Lately my memory fails me more than I’d like to admit. So, when I came across an article in Fast Company about how to train your brain to improve your memory, it piqued my interest. The article contains tips from memory coach, Dave Farrow, who is also a two-time Guinness World Record holder for most decks of cards remembered after just one look.
Farrow recently published a book, Brainhacker: Master Memory, Focus, Emotions, and More to Unleash the Genius Within. Below are some key insights from the book:
The Brain Follows the Body
According to Farrow, our posture and movement play a significant role in our cognitive abilities. When we stand upright, hold our shoulders back, chin up, and breathe deeply, we exude confidence and have high self-esteem. I’ve heard this termed the “superman pose.” Conversely, when we are depressed, our body language mirrors that, with slumped shoulders, shallow breathing, and a downward gaze. Additionally, research indicates that the direction our eyes point influences our ability to recall information. When we look up, we activate a larger part of our brain and can access more of our cerebral cortex and memory. This explains why when we are trying to remember something we tend to look up.
The Body Follows the Brain
Our brains process visual information and create the illusion of reality, which can affect our body movements. For instance, Farrow would get participants in his workshops to imagine themselves on top of a building, and many would lose their balance, despite standing firmly on the ground. Visualization can also be a powerful tool in blocking pain. Farrow recommends visualizing the pain and then blowing it away, which has worked for him in dealing with chronic pain.
The Power of Visualization
Anything we construct in our minds—sights, smells, sounds—can affect our brain, as it goes through the same pathways as real information. He suggests using the “disgust hack” to curb food cravings by visualizing a specific food in a disgusting way, which can lead to a permanent aversion to it. I’m not sure I’m ready to do this with my homemade cookies and brownies, but it’s an interesting concept!
The Brain is a Comparison Machine
Farrow states that our brains are constantly comparing everything we experience to everything else we experience. Speed reading is an example of how our brains use this principle to process information. When we read quickly, we compare what we are reading to what we already know, which enables us to read faster. This explains why everyone perceives events and information differently.
Emotions Affect Learning
Farrow emphasizes that emotions influence how we learn and remember information. When we are stressed or anxious, it is harder to retain information. Thus, it is essential to manage our emotions when learning new things. Farrow recommends incorporating humor, using mnemonic devices, and linking new information to existing knowledge to help with retention.
I’m excited to try some of his recommendations and see if I notice a difference in my memory and focus. Do you have anything that helps you focus or improve your memory? Email me at [email protected].