Are we stressing ourselves and our kids to memorize things that don’t really matter?

Most of us think that having a good memory is a trait that’s outside of our control. But good memory is a skill and learning how to improve it can help you become a more creative and  innovative.The first step is changing the way you  think about your memory. Your memory isn’t designed to remember names, find missing keys, or store every password you’ve ever created. Your memory is designed to work in context. For example, if you try to make a list of every vegetable  you can remember, you will make a much longer list if you imagine walking through a grocery store.

“What your memory is really for is giving you information about what to expect in the world and how to solve problems in those situations. Ideally, you want your memory to be filled with useful information that helps you solve  life issues and for adults maybe tough business problems.

1. Engage both your body and mind. If you want to remember new ideas, you need to listen and focus. First, stop multitasking. “The human mind doesn’t multitask really, it timeshares.You end up flipping back and forth between tasks, which makes all of your learning less effective.To enhance your memory even more, engage your body as you listen. Sit up straight, take notes, stand up if you feel tired, gesture or move around a bit. Engage your whole self.We’re not just brains in a box.

2. Review three points you want to remember. When you learn new information (by reading a book or attending a meeting or when kids are  learning a new chapter at school, for example), you or your child  tends to remember only about three things. To control what you remember,review the three takeaways that matter most to you. Otherwise, you leave the three points up to chance.

When the information is fresh in your mind, take a few minutes to review the most useful points. Try writing them in a journal, or recounting them to a friend. That helps solidify those three points in your memory.

3. Explain new concepts to yourself. A rich memory helps you combine disparate ideas to find a novel solution. To do that, you need to understand how the world works. You gain that knowledge — and remember it — by explaining new concepts to yourself or to someone else. When you hear a new subject  matter or an  idea, look for gaps in your understanding and fill them in. Ask yourself, why does this work? How? The clearer the concepts, the easier they will be to remember.

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