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You’ve Been Using Your Brain Wrong: Human Brains Aren’t Designed to Remember Things

You’ve Been Using Your Brain Wrong: Human Brains Aren’t Designed to Remember Things

If you think that the secret to effective brainpower is to stuff it with as much information as possible using your memory, think again.

Look at this.

This is what will appear in your mind when I ask you to recall the night view in the city.

    When it comes to memory, our brains are typically no better than an 8GB USB storage device.

    In the modern world, information bombards us constantly. And if we rely on our 8GB capacity to memorize as much as possible, the only way to make it fit is to store it at a low resolution. When we come to review what we’ve learned, we’re dismayed to find only ‘blurred’ information and vague approximations of what was so clear when we experienced it.

    In the past the top priority for human brains was survival

    Let’s leave the modern world of computers behind for a moment, and travel back in time to when the informational landscape was very different.

    Put yourself in the prehistoric shoes of one of your early ancestors.

    The prehistoric environment was challenging and harsh. So for much of your time you’d have been motivated by basic survival – how to sustain your life (food, shelter, relationships); and how to deal with threats (predatory animals, weather conditions).

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    In other words, ‘prehistoric-you’ would not have elevated memorization to be a primary goal, but would have prioritized processing information like thinking ‘this is a dangerous area’, ‘this is edible’.

    The more civilized we got, the more we needed to remember

    As civilization advanced – with the development of spoken and written language – the memorization of information that didn’t have immediate survival benefits became useful. It allowed people to communicate with others and learn how to act based on the experiences of others, without having to deal with mistakes and risks first-hand. Nevertheless, the amount of information available to an individual was still relatively limited compared to today’s standards, and could therefore be savoured and reflected upon.

    But here in the modern world we have unparalleled access to information – books, TV, radio, game consoles, mobile phones, and of course the Internet – which has resulted in an explosion of information consumption. Both a blessing and a curse, we’re now able to exchange masses of knowledge at a faster rate than ever before. But now we need to learn how to handle too much information.

      Photo credit: Source

      If we still rely on our brains we’ll be overwhelmed

      Every day we consume a whopping 34GB of information[1]. Add to that the 50,000 thoughts we generate each day [2], and it becomes clear that we’re not up to the task of managing information from memory alone – we need to find a way of outsourcing this task.

      Now try this.

      Look at the following string of numbers for 5 seconds and store them in your memory in the correct order:

      92748109382301832

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      Now calculate:

      9 x 23 = ?

      14 x 13 = ?

      .

      .

      .

      .

      .

      (The answers: 207 and 182)

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      Now try to recall the long chain of numbers. How many can you recall? I tried this with several of my colleagues and, not surprisingly, none of them could remember the whole chain.

      Had you been given just one of the tasks, no doubt you would have done a better job. But because you were trying to both memorize and process at the same time, your brain was under greater strain. This is what your brain has to contend with all the time.

      Our brains are not designed to record information accurately and objectively. Trying to take in too much information results in us becoming overloaded and overwhelmed. What’s more, we interfere with what our brains are truly great at – processing information and being inventive and creative.

        Photo credit: Source

        How to free up the space in your brain

        Just because information is now at our fingertips, it doesn’t mean we should become slaves to it.

        We should be more like our prehistoric selves, and instead of being dominated by information, we should know how and when to access information to fulfil our needs.

        We need to free up any space that is used for pointless memorization so that the brain can do what it does best – process information. We’d like to introduce two great ways that you can achieve this –

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          Photo credit: Source

          Develop Your ‘Pocket Brain’

          Outsource the job of memorization by designing a system to organize and store potentially useful information. A computer is of course a great tool for accurate storage and reliable retrieval.

          The important idea here is to become a skilled information handler rather than trying to stuff your brain with information.

          Keep an eye open for future articles where we show you exactly how you can create and use your pocket brain for all kinds of information.

          Meaningful Learning

          As well as your pocket brain, you also need to know how to make the most of the memory that you do have to achieve meaningful learning.

          The desired outcome is to make information so relevant to you that it becomes effortless to activate it when you need it. For example, think about how effortlessly you speak your mother tongue – it’s knowledge that’s become a part of who you are.

          Watch this space – we’re going to be showing you how to practice meaningful learning in future articles.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on January 24, 2020

          10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

          10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

          Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. They enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting prepared for work.

          Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without considering them. Your unconscious habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

          Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

          • The first category includes the habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life- such as brushing teeth or wearing clothes.
          • The second category comprises good habits to have to be more successful-like eating healthily, exercising your body and reading books.
          • The last group consists of those habits that are harmful-like procrastinating, smoking or overeating.

          Habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life — or probably ending up a failure. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

          Habits are default activities that you engage in without giving an afterthought. They are automatic behavioral or mental activities. They help you carry out some actions without exerting too much energy. They simplify your life.

          Several people aspire to break bad habits. For instance, some people diet to stop overeating. They exercise to reduce obesity. Habits can hinder or impact your performance and productivity.

          That’s why I would share 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

          1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

          I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to be in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

          Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

          Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

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          2. Be Grateful for What You Have

          Sometimes, you waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. When you have life, you have expectations. You will be free from challenges when you are six feet under. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

          Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Here’s what James Clear does every day,[1]

          “I say one thing I’m grateful for each day when I sit down to eat dinner.”

          3. Smile

          Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

          Now here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile or what’s called a Duchenne smile is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional and mental peace of mind.[2]

          Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. But, once you adjust yourself by putting up a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

          Can you smile again?

          4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

          Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[3]

          If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to ‘break your fast’ with healthy foods every morning.

          This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

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          Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

          5. Exercise Daily

          One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles every day. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift a weight. You only need to engage in less strenuous activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body.

          Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[4] He said,

          ‘I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.’

          He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

          6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance

          Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way to impact your achievement.

          Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life.

          So how do you manage your time effectively?

          Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events;

          “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

          And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme:[5]

          • Monday – Management
          • Tuesdays – Product
          • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
          • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
          • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
          • Saturdays – Taking off
          • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

          No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

          7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions

          Everyone has goals. It may relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction or another. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that you establish that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

          Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on. But when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

          Here’s the main truth:Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

          “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

          Be intentional about your daily goals!

          8. Seek Inspiration

          It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

          A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning after meditation, watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

          Establish what Anthony Robbins called the ‘hour of power.’ Determine how many minutes you spend but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

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          Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, a construction company puts it this way,[7]

          “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivates me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

          9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence

          I can exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

          However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your fund and be wise with it. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

          10. Budget and Track Your Spendings

          Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said,

          “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

          It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

          Budgeting is a good habit to have, which can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future.

          The Bottom Line

          Endeavor to cultivate these good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you achieve your goals.

          More About Habits

          Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

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          Reference

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