Joshua Foer has a lot of guts. As a science journalist a few years ago, he was led to the U.S. Memory Championship to report on how a rare group of individuals remember names of strangers, multiple decks of cards and the most lines of poetry. While this is almost unconceivable for most of us, Josh not only became intrigued, but began training himself to compete and ultimately win the Championship after only a year of training.
His amazing journey is the subject of a very practical book – Moonwalking with Einstein. In my interview with Josh, I was truly inspired by his humility and walked away convinced that training your memory is a skill that’s enhanced through practice and technique. Memory champions are mental athletes ‘who tend to operate outside of their comfort zone, study themselves failing and use the feedback to improve.’ I, personally can not remember the last time I thought about practicing my memory skills; but it’s clear to me that our memories have an extraordinary capacity.
One of the best techniques of improving memory is linking what you’re trying to remember to a physical environment, like your first house, of which you’re intimately familiar. Try to visualize that space now and make that connection to something important that you have to remember. What you’ll find yourself doing is paying very close attention; and here in lies perhaps the greatest secret to a great memory – being present. As Samuel Johnson once said, “The art of remembering is the art of paying attention.”