Remember This: Tips on Enhancing Your Memory from a World ChampSeptember 28, 2016
Editor’s Note: Native Swede Jonas von Essen is a two-time world champion in memory. We asked him for some tips on some of those pesky things we just can’t remember.
Ever since I began participating in competitive memory events, people have asked me the same questions over and over.
It’s not as if I was born this way, or what’s going on in my mind when I am remembering. No, they ask me how they can remember names!
So when Umgås approached me and asked if I would like to guest-write for them, I said, “Of course!”
I want people to know that they can do what I do. There is no special trick – you just train yourself to think with a system. Memory is like shooting a basketball, practicing guitar or playing chess. The more you practice it, the better you will be at it. The best part is that the activities are fun, and they use your imagination a lot.
For names, I use a standard memory technique that is used by many people in our community. It works very well. You use your image memory, and you try to come up with an image that somehow represents the name, and then you associate this image/name with the person.
When I was talking to Mark at Umgås about this article, he asked me, “So let’s say you’re at a party and you meet
someone named Boris. How would you remember his name?” I immediately thought of Boris Karloff. I am a classic horror movie fanatic, and his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster is legendary.
So if I met someone named Boris, that image would pop into my head, and I would never forget it. I get this image of him as Frankenstein’s monster with bolts sticking out of its neck. It’s fun to imagine things like this. I can meet 100 people named Boris in my life, and I will never forget a single one of them because of the bolts sticking out of their necks.
We ended the conversation before my interview for the Umgås Understanding by him asking me a question that affects his life – remembering dates. As a typical guy, he had forgotten several birthdays and anniversaries of those closest to him. So he asked me how he could make sure he never forgot his parents’ anniversary again.
I told him about the Major System.
The Major System is an important tool in your memory system because it allows you to relate numbers to sounds and images, which makes remembering much easier and more fun. Then you have 10 sounds to play with based on the number. When you put lots of numbers together, they make sounds, and you relate those to different images in your mind. It might sound a little complicated, but think about it like this.
If May 27 is the date, it looks like 5-2-7, and each of those numbers has a sound. For me, that sound would be N-K-L, and for me, a Swedish word is “nyckel,” which means “key.” So if I knew Mark’s mom, I would imagine myself giving her a big key, and that is how I would remember her birthday.
When you have fun with your imagination and you are vigilant about practicing these techniques, memory not only becomes very useful, but it also becomes creative, artistic and imaginative.
You might see me remembering cards, but for me, it’s something so much more.
I hope you learned something, and I would love to see your comments! Thank you so much for reading.