“He’s as weird as snake’s suspenders but sweet as a stolen kiss, too.” – Robert A. Heinlein
Since I got the question about memory i’ve been intrigued by it. I knew that there was something more to it. I couldn’t figure it out at first but i’m glad I stuck with it.
All I needed to hear during my research were two things: “Buzan” and “creativity” (check out Tony Buzan, interesting stuff!). Ding-ding-ding! Put everything else aside. It’s time to do some digging!
You’re familiar with the word “hook”, right? It could be a melody, a sound, a lyric etc. Something that gets the listeners attention. Usually it just needs to get the person listening to get an image in their mind or a feeling in their body. When it resonates on another level than: “That’s was a pleasant experience for my ears!”. We’ll get back to this point later.
It’s kind of weird that i’d never delved any deeper into it since I usually tell people that it’s all about connecting with other people, getting them to feel something and getting them to remember. We’ve all got those songs that bring us to a certain moment in our lives. Whether it was that first dance with our partner, the one you heard after a major break up or the one playing on the radio at the beach when you were 16.
I’ve accepted that it’s easy for us to remember something if it’s served to us in a novel, yet familiar, way that reveals something about ourselves. I just hadn’t asked the most important question: Why do we remember that way?
During my research it was so blatantly boring and obvious it’s not even funny. Our brains have evolved during 1,8 million years. We’ve only been able to leave some semblance of information to the next generation for about the last 40.000 years.
Our working memory (how long we can hold on to information) lasts for something like 10-15 seconds. If the information doesn’t have direct value to us or isn’t repeated? Poof! It’s gone! Well, not gone but really hard to get a hold of.
How many things can we remember? We can usually remember 7 individual items. Give or take 2.
This means that we’re not equipped to remember boring ass stuff. Things like numbers, names, words, faces, objects, how long our brains have evolved, how long our working memory is or how many individual items we can remember.
Our brains are hardwired to look for food, home or danger. Doesn’t match description? Not interested, thank you very much!
So, how do people remember? By making the things interesting!
Want to memorize a deck of cards? Turn it into 52 celebrities of your choice. For example, the King of Hearts is Michael Bolton, 3 of Clubs is Nicki Minaj, Queen of Diamonds is Lady Gaga and the Ace of spades is Lemmy and so on. Then choose a familiar street or house. Place the celebrities in the same order as the cards appear. This technique is called a “Memory Palace” or “The Journey”. It might take time to set up just like any other technique but once in place it will save time.
Need to remember the groceries? Do the same, make the cucumber float on a slice of cheese in a tub full of yoghurt etc. Make it lively and remarkable!
What they in essence do is to turn information that our brain doesn’t work very well with and turn it into something our brains can actually grasp. The two things our brains are really adept at remembering are humor and sex. Why? My best guess is that humor engages several of our senses and sex, other than being totes awesome, does the same.
Here we are. We need hooks in our music, advertising, technology, art, speeches, movies, books and so on. We need hooks to remember our everyday things.
What do all these things have in common? They are an exercise in creativity. Creativity is in its essence making a connection.
Creativity is about connecting ideas. If we can remember as many experiences and ideas we’ve been exposed to on our journey, the more likely we are to make that connection.
Creativity is also about connecting with people. We connect by sharing our experiences and ideas. Holding them up and asking: “Do you want to share this with me?”.