Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast Learn, Memorize And Recall Anything Using Memory Techniques, Mnemonics And A Memory Palace Fast Fri, 08 Dec 2023 08:48:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Blubrry PowerPress/11.3.1 The Magnetic Memory Method Podcast is your portal to creating Memory Palaces and using mnemonics for memorizing foreign language vocabulary (and a lot of other precious information too). Hosted by Anthony Metivier, the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary in a way that is easy, elegant, effective and fun. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast false Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast podcast Memorize Foreign Language Vocabulary Using Simple, Universal, Mnemonic Principles Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast 6d837aae-eff2-5c20-b86e-171d05fe63e5 How to Reset Dopamine Levels: 5 Exercises and the Truth About Dopamine Fasting Mon, 04 Dec 2023 17:48:38 +0000 If you want to know how to reset dopamine levels, a dopamine detox isn't necessarily best. Try these 5 dopamine exercises instead. how to reset dopamine levels feature image of a woman feeling greatDid you know that visualising success, jumping in a cold river and consuming illegal narcotics can trigger the release of the same pleasurable neurochemical in your brain?

I know, I know…it sounds like a late-night infomercial from the 90’s, but it’s true. It’s science. And this little feel-good chemical is called dopamine.

Dopamine is a well-known but often misunderstood neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in our experience of rewards, motivation, and cravings.

If you have any interest in psychology and personal development, you’ve probably heard of it. Unfortunately, the internet is rife with popular myths about the nature of dopamine, dopamine ‘levels’ and how this all impacts our sense of pleasure, focus and drive.

Broadly speaking there are two types of dopamine levels to be aware of: tonic and phasic.

Tonic dopamine levels are the baseline levels of dopaminergic activity that occur in our brain. If these levels are too high this can be related to impulsivity, hyperactivity and mania, among other symptoms. If they are too low, this may lead to loss of pleasure, depression symptoms and fatigue.

Phasic dopamine levels are the moment-to-moment fluctuations in dopamine that we experience in response to specific stimuli such as food, media, cigarettes and alcohol. If phasic dopamine levels are too high, particularly for a prolonged period of time, this might lead to addiction and associated risky behaviours. If they are too low, this may reduce our ability to experience pleasure.

What Factors Impact Your Dopamine Levels?

However, it’s important to note that our dopamine systems are impacted by environment, genetics and specific circumstances and their relationship to behaviour is complex. While there may be a correlation between loss of motivation or low mood and low dopamine levels, this doesn’t mean that feeling low or unmotivated is only a result of dopaminergic dysfunction.

So what does we really mean when we say we want to “reset our dopamine levels.”

Well, this would be to return our baseline (tonic) dopamine levels to a normal range. There are generally three ways you can do this and later in this post I’ll offer some specific examples:

  • Reduce or eliminate the factors that cause dopamine dysregulation
  • Adopt healthy habits that support dopamine (and other neurotransmitters) balance
  • Increase your tolerance and capacity to experience pleasure and pain

But first, it’s necessary to consider why we may have low dopamine levels or more low motivation and mood more generally.

5 Reasons Why Your Dopamine Levels Are Low

#1. Chronic Stress

Releasing dopamine can often be a way that we deal with the stress of the present moment. It helps us disengage (go on autopilot), distract (ignore discomfort) and disconnect (numb).

A painted mural of a stressed person holding their hands up to their head and screaming.

When we’re stressed, our brain releases a hormone called cortisol. Unfortunately, chronic stress leads to persistently elevated cortisol levels and this can disrupt our dopamine balance and contribute to reduced motivation, pleasure and general cognitive function. Stress can also mess with your memory.

Reducing your stress levels may therefore increase your baseline levels of dopamine and increase your dopamine receptor sensitivity and in doing so, reduce the urge to reach for quick dopamine spikes.

#2. Trauma

When we talk about dopamine detoxes, most of the attention is focused on daily habits such as social media, Netflix, and overconsumption of food, caffeine, nicotine or other substances. However, we often overlook the root causes of our reaching for those things in the first place.

While part of this behaviour may be linked to societal abundance and increased access to dopamine-spiking stimuli, this whole system is partly fuelled and maintained by the very common experience of trauma.

Trauma is basically any intense physiological or psychological stressor that the nervous system cannot process in the moment and which results in a defense mechanism that limits our range of future responses to a situation.

changes in the brain

The result of this trauma can range from simple disconnection and disengagement in life all the way to a formal diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Traumatic experiences – particularly during crucial periods of brain development – have long-lasting impacts on the brain’s neurochemistry. That’s not to mention trauma from brain injury, which can also cause issues.

While we’re still learning about the brain, it’s entirely possible (maybe even probable) that “dopamine hits” give us relief from painful emotions and therefore trauma makes us more susceptible to craving and addiction.

For example, trauma impact the functioning of dopamine-related brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, and disrupts dopamine receptors and the Hypothalic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis, which helps regulate stress hormones like cortisol. Fortunately, by receiving therapy to heal our trauma we can move towards a state of nervous system regulation and control.

#3. Dopamine Abuse AKA. Pleasure Seeking

When we engage in pleasure-seeking activities such as excessive screen time or consuming unhealthy or processed foods, we are rewarded with brief surges in dopamine without any effort.

The problem with instant gratification (as opposed to delayed gratification) is that the brain was evolutionarily designed to provide good feelings in response to effort. This means that over time, our dopamine receptors become desensitised and we are dependent on more and more intense forms of pleasure-seeking.

The extreme end of this occurs in substance abuse such as amphetamines or cocaine, whereby the result is chronically low dopamine levels, depression, decreased motivation and cognitive dysfunction. However, overindulging in something like YouTube, Netflix or social media can do the same thing, just on a smaller scale.

A woman balances on a roller ball and plank. Balance exercises both help you stay focused and keep your muscles strong.

In psychology there is something called “the opponent process theory.” This is a general heuristic that is used to describe how the brain seeks to find balance.

In the case of pleasure and pain, if we only seek pleasure, we eventually experience pain, whereas if we intentionally seek out discomfort we will be rewarded with pleasure (such as in the case of intense exercise and endorphin release).

This is known as hormesis – exposing ourselves to mild stressors to improve resilience and well-being in the long term.

#4. Sleep, Diet and Exercise

Another important reason why your dopamine levels may be low (and definitely not one to be overlooked) is because of a generally unhealthy lifestyle. Insufficient quality sleep can get in the way of the brain’s ability to reset dopamine levels, damaging your concentration, motivation and mood regulation.

Similarly, if we don’t get the essential nutrients we need, such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals, our brain is not optimised for dopamine production. Exercise is important for overall brain health as well as the effort-based dopamine release we described earlier, so a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to low levels of dopamine.

#5. Genetics

The final factor that may relate to low dopamine levels is genetics.

There is a complex relationship between dopamine production, the enzymes involved in dopamine synthesis, dopamine receptor sensitivity and the efficiency of transporters. It’s beyond me and beyond the scope of this article. Importantly, there is currently no test that can accurately tell you if you are genetically predisposed to low tonic dopamine levels.

The most important take-away from this is that you can change how you feel, and we are about to share how!

Dopamine Fasting: Does This New Trend Really Work?

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about dopamine fasting and if it can be helpful. Because the relationship between dopamine and behaviour is still relatively misunderstood, there are conflicting opinions among researchers.

According to Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author of Dopamine Nation, and neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, in the case of those with chronic dopamine imbalances, such as recovering addicts, a dopamine fast whereby we intentionally abstain from things that trigger our phasic dopamine levels, while our tonic dopamine levels get back towards normal, can be helpful.

For those with a history of substance abuse, this is best discussed with a psychiatrist before attempting any form of detox, which can be quite challenging and emotionally disruptive.

Why You Need To Avoid Easy Street

However, for most of us, Huberman suggests that it’s more effective to actively reduce (not completely eliminate) things that give us pleasure too easily. For example, I noticed at one point, about a year ago, that I had picked up a couple of small but noticeable immediate gratification habits throughout the extended COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Firstly, whenever I ate a meal by myself, I would always consume content, usually an educational podcast or Youtube video. It was easy to justify this as productivity, but the reality was, it was entertainment. Secondly, when exercising I would consume caffeine beforehand and listen to music throughout.

21st Century Abstinence

Both of these activities fell under something that Huberman refers to as “dopamine stacking,” drawing from multiple sources of pleasure at once (food, digital media, caffeine, music, exercise). I took his advice and began to eat meals without any external stimuli and exercise (usually) without any caffeine or music. Initially there was resistance, but after a few weeks I noticed that I was enjoying both eating and my post-work exercise ‘high’ a lot more.

One thing to consider is that you might want to abstain from what you habitually reach for when you’re in distress (such as your phone), and learn to tolerate distress and discomfort, and if possible, go one step further and actively seek out challenges. If you don’t have chronically low dopamine levels, a complete dopamine fast probably won’t have any long-term effects, and the stress of doing so might actually counteract any subtle positive effects of the fast anyway.

The originator of the “dopamine fast” psychiatrist Dr. Cameron Sepah, actually says that his initial focus was not neurochemical (as you can’t fast from a naturally occurring chemical) but it was a cognitive-behavioural therapy method intended to help people reduce impulsive behaviour.

How to Repair Your Dopamine Receptors: 5 Mindfulness-Based Exercises

Based on the factors that cause a reduction or imbalance in our dopamine levels, it’s clear that maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, having sufficient sleep and reducing your overall stress levels are all important.

However, here are some other ways to reset your dopamine levels.

Exercise #1 – Meditation

There are several forms of meditation and the one that is most likely to improve your baseline dopamine levels (and general brain health) is ultimately the practice that a) makes you feel good b) you are motivated to do most consistently. This will be different based on your unique brain, history, temperament, and natural level of concentration.

a woman is meditating on a purple mat

For example, focused attention meditation is a great way to stimulate high levels of dopamine release, but many people find it difficult to concentrate for long enough to get into such a state.

Loving-Kindness meditation can be deeply healing and is great for fostering feelings of love, safety and connectedness, but some people find the visualisations that are a part of the practice challenging and struggle to feel compassion at will.

Chanting or singing meditation is an amazing way to stimulate the Vagus nerve, reduce physiological stress and release dopamine but some people may be too shy to chant out loud.

Exercise #2 – Cold Exposure

In sticking with the theme of hormesis, progressively introducing yourself to uncomfortable situations, one of the most potent ways to reset dopamine levels is through cold exposure. This is most commonly done with ice baths, swimming in cold water or cold showers.

Cold exposure stimulates the production of norepinephrine, which is a precursor to dopamine. One study found that immersion in cold water raised blood levels of dopamine by 250% and that this was still elevated for up to 72 hours after the exposure.

On top of this, there are other health benefits to consistent cold exposure, such as a reduction in stress levels, improved blood circulation, improved focus and energy, and better sleep, which may indirectly help in balancing out your dopamine levels.

Exercise #3 – Viewing Early Morning Sunlight & Avoiding Screen Time at Night

Human beings spent 99% of our history without electronic lights. As a result, our physiology is highly attuned to natural light, which is influential in regulating our dopamine production. Viewing early morning sunlight (without sunglasses) for 10-30 minutes a day can help release dopamine when done consistently. It goes without saying to make sure you don’t stare directly at the sun!

a girl in the sunshine

On the flip side, viewing bright artificial lights between 10pm and 4am has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of dopamine in our system. This is worrying given that a large majority of the world’s population are watching screens late into the night.

Exercise #4. – Do One Thing at a Time

By stacking several sources of dopamine at a time, we may over-spike our phasic dopamine levels which can lead to a crash and reduced motivation in the long term.

For example, if you’re going to exercise, you may be accustomed to having energy drinks, loud music, and social connections all at the same time. If you can reduce one of these (e.g. don’t always listen to music or ingest caffeine), that’s a good start.

Likewise, you may be used to having a beer while watching a thriller movie on television and eating dinner – you may want to try having dinner without the television playing.

When it comes to memory, there is a case of multi-tasking while using spaced repetition techniques. But overall, even when using a memorization technique, it’s generally best to focus on one thing at a time.

a thinker sculpture

Exercise #5. – Control Your Thoughts

It’s quite clear that when we have negative thoughts our nervous system takes this as a stressor, and it reduces our capacity for pleasure.

However, what a lot of people don’t know is that by intentionally having positive thoughts or using positive mental imagery, we can actually release dopamine. Memory palaces, which combine goal-oriented, focused attention with mental imagery can undoubtedly improve our dopamine levels.

The Truth About How To Repair Dopamine Receptors

Ultimately, it’s important to maintain not only a healthy dopamine balance, but also to ensure you get enough of the other “feel-good” neurochemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin. This will ensure that you feel more fulfilled and motivated in general and don’t have as many cravings to reach for dopamine hits.

Making the necessary effort to balance dopamine levels when there are so many easy sources of neurochemical reward available at our fingertips can be a tough task. Like most healthy habits, the best route to long-term success is to start with small steps.

It may be necessary to improve our diet, exercise and meditate, but within this it’s also important to choose things that we enjoy in order to keep us motivated and consistent. Find an exercise routine that you like doing, eat healthy foods that you prefer (you don’t have to eat kale if you hate it!) and experiment with meditation styles till you find a style that you enjoy. Don’t forget to include a Memory Palace exercise routine too.

If you’re concerned that you may have chronically low dopamine levels as a result of substance abuse, or you’ve experienced a prolonged period of low mood, make sure you contact a counsellor or psychotherapist in your area. If that’s something you need, Ben Fishel has been on the MMM Podcast before and I highly recommend him for global telehealth counselling, or if you’re looking for a psychotherapist in the Melbourne area.

If you want to know how to reset dopamine levels, a dopamine detox isn't necessarily best. Try these 5 dopamine exercises instead. If you want to know how to reset dopamine levels, a dopamine detox isn't necessarily best. Try these 5 dopamine exercises instead. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 29:02
How to Become a Mnemonist & Develop Exceptional Memory Skills Wed, 29 Nov 2023 09:27:33 +0000 A mnemonist is a lot more than a memory expert or someone who knows how to memorize a list. Learn how to memorize a lot of information now. mnemonist feature image of an illuminated brainIf you’d like to become a mnemonist, or a person who excels at using memory techniques, it’s actually pretty easy.

Or at least, it can be if you follow the right steps based on the right goals.

What exactly are those goals and what steps do you need to follow in order to become a memory expert capable of demonstrating how memory techniques work?

That’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this post.

I’m a memory expert and mnemonist myself. But I won’t just be using my own examples.

I’ll share with you the stories of many other mnemonists as well.

That way, you can compare and contrast the different mnemonic styles you can pursue.

Along the way, you’ll also discover how to memorize a large amount of information.


Let’s get started!

What Is A “Mnemonist”?

The term mnemonist is related to the word “mnemonic,” which means “memory technique.”

This means that a mnemonist is essentially someone who is skilled with using memory techniques.

The term may also refer to a person who:

  • Gives memory demonstrations (like Harry Kahne)
  • Teaches memory techniques
  • Does a combination of both

There’s a bit of a grey area here because sometimes people think that people with superior autobiographical memory, synesthesia are also mnemonists.

For example, there are people like Solomon Shereshevsky or Daniel Tammett where autism may be involved. In each of these cases, it seems clear that these people used mnemonics or something very close to mnemonics when memorizing vast amounts of information.

Kim Peek does not appear to have used mnemonics, but the mental calculator Sal Piacente has successfully reproduced many of Peek’s talents.

Photographic Memory Puzzle Piece portrait on Magnetic Memory Method Blog

You may also encounter people like Jill Price. She’s associated with photographic memory, but technically has hyperthymestic syndrome. One of the first studies was based on Jill Price’s case, and this condition is not to be confused with eidetic memory.

In sum, a mnemonist has developed a skill. Virtually anyone who wants to have this skill can train for it.

How to Become a Mnemonist and Unlock Your Memory’s True Potential

Once you’ve decided to become a mnemonist, your path is mostly straight forward.

Let’s have a look and pick up some specific examples along the way. Note that some of these steps are in a logical order. But others can be started any time, such as making friends in the memory community.

One: Decide To Be All In

When memory expert and mnemonist Harry Lorayne decided to master his memory, it was to escape punishment.

In order to do it, he went to the library and devoted himself to figuring out what mnemonic devices are and how to use them.

When I say “be all in,” I don’t just mean read a lot of books on Memory Palaces.

I also mean devote yourself to practicing the techniques with a wide variety of information types:

By doing this, you’ll start to deeply understand more about what memory really is and how you can make it work better on demand.

Two: Start Simply

That said, you have to start somewhere. And for most us, we’ll need to start with a simple goal.

A first goal is to learn how to memorize a list. You can do this using the pegword method, or a use an even a simpler number-rhyme system.

Three: Make Friends In The Memory Community

Given the many stages of learning, it’s useful to be able to speak with others who are both behind and ahead of you.

Braden Adams with 70 decks of playing cardsYou’ll find lots of cool people doing amazing things. For example, Braden Adams memorized 70 decks of playing cards for charity.

Marno Hermann broke a record in his country for reciting pi.

And Jesse Villalobos got a raise and a promotion.

There are so many examples like this, and the best part is that most of these people are happy to share their experiences and the specific memory hacks they’ve explored.

Four: Learn More Advanced Mnemonic Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the basic techniques, it’s time to keep developing your skills.

