Memory Power: You Can Develop a Great Memory--America's Grand Master Shows You Howby Scott Hagwood
Good memory isn’t a gift, it’s a skill you can develop. Memory Power shows you how.
Ever forget where you put your car keys? Or forget a name five seconds after meeting someone? Blank in the middle of a presentation or test? Forgetting is normal but it’s not inevitable. Memory Power provides the solution to unleash your inner/i>/i>
Good memory isn’t a gift, it’s a skill you can develop. Memory Power shows you how.
Ever forget where you put your car keys? Or forget a name five seconds after meeting someone? Blank in the middle of a presentation or test? Forgetting is normal but it’s not inevitable. Memory Power provides the solution to unleash your inner genius.
Scott Hagwood is a four-time National Memory Champion, but he wasn’t born with photographic recall. At age thirty-six he underwent radiation treatment for cancer, which his doctors warned might cause memory loss.
Hagwood was determined to beat the odds, so he began to stretch and work his memory like a muscle. He soon learned that simple daily memory drills could restore and even boost his ability to remember faces, numbers, and text. His exercise plan was so effective that eventually his brain began to change physically, becoming more efficient in areas associated with memory.
Now Hagwood shares with you the easy-to-learn techniques he used to go from average Joe to the first American Grand Master of Memory. You may think you’re forgetful or absentminded, but you, too, can tap into your latent but very real memory power.
- Free Press
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Read an Excerpt
I know, you think you have a lousy memory. You can't find your car keys, you forgot to send that e-mail yesterday, or maybe, worse, you forgot your anniversary!
Relax; your memory is just fine. I can almost guarantee it. For years I was in the same boat you think you're in. I was a mediocre student. I suffered the acute embarrassment of forgetting, in front of an audience, how to play a simple piano piece. I couldn't remember where I put my car keys. And then I found out I had cancer.
What does having cancer have to do with memory? The doctors told me the treatment that I would undergo would have an effect on my brain that would make it difficult for me to concentrate and remember. There's the ultimate insult: Add to the terror of having a life-threatening disease a treatment that makes my already forgetful memory worse! I had to leave my treatment to the doctors and they did a wonderful job but I decided that I could do something at least to mitigate the effects of the treatment on my brain. If you had told me five years ago that I would hold the title of National Memory Champion, I would have laughed out loud. Not a chance! I was just an average guy doing my best to get through life while enjoying my wife and children. But I won the national championships in four consecutive years. How I succeeded in doing that is what this book is all about.
I discovered that a person's memory is much like his or her body. Exercise it and it gets stronger. The trick lies in knowing how to do the exercises. In Memory Power I'll show you how to do exercises for your memory. And the best part is that you'll find the exercises amazingly easy, yet they yield powerful results. Within a week you'll find yourself remembering more and using those memories to make your life better.
Cancer is a life-altering experience for anyone who has the disease. Chapter 1 is about how my brush with death taught me that everybody has far more memory potential than they realize. Fortunately, my cancer was curable and I had a wonderful team of doctors to whom I'll always be grateful. As I was undergoing the frightening treatment regimen the doctors laid out, I struggled to keep my thinking and memory intact. I was fearful that I would lose some vital part of what made me the person I was. Then, in something of a revelation, I discovered that I had a great memory! I could remember tiny details of events that happened years ago. While the treatments took a temporary toll on my ability to concentrate and remember things that happened minutes earlier, I reveled in the knowledge of what I did remember. How, I wondered, was it possible to have such vivid recall of long-ago events? And that set me off on the course of discovery and learning that I'm sharing with you. You won't believe how amazing your mind and memory are until you experience this. You'll have to take my word for it now, but you'll be a believer in just a few days.
We'll start your exercise program in chapter 2. Think of it as sort of a warm-up. All it really consists of is keeping a daily journal, jotting down at the end of the day some of the things that happened to you people you met, decisions you made, even what you had for lunch. It doesn't take long to do. Then we'll examine what your journal reveals about how you remember and take a few basic steps to improve on that process. We aren't going to engage in any "tricks." This is all stuff you're already doing without realizing it.
After warming up, we'll explore in chapter 3 the ways in which memories are made. There are two ways to look at the process of memory. One is what you would call scientific and involves neurons, dendrites, chemicals, and electricity in a complex process that we'll leave mostly to the scientists. The other way to view memory is as the result of your senses, emotions, and actions at work. A memory is the result of an experience, and we experience the world around us through our five senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. Our emotions play a role, too, since we usually have negative or positive reactions to experiences. Finally, many experiences we have involve action. We act or are acted upon or maybe we just imagine an action. Combine these ingredients our senses, emotions, and actions and you have a memory! You're already doing all of this, of course, but mostly without thinking about it. The point of chapter 3 and the exercises in it is to get you to do more thinking about your experiences in order to form more exacting and fulfilling memories.
