Before giving you that sentence, however, let me tell you the roundabout way that I discovered it.
In Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer describes research surrounding an oft-studied man known in psychological circles as S.
S. didn’t just have a good memory; he may have possessed the best memory that ever existed. If you told him something once, he would remember it—and seemingly without any effort. Furthermore, if you made a note of what you told him, and asked him about it decades later, he would have still remembered it.
The way he did this was (in part) by using a mnemonic device known as the method of loci. When he heard something, he would put it in a specific place in his imagination, and when you later asked him about it, he would simply go back to that place and see what was there.
Many people use this device to remember important things. After learning about it, Foer himself used it to win the 2006 USA Memory Championship. But for S. the use of this device was automatic and embedded with other sensory data—which is why he remembered so much so well.
Doing this came with its own set of problems, however. S. remembered too much. He couldn’t forget anything! And here’s where it gets interesting: in order to forget random facts of no real use to him, S. had to “convince himself that the information he wanted to forget was meaningless.”
Doesn’t that strike you as immensely useful? It should—because simply telling himself that something was meaningless or not important helped S. to immediately forget it. And the implications of that are huge.
For example, what if you “did the opposite” of S.? What if slowing down before studying and saying to yourself, “this is important” helped you to remember just as it helped S. to forget? Would you say it?
If getting to a high level of Japanese efficiently is valuable to you, you should do so. I personally can recommend saying this because I do this all the time, and it works.
Reminding myself of how important learning Japanese is, encourages me to pay more attention to whatever part of the language I am engaging with. And having a variety of reasons why learning Japanese is important to me, puts my mind to work at remembering each new thing about it like nothing else.
Now why is that the case? I’d be interested in hearing why you think a simple sentence along the lines of “this is important” could have such huge effects. But perhaps a better question to leave you with is this: Can you see any reason to not try this out? It certainly can’t hurt, right?
Written by: Daniel
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