Now, exactly what counts as an “advanced” memory technique is admittedly subjective. But in general, number rhyme systems and alphabet mnemonics are simple compared with tactics like using a 00-99 PAO System based on the Major Method are more advanced.

At this stage, it’s possible to get stuck with decision anxiety because instead of the Major Method, you could choose the Dominic System.

Other times, people cause issues for themselves by using Anki to learn the more advanced systems. But that’s really evading the skill you’re trying to build by confusing mnemonic spaced repetition with rote learning.

Journaling and mindmapping to test if you really want to be a mnemonist can help resolve such issues, and ultimately you want to know about both options, even if you only use one.

Five: Increase The Complexity Of Your Goals

As you continue using memory techniques, you’ll likely find that you plateau. In other words, you get pretty good and then your growth comes to a stand still.

2x USA Memory Champion John Graham has a great suggestion: adding distractions. You can practice memorizing pi with loud heavy metal playing, for example.

Or, you can keep yourself challenged by:

One person who gives very interesting memory demonstrations is Nelson Dellis. He’s memorized decks of cards underwater and while climbing Mount Everest!

Six: Know Your Memory History

Most of the “real deal” memory techniques are in the past.

For example, did you know that Aristotle was a memory master? He was one of the first to write about the more advanced memory techniques based on the alphabet.

Then there are the Aboriginal memory techniques discussed by people like Tyson Yunkaporta and Lynne Kelly.

Perhaps my favorite mnemonists are Matteo Ricci and Giordano Bruno. They both traveled widely during the Renaissance and we still feel their influence.

In fact, it’s a pet theory of mine that in the 20th century, the mnemonist Bruno Furst took that name as a reference to Giordano Bruno.

Anthony Metivier with You Can Remember by Bruno Furst

Seven: Keep Studying Other Mnemonists

Technically, your goal of studying the great mnemonic traditions is never done. And since it’s a living tradition, it only makes sense to take courses and read the books of those currently alive and writing them.

I do this myself, and in recent years have loved learning from mnemonists like Tony Buzan, Ron White, Jim Kwik, John Michael Greer, Martin Faulks and Brad Zupp.

Even if I don’t agree with some of these people, or have criticisms that come to mind with now disappeared courses like Phenomenal Memory, it’s only possible to stretch yourself if you have the widest possible picture of what’s out there. And by understanding how others use memory techniques, you’ll fashion new goals for yourself that you probably wouldn’t have come up with on your own.

Eight: Teach Others

Although this step is optional, it’s almost impossible to understand mnemonic imagery properly without explaining it to others.

How exactly to teach others is its own discussion, but in brief, you can simply give a demonstration and then explain how you were able to accomplish the feat.

A lot of mnemonists I know get frustrated that people often aren’t interested in picking up the skills for themselves.

But I suggest avoiding this conclusion. Teaching of others will certainly benefit from them. But it also helps you. By talking about what you’re learning, you’ll see the gaps in your own knowledge. And that will give you clues regarding how to come back to this list and start again from the beginning.

Because ultimately, that’s what memory training is really all about: the deliberate practice of keeping an open mind and focusing on the fundamentals.

Beyond Memorizing Lists

As I hope you’ve seen, there are different kinds of mnemonists and different goals mnemonists can complete.

If you would like to develop exceptional memory skills and call yourself a mnemonist, I can really only ask one thing:

Seek the truth about memory.

And that means being radically honest.

Nothing is gained by trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Sadly, there’s quite a bit of cheating in the memory world, and that only harms everyone.

But if you’re willing to talk about the mistakes you’ve made, something I go out of my way to do, you’ll help and inspire others who also want to enjoy superior memory skills.

And if you would like my free course on using the incredibly powerful Memory Palace technique, here’s where to get it:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will take you through my favorite of all the ancient memory techniques, with exercises and examples.

So what do you say?

Are you ready to master your memory and become a world class mnemonist?

Make it happen!

A mnemonist is a lot more than a memory expert or someone who knows how to memorize a list. Learn how to memorize a lot of information now. A mnemonist is a lot more than a memory expert or someone who knows how to memorize a list. Learn how to memorize a lot of information now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 20:08
207 Deep Philosophical Questions for Smart People Sat, 18 Nov 2023 14:00:05 +0000 Good philosophical questions are hard to come by. Use this mega-list of intellectual questions to think deeply about life and its meaning. 206 deep philosophical questions feature imageNews flash: philosophical questions for smart people must actually be philosophical.

I raise this point because so many people ask general interest questions and call them philosophical.

But that doesn’t mean that they actually are philosophical.

Who am I to know?

As I’ve learned as a scholar with a PhD in Humanities, much of the best philosophy involves investigating of the nature of being – existence itself.

As a memory scientist and author of a book guided by the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, demonstrating the ties between memory and ontological being has been a core aspect of my work for over a decade. This book is called The Victorious Mind.

I’m also working on a new book now, about the philosopher of memory, Giordano Bruno. It dives deep into what I would call the ontology of memory. It asks, what is the philosophical nature of memory’s existence.

Fascinating, right? Or is it too much intellectual noodling?

I don’t think so. When it comes to philosophical questions, I don’t think we can ever dig deep enough.

As Martin Heidegger often put it, asking deep philosophical questions of his own, we all need to question the being of being itself. Now how’s that for a mind bender?

Take things a step further:

How is it that we as beings have come to not only ask questions about the nature of being, but also come to question the nature of what it means to ask questions in the first place?

The way Heidegger puts it, the ultimate philosophical question is to question the nature of questioning itself.

So with that in mind, if you’re ready for more reflection and a massive list of my favorite philosophical questions divided into categories, let’s dive in!

207 Thought-Provoking Philosophical Questions

With these points in mind, here’s a list of questions that will help you experience rich and rewarding conversations with friends and family.

I’ve split the questions up into different categories and will sometimes discuss why the questions are so valuable to discuss.


Let’s get started.


As Dale Jacquette points out in his book Ontology, we often take the question of what exists for granted. What does it mean for something to exist? How does existence relate to things that are merely coming into being?

Ontological questions focus on Being with a capital B and how it relates to the opposite: non-being or non-existence. However, asking about non-being is tricky. As Plato puts it in The Sophist, the opposite of being cannot be non-being because being is require in order to question this question.

We didn’t have the “mind blown” meme back when I was in graduate school, but having my mind blown was exactly how I felt when I first thought about how non-being could never be the opposite of being. To think about nothing means you have to think about something. Wild!

Along these lines, here are some of the most important questions in the area of ontology:

  1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
  2. What does it mean to exist?
  3. What must be true in order for us to say that something exists or does not exist?

This question is especially interesting because we talk about many things that technically don’t exist, such as unicorns. 

unicorn in front of the moon

Yet, the very notion of unicorn is premised upon other things that do exist, such as horses and animals that have horns. We can also think about horns in relation to seashells. So with this in mind, is it really the case that unicorns do not exist?

  1. What laws govern matter?
  2. When does life begin?

This question applies both to life as such in terms of when it first appeared in the universe, and when it starts following pregnancy. You can also ask to what extent that the universe itself might be alive.

Nietzsche was a philosopher who definitely thought the universe was not alive. See aphorism 109 of his book The Gay Science for an extraordinary warning against such humanization of being.

  1. What happens to us when we die?
  2. What is the most perfect form of being?
  3. Does a god exist?
  4. If a god exists, why would we need to prove this?
  5. Is change real or only apparent?
  6. What is real?
  7. What is reality? 
  8. Is reality one or many?

This question means to investigate not just the nature of one reality as opposed to a multiverse. It is also the question of whether or not everything in the reality is connected, or if there is separation between things.

  1. Is reality material or spiritual?
  2. Is reality permanent, or is it itself always changing?
  3. If the entire universe is always in motion, can any object ever be at “rest”?
  4. Are light and darkness equal?
  5. Does history exist or did humans invent it? If so, does it repeat itself?
  6. Does the past continue to exist after it is gone?
  7. Is the world of tomorrow already here?

These last two questions were raised by Einstein and Gödel. For a full analysis, see A World Without Time.

six clocks on a wooden wall

In essence, it is fascinating to think that even though yesterday is gone, the world of yesterday is still there and potentially accessible.


As Christopher Norris puts it, epistemology boils down to the difference between opinion and verifiable fact. How do we know what we know and by what criteria do we know if that knowledge is valuable?

Knowledge can be about ideas, things, substances or states. Here are a pile of compelling questions you can ask in this area:

  1. What is the nature of knowledge?
  2. Where does knowledge reside? In individuals or in humanity collectively?
  3. Is knowledge in our sense-impressions? In mental perceptions? In our judgements?
  4. What counts as a valid source of knowledge?
  5. What are the different sources of knowledge?
  6. Is knowledge something that we can possess?
  7. What is truth?
  8. How do we test what is true?
  9. What is a question? What is a good question?
  10. Why do some words and phrases translate cleanly between languages while others do not?
  11. Can we think something into existence?
  12. Can we think something into non-existence?
  13. Can we think about things that don’t exist?
  14. What is a substance?
  15. What is a number?
  16. Do “spirits” exist? If so, do they “know” things?
  17. What is a fact?
  18. What is an opinion?
  19. What is a mistake?
  20. What does the fact that mistakes are possible tell us about the nature of reality?
  21. If you know what you’re looking for, why would questions about it arise? 

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how is it possible that you have enough knowledge to know that you want to find it? (This is essentially Meno’s Paradox.)

  1. How much can an individual person know?
  2. Can an individual ever know anything on their own?

This question is very important because language is not owned by any individual. At its core, all knowledge is likely shared by virtue of this fact alone.

  1. What is “language”?
  2. Are all languages equal?
  3. What makes a justified belief justified?
  4. How does language refer to the real world?
  5. What is truly objective and not subjective?
  6. What is the order in information? Or is it all chaos?
  7. What is philosophy?
  8. Why is philosophy important?
  9. Am I doomed to always be naive?


Peter Singer is one of the most important philosophers associated with ethics. One of his core concerns involves the duties of individuals with respect to the whole.

Within this field, one must consider the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. It’s very hard to balance these two factors without causing harm to some by minimizing pain for others – and this problem explains a lot of the strife and turmoil we see in the world throughout human history.

happy and sad faces

These questions will help you think through philosophical questions related to ethics.

  1. By what principles do we judge things right or wrong?
  2. What does it mean when we say that things “ought” to be a certain way?
  3. What are the principles, criteria and standards by which we should decide what to do?
  4. Is justice good because we prefer it, or do we prefer justice because it is good?
  5. What makes a human being moral?
  6. Should you seek to maximize your personal pleasure?
  7. Is it right to take on pain for yourself if it helps maximize the pleasure of others?
  8. What does it mean to be a good friend?
  9. What are my personal responsibilities as a local, national and global citizen?
  10. Is there a scientific basis to ethics?
  11. Sam Harris thinks that the answer to this question is yes. He defends his answer in The Moral Landscape.
  12. What is fairness?
  13. What are rights?
  14. How would I act if I cared for all life on the planet?
  15. How would I act if I considered both the short and long term outcomes of all my actions?
  16. How do we know when an authority should be followed?
  17. How do we know when it’s right to disobey authority?
  18. Is it right to keep a person alive artificially?
  19. Is killing always immoral and/or illegal?
  20. Should people be allowed to worship in any way they please?
  21. Is it right to allow children to determine their own gender?
  22. At what age should people be allowed to marry?
  23. How should we decide who gets to receive organ implants?
  24. How do we determine when death has occured?


One of the fascinating aspects of religion is that people make truth claims about their chosen faith, yet all chosen faiths are under constant attack. As Mikel Burley has pointed out, this has put all religions on the defensive.

hands of prayer

In some ways, this makes religion very similar to philosophy because neither of them are a science. Although philosophy and religion are not the same, they both exist to help us answer the questions that science has yet to address.

And as you’ll see from the following list, it is possible for some religious questions to be philosophical in nature. It basically boils down to looking at the philosophical questions that have come up in both the attacks against religion and the defenses various believers have mounted.

  1. Does god exist?
  2. What are the reasons to believe that god exists?
  3. What is the nature of a god?
  4. Is god the ultimate reality?
  5. What is the relationship between an individual and a god?
  6. If a god does not exist, is there some other form of transcendent reality?
  7. Is it rational to believe in a god?
  8. Do you choose your faith or does it choose you?
  9. Can you be faithful and still experience doubt?
  10. If infinity is real, has god already reached it? If so, how is that possible given the definition of “infinity”?
  11. Does heaven exist?
  12. Does hell exist?
  13. Is it right for a god to create and/or allow harm for any reason?
  14. If god exists, why is there evil in the world?
  15. Is god supernatural, or at one with the universe?
  16. Is religion philosophical?
  17. Does any scientific evidence validate any religion?
  18. Are all religions fundamentally the same?
  19. Why do different religions exist?
  20. How do we evaluate different religions?
  21. Why do so many religions rely upon stories instead of facts?
  22. If religion is real, why do atheists exist?
  23. Is it possible for an atheist to have a religious or spiritual experience?
  24. To what extent do moral positions have religious significance?
  25. Is morality pointless without religion?
  26. Do science and religion conflict with one another?

Anthropological Philosophy

Anthropology has to do with people and their environments and how this relationship leads to the formation of thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. One of the greatest philosophers in this area was Friedrich Nietzsche, who sought to understand how humans create their own values. He was especially puzzled by how humans failed to see that they are the creators of their own values in the first place.

stone humans

  1. What are human beings?
  2. What is human hope? Desire? Belief?
  3. What is consciousness?
  4. What is a thought?
  5. What is thinking?
  6. How is it possible for the mind to represent the world?
  7. Can we really know anything?
  8. Is human nature inherently good or evil?
  9. Do you humans act out of free will, or are our actions determined?
  10. What is technology?
  11. When is our technology good?
  12. When is our technology bad?
  13. Who is ultimately responsible for the outcomes of using technology? Individuals, or the entire species?
  14. What is enlightenment? Why do some people think they have it?
  15. Does education improve people? If so, why do we seem to make the same mistakes repeatedly?
  16. Why do people limit themselves by giving responsibility to a god?
  17. Does free will exist? If free will doesn’t exist, why do I feel like I am in control?
  18. What is human evolution?
  19. How do humans evolve differently than other life forms?
  20. Why is there ethnic conflict in the world?
  21. Why do the behaviors of people differ based on where they are born?
  22. How do families form?
  23. How do individual identities form?
  24. Why do our personalities change over time?
  25. If your brain were transplanted into another body, would you still be you?
  26. How do social hierarchies form?
  27. Why are there different social classes?
  28. How do people learn languages?
  29. Why do some languages die?
  30. Do minds cause physical events, or does the physical body exclusively cause events in the mind? (Epiphenomenalism)
  31. What is it like to experience something?
  32. Why do humans pretend?
  33. How do I know that other people think and feel in the same ways I do?
  34. How do I know I’m not dreaming?


  1. Is happiness the product of chemicals flowing through your brain? Or is it more?
  2. What is the good life?
  3. Can people be happy? Do they actually want to be happy?
  4. Should people pursue happiness?
  5. Can you legitimately achieve happiness without making others unhappy?
  6. Is it selfish to want to be happy?
  7. Is it wrong to not care about being happy?
  8. Do we need goals in order to be happy?
  9. Does life have a meaning?
  10. Can meaning be found or does it have to be invented? (Existentialism)
  11. What is suffering?
  12. Is it rational to donate to charities?
  13. How do you describe happiness
  14. How do you measure happiness?

Some people have thought that you actually can measure happiness. Jeremy Benthem’s felicific calculus is one strategy.

  1. How do you control your own happiness?
  2. For whom is happiness possible?
  3. Is the pursuit of happiness self-defeating? When does seeking happiness make you unhappy?
  4. How do you find happiness with others?

Philosophy of Art

  1. Can art be defined?
  2. Do artists, consumers or institutions like galleries and museums get to define the meaning of art?
  3. What media belongs to art and what doesn’t? (Film, literature, cinema, etc.)
  4. Why do certain artists resemble one another while others couldn’t be more different?
  5. What is it about art that causes a response in humans?
  6. What are the different kinds of responses to art?
  7. Is the value of art in the work or in the mind of the beholder?
  8. Does art have a purpose, or is it an end in itself?
  9. What is an authentic performance of a musical piece?
  10. In Philosophy: The Basics, Nigel Warburton wonders how we could ever experience Bach authentically without a time machine?
  11. Is a high quality forgery still art?
  12. What is an artistic style? How do we know one when we see it?
  13. What do the cinematic arts teach us about the nature of time?

Political Philosophy

Plato believed that societies can be harmonized through political philosophy. He suggested an aristocracy would be best, and had some ideas we might think crazy now. For example, artists and poets would need to be expelled altogether because their representations bent reality.

green hat artist drawing on a wall

Ironically, one of Plato’s stories, the Allegory of the Cave (found in The Republic), forms the basis of The Matrix, one of the most popular movies of all time.

When I did my second MA at the European Graduate School, there was no such contradiction. People were allowed to submit novels instead of formal thesis papers. I think it’s fantastic that scholarship has advanced to the point that art itself can be considered as a form of philosophical questioning at universities around the world.

Here are some of the most compelling questions from political philosophy.