You probably won't be surprised to learn that human beings tend to best remember things that interest them. Chapter 4 shows you how to use that common trait to build more complete memories. In essence, you'll learn to associate whatever you wish or need to remember with something that interests you. It's the simple principle of connectivity everything can be connected in some fashion to everything else. You'll find that your brain is capable of some very creative ways to connect things. Much of the process of association involves the creation of mental pictures. Again, you do this all the time without realizing it. Hear the word breakfast and your mind's eye conjures up something associated with breakfast, maybe scrambled eggs on a plate or the smell of sausage cooking. These mental images will become another of the tools you use to focus your memory.
In chapter 5 we're going to learn about the role of repetition in memory enhancement. I know what you're thinking: Here's the tough part where I have to keep repeating stuff over and over until I have it memorized. Wrong! It's very unfortunate that so many people think that endless repetition is the key to memory. The real key to repetition in memory is that it's more like planting seeds. You plant the memory once, then come back every so often to cultivate and nourish it. Time is a powerful eraser trying to rid you of your memories. But by using the tools we've already assembled, you'll learn in chapter 4 how to form and store memories most efficiently and to protect them from time's decay.
Now that we have a solid framework for forming memories, we come in chapter 6 to an amazing memory technique that was invented thousands of years ago but fell into disuse for centuries. It's called the Roman Room and I find it the single most important tool in memorizing anything. It basically teaches you to use the structure of almost any room four walls, four corners, a floor and ceiling to store and recall your memories. Roman Rooms are eternal forget-me-not spots that are adaptable to any kind of information and serve to build bridges between your working memory and your long-term memory. The process is the same no matter what you want to remember. As I've developed my memory, one of the things that has amazed me is that the process of remembering can be so fascinating. People sometimes ask me how I keep from becoming bored when I'm preparing for a memory competition by memorizing decks of cards. Of course, over the years I've remembered countless thousands of cards in practice. Yet, when I get to the end of the very next deck, I'm still amazed at my ability to remember. It's an insatiable feeling. The Roman Room acts as a gateway to your permanent storage area, allowing you to easily transfer information that would otherwise be lost to an area that has unlimited storage capacity. Although all memory is subject to the whitewash of time, the Roman Room acts as a buffer between the newly stored information and time's obsessive compulsion to cleanse your mental hard drive. I know it sounds strange, but just wait until you try it!
Probably the most embarrassing aspect of memory is forgetting someone's name. The problem is often that introductions happen too quickly. It's not that you are getting too much information, you're just getting it too quickly. In chapter 7 we'll get into some strategies and secrets for remembering names, ranging from paying closer attention when we're being introduced to someone to associating some facet of a person with a similar facet of someone we already know. The exercises in this chapter are easy and fun. You can do them by looking through your old high-school yearbook, or practice them each time you visit Wal-Mart or Home Depot. You can even use newspaper ads and The Weather Channel to hone your ability to recall names.
No matter how well trained your memory may be, there will be occasions when it just doesn't work as well as you would like. We already know that time is a powerful enemy of memory, but there are three others that are just as bad: stress, lack of sleep, and not paying attention. Chapter 8 is all about how to recognize and combat these enemies. We'll also learn to reconstruct memories that might have fallen victim to these devious enemies.
In chapter 9 we'll visit The Discovery Channel and a team of brain researchers who want to take a look at my brain at work. While what they find is interesting in and of itself, what I really want you to take away from this chapter is the feeling that "If this guy Hagwood can do this, so can I." Because that's the truth.
What you may not realize is that the skills you develop to improve your memory are transferable and so can be used in every part of your life, from improving your career to improving your social life. That's what chapter 10 is all about. What it all boils down to is that improving your memory improves your ability to think. I think you'll enjoy seeing how the events that comprise the National Memory Championships events that might at first seem silly or useless to you can have practical applications in your life.
We'll wrap up our journey to a more powerful memory in The Memory Gym. Based on the text you'll be reading, I've prepared seven exercises, one for each day of the week, that will give your memory a significant boost. Of course, you can do them at whatever pace suits you. If you find they're helpful, they can easily be adapted to become memory workouts for the rest of your life.
The past five years have been an incredible journey for me. If your improved memory gives you a fraction of the satisfaction and joy that I've gained, you'll have had an incredible journey, too.
Copyright © 2006 by Scott Hagwood
Meet the Author
Scott Hagwood is the current United States National Memory Champion. He is the first and only American Grand Master of Memory. To achieve this prestigious title, he had to remember nine decks of playing cards in an hour, more than 800 numbers in perfect sequence in an hour, and a shuffled deck of cards in less than three minutes. He has appeared in a variety of print and television media, including Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, Fox & Friends, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, CNN, Games Magazine, Sports Illustrated, People, and AARP: The Magazine, to name just a few. Scott was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and raised near Knoxville, Tennessee. He is married with a daughter and lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
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