How To Have a Better Memory

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Genius Life 18 with Jim Kwik


In this episode Max interviews the famous memory expert Jim Kwik, who discusses a topic very close to my heart, being; memory and retention of information. 

As I go deeper into my studies, the issue of information retention is a regular concern of mine. I worry that my brain is not compliant enough to retain the information I’m learning. I need to read and constantly re-read text books, which one could argue is not a bad thing. I feel it was a lot easier to retain information when I was a teenager at school. 

But is that real, is it perception, or is it all in the mind?

Jim suffered a massive head trauma when he was in kindergarten, and thereafter experienced profound learning difficulties. He was called “the boy with the broken brain” at school, and this label became who he was. 

Since being a young man he has dedicated his life to learning any available method to overcome his difficulties with profound effects. He is now known as the go-to guy for anybody who wants to have a better memory, and has built a remarkable career out of his biggest adversity.

At 18 he managed to make it to university, where after a short time he was ready to quit. He was advised to get some perspective, and this advice led him to meet a mentor who asked him very simply; “what do you want to do?”.

He had no answer and had to think. His mentor pulled out a notepad and told Jim to write down his dreams and aspirations. His mentor took the notes back and read them. He then spread his hands one foot apart and said “you are this close to everything on this list”. He then took Jims hands and put them to the side of his head saying “everything you need is inside here”.

His mentor took Jim into his own personal library and showed him everything he needed to know. Jim had never finished a book from cover to cover, but his mentor tells him to read one book per week. Jim started to argue and explain he cannot read a book, that he has learning difficulties, to which his mentor replied, “don’t let school get in the way of your education”, which is actually a Mark Twain quote. One I hadn’t heard before but can relate to immediately.

Lastly his mentor started to read his dreams out loud. There was something emotionally moving when he heard his words read back to him, hearing his thoughts spoken out loud. This hit home, and started Jim on his journey where he began to read one book per week. Today he reads five books per week.

I picked up some wonderful quotes from this podcast, with another one being “if you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them”. 

That is so very true. If I say I am too old to learn new things, I get to be that person. If Jim said he was the boy with the broken brain, he gets to keep that personality. This can correlate to many other things you hear people say; “i’m too old for that / too fat for this / too weak for that”. Those things are only true because you say them, and whoever says those words, they own those limitations for themselves. 

During his initial reading stages, Jim came across another quote while he was in hospital from Einstein; “The same level of thinking that has created your problem, won’t solve it”. Jim instinctively knew that his biggest problem was his inability to learn. So he decided to focus on learning. Not learning knowledge, but learning how to learn. 

I’ve always wondered why school does not teach you how to learn, it only teaches you what to learn. Jim believes along with the three R’s of Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic, there should be other R’s taught such as Recall and Remembering. 

So he decided to learn all he could about how to learn, and make that the focus of his expertise. He started researching adult learning theory, accelerated learning, speed reading and memory enhancement. Ancient techniques used thousands of years ago before the printing press and Google. 

After about 60 days into his research, something suddenly clicked inside his brain, and he started to have a laser focus. He started to read faster and remember what he had read. Many people get to the end of a page in a book and forget what they’ve read. You walk into a room and forget what you were going to get. Walk to a store and forget what you went there to buy.

Learning these methods proved to Jim that there is no such thing as good and bad memory. There is only a trained and untrained memory. But we have never been taught how to train our memory

When Jim speaks on stage at his seminars, one thing he does is learn one hundred random words shouted out by the audience, which he repeats forwards and backwards. He does not do this to impress. He does it to show what potential there is within the human brain, and what you are truly capable of. 

From a boy with a broken brain who had never read a book in his life, to a man who stands on stage and memorises one hundred words.

For anything we do in life which improves us as a person, whether that be learning, giving, training or working, there must always be a why do we do what we do. What is the drive? What is the why and where does it come from?

To achieve anything in life, you need the three H’s; your head, hands and heart. If you have a goal in your head, but not acting with your hands, you won’t get the result you desire. Things can hold you back. Lack of confidence, belief, time, or any other abstract excuse you can come up with. 

If you access the third H, the heart, and combine that with your head and hands you have the H’cubed equation. By tapping into those emotions on a biological basis, this will give you the why and the fuel to drive you forward.

During the podcast, Jim does an interactive memory practice test to help recall all 10 Genius Foods in Max’s book. As humans we remember space and places, so he uses the body as a memory blanket to remember the 10 genius foods. I took the time to practice the lesson, and 48 hours later I can confirm it works. Simple, effective, fun and interesting

Information combined with emotion becomes a long term memory. Sometimes you eat a food, or smell an aroma, or hear a song, which takes you back to a place in time. Information by itself is forgettable. But combined with emotion becomes a long term memory. 

What did we feel most of the time in class at school? My answer was “bored”.  So if information multiplied by emotion becomes a long term memory, and your emotion is boredom which equals zero, then information multiplied by boredom is zero. 

No wonder I had problems retaining information at school. Which is maybe why as I keep learning new things I’m genuinely interested in, as I find it easier to retain that information.

Dig deeper into Jim’s work, and add his podcast to your listening list for simple practical tips on improving your memory.

I leave you with 2 further quotes from this quote laden podcast:

  • The food you eat matters, especially to your grey matter.
  • If knowledge is power, learning is your superpower.

For more tips and information as well as a plethora of inspirational quotes, strap into this podcast and enjoy……………..

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