life:
- Going to my grandparent’s house and spending a week with them during the summer in Selma, AL when it was too hot to live outside. But, we played sports and cut grass in this heat anyways and it was fun.
- The times that my grandfather put me on his knee and sang “dee-da-lum a dee-da-lum a daddyo” made me laugh.
- Watching Braves baseball, Wheel of Fortune and eating dinner off of TV trays with them.
- Watching my grandparents pass away and seeing how much their lives meant to others.
- The happy feelings that family times brought and how fun it was growing up with a big sister.
- The multiple times that I heard my big sister play piano over and over again until she got it right.
- Learning drums at age 10 and actually playing in different bands. Music affected me more than I realized.
- The baseball practices and games that taught me hard work and the satisfaction it gave me to be good at something.
- The beautiful feeling that knowing God is near from an early age.
- The feelings of new beginnings from living in many different cities due to parent’s relocation.
- The moment that I received my first comment on my very first blog and earned my first dollar from pursing my passion of writing.
- Learning the meaning of hard work by getting a job at age 12 and working from then on.
- The feeling of working hard through school and getting good grades while balancing everything else in life.
- The moment that I knew I would marry my wife, Jasmine.
- That moment I laid eyes on Jasmine in her wedding dress.
- The week leading up to Colbie’s birth.
- The feelings of crying your eyes out the first time you lay your eyes on your child.
- The feeling that comes from mentoring others and them thanking you when they reach their goals.
- The feelings that come from weather changes.
- The feelings of being around best friends.
- The feelings that come from life’s biggest lessons.
- The feelings that come when you realize you wish you would have been nicer to your parents as a kid and the appreciation for what they did that comes with it.
- The feelings that come the first time you have to discipline your child and start to understand what your parents went through.
- Those feelings that come from your biggest victories and your biggest mistakes.
- The feeling of going to DQ and TCBY as a kid and getting to pick out my favorite flavor of ice cream.
- The moment you realize that you tried to change everything on the outside before you looked inward and what you learned from that.
- The moment you realize you are an adult.
- The moment you realize that you actually have to exercise to feel good.
- The feelings that come from being considered a leader by others and the huge responsibility it is.
- The moment that you have never given a speech before and it is in front of too many people to count, but you knock it out of the park anyways.
- The first moment you stood up for what you believe in and actually said something about it.
- The moment I realized I didn’t know anything about anything.
- The moment you realize how awesome life really is.
These are the moments in time that really stick out to me and make me smile. They are all a huge part of my story that created my outlook and ultimately has formed who I am. I can remember the exact emotion I had in the moment and can pull from them when I am down. These are the kinds of positive moments that we all need to remember forever. They create an uplifting outlook when we need it most and creates a sense of achievement. They can even bring happiness when we least expect it.
There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief. – Aeschylus [Tweet This]
You probably have similar moments to these in your own life. Do you need to remember your story in more detail to fully appreciate your wonderful past and to plan your future out to have more amazing moments? Do you need to remember more exciting, happy moments in your own life to not only lift your spirits, but to be able to tell your own story in a better way?
Here are the four most effective ways to increase your memory and begin capturing your amazing story to tell again and again:
1. Focus, listen and jot down some notes.
Life happens fast if we aren’t careful. I especially noticed this after we had Colbie. A common conversation that we have is,”We need to be here, we have to be there, this is scheduled then and don’t forget this.” “OK.” When I saw that I was going to need to put more effort into remembering things as life passed by in a blink of an eye, I learned that I have to be more intentional with the smaller things. Two great books on the subject of embracing life’s moments is Donald Miller’s, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life and Jeff Goins’, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing. Some main points that I learned from these books are to slow down and focus on what is important, create great conversation through stopping to listen to others and show people you care about them by being intentional with relationships. Enjoy life to the fullest when you take the time to make special memories.
Focusing on life-changing moments and listening to others in conversations are both really important, but I have also found that taking notes and making lists is a must for me as well. If we rely just on our memories we will forget the most important details. This is why journaling is so important. Whether you take your pen to the paper or you create a blog to capture these incredible life moments, doing so will be beneficial to your life story. Think about it… What stories do you want to tell your kids, grandkids and close friends in the future? What details do you not want to leave out to increase the details of your story. If you have already missed out on writing your stories down, there is no need to worry. Use some quiet time to write down the beautiful stories in your life and save them for later. Who knows when you will need to share where you have been to help others through a similar situation?
The true art of memory is the art of attention. – Samuel Johnson [Tweet This]
2. Use your memory more often.
Commit more to memory when you try to remember more. I am currently working on this step myself, as I use use writing things down as a crutch in most situations. Visualization is key here. Try to think things all the way through before relying on your default solution. An example here would be to try and remember your schedule for the day without looking at it and then compare to your planned out schedule. How close were you? Continue to find other simple tasks that you can do this in and compare results. And if you need to look, that’s ok. Books and writing down things are available for a reason. Use the available tools when necessary, but remember to use your mind along the way as well.
3. Get the right amount of sleep for your body.
It is weird for me to think that some people are just fine on 4-5 hours of sleep. I need at least 7 to feel right, but it all depends on your sleep cycles and when you enter REM sleep. When you are fatigued, it is difficult to remember the important things. Studies from Harvard show that sleep and your memory go hand-in-hand. Devote yourself to a full night sleep and resting more often than you are right now. Rejuvenation is necessary to mentally process daily happenings and commit these moments to memory. Sleep will make you feel better and help you remember more.
4. Practice with memory games.
Make faster thinking a fun time by playing memory games. This will take the focus off staying sharp and associate fun with remembering things. WebMD posted this article on other fun memory-boosting games that are beneficial for you, too. Find ways to make remembering important life events fun.
Maybe you have found yourself where I have been and just aren’t remembering things as you once did. If so, put these four steps into action in your own life and see how much more effective you can be in remembering the important aspects of your life journey. Use these tools to find more ways to increase your memory, retain knowledge and ultimately increase your quality of life. In the end, the importance of increasing your memory isn’t for the silly day-to-day things, it is to capture and remember the heartfelt emotions that come with everything worth remembering.