  1. What is equality?
  2. What is freedom?
  3. Are equality and freedom reasonable goals?
  4. How can they be achieved?
  5. What can justify the limits on freedom enacted by the state?
  6. Should money be equally distributed?
  7. What does it mean to “deserve” something without having “earned” it?
  8. Why do different people have different needs?
  9. Why does discrimination arise?
  10. Since voters typically cannot become political experts, is their voice really valid?
  11. Is there a right to freedom of speech?
  12. Should people be allowed to lie and/or misrepresent the truth?
  13. How can we protect the innocent from punishment?

Philosophy of Science

As James Ladyman points out, many aspects of life do not change. Most people still work very hard just to survive. Yet, we’ve never had more access to technology than ever before, all thanks to the advancements of science. 

black background technology

It’s not just that science has given us miraculous tools like phones that take high quality photographs. Science has also helped us figure out how to ship them around the world and link them to satellites flying above our heads.

It’s questions like these that have made it all possible.

  1. What is science?
  2. What is an experiment?
  3. How do we know if the results of an experiment are valid?
  4. What are the limits of science?
  5. How far might science actually go given enough time and resources?
  6. Are there any limits to the problem-solving capacity of computers?
  7. Will progress continue on into infinity?
  8. Are there any problems with the empirical method?
  9. What is the nature of information, data and evidence?
  10. How do we know that our tools of detection provide accurate and precise information?
  11. Was math discovered or invented?
  12. Is a final “theory of everything” possible?
  13. If scientists determine that something should be done but people reject it, is it right to impose science upon them?
  14. Are there a finite or infinite number of questions for science to tackle?
  15. How should we understand universal cosmological time?
  16. What is life?
  17. What is the nature of a living system?
  18. What is the difference between a living system and the matter described by physics?
  19. Does life have a goal? (And if it doesn’t, how does this impact human psychology relative to philosophy?)
  20. If science shows that something is true, are we obliged to use the result?
  21. What should we do when scientists break the law or lie?
  22. Can you really increase your IQ?

How to Remember Good Philosophical Questions

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, even if it includes some unanswerable philosophical questions. That’s just the way it goes with many intellectual questions, and it’s great brain exercise to at least try and answer them.

One problem people face, however, is that they come across good philosophical questions, only to forget them.

If you’d like to continue enjoying the benefits of deep thinking, learn now to memorize as many philosophical questions as you wish with my FREE Memory Improvement Kit:

Free Memory Improvement Course

Many of the best philosophers and deep thinkers have used the techniques I talk about in this course to reflect on deep philosophical questions about life.

And because of how the techniques work, they remembered their answers too.

Want more incredible philosophical questions? Check out the 20 best philosophy books great thinkers must read. These suggestions will give you even more questions to ask and enjoy pondering.

Good philosophical questions are hard to come by. Use this mega-list of intellectual questions to think deeply about life and its meaning. Good philosophical questions are hard to come by. Use this mega-list of intellectual questions to think deeply about life and its meaning. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 33:47
The 7 Main Types Of Thinking (And How To Use Them Better) Fri, 17 Nov 2023 15:31:12 +0000 If you need to learn the main types of thinking with specific and concrete examples, this post is for you. Learn to improve your thinking now. types of thinking feature imageSome people say there are as many types of thinking as there are people to think them.

Actually, no. In fact, such statements demonstrate very poor thinking.

But to give these people the benefit of the doubt, it’s true that many forms of thinking interact with each other. This “intermingling” of ideas can make the list seem infinite.

However, everything to do with our modes of thought can be broken down into a smaller set of “thinking genres.”

And here’s the game-changer you need to know:

There’s a difference between types of thinking and methods of thinking. It helps to be clear about which ones you want to identify and improve. Find this clarity is what this post is all about, so let’s dig in.

The 7 Types of Thinking

As you go through this list, you might start wishing you were a master of each and every type. 

This is possible.

I’ll provide tips for developing your skills with each and everyone as we go. Just remember that it’s a marathon, not a race. You don’t have to work on all of them at the same time. 

As you read, keep two central questions in mind: 

  • What is thinking and why does this type count? 
  • In what ways am I already thinking like this in my daily life?

One: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is about analyzing a number of factors. For example, you can think about the value of an idea and divide that from the form the idea takes.

Let’s say someone is angry and yells at you about how they want you to change. Critical thinking would allow you to find the value in the suggestion without missing out on it because the form of address was unfriendly. 

a man and a women are arguing

Critical thinking helps you differentiate form from content, such as when angry arguments contain legitimately valuable information.

In other words, critical thinking allows you to place information in context and reason objectively about it. 

Here are 11 benefits of critical thinking to help you improve this type of thinking.

Two: Analytical Thinking

Whereas critical thinking helps you evaluate value through analysis, analytical thinking is about examining the parts of an argument. It looks much more closely at the thought process.

Analytical thinking typically involves research. As an analytical thinker, you will not be satisfied by the data at hand. You will seek multiple examples so that you can compare and contrast the multiple parts of several examples or case studies. 

To improve in this area, developing your reflective thinking skills will be of tremendous value.

Three: Creative Thinking

Edward de Bono is widely considered one of the leaders in the field of creative thinking. For him, it was a process of discovering solutions that are not obvious under normal circumstances. 

To help people, de Bono developed a number of processes, most famously lateral thinking.

a spade and soil

According to Edward de Bono, creative thinking is like digging holes laterally, rather than merely vertically.

You can visualize this form of metacognition by thinking about digging holes. As de Bono points out, most people dig one hole and if they don’t find the answer they’re looking for, they dig another hole in a different location.

Lateral thinking, on the other hand, digs tunnels in sideways and diagonal patterns. Moreover, it does not throw the dirt away as if it were obscuring the solution. It finds new ways to use the dirt.

If you want to improve your creative thinking, de Bono’s practices are useful to look into. However, it’s important to note that “creative” isn’t quite the right word because no one is “creating” anything new.

It’s more about using existing processes in unique ways to generate new ideas that you would not reveal any other way. And, as Leslie Owen Wilson points out, creative thinking usually involves risk taking as you add layers of complexity to those existing processes.

Four: Abstract Thinking

Abstract thinking begins with symbols. 

For example, there’s no reason why the shape of the letter ‘A’ should be pronounced as we use it in English. In fact, it’s pronounced quite differently in, say, German

The ability to understand that fact is a simple example of abstract thinking. Later, the use of ‘A’ as a symbol in logical and math provides a more complex example.

letter A

Jean Piaget is a major influence on the description of this technique. As he pointed out in his theory of cognitive development, children start developing basic symbolic thinking abilities between the ages of 2 and 7.

Between 7 and 11 they move on to develop logical reasoning abilities. Basically, everything after that is devoted to abstract thinking, and we do not stop until death.

To improve your abstract thinking abilities, study subject areas like:

Five: Concrete Thinking

Concrete thinking is about taking the world literally – or seeking ways to do so. It’s also called literal thinking.

This kind of thinking leads you to ask for specific examples. If someone makes a claim, you want to know what makes it true, why the evidence actually supports the argument and how exactly it does so. 

two women are talking

Concrete thinking requires evidence. The more substantial, the better.

Sometimes people avoid concrete thinking because they don’t want to appear stubborn. However, we need more people to insist on evidence that supports the claims people throw around, well… and insist concretely. 

To improve in this area, ask lots of questions of the who, what, when, where and why variety. And follow-up by applying some of the characteristics of analytical thinking, such as performing due diligence with your own research.

If you find it difficult to remember asking questions like that, consider using a memory wheel to help. 

Six: Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinkers look for examples that expose commonalities and reject the distortion of having all kinds of wild ideas flying around. They do this to find the best possible solutions to problems.

NASA provides many examples of convergent thinking – something that is also basically the same as linear thinking. For example, the Apollo 13 mission faced a critical situation where they needed to get enough energy to safely complete the mission – and save their own lives.

To solve the problem, they had to focus on using only the materials they had on hand. By doing so, they were able to quickly and reasonably converge on the best possible answer. 

a puzzle in sand

If you want to improve this form of thinking, solving puzzles where you are limited to only the pieces you have and cannot bring any outside parts provides great practice. Escape Rooms are great for this, as are games like Hunt a Killer where you solve crimes based solely on the evidence provided.

Seven: Divergent Thinking

Let’s stick with that NASA example.

When Apollo 13 was in danger, apparently someone suggested they use a flashlight to create more energy. 

Of course, the space shuttle team didn’t have a flashlight, so they had to use convergent thinking instead to reach a solution.

However, that doesn’t mean throwing out a wild idea like “flashlight” is entirely wrong. Sometimes you need to brainstorm using this form of nonlinear thinking to trigger ideas you couldn’t arrive at otherwise. 

In some ways, divergent thinking is a lot like lateral thinking. In this case, it’s often best conducted in groups.

To improve, you might consider holding what is called an “Idea Party.” I’ve attended these for entrepreneurs and people who need help kick starting an initiative they’re passionate about. 

a party

Holding an Idea Party is a great way to gather divergent ideas from diverse individuals in a short period of time.

Basically, each person gets a few minutes to describe their project. Then the audience spends 10-15 minutes sharing their best ideas and resources for making the idea happen. It’s a powerful exercise because it gets many different thinking types to respond in many divergent ways in a short period of time. 

How to Find Your Thinking Type: 4 Strategies

At this point, you might be curious to know what kind of thinker you happen to be? Are like one of the people who has the highest IQ? Or are there any signs of genius lurking in your mental life that you have yet to uncover?

To find out, here are some suggested ways to explore how you think, or at least thinking types you tend to learn towards by default.

One: Explore Your Personality Type

Although the whole notion of personality types is not without its controversy, researchers use it, often to great effect.

In this study, for example, researchers found that students with a higher amount of openness were better able to explore new kinds of knowledge.

Openness is the first of what are called the Big Five Personality Types, or OCEAN:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

I’ve used the model to examine myself quite a few times over the years. Although I don’t use these exact terms, my popular TEDx Talk shows how I was able to use a mixture of memory and meditation to move from a high level of neuroticism to openness.

I would not say that my thinking type is much more open as a result of these experiences.

Two: Examine Your Childhood Development

Cognitive development happens in stages.  It’s usually around age 12 that we’re able to think critically.

But some of us think more creatively and prefer to brainstorm with or without rules.

By thinking through how you developed from early childhood into adulthood, you can gain insight into how you’ve developed into particular styles of thought. You can also discover clues that might help you experience change if that’s something you desire.

Three: Discover The Philosophy of Mind

Believe it or not, people disagree about what exactly it means to have a mind.

For example, some people think that the human mind is unique. In Kinds of Minds, however, Daniel Dennett challenges this notion. He suggests that many kinds of sentience exist. Other animals might have a language instinct and, if this is true, our experience of mind might be more similar to animals and even an artificial intelligence.

Asking philosophical questions like these will challenge both how you think as an individual, but also how you think as a member of your species.

But don’t worry. You’ll be in good company. People like St. Augustine went through similar exercises long ago to try and determine what kind of thinker he was.

Four: Discover Your Emotional Intelligence

Sometimes how you think has more to do with how you think about your feelings.

This is one of the core premises of emotional intelligence. As some researchers argue, your emotional intelligence can act as a “rudder” that guides you through life.

The different types of emotional intelligence, or emotion-driven thinking include:

  • Empathy
  • Social skills
  • Ability to motivate yourself
  • Self-awareness

Examining your own life for your strengths and weaknesses in these categories can help you understand your thinking style better.

How To Improve Your Thinking Skills

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there’s a difference between types of thinking and methods of thinking. 

Some of the methods you’ll want to explore include using all of the above in the form of:

  • Writing
  • Studying
  • Mind mapping
  • Discussing
  • Debating
  • Meditating

All of these activities need to be scheduled. Without regular focus and consistent practice, your thinking abilities will speed up.

The good news is that you can use each thinking type we discussed above to make time for practice. And if you need more help, these critical thinking examples and critical thinking strategies are here for you. 

So what do you say? Are you ready to explore new types of thinking? Get out there and enjoy the benefits working with higher quality thoughts will bring you. 

And if you’d like more help with remembering these kinds of thinking, please sign up for my FREE Memory Improvement Course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

Using mnemonics will help you think about the entire world in a whole new light.

Let’s turn your dream of being a better thinker into a reality!

If you need to learn the main types of thinking with specific and concrete examples, this post is for you. Learn to improve your thinking now. If you need to learn the main types of thinking with specific and concrete examples, this post is for you. Learn to improve your thinking now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 37:41
How Will Australia’s Best Memory Champ Memorize The ENTIRE Dictionary? Anastasia Woolmer Reveals All Thu, 16 Nov 2023 05:17:30 +0000 Anastasia Woolmer is Australia's best memory champ. To make mnemonics more meaningful, she's memorizing a dictionary. Learn how you can too. Anastasia Woolmer portraitAnastasia Woolmer is currently the most impressive memory competitor in Australia.

She’s also a whizz when it comes to extending memory techniques to goals with practical meaning.

Not that being a memory athlete is empty in any way.

But she’s keenly aware that most people aren’t going to learn how to memorize thousands of digits.

That’s one reason why she came up with a different project, one that gives her great brain exercise and teaches her practical and interesting information.

Information you can actually use.

What’s on the menu for memorization over the weeks and months to come?

A dictionary.

That’s right.

The entire thing.

Including the page numbers.

Can You Really Memorize The Entire Dictionary?

As a matter of fact, yes.

Last time Anastasia Woolmer and I spoke on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, we discussed the memorization of movement.

In case you haven’t seen it, she uses movement as part of her mnemonic strategy, something you can witness yourself in her incredible TEDx Talk.

When it comes to committing an entire dictionary to memory, there is precedent for such a task.

Years ago, Ed Cooke tested an impressive mnemonist named Dr. Yip, a.k.a. The Man Who Learned the Dictionary.

There’s also the case of Nigel Richards, who memorized the French dictionary and wound up winning the French Scrabble World Championship.

You might also be interested in Matteo Ricci, who could reportedly recite entire books forward and backward.

But ultimately, Ricci’s was a very different project than memorize prose because Anastasia’s involves core vocabulary, definitions and numbers.

The Real Memory Skill Needed For Such Monumental Learning Tasks

Sure, you’re going to need memory techniques. Lots of them.

And, as Woolmer readily told me, she’ll need lots of Memory Palaces too.

But according to Woolmer, it’s “holistic memory” that she focuses on the most.

By making sure that she’s physically flexible, taking care of her diet and getting lots of sleep, she has the mental clarity needed to memorize the entire dictionary.

I feel that this is exactly right.

Yes, we need high-powered mnemonic strategies.

But the functioning of mnemonics is reliant upon mental sharpness above all.

Enjoy this interview, and be sure to visit her website for more information about her courses and live training events.

Here’s a post about her upcoming workshop for more info. Hope you can attend!

Anastasia Woolmer is Australia's best memory champ. To make mnemonics more meaningful, she's memorizing a dictionary. Learn how you can too. Anastasia Woolmer is Australia's best memory champ. To make mnemonics more meaningful, she's memorizing a dictionary. Learn how you can too. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 1:12:16
How to Create A Memory Palace: A Proven Memory Palace Technique Approach Mon, 13 Nov 2023 15:00:19 +0000 Want to know how to create a memory palace? I've been using the memory palace technique for years to memorize languages, key info, and more. Memory Palace image to convey their power for the Magnetic Memory Method blog and podcastIn our modern world of omnipresent information access, memorization using a Memory Palace was almost a thing of the past.

Almost. Luckily, there’s a growing body of people who are using Memory Palaces because they’re noticing how modern technology isn’t always great for memory.

And this shift back to older memory techniques has occurred quite quickly. The question is… why?

Little more than a decade ago, it wasn’t uncommon that a person had to memorize a sizable list of phone numbers belonging to partners, siblings, parents and close friends.

But now, more and more, people are finding that their minds feel weak. They can’t recall what they did yesterday, let alone recall a list of important phone numbers.

Fortunately, the ancient Memory Palace technique is still here for people who want to get back to basics and remember key information reliably. And plenty of contemporary science proves that this technique works.

As far as learning techniques go, this technique is not a magic bullet. But as you’re about to discover, the Memory Palace for learning is one of the closest things to real magic we have.

Why The Memory Palace Technique Is Not Snake Oil

I get it. People are skeptical, and they should be. A lot of people sell inferior memory training products, one reason why I created this Consumer Awareness Guide years ago.

Yet, the scientific research you’ll find on this page shows that the Memory Palace, when taught properly, never was and never will be snake oil. Far from it. To help you understand just how powerful the technique can be, I’ll share with you my personal experiences in addition to the science. You can also enjoy the experiences of several of my students, dozens of whom who have sent me their results for the public to read.

Another reason people are skeptical stems from a lack of self belief. Sadly, the modern world rarely encourages us to use our imagination. It might therefore be slightly challenging for people new to the technique to really get into it.

Because if there is a catch, getting into using the technique is it. In order to fully understand how a Memory Palace works, you need to develop at least a few of them and then use them to complete well-formed learning goals. You can’t just think about the technique. In the words of Yoda, you have to take matters into your own hands and just do it.

The good news is that using a Memory Palace is incredibly engaging. As I told journalist Rebecca Barry when she interviewed me for the New Zealand Herald’s Viva Magazine,  this learning technique is certain more engaging than the traditional rote memorization technique. It gets even more engaging when you add Magnetic Note Taking as part of the process.

