The Power Of The ABC’s
There is a radio show I listen to sometimes on the Internet. I work in Japan, and sometimes it’s nice to listen to American style radio. The particular show I was listening has a contest every year called Miss Double December, which is a beauty contest of sorts. The contestants, if you haven’t guessed by the name, must be well endowed to enter the contest.
One by one the girls come into the studio for the interview. That way the listeners can not only judge them based on their pictures, but their interview skills, personalities, and any other traits they may have.
The girl that was on the other night had an interesting skill. If you gave her any word, she could name each letter’s number based on its order in the alphabet. For example, cat would be 3-1-20. C is the third letter, a the first, and t the twentieth.
Now they were treating this as a cute trick, and making references to the movie Rain Man, where the main character was a genius but completely incapable of living an ordinary life without constant supervision.
The truth is that this is a powerful memory technique that can help you immensely to remember lists of items, as well as super charge your creativity, making people think you really are a genius. Here’s how.
First you need to understand something called mnemonics. These are so called memory “tricks” that are sometimes used in school to help you memorize things like musical scales, the order the planets, biological classifications and so on.
All Cows Eat Grass, for example is a mnemonic to help remember the musical notes on the spaces in the bass clef, starting from the bottom. A,C,E,G.
Kevin Put Crap On Fred’s Green Snake, helps you to remember the order of biological classifications:
These are pre-made mnemonics and can only be used for the particular case they were created. But when you create a system, Like Miss Potential Double D’s, you can use in a bunch of different ways that will make it really easy to remember a lot of stuff. There’s a little work required on the front end, but once you got the basic list memorized, you can use to remember virtually anything.
First you need to construct a list of words that start with each letter of the alphabet. Generally speaking, the best way to do this is to just say each letter to yourself, and choose whatever word comes to mind first. A..a..a..apple. B..b..b..banana (you can tell I’m hungry while writing this) C..c..cat etc. Go through your ABC’s a couple times to make sure you remember each word.
Next you want to connect each word to it’s particular order in the alphabet. So apple, and the number one. You want to make a connection that is as visually interesting as possible, so it will be easy to remember. Maybe you can imagine a birthday party, and everybody is wearing those goofy hats, and they bring out an apple with one of those big candles shaped like a number one. The birthday kid starts crying because he was expecting a cake. Or something like that.
Next, banana, two. Maybe imagine somebody holding their hand in the “peace” sign, except their two fingers have been replaced by bananas. Continue this with each letter, and each word you chose. By now you realize that it’s best to choose easy to picture nouns to fill out your ABC list.
It may take a while to completely commit this to memory, so you can spout off the numbers for the word “Thanksgiving” like the girl did on the radio the other day, but once you’ve got it committed you’ve got a powerful tool. Here’s a couple ways to use it.
Whenever remembering a list of items, either shopping list, or bullet points in a speech, simply attaches them to each particular alphabet picture. Do this in the same way as you did before. Whatever is first on your list, attach it to apple. If you’ve built your list correctly, you won’t need to consciously connect apple and one, whenever you think a, or one, or apple, you will automatically remember the other two items. (A will give you one and apple, one will give you a and apple, etc).
Another way to use this ABC list to help your creativity is whenever you have a problem; think of the main root word of your problem. For example, let’s say you need to write a report, and you have no idea how to start. Look up R, for report, on your mental ABC list. Let’s you chose racquet for R. Just start to mentally free associate anything and everything when you repeat the words “report” and “racquet” and let your mind go wherever your imagination leads. You’ll be surprised how quickly you come up with an answer that appears seemingly out of nowhere.
The trick here is to give your mind room to play around with different ideas and create space for you imagination to fill in the blanks. The way the brain is structured, each neuron is connected to every other neuron in your neural network via only a few degrees of separation. So just going back and forth between these seemingly unrelated words (report and racquet) you’ll be surprised how much you stuff you have up there between your ears.
Like I said, this takes a bit of work at the beginning, but once you’ve got a solid ABC list set up with numbers and objects, this can be very useful in a lot of different ways.
I initially learned this procedure from a product called “The Memory Optimizer” from Learning Strategies Corporation. If you’d like to powerfully expand your thinking capabilities and mental strength, give this program a once over.