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Three Ways Technology may not be Improving your Life

Three Ways Technology may not be Improving your Life

Technology has been a remarkable force in our lives and continues to improve our lives in a variety of ways.  However, if we are not careful and conscious of our use of technology, it may be detrimental to vital aspects of our lives.  It is imperative that we maintain awareness of our intentions especially when it comes to the use of the many devices that we have become attached to in order to function effectively and efficiently.  Otherwise our consciousness can be hijacked by technology and before we know it we look at the clock and realize we’ve been scrolling on Facebook for five hours.  I’ve done it and I’m pretty sure you have too, right?

I really enjoy observing people in public.  It’s kind of an obsession of mine.  This being said, during my observational expeditions it is very common to witness people walking along the street heads down involved in their Twitter lives or sitting in a restaurant with their partner, each on his or her phone typing or scrolling away.  (Perhaps they are ordering their meals or texting each other!)  My observations continue to be consistent across a variety of environments.  This has become the norm and I am certainly not judging anyone that does it because I often discover that I am doing the same thing without awareness.  Thus, this post comes out of my personal experience and my desire to point out three specific ways technology has not improved my life and has actually hindered it.

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There are three areas that I noticed were being affected by the constant use of my cell phone and other technological devices.  If you are similar to me, you will realize that this may also be the case in your life.  I would say there are plenty of human beings that have had their consciousness hijacked by technology and perhaps aren’t even aware of it.  The first step we need to take in the change process is to become aware and then come up with a plan to change the behavior.  So let’s get to it!  I will present three areas that may be affected and tips to prevent a negative impact on your life.

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1. Being in the Present Moment

Life consists of what is directly in front of us.  We call this “now”.  This is the unique and precious present moment that we are given.  Using technology consistently throughout our daily lives often causes us to miss the miracle of the moment.  We don’t embrace the sky, flowers, or any of the beauty that exists in nature.  We may not even embrace the road ahead of us if we are texting and driving.  We are often caught up in whatever is going on in our email, text, or the eighteen social media feeds.  These moments make up our lives and we need to be present for them as much as possible.  Technology often takes this away from us.  I suggest putting down your device throughout the day and focusing on the present moment and its infinite beauty. Take a walk without your phone and experience nature and the important moments going on in your life outside of the online world.  Practicing mindfulness and being completely in the moment will add immensely to your life and you will desire to experience it much more.

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2. Technological Anxiety

Technology has created a much bigger world with unlimited access to knowledge, shopping, blogging, social activities, and up-to-the-minute communication with anybody in the universe.  This has created anxiety and obsessions over the huge world opened up on the web.  Our friends, bosses, coworkers, and family can be in touch with us in a split second.  Consequently we are always anxious about who needs us, what they need, and so on.  Always watching and checking our devices creates a state of constant anxiety that is detrimental to our physical and mental health.  The constant connection and unlimited choices and options is creating a lot of unnecessary anxiety and obsession.  We need to relax and that means relax without a relaxation app!  Make time to disconnect from the frantic world created by technology and connect to the real world.  Your life may revolve around technology but that world is not your life.  Take time throughout the day and in the evening to disconnect and try some activities that don’t require you to be plugged in.

3. Human Contact

Technology has made it possible to communicate with absolutely everyone without having any direct contact with them whatsoever.  Do people even talk face to face anymore?  Do we write letters or visit people at their houses?  We are social beings and we need real contact with each other- not just texting, tweeting, or “liking” their posts on Facebook.  Connect with human beings without your phone in your hand and you will feel the difference.  Hug someone you love and make time for direct physical contact.  Schedule a consistent time to get together with family and those you love for dinner and make it a point for everyone to turn off their phones and interact with each other.  It may be difficult at first but the results will be beneficial to you and those you love.

It may be time to regress to our pre-online society in some aspects of our lives.  We may have disconnected from human life a bit too much and begun living in the iCloud more than is necessary.  The fact is that we are no happier than we were before all of this technological advance.  I am certainly not saying to give up technology because it definitely has great benefits.  However just like anything else it has some consequences when we go to the extreme.  Simply be mindful and aware of how much you are relying on technology and if it is interfering with the three important aspects of your life that were discussed.  Change is made a little at a time, so practice stepping away from technology a little at a time.  You will be amazed at how much more enjoyable and calm your daily life can be without a device glued to you!

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More by this author

Richard Singer

Author/Psychotherapist

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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