With practice, you’ll soon be impressing all of your friends and family with how good your memory has gotten in no time.

Since practice is so important, let’s talk about how to create a Memory Palace before we get into some of the science behind why the technique works so well.

How to Create a Memory Palace

The basic idea behind the Memory Palace is to associate pieces of information with a location that you are very familiar with. A prime example would be of your home.

Try this simple exercise:

Close your eyes right now and picture your home.

a living room

If you’re like most of us, you can probably picture your home with a decent amount of detail. You know where the furniture is found, what colors the walls are, and even where small objects are placed.

Congratulations! You’ve just started the first step of developing your very own Memory Palace. Next, I suggest that you draw out a simple journey by hand.

Here’s an example based on one of my personal Memory Palaces (here are several more Memory Palaces examples if you like):

Anthony Metivier Memory Palace of Berlin Apartment

Quick Memory Palace Drawing by Anthony Metivier (Berlin apartment)

To get started creating your first Mind Palace, do this now:

  1. Draw a floor plan of a familiar location.
  2. Create a journey that does not lead you into a dead end.
  3. Make sure that your journey is linear so that you don’t create confusion by crossing your own path.
  4. Don’t over clutter your first Memory Palace.
  5. Number each station and create a top-down list to help you mind remember the journey better. Optional: Use a Magnetic 00-99 P.A.O System to assign an image to each Magnetic Station
  6. Use the Memory Palace as quickly as possible with information that will improve your life.
  7. Use the Memory Palace to invoke the Primacy Effect and Recency effect for each Magnetic Station by using the Serial-Positioning Effect.
  8. Create more Memory Palaces and repeat the process, always taking care to memorize information that makes your life better professionally and personally.

How To Use A Memory Palace

The Memory Palace has to do with associating information with specific areas of that familiar location. This is done using mnemonic images.

As you mentally walk through a location you’ve prepared, you place pieces of information linked to associations that you wish to memorize in specific areas. When you want to recall the information, you revisit your mental route, and the information will be easily accessible.

The technique is made more effective when you add surprising or out-of-the normal features to the information.

For example, assuming you would like to memorize this sequence of words:

  • hero
  • drill
  • spacecraft
  • music

You could imagine yourself at your front door, with a hero standing next to you. Here you’ve made an association between your door and a hero.

You can increase your ability to memorize and retain this by making the memory more distinctive or unusual. For example, you could imagine the hero opening the door for you, or banging on it before you enter.

You then walk down your hall, and before your feet is a drill. To increase the power of this mnemonic imagery, imagine that it is turned on and you have to leap to avoid being hurt.

You then turn the corner and see a spacecraft flying out of the window leaving behind itself a trail of glitter.

Finally, you sat down on the couch, and as your bottom touches the cushion, your favorite song starts playing. You might even imagine the word “music” written on the cushion before you sit.

The Definitive Guide To Reusing A Memory Palace

A lot of people ask me about using the same Mind Palace a second or third time.

It is possible, but the precise process can be more than a little finicky. To explain what I mean, please check out this thorough video guide on the topic:

As you can see, not even the most skilled memory experts reuse Memory Palaces. If you set yourself up correctly, it’s not really necessary.

That said, doubling up does make for great brain exercise, and that’s usually the way I treat the practice. I think it might have helped me experience a breakthrough with aphantasia, actually.

But what this question has taught me the most over the years is that many students of memory improvement put the cart before the horse. They worry about advanced skills before they’ve mastered the fundamentals – advanced skills that the pros have already determined might be great, but aren’t really worth using.

The Memory Palace I Re-Used Twice (Personal Case-Study)

Have a look at this Memory Palace example based on a neighborhood called Kelvin Grove in Brisbane, Australia:

how to memorize a passage memory palace example

I’ve used it three times for memorizing:

  • The Upadesa Saram
  • 32 verses of the Ribhu Gita
  • My TEDx Talk

Frankly, I did manage to pull this off successfully. But if I were to do it again, I would not use the same Memory Palace over and over again. Certainly not for something important as a memorized public presentation.

Other (Potential) Problems With Reusing A Memory Palace

Although the following issue hasn’t happened to me, some people have issues with moving the furniture around in the rooms they base the Memory Palaces on.

In most cases, this shouldn’t be an issue once you have the fundamentals of this memory technique mastered. To do that, please make sure that you devote yourself to the loci method thoroughly and completely. It will serve you well for the rest of your life.

But another option is to simply not use furniture at all. If you look at the Kelvin Grove Memory Palace example above, you can see that most of it involves streets. In the few rooms that I did use, my loci were mostly the walls and corners.

I think of street corners and the architectural foundations of Memory Palaces as “Eternal Stations.” They’re very unlikely to change in the future. Using them makes this mnemonic method much more stable over the long term.

The Memory Palace Technique Is Not Necessarily Visual

Some people assume that this technique requires a vivid visual imagination. But this is not correct, though you can’t blame people for confusing iconic memory with the fantasy of photographic memory.

When done correctly using all of the Magnetic Modes, you can memorize a very large amount of information relatively quickly without necessarily seeing the Memory Palace in your mind.

Here’s an infographic to teach you all about the different ways that your brain perceives information in a multi-sensory way:

Magnetic Modes Infographic for Memory Palace blog post on the Magnetic Memory Method Blog

Keeping the full range of the Magnetic Modes in mind, you can use any home or location with which you are familiar.

You can even use small areas, such as the inside of a broom closet. You can even use your own body, attaching information to different limbs.

Just keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to see the Memory Palace. You can feel it, hear it, taste it, smell it and even just think about it. I’ve even gone through some of my Memory Palaces and touched the walls I’ll be using to help make them more substantial in my imagination. This simple action has helped me a lot over the years.

For example, when I was asked to memorize some Shakespeare in real time on the Guru Viking Podcast, I used a Memory Palace I have interacted with physically many times. This level of mental processing helped make the memory demonstration successful. In fact, I recalled the lines I was asked to memorize from Julius Caesar perfectly.

If shifting from a visual to a multi-sensory Memory Palace seems odd, let me add a few more details. They will help you understand how seriously well this technique works when you add more levels of sensory elaboration.

The Science Behind the Memory Palace

Many studies have been conducted to analyze the effectiveness of the Memory Palace. It’s all based on the scientific fact that your brain and spatial memory perceive space as a kind of image. Space itself is a kind of sensory experience, so it’s well worth focusing on.

Check out this lecture with memory expert Stephen Kosslyn for more information about how that works:

Cool, right?

The answer is a resounding “yes!”

And it gets even better. In 2020, researchers Dr. David Reser and Tyson Yunkaporta conducted a study at Monash University with medical students. Using an Aboriginal variation of the Memory Palace technique, they demonstrated that learners equipped with this learning method recalled far more than students who did not.

No Need For A Huge IQ To Use A Memory Palace!

Over the years, some people have written to me that memory athletes and mnemonists must be smarter or have higher IQs than other people.

I don’t believe memory competitors are smarter or have bigger brains than the rest of us. It’s that they use mnemonics, and specifically the Memory Palace to memorize semantic information.

And they practice deliberately. That is the secret behind their impressive abilities. And because people who practice for a long time learn more about the techniques they’re using, that explains why they become really good (Maguire et al 2002).

This simple observation suggests that anyone with average abilities can use this technique to improve his/her memory. And scientists have shown that it’s well worth it as a lifetime practice, especially when you consider the research on memory training with the elderly.

And once you know the drill, it’s really just a matter of spending some time with a few solid Memory Palace training exercises. Like these:

Even if you are not seeking to learn large amounts of information, the Memory Palace still has something to offer. There’s even more evidence that the Memory Palace can help maintain a healthy brain during old age if you’d like to follow-up with the additional scientific references listed below.

As MMM student Sunil Khatri has explained, the Memory Palace is also great for language learning, including the difficulties of Japanese.

Personally, one of my favorite ways to practice the Memory Palace technique is to memorize playing cards, specifically for performing card magic. Whereas I used to practice the Mnemonica Stack, I’ve just memorized the Redford Stack and am having a ton of fun with that.

It only takes me 2 minutes and 30 seconds to memorize a deck. And with a little practice based on how memory actually works, I’ll bet you can go even faster.

Ready to get started mastering the Memory Palace technique so you can enjoy learning more based on how your memory really works?

Let’s do this thing!

Memory Palace References & Further Resources


Bower, G. H., “Analysis of a Mnemonic Device: Modern psychology uncovers the powerful components of an ancient system for improving memory” American Scientist, Vol. 58, No. 5, pp. 496-510, September–October 1970 Web. 21 Jan. 2016..

Engvig, Andreas, Anders M. Fjell, Lars T. Westlye, Torgeir Moberget, Øyvind Sundseth, Vivi Agnete Larsen, and Kristine B. Walhovd. “Effects of Memory Training on Cortical Thickness in the Elderly.” NeuroImage 52.4 (2010): 1667-676. 1 Oct. 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

Fan, Shelley. “Can a Mnemonic Slow Memory Loss with Age?” Scientific American Blog Network. 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

Maguire, Eleanor A., Elizabeth R. Valentine, John M. Wilding, and Narinder Kapur. “Routes to Remembering: The Brains behind Superior Memory.” Nature Neuroscience Nat Neurosci 6.1 (2002): 90-95. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.

Want to Become a Mnemonics Dictionary? 5 Powerful Secrets Revealed!

7 More Mental Exercises From Around the World

Want to know how to create a memory palace? I've been using the memory palace technique for years to memorize languages, key info, and more. Want to know how to create a memory palace? I've been using the memory palace technique for years to memorize languages, key info, and more. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 33:56
9 Deadly Critical Thinking Barriers (And How to Eliminate Them) Wed, 08 Nov 2023 17:00:45 +0000 Most barriers to critical to critical thinking are easily removed. Read this post to boost your thinking and completely eliminate errors. 9 deadly critical thinking barriers feature imageWant to know why the biggest barriers to critical thinking are so insidious? 

The answer is simple:

It’s because they’re lurking inside you. 

And if you don’t know that these barriers are standing between you and exploding your thinking abilities, you’re powerless to improve your situation.

Starting right now, let’s identify and remove the biggest barriers. 

You’ll experience greater clarity of mind just by knowing what they are and how to get them out of your life. 


Let’s dive in.

The 9 Most Common Barriers to Critical Thinking (And How to Overcome Them)

As you go through this list, keep a journal.

Write down the ones that pose the biggest issue for you.

Then make time on your calendar to deal with each. 

Rest assured, without putting in the time, nothing will change.

But when you do, your independent thinking abilities will explode. In fact, your critical thinking abilities will improve overall.

One: Letting The World Revolve Around You

Most of us experience inner talk.  And it’s normal to include yourself and your experiences in the topics you think about.

But those who have excellent critical thinking skills know how to contextualize their SRIN. 

What is SRIN?

Self-referential Inner Narrative. 

Others call this the “blah blah blah” monkey-mind.

blah blah blah

No matter what you call it, if you can’t think about contexts larger than your immediate self, it will be impossible to think critically. 

Here’s what to do instead: 

  • Notice when you say or think things like, “I don’t personally know anyone this has happened to.” 
  • Stop and think about the larger context at the level of your neighborhood, your city, your region, your country, your continent, your hemisphere and the world. Where relevant, include the entire universe.
  • Imagine a topic through the eyes of at least one other person. In autobiographical memory studies, this is called shifting from the field perspective to the observer perspective.
  • Ask about what would be true even if you did not exist. 

For more help, these critical thinking examples will help you think through other perspectives.

Two: Lack Of Critical Thinking Skills

If you want to remove the obstacles to critical thinking you’re experiencing, some study will be involved. 

Critical thinking books abound and it is worth spending time with some of the best. Look for books that include examples and exercises

a student walking with some books

You’ll also want to think about a particular goal for critical thinking that you have. For example, do you want to think better as a student preparing for law school? Or do you need thinking skills for being a better contributor to your family or neighborhood? 

Setting a goal can help guide which resources you choose and your study and practice plan

Three: Not Knowing Your Cognitive Biases

We are all included to make serious errors in our thinking.

But we’re not alone in making them. Far from it. 

In fact, because all of us operate from having a human brain, psychologists have identified patterns.

These are called cognitive biases.

One that I suffer from quite badly is called “recency bias.” Basically, it’s very tempting for me to judge reality based on the most recent events, rather than looking at the broad scope of history.

I use all of the tips on this page to cope and improve. One of the most helpful benefits of critical thinking is the ability to engage in continual discussions with friends about history. It’s something I continue to read for one simple reason.

a long history castle

The more you know and discuss the past, the more you are automatically reminded of a bias like this.

What cognitive biases are strongest in your life? 

Four: Being In A Hurry

We’re all in a rush once in a while. 

But it’s one of the biggest critical thinking challenges all the same. 

If you don’t stop and think, mistakes are so much easier to make. 

One of my favorite tools for making sure I don’t rush into making decisions without thinking about them is called W.R.A.P.

  • Widen Your Options
  • Reality Test
  • Attain Distance
  • Prepare To Fail

As can see, it has tools in it to help you slow down.

It’s also a superior alternative to “trusting your gut.” In fact, Chip and Dan Heath who came up with it in their book Decisive did a lot of research on it for the book. 

They show that relying on gut instinct is often very harmful. (And it’s often a cognitive bias that drives us to rely on it anyway.)

How do you remember to use the W.R.A.P. technique? You need to get thinking about it deep into your procedural memory

For that, a Memory Palace will help. Grab this free course so you know how to create and use one:

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

Five: Lack Of Scientific Literacy

Unfortunately, a lot of people leave school not knowing how to evaluate research. They often have limited numeracy skills.

They also barely understand some of the core principles of science, such as:

  • Sampling and generalizability
  • Probability and coincidence
  • Correlation and causation
  • Differentiating fact from opinion
  • Logical reasoning

To remove these barriers from your life, make sure to learn what science is really all about. This is the kind of understanding that can help save your life as you think better. And the best part is that it will boost your concentration skills, something far too many people lack.

Six: Exhaustion

Of all the most common barriers to critical thinking, not being well rested destroys our decision-making abilities. 

Sleep and memory go together, and we need to remember to think critically in the first place. Please be sure to privilege your rest. 

a women is sleeping on a blue pillow

Seven: Lack Of Communication Skills

Thinking is more than a two-way street. It’s a complex network of many freeways, highways, streets and cul de sacs.

You need to communicate with many people and you need to do it well. 

Some people don’t have a big enough vocabulary, so need to learn how to remember more words.

Others lack writing skills.

Yet others are not yet able to read fast enough so that they can talk and write enough to effectively communicate.

One way to improve in all these areas is to create a 90-day research and communication goal. 

For example, I spent 90-days learning about the art of memory in the sixteenth century. To practice building my communication skills, I spoke with many people about it, wrote frequently and read the suggestions I got from others. 

To remove your critical thinking barriers, spend the next 90 days reading about it. Find a philosophy discussion group. Start a blog or journal privately about what you’re learning.

It will help you tremendously.

a discussion group

Eight: Fear Of Failure

A lot of people are so afraid to make mistakes that they never take action. 

Well, critical thinking is itself an action. If you never get started, you won’t be able to learn from the mistakes you will inevitably make. 

This barrier circles us back to the problem of the ego and SRIN. You might be overly protective of yourself because you’re stuck in a self-referential loop.

How to get past this comes down to:

  • Recognizing the issue
  • Committing to get past it
  • Setting a plan for when you’re going to start taking risks

One quick win would be to join a debate club. This will give you meeting deadlines and specific topics for which you need to be prepared. You’ll have removed this common barrier in no time.

Nine: Inability To Improvise

Of all the critical thinking strategies out there, you need to be able to think on your feet. 

One of the reasons people fear failure so much is that they’re just not used to opening their mouths, making mistakes and being able to pivot. 

open the mouth

I’ve learned to do this by giving lots of speeches from memory and other kinds of presentations. 

And I’ve also learned and memorized a lot about logic and philosophy, in more than just one language.

Spend some time learning a language to break through this barrier. Practicing speaking in a new language will give you verbal dexterity that improves your ability to improvise in your mother tongue. 

The Best Time To Remove Your Barriers Was Yesterday

Thanks for reading this post.

There are obviously more barriers than the ones we’ve gone over today, but as you can see, the nine I’ve listed are massive.

My suggestion?

Get started on just one at a time.

Follow-up with the resources I’ve provided.

Familiarize yourself with those cognitive biases and improve your science literacy. 

And if you want to get started practicing your writing skills, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you ever spot me suffering from issues in my thinking, please let me know. I always want to improve!


Most barriers to critical to critical thinking are easily removed. Read this post to boost your thinking and completely eliminate errors. Most barriers to critical to critical thinking are easily removed. Read this post to boost your thinking and completely eliminate errors. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 16:33
How To Use Image Streaming To Improve Your Memory Fri, 03 Nov 2023 15:00:41 +0000 Image streaming is a powerful technique. The trick is to understand it correctly and avoid pseudoscience versions. This post shows you how. image streaming feature imageIf you want to improve your ability to visualize, think clearly and remember more, proper image streaming is important. 

The best part is that you can learn to do it even if you do not have a strong “mind’s eye.”

So just imagine being able to experience more of your inner genius on demand.

You’ll enjoy reading much more (including complicated books).

