Our memories are important. Our memories make us who we are. But what if you remembered everything? That may not be a good thing since getting rid of old memories helps to form new ones. Perfect memories retain the information you need and forget what you don’t need.

For Canadians, memory loss is our second greatest health concern after cancer. Remembering and forgetting is becoming increasingly difficult because we are constantly overwhelmed by information such as pin numbers, alarm codes, and passwords for our cappuccino makers. There is simply so much to forget. Are you one of those people who forget names, and where you put your purse, wallet, or keys? How about where you parked your car?

Humans have been forgetting things as long as we’ve been remembering things. Sailors learn to navigate by remembering songs that give them directions. These songs are kind of like a GPS. Ancient humans used to sing songs to remember things. Most children learn the alphabet by singing a song. This proves that music and songs do help us remember things.

But singing songs isn’t the only method to remember things. Dave Farrow, an instructor who teaches memory courses, helps business owners remember their clients’ names through visualization. Studies show that people remember best visually. Using acronyms also helps. Do you have a technique to remember things?

In London, England, world memory championships take place each year. These memory experts train their brains and block out distractions by using glasses, ear plugs, and juggling balls. It’s quite like an Olympics of the mind. To recall numbers, they simply turn them into easy-to-remember shapes.

The neurons in our brains store different memories. When we remember something it activates our neurons that convey that particular experience by following a certain pathway. Our memories fade because these pathways weaken, and then we begin to forget. But our neurons are resilient, and they continuously grow.

The trick is to combine physical and mental exercise to improve your memory. Brain gyms are becoming more and more popular. They provide a place to exercise your brain and learn new things. Even learning how to dance helps.

Taking pictures is another way that we capture memories and images. Sense cams are being used by people who suffer from severe memory loss. These cameras take pictures every 30 seconds and provide a visual map of your everyday activities.

Forgetting is an essential part of being human. But can you keep your memories and make them better? Yes. All you need to do is socialize, visualize, exercise, sing, and keep learning new things.

9 Comments
  1. Great post. I tend to forget many things every so often, but writing down my ideas and taking pictures really helps.

    I also found doing physical exercise, helps stimulate the brain, and help make it function better. My mom also does Sudoku, which she says helps keep her memory good.

  2. My forgetfulness is revived mainly when I leave my phone around the house… Or when I have to remember where I left the car in the parking lot! I understand how I, as a person, learn things and I put these tricks into play when I’m at school:
    Acronyms. I use acronyms all time at school and in my musical theory to remember the order of things (ex. Ice Domes Protect Little Middle-Aged Ladies= Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian)
    Songs. If I can put a tune to something, I’ll definitely remember it.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Mnemonic devices certainly help. I used to have a way of remembering important dates when I was still studying but it’s something silly like 7 8 9 jokes. It did work beautifully for me when I needed it.

    Where did I put my memory just makes me remember of all the sci-fi-ish movies or series I’ve liked like Dollhouse (some people use USB storage devices to switch memories/learning like give up the memories of knowing how to fight hand-to-hand with the knowledge of using firearms) and Memento (he wrote notes everywhere, including his body).

  4. I am often easily distracted. I don’t think it is the same as having a bad memory. but doesn’t help it either. I just do things without paying enough attention, like picking my phone to see what time it is, and then returning it in my bag without actually noticing the hour.
    hah, and I of course suffer from the plague of every student on the earth – I new all of my stuff perfectly by heart the day before, but my mind is totally blank on the day of the exam

  5. Wow! Great and informative article! Who knew that there were so many ways to stimulate memory and help us remember things?

    Singing is definitely a prime example of an exercise that helps us in remembering and learning new things. It’s so much easier remember a lyrics of a song as opposed to a textbook paragraph for example!

  6. This is great info. Yes, retaining memory and improving memory are so crucial. I have long been fascinated with mnemonic techniques and I’m always on the lookout for tips and pointers. I also find acronyms useful, as well as visual images — the more vivid and absurd or comical, the better. I always write to-do lists for myself, and generally I use the technique of active listening and note-taking to help me remember.

    I did not know about the World Memory Championships, and so I just looked it up on Wikipedia. It’s really fascinating the tasks they can achieve with memory, from numbers to names and faces. What incredible ability as well as the discipline to develop its full potential. It’s also inspirational, too. If these memory champions are the record breaking sprinters, so to speak, it shows what the rest of us can do, to be the dedicated joggers, so to speak, who want to be mentally fit.

  7. I normally forget small things that are not that important. I have a problem forgetting bad things, they seem to just stick to my brain like glue and will not go away. My husband always tells me that I am like a book that never forgets and it is so true.

  8. Memories are nice in the way that they can hold good or bad ones. The key to remembering though is to remember constantly. Neural pathways weaken because they aren’t used enough, and it’s basically useless to have if it’s not needed because it’s not being accessed constantly. We’re basically trained to remember what’s important to us and what’s helpful, along with remembering what not to do. The human brain still needs to be figured out in it’s entirety, and we need to achieve that before we can actually tackle how to reduce memory loss efficiently.

  9. The part about singing to remember is one thing that we often practice at home. I keep notes to help me remember, but of course that does not always work, because sometimes I forgot where I kept my notes. And then I learned using charts, which has been great so far.

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