Modern life moves pretty fast these days, or at least, according to our Google calendars and smartphone notifications. It’s tough for us to stop and smell the roses, much less remember that one dinner party we RSVP’d to months ago, or where we put that one book. It feels like it’s much easier for things to slip through the cracks now more than ever before.
While technology has indeed made us more connected to each other—and to more information—it has also messed with our brains in unprecedented ways.
In fact, some U.S. researchers argue that our reliance on the internet has actually replaced our dependence on our actual memory since pretty much everything we need to know is right at our fingertips. This accessibility to unlimited facts has altered our ability to absorb information.
Thanks to the internet, plus added stress and a lack of sleep from our packed and overwhelming schedules, millennials have been found to be more forgetful than seniors.
So is there a saving grace, or is it just downhill from here? According to Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, there is hope and that hope relies on us being mindful and living in the now—the present moment. “So to encourage your memory to grow, you need to pay attention to how your life is unfolding,” says Chopra and Tanzi.
Here are three manageable steps to help you get there:
No more lists
Step away from the grocery list. Try an exercise in which you slowly get rid of the grocery list when shopping at the supermarket, and instead strengthen your memory. At first, you can make one, but don’t look at it. Buy what you can from memory, then consult the list. Soon, wean off of it entirely.
Foster a memory-friendly space
Obstacles like stress and poor sleeping habits can be detrimental to our short-term memory. So make adjustments in your life to help alleviate those impediments. Cut down on multitasking, and focus on developing better habits, like sleeping earlier, or shutting your phone off earlier at night. “If you live in a scattered and distracted way, the sensory overload to your brain is damaging and unnecessary,” Chopra and Tanzi advise.
The no-blame game
Patience really is a virtue when it comes to improving our memory. Instead of blaming ourselves when something won’t roll off the tips of our tongues, just slow down, pause, and wait. Stop uttering self-fulfilling prophetic phrases like, “I can never remember anything.” As the two authors explain, “If you expect memories to come, they almost always do.” Be kinder to your brain.
Through a new relationship with your brain, not only can you boost your memory, you can transform your life. For more tips on how to maximize your brain power, check out Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi.
Illustration: Marie Guillard