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A Simple Hack to Boost Recall & Form New Habits

Is there a simple trick to help you boost recall and form new long-term habits?

All learning is state-dependent. This is something you’ve probably heard me say before. But what does that really mean?

Today, I will walk you through a simple brain hack that will help boost your memory and make creating success habits that much easier.

Learning how to harness your state of mind is a powerful memory tool. Listen in as I share with you how you can take a snapshot of your mood to improve memory and learn faster.

"Emotions are the molecules of motivation, and that’s why they have immense influence on your motivation, retention, and behavior."

Jim Kwik

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It’s All About The Limbic System

  • The limbic system is key when talking about the formation of new memories.
  • Specifically, the amygdala and the hippocampus are the two components related to memory and learning.
  • The amygdala regulates your emotions, and the hippocampus forms new memories.
  • When the amygdala and the hippocampus interact, they attach emotional context to memories.
  • This is why all learning and memory is state dependent: Your emotional state matters.
  • Habits are tied to memory and learning.
  • You have to remember to do the behavior you’re learning as well as retain the knowledge of how to do it.
  • You can increase your ability to create these habits by adding emotion.

Three Ways To Learn

  • In physics, there are three variables: Frequency, duration, and intensity.
  • If you were building muscles using frequency, you’d be doing lots of reps throughout your workout on top of working out multiple times throughout the week, or even the day.
  • When it comes to memory, frequency is using repetition to memorize information.
  • Duration is the length of time you’re spending engaged in an activity.
  • With duration, instead of doing a ton of reps you’d spend more time on the treadmill, in an exercise class, walking, or running.
  • In memory training, duration is the amount of time you spend studying.
  • For example, an all-night study session.
  • Those are both great options and will get you results.
  • But the downside is that they take time.
  • This can be a detriment, particularly if you feel like you simply don’t have a lot of time in your busy day.
  • Intensity can get the same results in less time.
  • When it comes to memory training, intensity comes in the form of visualization.
  • A lot of this intensity also comes from emotion.
  • Think about a song that takes you back to your youth. That’s emotional intensity at work.
  • Remember: Information by itself is forgettable. But information tied with emotion becomes unforgettable.

Memory, Habits, & Emotion

  • You’re not logical, you’re biological.
  • You make decisions emotionally and justify them logically.
  • Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are the chemical soup of emotion that drive your behavior.
  • When you take information and attach emotion to it, it’s far more likely to become a long-term memory.
  • It’s the same with habits.
  • Dr. BJ Fogg has a lab at Stanford University, where he studies behavioral psychology.
  • He studies why we do what we do, what it takes to create new habits, and how to break old habits.
  • He summarizes his work in three words: Emotions create habits.
  • You have habits of thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  • Memories are a habit.
  • The three stages of memory are encoding, storing, and retrieval.
  • Encoding is turning something into a memory. Then you store it. And then you can retrieve it.
  • Information gets encoded based on the three pillars of memory: emotion (encoding), location (storing), and association (retrieval).
  • Learning how to use tactics like visualization and imagination makes information more intense to ensure it gets encoded.

Applying Emotion To Memory & Habit

  • Ask yourself two questions when you want to remember something: What do you see and how does it make you feel?
  • Usually the things you want to remember are things you hear.
  • Adding visual and emotional cues helps adds intensity to the information.
  • Adding emotion works to help build healthy habits in the same way.
  • If you want to get into the habit of remembering someone’s name, you’d apply emotion to three areas.
  • First, when you meet someone, you need to remember to that you want to remember their name.
  • Second, when you engage in the behavior of actively trying to remember.
  • And finally, when you retrieve the information later.
  • At each step, you want to reinforce the memory/behavior.
  • Whatever you reinforce or reward, the more likely it becomes that you’ll do more of that behavior.
  • Emotions are the molecules of motivation.
  • The same chemicals that create emotion­­—dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins—also create motivation.
  • The more you get these chemical releases, the more you want them.
  • Rewarding yourself gives you these bursts of chemicals faster than if you wait for someone else to reward you.
  • What does reward look like?
  • It can be anything that makes you feel good.
  • An internal high five, giving yourself a pat on the back, telling yourself good job.
  • Whatever feels like a celebration to you is a reward.
  • Reward yourself when you remember to remember, when you actually remember, and when you retrieve the memory.
  • You can apply this to any habit.
  • You remembered to workout? CHEERS! You’re working out? CELEBRATE! You finished working out? VICTORY!
  • Celebrating looks different for everyone.
  • Find what works for you; whether it’s something you tell yourself or something you physically do.

The Neurology Of Reward

  • Most people reward themselves after they’ve completed an activity or reached a goal.
  • But in terms of the way your brain works, you’ll get faster and better results if you celebrate during the process.
  • Giving yourself smaller rewards while you’re engaging in the behavior motivates you to continue.
  • Waiting to celebrate can lead to frustration, which can make progress slower.
  • It’s common to struggle with feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome.
  • When you delay rewards, it makes these feelings stand out because you don’t feel like you’re making progress.
  • Emotion has a substantial influence on cognitive processing for human beings.
  • This is true for perception, intention, memory, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and more.
  • Add more positive emotions to your memories and habits to build more of them.
  • Remember: First you create your habits, then your habits create you.
  • Emotion helps facilitate the encoding of a memory, but it also helps retrieve the information more efficiently.
  • Your emotions have immense influence on your motivation, retention, and all of your behavior.
  • That’s the mental trick; figuring out how you can add more joy, more celebration, and more self-praise to everything.
  • It can feel awkward, but learning how to add emotion to your learning and memory will make both stronger.
  • Sometimes all you need is a shot of positive emotion to reinforce behavior and encode the memory.
  • Reinforce small changes every day.
  • Add more emotion to your memory by celebrating your wins. Celebrate when you remember to do something.
  • Think about how to apply this to others as well.
  • By pointing out the good behaviors that others do, you help give them a jolt of celebration.
  • They’ll be more likely to do it more often, and it will help remind you to celebrate too.
  • Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  • Reinforce good behavior and look for the positive to celebrate in yourself and in others.
  • Be sure to check out the unedited, extended episode on YouTube, here.

Share With Us

  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us on social media (@JimKwik), and share one thing you’ve learned from this conversation.
  • I’ll be reposting my favorite posts and will gift one lucky listener a copy of my book, Limitless.
  • Get your copy of Limitless, here.

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