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A Simple Hack to Boost Recall & Form New Habits

My name is Jim Kwik, the founder of Kwik Brain Universe, author of the best-selling book LIMITLESS and host of the #1 brain performance podcast, Kwik Brain. I am a world leading expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, brain performance, and accelerated learning. After a childhood brain injury left me learning-challenged, I made it my life’s mission to create strategies to dramatically enhance mental performance. Once I was able to turn my own learning challenges around, I dedicated my life to helping people like you unleash your true genius and brainpower to learn anything faster and live a life of greater power, productivity, and purpose.

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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.

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"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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