Plus, your mind won’t feel so overwhelmed when you can instantly use mental imagery to focus on demand. 

In this post, I’ll actually teach you two different kinds of image streaming: passive and active.

Let’s get started.

What Is Image Streaming?

A lot of people attribute the streaming image concept to Win Wenger. 

Sure, he wrote about it in a book called The Einstein Factor. Wenger defines the practice like this:

“Image-Streaming consists of describing aloud, in as much detail as possible, to a live listener or an audience, or to a tape recorder as potential audience — while observing the ongoing stream of sensory imagery of all kinds.”

Although there are some great things about Wenger’s book, it’s also packed with pseudoscience. 

Perhaps more alarmingly, there’s a stunning lack of awareness about Einstein.

For one thing, Einstein is not known to have considered himself a genius. He probably had no time for such imprecise terms. If you’ve read The Unexpected Einstein, you’ll be aware of just how humble Einstein was about his discoveries. 

As Walter Isaacson shows in Einstein: His Life and Universe, Einstein had every reason to be modest. He’d actually borrowed the imagery he “streamed” from Aaron Bernstein.

This was the influential author who “took his readers on an imaginary journey through space.” He also “asked readers to imagine being on a speeding train” as a bullet was shot through the window.

Was imagine streaming part of how Einstein formulated the equations involved in general relativity?

Absolutely not.

“Image streaming” is a term Wenger apparently invented. If anything, Einstein was mentally replaying images and concepts from Bernstein.

picture of Einstein

This does not diminish Einstein’s accomplishments. Rather, it places them in context and allow us to ask a better question:

Did Einstein use an image visualization technique to arrive at his conclusions? Absolutely. 

And you can too. We just want to be a bit more historically accurate and scientific about the process so we can get started on the best possible footing.

The Deep History Of Image Streaming

I don’t want to go back to the beginning of time, but we know that humans have been visualizing for a very long time.

And if you are visualizing for more than a few seconds, that experience is… “streaming” from one second to the next. 

Who has streamed imagery perhaps more than any other group? 

Ancient Indian yogis. Buddhist monks. Dominican priests and practitioners of hermeticism.

For each of these groups, the ability to sit and focus on mental imagery has been key to allowing ideas to arise and for expanding the mind

a women is sitting beside an ocean and doing mental imagery

For more details on how visualization was used in different periods of history, you can check out texts like: 

And there is so much more.

Image Streaming And Pseudoscience 

Now, you might be thinking… didn’t you just accuse Win Wenger of pseudoscience? Aren’t all of these ancient traditions also linked with woo-woo?

Well, yes and no. For one thing, Wenger says image streaming will increase your IQ. This claim is highly dubious, and I doubt that any of the traditions listed above have ever claimed image streaming will help in this regard. 

Second, we have tons of research demonstrating just how powerful practices like deity meditation are for enhancing the efficiency of your visuospatial processing. You’ll also want to check out the summaries of many scientific studies and brain scans in Andrew Newberg and Robert Waldman’s How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain

brain scans

Finally, the positive experiences I had with image streaming using the Memory Palace technique have been confirmed many times over.

See for example the exhaustive research conducted by Dr. Tim Dalgleish.

Dalgleish has shown how “streaming” positive memories can relieve clinical depression – which is exactly what happened to me years before I knew such studies existed.

How To Practice Image Streaming

As Wenger describes it, image streaming involves observing and describing mental experiences. 

I would rename this process “passive image streaming.”

All you have to do is: 

  • Find a quiet place to practice, either seated or lying down
  • Use a device to record your voice
  • Talk about what you’re experiencing in detail, perhaps while performing these visualization exercises
  • Use as many multi-sensory aspects of experience as possible
  • Review the recording for any additional ideas it might trigger

I often use image streaming in real time when I can’t concentrate. For example, I will repeat in my own mind what people are saying and really make an effort to mentally experience their references. 

Harrison Ford

In other words, if someone mentions a suspense novel, then I will think about a movie in the genre and an actor like Harrison Ford. The image streaming resulting from this simple practice has been tremendous for feeling more connected in conversations and remembering more about them.

What if you have aphantasia? You might want to try some of the processes I shared with AphantasiaMeow when we talked about using mind mapping as a potential aphantasia cure.

How To Practice Active Image Streaming

At the end of the day, streaming imagery with a goal works a lot better. 

And as I tell many people who ask me about this kind of visualization, the Memory Palace technique is one of the best ways to combine a goal with image streaming. 

To get started:

  • Choose something you want to remember (like vocabulary, songs, numbers or names)
  • Use associations in the Memory Palace to help you memorize the information
  • Use Recall Rehearsal to “stream” through the Memory Palaces
  • Use multi-sensory associations as you proceed

If you need a bit of help getting started, please try this image streaming guided meditation:

How To Make Active Image Streaming Multi-Sensory

To enact this tip on multi-sensory image streaming, I like to follow a pattern I call KAVE COGS:

  • Kinesthetic
  • Auditory
  • Visual
  • Emotional
  • Conceptual
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory
  • Spatial

As you go through a Memory Palace or just think through things, always try to touch on each of those sensory experiences.

One of my favorite ways to stream in real time is to recite a long piece of literature, like the Ribhu Gita. I live streamed my recitation as a memory demonstration here:

As you can tell, the process is very peaceful and rewarding.

And one reason why is that I am experiencing multiple sensations using KAVE COGS as I go along. You can literally stream those sensations in that order, which is especially useful when trying to remember things you’ve memorized.

If you’d like to learn how to memorize anything, learn how to master the Memory Palace for this kind of image streaming here:

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course


The Real Benefits Of Streaming Image After Image

Some people might think I’ve been a bit sour in this post by pointing out issues in Wenger’s use of the term “image streaming.”

However, I think it’s important, and maintain that skepticism is one of the great keys to remembering better. 

I rarely use passive image streaming myself because it happens to us all the time anyway. Our minds wander and we get lost in fantasy. Sure, you can initiative this kind of mind wandering intentionally during a visualization meditation, but typically we want to develop our focus, not weaken it.

So I prefer to switch the strange habit of “mind wandering” into a tool. When I notice I’m drifting during a conversation, I pull myself back by using the conversation itself as a catapult into image streaming.

And as I’ve hoped to show, many traditions stream imagery. They have done so for thousands of years. And as Lynne Kelly has shown in The Memory Code, the use of the Memory Palace is prehistoric. People have been using active image streaming for thousands of years. 

So what do you say? 

Are you ready to start experimenting with these two kinds of image streaming, passive and active? 

Image streaming is a powerful technique. The trick is to understand it correctly and avoid pseudoscience versions. This post shows you how. Image streaming is a powerful technique. The trick is to understand it correctly and avoid pseudoscience versions. This post shows you how. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 33:15
The Importance of Philosophy: 7 Life-Changing Reasons Fri, 03 Nov 2023 07:09:05 +0000 If you want to benefit from sharper thinking, this is why philosophy is important. Discover how philosophy gives you a superior mind now. why is philosophy important feature imageWhy study philosophy?

After all, aren’t philosophers just a bunch of people who use big words in unreadable books?

I mean, think about it…

Half the time it seems like they’re preaching to us about how we should act in the world while they bumble through their personal lives.

Although that assumption can prove true more often than I’d like, the importance of philosophy is not owned by philosophers.

It’s also not necessarily the “love of wisdom” as people often translate it from the ancient Greek, φιλοσοφία.

As Emmanuel Levinas put it, we might do better if we think about philosophy as “the wisdom of love.”

I find Levinas’ formulation useful because it reveals how better thinking can help us discover what’s truly important in life. 

And when we focus on allowing the love in wisdom to guide us, we will almost certainly respond to our fellow citizens from an elevated position.

Sure, it might not involve “love” as such in a personal way, but it will certainly involve much higher levels of care.

Why is Philosophy Important? 7 Life-Changing Reasons

In What is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari suggest that opinion is chaos.

When you look at social media sites like Twitter, you almost feel like they must have had the ability to peer into the future when they wrote this book back in 1991.

But if there’s one reason above all that makes philosophy important, it’s the reduction of random, chaotic influence. The more you develop yourself philosophically, the more you can avoid being yanked around by the chaos of opinion.

With this point as our governing theme, let’s explore a few more reasons philosophy is so important.

Systematic Analysis

As different views and opinions flood the news and social media, instead of taking them at face value, you can use philosophical tools to pick them apart.

How? There are at least 9 critical thinking strategies you can use. The more of these tools you have in your mental toolbox, the more you can overcome barriers that impede your thinking.

By practicing this kind of analysis, you’ll also be better at perceiving systems as such. They are everywhere and being able to spot them has a lot to do with our next point.

a woman is sitting on a barrier

Thinking philsophically helps you perceive and then remove the barriers that hinder your life.

Know When You’re Being Influenced

Unfortunately, we’re all gullible from time to time.

But the more we analyze the world around us, the more we can steep ourselves in positive influences while draining out the bad.

And it’s important to note that even useful sources can sometimes deliver unhelpful ideas. We need to be able to spot influence as such. That way we can properly evaluate it.

These critical thinking books will help you develop the ability to seek top quality influences in your life and weed out the poor performers.

Interpret & Respond Optimally

Events in the world create all kinds of emotional responses. 

But when you’re well-versed in philosophy, you’re equipped with a kind of “science of emotions.” You’re better able to perceive when you’re being irrational and use abstract thinking to pull away from your gut response.

Now, you might be thinking, “Hang on, people keep telling me that I need to listen to my gut response, not ignore it.”

True, there are some cases where you want to listen to your gut. Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear has been personally helpful on that front.

a girl is listening with her eye closed

Following your intuition is great – but only in certain contexts. Thinking philosophically can help make sure you’re using the right tools at the right times.

But in many areas of life, listening to your gut just doesn’t stand to reason. In fact, in Decisive, Dan and Chip Heath share research that strongly demonstrates going with your instincts is all-too-often one of the worst things you can do. Their W.R.A.P. technique is a fantastic little philosophical tool that helps you avoid irrational decisions so you can respond to life optimally.

Evaluate Ideas

A large part of thinking rationally involves knowing the value of various ideas.

For example, take two people, John and Cindy. They both buy the same book.

John says, “It was $20 dollars, but I only got one idea out of it. I went on to buy five other books and ultimately never did anything with that original idea.”

Cindy says, “I only got one idea out of the book, but it was only $20 and even though it was just one idea, I managed to put that idea to work in my business. It increased profitability by thousands of dollars.”

Albeit simplistic, this example shows that Cindy evaluates ideas differently than John. Keeping our principle of philosophy as a form of active thinking in mind, she gives the idea life by using it.

She also makes it valuable by putting it into action.

As you explore philosophy, you’ll find that you can better evaluate many ideas. You’ll also reduce the kind of judgmentalism that causes you to dismiss ideas that could be extraordinarily valuable if you put them into action.

Understand the Law

Many people do not realize that the laws governing them were arrived at based on philosophical thinking.

The more you learn about philosophy, the more you’ll be able to see how philosophical ideas shape the rules of your society. And this means you’ll be able to participate in how they are crafted in a more integral way.

You can also start to see how governments lead heavily on mimetic behavior, which means shaping your desire based on the desires you see in others. This process is the basis of all propaganda, but it starts with philosophical ideas we can see in some of the earliest philosophers.

confucius sculpture

For example, Confucius talks a lot about imitating not just what the ancients did, but also to desire what they desired. Likewise, Mozi advised kings to promote certain kinds of behaviors so that others in society would imitate them. See Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy for these references.

Spot and Resolve Contradictions

The human species is incredibly complex.

And our success on the planet is difficult to understand because we contradict ourselves all the time.

Yet, thanks to the mental tools we’ve developed using philosophy, we’ve managed to thrive.

In many ways, the technological projects we’re engaged in are trying to resolve human contradictions. From memory implants to AI, it often feels like the human species is under attack.

By the same token, we’ve always had this relationship with our technologies. Plato worried about how our technology might be able to copy itself and run rampant. Mary Shelly imagined Frankenstein’s monster taking vengeance on his creator for neglect and there are many other fantasies that philosophize about our inadequate human behaviors. They ask questions like:

Although we clearly no better than to damage ourselves and our entire planet, why don’t we do better?

Although we still rarely find consensus on the answers our philosophizing helps us produce, we’re lucky to have the thinking tools more available than ever before. We can consult all the major philosophers, often for free, just by searching Project Gutenberg and Youtube.

two people are searching on their laptop and drinking tea

Understand Your Thinking Style

In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche tells us that Heraclitus was essentially his hero. During what appears to have been a period of great discomfort for the philosopher, Nietzsche seems to have taken great solace in this connection.

As you read philosophy, you’ll encounter multiple styles of thinking and learn more about yourself as you’re drawn to some and have a harder time relating to others.

This does not mean that you reject those who don’t resonate with you as invalid. It just helps you gain perspective on who you are and gives you a basis for reflecting on how and why you came to be that way.

These perspectives will sometimes challenge and even destabilize your self-perception. But as we know from the example of Nietzsche, finding points of comparison can be tremendously stabilizing too.

All the more reason to keep reading a wide variety of philosophers from multiple cultures and time periods. The ability to compare multiple perspectives is personally rewarding and provides great brain exercise.

Why Study Philosophy?

I think the number one reason to study philosophy is that we all practice active thinking each and every day to solve our problems.

a man is thinking problems in front of a board

Why wouldn’t we want to get better at it?

Philosophy is unique in that it is the one field of human endeavor that still makes sense to read historically.

Here’s what I mean:

It might be a novelty to read the earliest books on chemistry. But it won’t help you use contemporary chemistry very much, if at all.

But when it comes to philosophy, it’s possible to gain tremendous value from going as deep into history as possible. We learn as much from the oldest philosophical books as we do from the new ones.

Indeed, in many cases, we cannot understand many books of philosophy without knowing at least a little about the earliest philosophers.

Sure, you can read Plato and get a great deal out of it. But you get even more out of it if you’ve also read and put some thought into the Pre-Socratics to whom Plato was responding.

And this feature of philosophy means that you stand to receive endless rewards.

The study of philosophy is deeply pleasurable. And all the more so when you can remember the philosophy that you read.

To help you out with that, please register for my FREE Memory Improvement Course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

This exclusive program teaches you the Memory Palace technique with key exercises that help you excel in using it.

That way, when you come across the names of philosophers in articles like this one, you’ll be able to remember them. You’ll also be able to remember the names of their books and key concepts too.

As a result, you’ll be able to put their ideas into action. Again, action is essential. Without it, you cannot craft your own personal philosophy. You’ll struggle to increase your personal delight with the quality of your mind each and every day.

So what do you say?

Do you agree that philosophy is one of the most important mental activities in the world?

And are you ready to deepen your relationship with it?

I know I sure am. As a practice with no end in sight.

If you want to benefit from sharper thinking, this is why philosophy is important. Discover how philosophy gives you a superior mind now. If you want to benefit from sharper thinking, this is why philosophy is important. Discover how philosophy gives you a superior mind now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 38:55
Binaural Beats And Memory: Can This Crazy Music Make You Smarter? Thu, 02 Nov 2023 12:36:02 +0000 Have you heard that binaural beats help improve memory? The truth is that music really can help improve your memory. But the truth about binaural beats for memory may shock you. Binaural Beats and Memory Improvement Magnetic Memory Method PodcastIt’s a popular perception among many people that listening to binaural beats has a special effect on the brain.

They think binaural beats can help you follow a diet or stop smoking.

Or they think these sounds can amp you up for a competition or calm you down, or even improve memory recall, focus and concentration.

The question is…

Doesn’t listening to any type of relaxing music have a similar effect?


In this post, we’ll find out if listening to specific frequencies can have a better impact on your mental prowess than listening to Mozart for Pink Floyd!

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

What Are Binaural Beats?


The word binaural means “having or relating to two ears.”

The process works by sending a slightly different sound frequency to each ear. This has to be done simultaneously and through earphones or headphones.

When two different pure tones are presented separately but simultaneously to each ear of a listener, the listener hears the illusion of a third tone.

This third does “appears” in addition to the two pure-tones presented to each ear. And it is this third tone that is called a binaural beat.

Let’s break this down:

When you play a 350 Hertz (Hz) tone in the left ear and a 360 Hertz tone in the right, it yields a beat with a frequency of 10 Hertz. This third beat is the binaural beat.

The brain then uses a process known as ‘frequency following response’ to follow along at the new frequency (10 Hz). This process produces brainwaves at that rate of Hertz.  

However, this outcome (apparently) occurs only if the the difference matches the alpha frequency range that lies between 7-11 Hz.

Music or white noise embedded with binaural beats is very often used along with different meditation techniques and positive affirmations to gain varying results.

In the memory training and memory improvement world, some claim you will experience results ranging from improvement in recall, concentration, focus, creativity and alertness.

There is more:

Listening to these beats is also said to provide relaxation, stress reduction, pain management, and improved sleep quality.


Who Heard Them First?
A Brief History of Binaural Beats


Binaural beats were first described in 1839 by Prussian scientist H.W. Dove.

However, it was Gerald Oster’s article in Scientific American in 1973 that brought this process to modern attention.

According to Oster, the tones needed to produce binaural beats had to be relatively low-frequency and the beats themselves were in the range of one to 30 hertz. This is the range the human brainwave frequencies fall in.

What to know the real story?

