“Your memory is not a video camera, recording a constant stream of every sight and sound you’re exposed to. You can only remember what you pay attention to.” – Lisa Genova
Insightful. This one sentence summed up for me why being present and paying attention is important. And I must admit, I struggle more and more with being present as we live in this current “new way for now” world. Focusing on screens is difficult, listening to a podcast for more than twenty minutes energy-depleting and reading an enjoyable book feels like work.
Listening to a Ted Talk (How your memory works — and why forgetting is totally Ok by Lisa Genova) about why forgetting is normal and is okay made me feel better. A little. It’s not a sign of getting old (whoop whoop) and Google can be your friend in helping you remember things (whoop whoop again)! The talk itself is only 7 minutes, the Q&A after is about 15 minutes and it’s in this part that I really felt normal (well, you know what I mean).
Okay great, so there’s things like perspective memory that explains why walking into a room and not remembering why you’re there happens then there’s the key notion of context and how this triggers certain parts of your brain into remembering. Walk back to the previous room you were in, look around and you’ll probably remember again. And yes to reminders! I have them for everything. Literally. And it supposedly is a good practice. Can you tell how good this Ted Talk made me feel? Oh, and for those of us who love crossword puzzles and think it’s helping our memory…um, it helps remember certain words better but it’s not “cross training” so it would not necessarily help your overall memory any better.
Soooo…what does help your memory? Learning new things (like this Ted Talk) is a great way, even conversations with others are good because it’s new for the brain (sorry to us introverts but there’s a win for extroverts), exercise, 7 to 9 hours sleep, eating healthy and stress management are all areas to focus on if you want to help with memory. Yep, pretty much the things we know we’re supposed to be doing. Don’t worry about blocking on a word (it’s an actual term) or tip of the tongue (I’m not making these terms up, listen to the talk) – these are normal things to happen, and stressing about it doesn’t help. Focus on learning new things because that’s the way connections are built in your brain and that’s what will help. The good news = Forgetting is normal. The bad news = My age is no longer an excuse to not learn a new language.