Memory: How to Develop, Train and Use It

Chapter XX

General Instructions

In this chapter we shall call your attention to certain of the general principles already mentioned in the preceding chapters, for the purpose of further impressing them upon your mind, and in order that you may be able to think of and to consider them independent of the details of the special phases of memory. This chapter may be considered in the nature of a general review of certain fundamental principles mentioned in the body of the work.

POINT I. _Give to the thing that you wish to memorize, as great a degree of concentrated attention as possible._

We have explained the reason for this advice in many places in the book. The degree of concentrated attention bestowed upon the object under consideration, determines the strength, clearness and depth of the impression received and stored away in the subconsciousness. The character of these stored away impressions determines the degree of ease in remembrance and recollection.

POINT II. _In considering an object to be memorized, endeavor to obtain the impressions through as many faculties and senses as possible._

The reason for this advice should be apparent to you, if you have carefully read the preceding chapters. An impression received through both sound and sight is doubly as strong as one received through but one of these channels. You may remember a name, or word, either by having seen it in writing or print; or else by reason of having heard it; but if you have both _seen and heard_ it you have a double impression, and possess two possible ways of reviving the impression. You are able to remember an orange by reason of having seen it, smelt it, felt it and tasted it, and having heard its name pronounced. Endeavor to know a thing from as many sense impressions as possible–use the eye to assist ear-impressions; and the ear to assist in eye-impressions. See the thing from as many angles as possible.

POINT III. _Sense impressions may be strengthened by exercising the particular faculty through which the weak impressions are received._

You will find that either your eye memory is better than your ear memory, or vice versa. The remedy lies in exercising the weaker faculty, so as to bring it up to the standard of the stronger. The chapters of eye and ear training will help you along these lines. The same rule applies to the several phases of memory–develop the weak ones, and the strong ones will take care of themselves. The only way to develop a sense or faculty is to intelligently train, exercise and use it. Use, exercise and practice will work miracles in this direction.

POINT IV. _Make your first impression strong and firm enough to serve as a basis for subsequent ones._

Get into the habit of fixing a clear, strong impression of a thing to be considered, from the first. Otherwise you are trying to build up a large structure upon a poor foundation. Each time you revive an impression you deepen it, but if you have only a dim impression to begin with, the deepened impressions will not include details omitted in the first one. It is like taking a good sharp negative of a picture that you intend to enlarge afterward. The details lacking in the small picture will not appear in the enlargement; but those that _do_ appear in the small one, will be enlarged with the picture.

POINT V. _Revive your impressions frequently and thus deepen them._

You will know more of a picture by seeing it a few minutes every day for a week, than you would by spending several hours before it at one time. So it is with the memory. By recalling an impression a number of times, you fix it indelibly in your mind in such a way that it may be readily found when needed. Such impressions are like favorite tools which you need every little while–they are not apt to be mislaid as are those which are but seldom used. Use your imagination in “going over” a thing that you wish to remember. If you are studying a thing, you will find that this “going over” in your imagination will help you materially in disclosing the things that you have not remembered about it. By thus recognizing your weak points of memory, you may be able to pick up the missing details when you study the object itself the next time.

POINT VI. _Use your memory and place confidence in it._

One of the important things in the cultivation of the memory is the actual use of it. Begin to trust it a little, and then more, and then still more, and it will rise to the occasion. The man who has to tie a string around his finger in order to remember certain things, soon begins to cease to use his memory, and in the end forgets to remember the string, or what it is for. There are many details, of course, with which it is folly to charge the memory, but one should never allow his memory to fall into disuse. If you are in an occupation in which the work is done by mechanical helps, then you should exercise the memory by learning verses, or other things, in order to keep it in active practice. Do not allow your memory to atrophy.

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