Humans have the ability to “hear” binaural beats as a result of evolutionary adaptation.

“Many evolved species can detect binaural beats because of their brain structure. The frequencies at which binaural beats can be detected change depending upon the size of the species’ cranium. In the human, binaural beats can be detected when carrier waves are below approximately 1000 Hz.” (Oster, 1973)


The Binaural Process In Real Music


Of course, binaural beats in terms of therapy is quite different than the binaural process found in music. This process was apparently invented by Manfred Shunke who used models of the human head created with the help of computer design software.

As music historian Rob Bowman wrote in the notes for Lou Reed’s Between Thought and Expression:

“The detail was as precise as possible down to the size, shape, and bone structure of the ear and ear canal. Microphones were then designed to fit each ear so, theoretically, what they recorded would be exactly what a human sitting in the position the head was placed would actually hear.”

Binaural Beats To Manage Pain:
Why The Truth Matters For Your Memory


Chronic pain impacts between 10-50% of the adult population, while costing U.S. businesses over $61 billion annually.  

The neuromatrix theory suggests that the brain’s inability to return to a state of equilibrium is at the crux of chronic pain (Melzack, 2001; Melzack, 2005).

Binaural beats has been effective in synchronizing brain waves, also known as entrainment, with an external stimulus (Kennel, Taylor Lyon, & Bourguignon, 2010), and has been associated with a number of positive psychological outcomes (David, Katz, & Naftali, 2010; Lane, Kasian, Owens, & Marsh, 1998).

Research shows that an external audio protocol of theta-binaural beats is effective at reducing perceived change in pain severity.

How does this affect your memory?

The answer is simple:

Pain free people pay better attention to their surroundings.

Freedom from pain means that your levels of focus and concentration are automatically better than when impacted by ongoing or recurrent pain.

Being pain free is especially important for learning, something that requires high levels of concentration.

Kind of like crossword puzzles require high levels of concentration (not that there is much evidence they will improve your memory).

Speaking of which:

Do Gamma Brain Waves Improve Memory & Concentration?


The highest frequency brain waves are apparently called gamma waves. These waves can have a frequency of anywhere between 25 and 100 Hz.

People whose brains produce more gamma waves are said to have greater ability to concentrate, focus and experience higher levels of cognition.

A recent study by Jirakittayakorn and Wongsawat tried to find whether “modulation of the brain activity can lead to manipulation of cognitive functions. The stimulus used in this study was 40-Hz binaural beat because binaural beat induces frequency following response.”

According to the study, listening to 40-Hz binaural beat for 20 minutes enhanced working memory function evaluated by word list recall task.

Does that mean we can change our brainwave patterns by listening to specific sounds?


But also maybe not!

A research project by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist, found that the brainwaves of trained monks who regularly engaged in meditation produced powerful Gamma waves. Whereas the control group – with non-meditating volunteers – had little to no gamma brain waves.

What does this fact imply?

One way to improve concentration is to go Buddha style and practice long-term or short-term meditation.

Within a week of consistent meditation, you can start to experience improved concentration. So long as you’re not letting binaural beats combined with smartphone addiction get in the way.

Meditation can be used to remember something because better concentration has a direct link to improved memory.

But Can Binaural Beats Help Memory?


Not in theory or practice according to a research article by David Siever in 2009 called Entraining Tones and Binaural Beats.

But before we go any further, the actual claims are important to look at.

So let’s take a step back and try understand how binaural beats work.

The proponents of binaural beats claim that it induces brainwave “entrainment.”

This entrainment supposedly influences and drives brainwave activity to a more desired mental state.

More specifically, entrainment is a “synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles” and the process of brainwave entrainment relies on the natural phenomena of synchronization.  

Think of it like this:

When you strike a tuning fork and then place another one next to it, the second tuning fork automatically starts to vibrate at the same frequency.

This is a natural synchronization. Pendulum clocks, metronomes, fireflies are few other examples of natural synchronization.

However, Siever states that entrainment occurs only when a constant and repetitive sound of sufficient strength to “excite” the thalamus is present.

Siever also noted that binaural beats are not very noticeable because the modulation depth (the difference between loud and quiet) is very small at just 3db, a 2 to 1 ratio.

Here’s a longer quote:

“This means that binaural beats are unlikely to produce any significant entrainment because they don’t activate the thalamus. But they do have some hypnotic and relaxing effect by way of dissociation (as does white noise and music).

This outcome may be, in part, due to the Ganzfeld effect. The Ganzfeld effect is the process where the mind quietens as a result of having a monotonous sensory input.

A natural example of the Ganzfeld effect may be experienced while sitting in a large field in the country while staring into the wide, blue sky.  While sitting there, imagine listening to the white noise from the fluttering of leaves on the trees – away from the noise and other stimulation of urban life.

In other words, thanks to the Ganzfeld effect, binaural beats, through passive means, may help a person relax.

If, in theory binaural beats do not produce entrainment, do they produce entrainment and drive brainwaves in reality? The simple answer is NO!”

It’s not just Siever!

In another study, Gerald Oster used an EEG oscilloscope to conclude that binaural beats produce very small evoked potentials within the auditory cortex of the brain.

What does this?

It means that binaural beats are of little benefit in producing AE or auditory entrainment. (Oster, G. (1973). Auditory beats in the brain. Scientific American)

Researcher Dale S. Foster also found that binaural beats in the alpha frequency produced no more alpha brainwaves than listening to a surf sound.

Here’s Foster’s conclusion:

“The analysis of variance of the data revealed that there were no significant differences in alpha production either within sessions across conditions or across sessions.

Although alpha production was observed to increase in the binaural-beats condition early in some sessions, a tendency was observed for the subjects to move through alpha into desynchronized theta, indicating light sleep.

Subjective reports of “dozing off” corroborated these observations. These periods of light sleep — almost devoid of alpha — affected the average alpha ratios.”


A More Effective Way To Gain Mental Prowess


The beauty of the human brains is that it needs a goal to improve.

Your memory improvement training should always be linked to memorizing information that will immediately improve your life. 4x Australian memory champion Tansel Ali agrees.

Moreover, the memory improvement activities should always be measurable since tracking your outcomes leads to rapid improvement.

This is where the secret method of building Memory Palaces the Magnetic Memory Method way comes into play.

Using this Method, you not only get to remember the information faster, but also get predictable and reliable permanence that grows in strength each time.

Even better:

All other memory techniques including listening to binaural beats can be used inside of Memory Palaces.

But this never takes place the other way around (For example, you can’t use Memory Palaces inside of the Major Method the way you can use the Major Method inside of Memory Palaces.)

If you are looking for a complete brain workout try this brain fitness method…

Free Memory Palace Memory Improvement Course

You can also see more Unconventional Techniques Guaranteed To Help You Conjure Your Best-Ever Ideas.

The Ultimate Memory Improvement Beats?
Listen to Music That Inspires!


Use sound beats or music as a means of relaxation, rejuvenation or inspiration.

When you feel relaxed and inspired you can create effective Magnetic Imagery that will enable you to build better Memory Palaces to improve recall, retention and memory.

Now is that music to your ears, or what?

Have you heard that binaural beats help improve memory? The truth is that music really can help improve your memory. But the truth about binaural beats for memory may shock you. Have you heard that binaural beats help improve memory? The truth is that music really can help improve your memory. But the truth about binaural beats for memory may shock you. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 16:40
Beyond Mnemonics: Exploring the Road to Enlightenment With 3x USA Memory Champ John Graham Tue, 31 Oct 2023 04:56:03 +0000 John Graham shares how he won the USA Memory Championship for the third time. And we discuss some of his recent "mystical" experiences. John Graham feature imageBelieve it or not, using mnemonics can make you feel so great, it’s almost like your head is going to explode.

On the one hand, it sounds obvious.

When you can remember more, boosts in mood completely make sense.

But what about feelings that are even more intense.

Such as experiencing an “awakening”?

Or even reaching a state of enlightenment?

Not only do I believe it’s possible.

I’ve read many accounts of such experiences in the memory improvement literature.

I’ve even had mystical experiences myself.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to talk with John Graham about it when he asked me about strange occurrences I’ve written and talked about a lot over the past few years.

The only question is…

What do we believe about our experiences?

That’s what John Graham and I discuss in this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast.

Who Is John Graham?

John is an incredibly accomplished mnemonist. In addition to being a memory athlete and memory expert, he’s extremely knowledgeable about focus and concentration – especially for business professionals who struggle with anxiety.

John also have some next level memory training concepts that explain why he performs so well when it comes to winning at memory events like the USA Memory Championship.

Why Talk About Enlightenment?

The simple answer is…

I don’t know.

Free will – and its absence – is one of the key ideas that come up around topics of awakening and enlightenment.

In fact, abandoning the sense of self is a hallmark of how many people talk about these experiences.

We’ve seen it in the memory tradition from people like Ramon Llull and Giordano Bruno. Indeed, in On the Shadows of the Ideas, Bruno says he has light bursting out of his eyes thanks to his experiences with using memory techniques.

You also find similar themes in St. Augustine’s work on memory. It’s a thread in Yates’ infamous Art of Memory. And in a very subtle way, the concept shows its face in Moonwalking with Einstein when Joshua Foer meets Tony Buzan and learns about becoming a “Warrior of the Mind.”

I’m grateful to John for holding the conversation. Thinking critically through experiences like these is important.

What do you think about memory training leading to states of enlightenment?

Have you had similar experiences?

John Graham shares how he won the USA Memory Championship for the third time. And we discuss some of his recent "mystical" experiences. John Graham shares how he won the USA Memory Championship for the third time. And we discuss some of his recent "mystical" experiences. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 1:31:39
Why Is Critical Thinking Important? 5 Compelling Reasons Wed, 25 Oct 2023 22:55:10 +0000 Want to know why critical thinking is important? The answer actually isn't obvious. But after reading this post it will be. why is critical thinking important feature imageIf you’re wondering why critical thinking is important, you might be tired of the same old explanations. 

The economy needs smart people…

Critical thinkers are more creative…

It makes you sound smarter…

Well, yes. All of those things are true. 

But most posts only scratch the surface.

On this page, we’re going to go much deeper into the topic.

And we’re going to use critical thinking to do it.


Let’s go!

What Is Critical Thinking?

Technically speaking, critical thinking boils down to two things:

  • Objective analysis
  • Accurate judgment

Once you have those two things in place, you can make better decisions. Predictably. 

But a number of skills have to be in place before you can rely on this ability. You need:

  • Care and concern for the truth
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Interpretation
  • Ability to judge the credibility of sources
  • Ability to ask questions that clarify the issue at hand
  • Inference
  • Open-mindedness
  • Self-correction and the desire to improve
  • Ability to defend your decisions

Historically, we can look to thinkers like Confucius and Plato. They looked not only at how individuals think, but tried to balance each self against entire societies. 

a woman is thinking in front of a white board

A true critical thinker is not trapped in his or her own mind, after all. They’re able to see the big picture and realize that individual minds are not merely influenced by other minds. They are constructed by them. 

According to Jonathan Haber in Critical Thinking, Aristotle is the first great critical thinker because he categorized and organized his thoughts about the world in the context of what others thought. 

In this vein, Aristotle worked on biology, politics, drama, logic, rhetoric and other thought processes. These categories still serve as what Haber calls “the building blocks of education.” 

Why Is Critical Thinking Important?

So if you want to know why critical thinking is important, it really boils down to exactly Haber’s point:

Because we have learned to think critically, we have those building blocks. We’re able to educate ourselves and others so that societies around the world can experience progress. 

yellow and brown chess

Another way to look at it is like this:

When humans weren’t capable of thinking very well, we suffered a lot more. But as our thinking abilities have grown, our suffering has decreased. Stephen Pinker is one of many thinkers who have demonstrated the validity of this point in books like Enlightenment Now.

But we’re still just scratching the surface. Let’s look at some more reasons:

One: Understanding Probability & Likelihood

A lot of human history has involved guessing. People literally had no way of knowing what the weather would be like tomorrow, let alone making predictions about the stock market that could potentially make them rich.

In today’s world, we learn to think probabilistically from a very young age. It’s a common part of mental strength that helps us avoid leading ourselves into traps.

I’m talking about traps like golden handcuffs, or its alternative, slave’s luck. These are contemporary terms for the old phrase “selling your soul to the devil.” 

Because more and more people use critical thinking to see how employers trap them with false incentives and can use research to avoid miserable jobs, the world gets better. 

The more people think through the probabilities of future happiness, the better everything gets for everyone. 

And it’s not just about the future. Reflective thinking helps you tap into your past for important context.

a woman laying on the floor and thinking

Context is important for our next point:

Two: Comparison and Contrast

Would you agree that eating a ripe orange is better than eating a rotten one? 

If you just said, “yes,” that’s because you know how to compare and contrast two different things. 

Critical thinking relies on this all the time for much more consequential issues in life. But this simple example demonstrates the importance of distinguishing between things. 

Three: Defining and Using Definitions

In Critical Thinking, Robert Ennis offered the FRISCO model to help define critical thinking:

  •  Focus: identify the focus or central concern
  •  Reason: identify and judge the acceptability of the reasons
  •  Inference: judge the quality of the inference, assuming the reasons to be acceptable
  •  Situation: pay close attention to the situation
  •  Clarity: check to be sure that the language is clear
  •  Overview: step back and look at it everything as a whole

a woman is looking at her laptop

There’s a reason that he starts this problem solving model with identifying the central issue. That’s because we need to be able to define things in order to make effective decisions. 

And once we can define things, we need to be able to compare and contrast various definitions.

Four: Putting Solutions Into Action

Have you heard of “analysis paralysis”?

Too many people fall into it, but it’s not the fault of critical thinking. It’s coming from a lack of having effective critical thinking strategies.

This criticism is valid because true critical thinkers must take action once they’ve decided what to do. 

If you don’t take action, you rob yourself of data. You cannot analyse results you haven’t produced, which prevents you from thinking at all. 

Everyone has the cognitive capacity to take action once they’ve made a decision. So if you’re getting stuck, try these critical thinking exercises.

Five: Metacognition

Remember when I said at the beginning we were going to use critical thinking itself in this post?

We’re going to use it now because I was tempted to raise this point and define it very simply as our ability to think about thinking.

blue shirt woman thinking and writing on her notebook

According to Julianna Benson in Metacognition, we have to go beyond “cognition about cognition” as the definition of this term. 

Metacognition is definitely that, but it also involves:

  • Perceiving that thinking is taking place
  • Monitoring the thinking process without losing perception

This is why critical thinking skills are important. We can’t rely on simplicity to get ahead in life. We need to dig deeper into complexity.

Nothing new about that. 

For example, critical thinking practices blended with meditation have been around for a long time. Advaita Vedanta, Chan and Zen use various means of helping you perceive your thoughts and maintain the ability to monitor them without interruption.

Developing these abilities lead to better pattern recognition, which can help you learn a language faster

It can also help you avoid the “groupthink” issues researchers have proven come from poor learning techniques like rote learning

One simple technique can use to start practicing metacognition today is covered in Gary Weber’s Evolving Beyond Thought. I discussed its impact on my own life at a TEDx event:

When You’re A Critical Thinker…

We’ve covered a lot today. And we’re not even scratching the surface of what’s available in these critical thinking books and examples. And that’s not to mention the value of learning how to use abstract thinking.

Nonetheless, we’re off to a strong start. I’ve shown you how to remember critical thinking principles, and memorizing has been scientifically shown to help you reason at a high level even during your senior years.

But you want to know what I feel is the most important and most beneficial reason we all need to be critical thinkers? 

It’s this:

When you’re a critical thinker, you’re never alone. 

That’s right. 

Loneliness disappears completely because you have joined a group of people who care about the truth. 

Not only that.

This group of exclusive individuals is also always preparing to take action based on the truth. 

That’s fantastic company indeed. 

But if you’re still struggling to develop critical thinking skills, it might be a memory issue.

To fix that, please consider grabbing my free memory improvement kit.  It will help you remember everything we discussed today, and become a person of action.

Free Memory Improvement Course

At the end of the day, action, and taking the right actions consistently is what success is all about.



Want to know why critical thinking is important? The answer actually isn't obvious. But after reading this post it will be. Want to know why critical thinking is important? The answer actually isn't obvious. But after reading this post it will be. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 22:55
How to Become Fluent in a Language: Everything You Need to Know Sun, 22 Oct 2023 08:18:35 +0000 Need to learn a new language and become conversationally fluent? This article will teach you how to learn a language fast and fluently. How to Become Fluent in a Language: Everything You Need to KnowIf you want to become conversationally fluent, you might wonder how many words and phrases you need to learn.

You probably also want to know how long it’s going to take to tie enough threads of the language together to speak without hesitation.

You also want the certainty that the language will in fact wind up deep down inside you and become part of your being.

On this page, you’ll discover the best way to become fluent in a language — and how to define fluency in the first place.

It’s not exactly what a lot of people think. In fact, when you define “fluency” in the best possible way, you can achieve goals in the languages you want to learn with incredible speed and efficiency.

Here’s what this post will cover:

Let’s begin.

What Does It Mean To Be Fluent?

Let’s start our definition by ruling out what fluency isn’t.

A neon sign with white letters against a black background reads "blahblahblah."

Fluency is not:

  • Being 100% accurate every time you speak
  • Knowing every single word in a language
  • Mastering grammar

Think about your own mother tongue.

Do you say things 100% perfectly every time you speak? Of course not. We all stutter sometimes or forget simple words we’ve known our entire lives.

Likewise, any honest person who looks through a dictionary will find hundreds of words they do not know in their mother tongue.

As for grammar, I remember showing off in German to my friend Olly Richards in Berlin several years ago.

When I asked someone I was speaking to if my grammar was correct, the native German speaker shrugged and looked at me as if I was insane for asking such a question.

Here’s the point of this story about asking a native German speaker if my grammar was correct:

Very few native speakers actually know much about their mother tongue. And that means in order to become proficient in a language, you don’t have to either.

The 5 Stages of Language Fluency

As you start learning a language, you’re going to go through phases or stages.

The number five, printed in black lettering on a white background. The five stages of language fluency are described below.

These can be broken down into:

1. Zero knowledge of the language.

You literally don’t know a thing. You might not even know what the language is called in the language you’re learning. (For example, German is called Deutsch.)

2. Basics of the language, like the alphabet.

In different languages, you’ll face different demands depending on the character set and any symbols you need to learn. Obviously, Asian languages have bigger demands than Russian with Cyrillic, or you might lose a few letters when learning a language like Italian.

3. Starting to speak.

In this stage, you will perhaps have a few words and phrases you can use. You may be practicing entirely on your own or with a teacher.

4. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

In this stage, you’ll ramp up your efforts by using what is called The Levels Of Processing. You need to combine multiple forms of input and output in order to consolidate what you’re learning.

5. Flying solo.

This is when you are able to hold conversations that flow — or at least accomplish goals. You’ll usually find this incredibly pleasurable, but all that matters is that you can understand and be understood pretty much on demand.

You can start understanding interesting aspects of a language at all of these levels. You really don’t have to wait for the fifth stage to understand innuendo, for example. Even just knowing a bit about how certain letters are sounded can give you access to the psychological experience of the language.

You can also work on your accuracy at each stage. In fact, you’ll want to keep coming back to hone the accuracy of each stage over time.

For example, I’ve been studying Sanskrit for three years, and I still learn new things just about the alphabet.


How To Become Fluent In A Language Fast: 8 Powerful Tips

You came here to understand how to learn a language fluently, so let’s get into 8 things you can do to reach fluency fast.

1. Create a Vision Statement and a Learning Plan

Realize that there are good rules of thumb but no one path that suits everyone. It’s important to accept this simple fact.

Your journey will share some common characteristics with other learners, but ultimately it’s your path to follow.

To ensure you have a path to follow, I suggest you write out a Vision Statement and craft a learning plan.

For example, you can get a journal to document your journey and start on page one with a statement like this:

I will be fluent enough in German in 90 days from now to hold my first conversation about my interests and future plans.

Can you see how powerful this simple statement is? Instead of saying, “I want to learn German,” (or whatever language you’re learning) you now have a clear and crisp goal. It is concrete and specific.

You can also develop a plan based on this goal thanks to its specificity. You know that you need to learn words and phrases around interests and plans. This allows you to create highly targeted learning missions.

To do that, I suggest writing out the exact times of day and locations you will study your language.

For example, you can create a calendar in your journal and set mornings from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for learning.

2. Gather the Best Possible Learning Materials Using Limits

A lot of language learners overwhelm themselves with too many study materials. In today’s world, it’s easy to make this mistake — it seems like every minute there’s a new book or course you can take.

A stack of language learning books spread out on a table. Learning how to speak fluently can be overwhelming if you use too many materials.

Instead, follow the advice my friend Olly Richards gave me years ago. Pick just:

In the beginning, you might not know which are the best for you, so be willing to experiment. Generally, your research will be worth every minute and there are lots of reviews you can read.

Personally, I think Pimsleur audio programs are decent in the beginning for the course you choose. A book should have a nice vocabulary list and sample conversations with full phrases. And a teacher should be responsive to your vision statement and your learning plan.

Simple, right?

It is, just so long as you don’t fall for “shiny new language resource” syndrome and abandon the resources you’ve already invested in. Be a completionist and you’ll be well rewarded.

3. Pick a Memorization Strategy

When you’re just getting started, remembering new words is one of the most difficult challenges. You have to remember sound, meaning, spelling, and in some cases characters or new alphabets.

Mnemonics are your best bet for moving quickly. These include:

To learn each of these in one swift course, please consider completing Memory Palace Mastery:

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

That’s what Amanda Markham did. Then, in just 10 days, she memorized 200 words in her target language.

You’ll also want to consider combining the Memory Palace technique with self-created flash cards.

For example, these cards have linking associations and are themselves linked to a Memory Palace:

Chinese language-learning flashcards. Anthony uses images like these to reach fluency fast.

4. Book Sessions With Your Teacher In Advance

As part of planning your personal learning sessions, it’s important to spend time with a native speaker.

There are at least two ways to do this:

  1. With a paid teacher
  2. With a tandem partner

Personally, I recommend you get a paid teacher. Sometimes you can find good tandem partners, but they always want at least half the time for their language. Plus, they are rarely trained teachers.

A language teacher looks over a worksheet with a student.

That said, paid teachers are not without their pitfalls. This is why having your vision statement and specific goals laid out for them is a must. Otherwise, they will often take you in directions that will not get you to fluency under any definition.

And the reason to book your sessions in advance is so you have them scheduled. When you have already paid and just need to show up, you’re much more likely to put in the time.

For finding teachers, I recommend italki and Tandem.

5. Use This Tip With Native Speakers

One of the best things you can do is book many sessions with a native speaker and sit with a magazine. Flip through the pages and simply ask, “What is that?” Repeat this question and record everything.

I share a really fun and easy tool for doing this in this best language learning software article.

Two women work at a table with their laptops in front of large glass windows.

When you get home or after you end the session, go through the recording and capture the words and phrases you want to commit to memory. Then use your favorite memory strategy to learn them permanently.

When you next speak with your partner, make sure to repeat the new words you’ve learned. Don’t expect your teachers or speaking partners to always monitor this perfectly. Take charge to make sure that you are in alignment with your vision and goals.

6. Read Stories

I first read Kafka and Brecht in German while in university, in 2001. I quickly learned the power of stories for picking up new vocabulary and phrases.

A stack of books. Reading stories can help you become conversationally fluent.

Of course, Kafka was too complex. But Brecht plays can be watched on video with English subtitles, and this made audio exposure to the language a delight.

You can also buy DVDs that have subtitles in the language you’re learning. Watching Hamlet with the German words on the screen was hugely beneficial for me.

But don’t ignore old fashioned books. I suggest this Teach Yourself collection of stories for multiple languages as a wonderful source of graded reading material.

Beelingua is an interesting app with multiple stories that you should consider as well.

7. Translate Articles Based On Your Interests

My friend Luca Lampariello got me into the idea of translation for language learning — specifically based around topics you’re interested in and want to be able to talk about.

I’ve done this quite a bit, and picking a book of interviews with my favorite German band was a great way to develop speaking powers with the kinds of Germans I hung around with most: musicians.

A rock band plays on stage. The view of the stage and lights is from in the audience.

Again, if you’re clear about your vision, it’s easier to think up missions like these and plan them out.

To get started, try using Google translate to find some keywords. If you’re into classical music, for example, figure out how that is said in the language you’re learning. Then search Google for articles about that topic using the term you discovered.

To translate, I suggest going word for word with a dictionary. Write out your translation by hand, which is known to help memory much more than typing.

Pro tip: I recommend that you don’t spend too long on any translation effort in one sitting. 10-15 minutes will do. Always take note of especially interesting words and phrases so you can memorize them.

8. Reevaluate Your Vision Statement And Craft New Missions

Thanks to the focus you’ve brought to the task of developing your fluency, you’ll have come a long way much faster than most who dabble in language learning.

A tower viewer (binoculars on a stand) overlooks an out of focus horizon at sunset.

As you set new vision statements over the years, think about the kinds of missions and goals you can set that will give you a useful boost immediately. This part of the process is important because the further into the future you set the achievements, the more you invite delay and frustration.

Be willing to break things down into smaller achievements. Even if the rewards are much smaller as a result, you’ll get more of them, more often.

And always be realistic about how native speakers actually use the language you’re learning. Think more about the kinds of people you want to speak with and think about working on missions that reflect goals like:

  • Improving accuracy in a regional dialect you live in or want to visit.
  • Developing more vocabulary inside of a specific interest area (like art, science, or philosophy).
  • Develop personal ways to develop your proficiency.
  • Consider having your accuracy and proficiency tested by external tests (if relevant to your goals). Use these to craft your missions accordingly.

In sum, we always want to create “Quick Victories” for ourselves.

It’s not really about creating motivation. Rather, it’s about laying the neurochemical basis for learning consistently so we always keep going – almost on autopilot – even when we don’t feel like studying. (Which can and will happen to everyone.)

Finally, add a bit of “Zen” to the process. By this suggestion, I mean let go of the outcome.

A lot of learners chase away success because they cling to unrealistic goals or otherwise make a poorly conceived outcome a must. When you can relax and focus on having fun, learning a language is not only more fun and much easier, it also feels like it’s just happening naturally.

As some people say, no one “learns” languages. They are only acquired. For that to happen, you just have to rig the game so you can. Mnemonics and other visualization strategies related to goal completion aren’t the only tools, but they certainly help.

Becoming Conversationally Fluent Is Easy And Fun

As you can tell, the exact definition of “fluency” is flexible. I suggest you mix things up by crafting your own personal standard and working towards at least one external evaluation.

A gray stone laid in the ground with yellow text that reads, "A translation from one language to another."

Whatever you do, please don’t confuse using apps as actual language learning practice.

I haven’t included anything about them in this article because they’re not really how successful language learners operate. At most, they might use Anki or some related SRS program, but I have found in my many years of speaking with polyglots that it’s not the tool.

Instead, it’s the strategic use of the tool in a context that gets you plenty of speaking practice with real humans that matters.

When it comes to making sure you can speak with natives, one of the most powerful tools is the Memory Palace technique. It lets you rapidly pile up your arsenal of words and phrases.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use it for language learning, register for this free training series now. It will take you through the most effective and efficient way you can learn any language much faster.

In fact, it will help you learn anything new. And all simply by playing a kind of game in your mind as you use a focused set of resources.

It’s also the best tool I know of for rigging the game neurologically in your favor because of how it gives you those “quick victories” practically on demand.

Plus, we have studies that show how powerful these techniques are for experiencing the brain-preserving benefits of bilingualism.

And let me know: Which of these tips helped you the most? What language or languages are you learning at the moment?

Need to learn a new language and become conversationally fluent? This article will teach you how to learn a language fast and fluently. Need to learn a new language and become conversationally fluent? This article will teach you how to learn a language fast and fluently. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 14:32
The Zettelkasten Method Unleashed: Enjoy Better Note-Taking Fast Thu, 19 Oct 2023 18:11:18 +0000 The Zettelkasten Method is often over-complicated. Discover an easier, faster and more memory-friendly Zettelkasten system now. Zettelkasten feature image of Anthony Metivier with one of his Zettelkasten cardsI’ve been using a Zettelkasten system since 2000 when I learned it in grad school.

However, I’ve noticed that many people make the approach way too complicated!

That’s a shame because the Zettelkasten method is about maximizing flexibility and increasing comprehension and recall.

So on this page, I’ll share with you the interesting history of the Zettelkasten note taking approach.

And I’ll share the incredibly simplified version I’ve used ever since it helped me earn my PhD. It’s helped me learn languages, write books and give talks from the top of my head.


I’ll also show you how you can combine the Zettelkasten approach with the Memory Palace technique.

That way, you’ll enjoy much more high-powered results even faster.


Let’s dive in!

What Is the Zettelkasten Note-Taking Method?

Directly described, “Zettel” means note and “kasten” is the plural for box in German. So a Zettelkasten method is a means of gathering small note together in boxes. This is done not only for organizational purposes, but also to optimize a spaced repetition process that helps form memories faster.

There are many benefits of using this approach:

Flexibility and Interconnectivity: Zettelkasten notes are not isolated entities. Instead, you’re actively interacting and interconnecting the building blocks of knowledge. You are literally building a web-like network of ideas in your mind. As a result, you’re much more likely to experience holistic thinking and enjoy new insights.

Enhanced Retrieval: Zettelkasten enables efficient retrieval of information. With interconnected notes and a well-organized structure, you can easily locate specific notes, follow trains of thought, and access related concepts. This promotes effective learning and idea synthesis.

Creative Sparks: The Zettelkasten method nurtures creativity by encouraging the emergence of unexpected connections and patterns. As you interlink different ideas, innovative insights can arise, leading to novel perspectives and unique solutions to problems.

Knowledge Expansion: By actively engaging with your notes and continually adding to them, the Zettelkasten method promotes deeper understanding and comprehension while reading. It encourages active learning, visualization while reading, reflection, and the expansion of knowledge over time.

Resilience against Information Overload: The Zettelkasten method helps combat information overload. It provides a structured framework for capturing and processing information, helping you filter, prioritize, and make sense of vast amounts of knowledge.

The History of the Zettelkasten

Usually, people trace the Zettelkasten method back to the early 20th century, particularly to the sociologist and information scientist Niklas Luhmann. Luhmann sought a system that could help him manage and connect a vast amount of knowledge and accomodate random ideas.

However, it’s a misconception that Luhmann came up with the idea out of nowhere. To take just one source, Luhmann was inspired by the note taking method used by the renowned polymath and philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Stephen Wolfram has shared some images he took of Leibniz’s notes:

Leibniz Slip Box Pre Zettelkasten Example

A Pre-Zettelkasten Example from the philosopher and mathematician Leibniz.

Other historical influences on Luhmann’s adaptation include Vincent Placcius‘s De arte excerpendi (the art of excerpting).

Pre Zettelkasten example from De arte excerpendi

Placcius organized the notes he took onto slips for distribution in alphabetized slots in a series of wooden boxes. He was apparently legendary for having a prodigious memory.

And no doubt because using this simple note taking approach lends itself to neuroplastic changes to the brain so that it more closely resembles and operates like a dictionary or encyclopedia.

Luhmann’s Contribution to the Zettelkasten Method

Luhmann’s Zettelkasten consisted of index cards or slips of paper, each representing a distinct idea or concept. He meticulously organized and linked these notes using a unique numbering system and cross-references. This structure allowed Luhmann to explore complex topics, make connections, and more effortlessly navigate his intellectual landscape.

Over the years, Luhmann refined and expanded his Zettelkasten, ultimately creating a colossal knowledge repository that housed over 90,000 notes. The Zettelkasten became an integral part of his research, which was considered prolific. Apparently, this approach lead him to make groundbreaking contributions in sociology, systems theory, and communication studies.

The Mind-Blowing Efficiency of the Zettelkasten Structure

Now, rather describing how others have used this approach, let me share the simplified style I’ve used for two decades. I’ve cut out so much unnecessary meta-note taking and kept only the core idea. This has helped me use the Zettelkasten method faster and combine the approach with the Memory Palace technique much more directly.

create your card

But first, what are the meta-note taking structures I’ve cut out?

It’s little markers that identify what kind of note is on the card. For example, making a meta-note that says:

  • Quote
  • Idea
  • Link
  • Etc.

As you’ll see in the Zettelkasten examples I’ll share, quotes have quotation marks around them, so there’s no need to write out the word “quote.” If I want to note that one idea links to another, I’ll simple put “re” on the card, but not make that card special in any way. I’ve not found it useful to do so.

Alright, now that you know more about what I don’t do, let’s break down the exact steps I follow.

How to Use the Zettelkasten Process to Take & Memorize Your Notes

As we go through these steps, please note that there is always a certain amount of flexibility in my personal process. I’m giving you the way it normally plays out, but sometimes there are variations. For example, I might approach extracting notes from a podcast slightly differently than I would from a book.

With that in mind, everything begins with the most important step of all.

Step One: Make Sure The Source Is Worth Taking Notes From

A lot of people struggle to figure out the main points in the books they read. And no doubt. A lot of books are poorly written, which is one of the main reason it can be challenging to read as fast as you might like.

Now, there’s no perfect way to make sure a book is worth making notes from. But as a general process, I try to hit these steps in this order:

  • Check out book reviews from qualified scholars
  • Read reviews from the general public
  • Read the conclusion of the book first to determine the importance the author gives to their own topic
  • Read the most interesting or obviously important chapters first

This simple process saves a ton of time because often the conclusion of a book reveals that the author did not discover anything truly epic.

Anthony Metivier with Mnemonic Methods a Memory Palace book by Robert Fludd

Step Two: Have Your Cards & Other Tools Ready

As I share in my detailed tutorial on how to memorize a textbook, when I read a book, I have a number in mind.

There is no way I’m going to try and extract every single last detail from a book. Why would I? That would involve copying the entire book onto cards.

Instead, I decide that I’m generally going to extract 3-5 big points from each chapter.

And to make sure I’m ready to do that, I bring enough index cards or blank flashcards with me to the library.

Also, I bring a box of sandwich bags.

Weird, right?

Well, when I lived in North America, I used to use elastic bands to gather my cards together per book.

But now that I live in Australia, I’ve found that elastic bands melt and fuse with the cards. Using plastic bags helps keep the cards nice and clean and prevents the rubber from melting into the ink and making my handwriting hard to read.

Anthony Metivier Zettelkasten Method Example

All the Zettelkasten cards related to this book are behind an initial card with the book author and title information. This bag then goes into a shoebox of alphabetically organized cards gathered by book.

Step Three: Follow A (Mostly) Uniform Note Taking Process

Almost without variation, I start my first card for a book with the information from the colophon page: author name, book title, date of publication and publisher.

Although this information may or may not be “mission critical” to know in the future, it’s all part of knowledge and well worth recording and memorizing. Plus, facts like the publisher location and the publication date can help you rapidly assign mnemonic imagery.

For example, by noting that a book is published in 1999, I can think about Jean Chretien as the Canadian Prime Minister, and Bill Clinton as the US President. When I come across the first thing I want to memorize, I automatically have some associations to work with.

On the subsequent cards, I simply jot out quotes and big ideas. If it’s a quote, I put the quote in quotation marks. If it’s an idea or an observation, I don’t.

chunking memory technique example using a flashcard

The bottom right corner of each card always has the book title and the page number from which I’ve drawn the quote or made the observation.

That’s it. Clear, crisp, simple and uniform.

The alternative is that if I’m taking notes from a podcast or video, there are no pages. In these cases, I’ll write out the time the point was made.

Zettelkasten example of a quote drawn from a podcast

This Zettelkasten example reflects a quote drawn from a podcast. Note the time stamp near the bottom right. The speaker and name of the podcast is below the time stamp, a process I follow uniformly.

Step Four: Organize the Cards Alphabetically by Source

Some people like to get fancy. They buy or make wooden cabinets for their cards.

Apart from not having elastic bands melt into my cards, I’m not that fussy.

Instead, I organize my cards into shoeboxes and alphabetize them by title. So if my notes for a book called Nothing are in a plastic baggie, that will appear ahead of my notes from a book called One.

index cards in shoe boxer

Now, you could easily organize your cards by author last name. I’ve done that in the past, but for some reason I now prefer to do it by title.

Alternatively, if I’m reading at home and the set of cards is very small, I will either:

  • Store the cards in the book itself
  • Not use cards at all, but write my own index on the inside cover

Either way, everything is accessible in the order of the information in the source, either by page number or by time stamp.

And it is very helpful that these cards are storable in a tidy manner. I don’t like to have random cards all over the place, except when I’m using them as part of a memorization or book writing project.

Step Five: Cull and Memorize with a Memory Palace

Let’s say that you’ve now got a bunch of cards that you’ve placed in one of more Zettelkasten. You know that you want to memorize the big details.

Go through the cards and separate out the ideas that seem most worth memorizing.

Then, start to place them in a Memory Palace. I often memorize ten ideas per Memory Palace to keep things direct, simple and as fast as possible. But sometimes I’ll use larger Memory Palaces.

The great thing about having the cards marked by title and page order is that when I’m done, all those ideas now go back with the individual bag of cards to which they belong.

Three blank index cards hung on a piece of string with clothespins.

Step Six: Revisit Your Zettelkasten Periodically

As you go about your learning life, you’ll keep adding more cards and memorizing the key points.

But it’s also useful to revisit the cards you’ve collected in the past from time to time.

If you prefer, you can use a dedicated system called the Leitner Box system. I’ve also shared how I use the Leitner system in detail.

Leitner spaced repetition system

The Leitner spaced repetition system helps you manage your exposure by placing accurate and inaccurate flashcards in boxes.

Basically, this approach applies the forgetting curve principle to the Zettelkasten system. Anki is generally based on this algorithm as well.

Personally, I don’t use anything as regimented as this, and that’s largely for two reasons:

  • I use Memory Palaces and this normally allows me to be more casual about when I revisit my Zettelkasten
  • I’m always using active reading tactics, activities that create a natural form of spaced repetition
  • I use Zettelkasten in combination with how I complete courses rapidly
  • I write frequently about the topics I study

When it comes to writing, this topic leads me to share with you yet another powerful learning strategy.

Step Seven: Summarize by Writing and Speaking

Although it’s fantastic to have many big ideas distributed across your easy-to-find Zettelkasten, true synthesis comes when you put the information into your own words.

You don’t have to go to elaborate lengths like building a blog.

Just 250-500 words per book will do. This simple process will stretch your recall of what you read and understood. And it will reveal any gaps in your understanding where you might like to fill in the blanks.

In addition to writing summaries, having ample conversations will also help you engage in the active recall that forms memory and understanding faster. You can also practice memorizing what people say in response while conversing them for extra results.

The Most Powerful Zettelkasten Example On The Planet

On this page, I’ve shared my process for using this powerful learning technique.

But do you know what will make for the best Zettelkasten example you’ll ever find?

The cards you create for yourself.

My simplified method may be too simple for you.

If so, there’s lots of information out there about how to make it more complex.

Or, you might want to simplify it even further.

One way or another, taking action is the ultimate way to reveal just how powerful this technique will be for you.

And if you’re interested in going deeper with this method when it comes to using a Memory Palace Network, grab this free course now:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will give you the full rundown on how to set up properly formed Memory Palaces so you can connect your Zettelkasten cards to them quickly, easily and efficiently.

So what do you say?

Are you ready to explore note taking in a completely new way?

Enjoy the journey and please let me know how it goes!

The Zettelkasten Method is often over-complicated. Discover an easier, faster and more memory-friendly Zettelkasten system now. The Zettelkasten Method is often over-complicated. Discover an easier, faster and more memory-friendly Zettelkasten system now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 17:19
The Art of Memory, Frances Yates & The Rise of Modern Mnemonics Wed, 11 Oct 2023 09:34:49 +0000 The Art of Memory is one of the most successful memory improvement books. But is it any good? And did Frances Yates use mnemonics herself? The Art of Memory By Frances Yates HardcoverThe Art of Memory is one of the most successful memory improvement books of all time.

Ironic, given that its author says she never tried to use the memory techniques she discussed in such detail.

Frances A. Yates made a mark nonetheless.

She was a meticulous researcher and The Art of Memory is not her only book to touch on the world of mnemonics.

Are you interested in the art of memory at large, Yates’ contribution to the tradition of using mnemonics through her famous book and some of the best strategies she uncovered?

If so, let’s dig in and explore what Yates discovered about the method of loci. As we go, we’ll look at some of the historical figures who used the techniques to learn faster and remember more too.

The Woman Behind The Art of Memory:
Who Was Frances A. Yates?

According to Marjorie Jones in Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition, Frances Yates was one of the most important intellectuals in postwar England.

As Jones points out, Yates is also significant for women’s history. We tend to focus on scholars of memory like Aristotle, Ramon Llull, Giordano Bruno and Robert Fludd. But beyond Lynne Kelly, Mary Carruthers and memory athletes who share their mnemonics like Katie Kermode, there don’t seem to be many women in the conversation.

Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition book cover

In fact, many people express surprise when I use “she” and “her” to discuss Yates. Many people tend to assume she’s a man – an impression perpetuated by the fact that her picture is not included with any of her books that I’ve seen.

Yates led a scholarly life, and Jones gives some indication that Yates may have treated one of her main topics, the memory master Giordano Bruno as a kind of symbolic father. But Yates died in 1981 before completing a biography she’d started and called the “B Book.”

It would be lovely to know more about Yates’ life, especially the fact that she didn’t use memory techniques. Jones subtlety casts some doubt on this claim Yates makes in The Art of Memory. By many reports, her memory was actually quite good.

That could be a result of context dependent memory, however, not Yates’ understanding of the ancient memory techniques she wrote about in such depth. Authors tend to spend a lot of time preparing and editing drafts, so it would not be surprising for her to have better memory than others for topics relating to memory and intellectual history at large.

Anthony Metivier holding a copy of Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition

The Primary Principles of The Art of Memory

As Yates discusses in The Art of Memory, her primary goal is to better understand Giordano Bruno. She wrote about him at length in another book, and in a work about Llull. Bruno also comes up in some of her work on Fludd.

Contextualising Bruno’s historical moment is fantastic. To do so, Yates takes us all the way back to the ancient world.memory wheel

Many interesting names come up, and the core mnemonic strategies that go with them are:

  • The Method of Loci, which is associated with Simonides of Ceos
  • The use of memory techniques to give speeches as discussed in Rhetorica ad Herennium
  • Memory wheels, thought to be originated by Ramon Llull
  • Guilio Camillo’s “Memory Theatre”
  • Rober Fludd’s “Theatre of the World”
  • Giordano Bruno’s alphabetical method for rapidly developing mnemonic images

Yates is particularly interested in how Bruno’s mnemonic strategies connect with his cosmological ideas. Not everyone agrees with Yates’ interpretation. For one thing, there have been new discoveries since Yates stopped writing about memory.

Dilwyn Knox suggests that Yates’ interpretation of Bruno as a hermeticist is forced, and I agree. But as John Michael Greer has suggested, everyone who works on Bruno is bound to invent their own version.

All of Yates’ discussion of memory techniques becomes even more complicated when we add in her claim that she never used the memory techniques under discussion.

Ultimately, I don’t know, but some of the ways she discussed mnemonics does suggest she didn’t understand them through experience.


7 Memory Techniques (Mnemotechnics) From the Art of Memory

In addition the memory techniques listed above, The Art of Memory discusses or at least mentions:

Yates didn’t live to see some of the Aboriginal memory techniques we now know about from people like Tyson Yunkaporta and Lynne Kelly’s Memory Craft.

But that’s okay. Yates finished writing The Art of Memory in 1965 after all. And we probably wouldn’t have the work of countless others without her inspiration.

My copy of The Art of Memory by Frances Yates

The Art of Memory: Has It Stood the Test of Time?

It’s difficult to say. Generally, I’m a fan of memory improvement books. And generally, reading makes you smarter.

But is it in my personal top five?

Frankly, no. Even though I’ve taken dozens of notes on it.

If you want to learn about the history of memory techniques, then Yates’ writing is an absolute must.

But if you want to learn how to improve your memory, then you might walk away confused.

For best results, you’ll also want to read some of the primary texts Yates refers to throughout The Art of Memory. Some of these are easy to find online. For others, you can find them in their own volumes or in Carruthers’ The Medieval Craft of Memory.

For a more direct path to memory mastery in contemporary terms, many people like Harry Lorayne, Tony Buzan and books like Moonwalking with Einstein.The Victorious Mind Audiobook Cover for Audible

And of course, I’m honored if you read my book, The Victorious Mind. I probably never would have written it without having read Yates.

Nor would I have written my own book about Giordano Bruno and his “infinite Memory Palace technique.”

At the end of the day, I agree with Jones that Yates was a tremendous scholar.

Although her takes on Bruno are a bit hard to swallow after having read a lot of Bruno myself, Yates’ overall scholarship about memory is profound.

It’s just not a direct path to learning how to use the techniques, even if will inform you about the history of who used them.

If you’d like the fastest path to mastering the most important memory techniques quickly, please grab my Free Memory Improvement Course now:

Free Memory Improvement Course

You’ll discover how to do what Yates did not:

Use the techniques yourself.

But something even more profound:

Use the art of memory as an art, to be sure.

But also as a craft, a science and a martial art of the mind.

And that’s important, because another thing Yates glosses over in The Art of Memory is the role of critical thinking.

Ultimately, that’s what the art of memory at large is really all about. Yes, you need to understand the composition of images as Bruno discussed mnemonic imagery.

But Bruno, Llull and contemporary teachers of memory like myself urge you to take the art of memory into the realm of thinking better thoughts.

The true art of memory is about using your memory to make better decisions and solve problems quickly. To solve them accurately. And to solve them with wisdom each and every step of the way.


The Art of Memory is one of the most successful memory improvement books. But is it any good? And did Frances Yates use mnemonics herself? The Art of Memory is one of the most successful memory improvement books. But is it any good? And did Frances Yates use mnemonics herself? Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 10:58
How to Write Learning Goals That Work For Mastering Any Topic Wed, 11 Oct 2023 00:48:33 +0000 Learning goals are often talked about in terms of SMART goals. That can work, but these learning goals examples go further. Read now. learning goals feature imageAll successful learners set learning goals.

Even if the exact path isn’t clear and there might be some wiggly lines involved, this truth matters above all:

You can’t expect success from self-directed study programs without at least forming some kind of destination.

And the truth is, having a clear destination in mind, isn’t always the best policy. Sometimes you have allow for a little wiggle room. If not a lot.

As someone who has been both student and professor, I can help you from both sides of the coin.

I’ve passed multiple exams based on many courses. But I’ve also gone on to learn on my own to learn new skills and research and write multiple books.

To help you out based on solid scientific research and experienced earned from preparing many outlines for my memory goals, let me give you some examples you can model.

And let me do even better than that:

In this post, I’ll show you how to create a learning goal that actually gets you the outcome you want.

Whether that’s learning a language, mastering a musical instrument or becoming an expert in a difficult topic, this is the blog post for you.

How cool is that?

Very cool, as you’re about to see. So let’s dive in.

What Are Learning Goals?

Learning goals are like destinations on a map.

You have never been to the location, but you know that it exists.

The reason you know it exists is either because others have been there, or others have tried to reach the destination.

And this is an important point:

A lot of people think that learning goals must be achievable.

Frankly, I think we have every reason to believe this simply is not true.

Anthony Metivier reading a book

For example, must it be achievable that we do all we can to learn about space travel?

We don’t know if it’s actually possible or not, but we’re doing it.

To take a more down-to-earth example, I had no idea whether or not I would be able to understand many topics or learn some of the languages I’ve tackled.

And right now, as part of my current learning cycle, I’m studying physics. It’s really hard to understand, but I take heart from a quote I found early on from one of the most renowned physicists, Richard Feynman:

It is my task to convince you not to turn away [from physics] because you don’t understand it. You see, my students don’t understand it either. That’s because I don’t understand it. Nobody does.

Ultimately, this means that the exact definition of learning goals is exactly what I’ve suggested: It’s a destination. And all you need is an inkling that the destination exists just as Richard Feynman and millions of other people make learning goals based on their intuition that physics and math exist.

Why Is It Important To Set Learning Goals For Improvement?

We need learning goals precisely because without a direction to follow, we wind up getting either nowhere, or someone other than we want to be.

Having goals for our learning also helps us identify others who have attempted and succeeded at similar projects.

It’s not just about goals either. Using mental metaphors based on images of other successful people is very helpful. Nir Eyal makes this point in his book Indistractable.

Carol Dweck says something similar in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Only she puts a bit of a twist on it:

We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.

In other words, to be successful requires a combination of big dreams and thinking practically about how others have completed them. This process is sometimes called “reverse engineering.”

Superhero image to illustrate a concept related to learning faster

For example, you might notice where and when people act on their goals. This is a point suggested by Dr. Heidi Grant. We often think about the outcome when we actually need to visualize the process.

How to Write Learning Goals That Work:
4 Strategies for Writing Successful Learning Goals

When it comes to achieving our dreams, whether it’s learning the law or acing med school, one quote has always stuck with me. I heard it from a “business guru” named Dean Jackson:

All wealth comes from writing.

I’ve always found this to be true, so let’s start with some nuance on that tip.

One: Test Your Goals Through Writing

A core part of my teaching involves journaling. I’m talking both about journaling for self improvement and keeping a journal like a memory athlete.

When it comes to goals, I’ve found that it’s really important to write them down.

But not just once.

journal during morning walks

To really test that I want to go through something, I ask myself to write out the goal several times over a few days, if not weeks.


Because I’ve found that a goal I’m not willing to write out a few times signals I’m not really interested in completing it.

Plus, writing out a goal several times helps test the “truth” of the goal. Sometimes we just want an outcome for the sake of having it. But we don’t actually need the outcome.

So in the journal, I divide the page into two columns: Want vs. Need. By focusing on what I really need to learn, I wind up having much more free time and enjoyment at the end of the learning goal.

I know this process sounds challenging. But it’s 100% scientific. Angela Duckworth would likely file this kind of exercise under her concept of developing “grit.” I consider it an exercise that helps you establish and maintain mental strength.

Two: Decide Why, Where & When

Once you’ve tested that you really want to learn something, it’s important to keep journaling.

My three questions each morning before I engage in a learning activity always come with:

  • Why?
  • Where?
  • When?

It’s a simple model that helps build both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

For example, I’m working on a book and part of my research involves reading Shakespeare to follow-up on someone’s suggestion that the great memory master Giordano Bruno may have influenced Shakespeare’s creation of Hamlet.

Anthony Metivier with an example of reading Shakespeare to improve mental acuity

Shakespeare’s not exactly light reading, so I remind myself of why I’m doing it. Then I plan where and when I’m going to get the reading done.

This simple metric is useful to go through because it can help you choose times when you have the best possible energy for certain tasks as well.

Three: Give Yourself Space for Focused & Diffuse Modes of Thinking

Here’s one of my favorite learning goals examples:

  • Study hermeticism
  • Study the memory systems of Bruno and people like Ramon Llull
  • Compare with multiple traditions and philosophies
  • Compare with contemporary memory science and memory athletes like Ed Cooke
  • Write up the findings in a book

If you want to know how to write a learning goal, that’s basically what the framework looks like. I then tested it as described above. As of this moment, the first draft of this book is now done based on my research and learning.

However, due to the enormity of the project, I couldn’t cover it all overnight. So I remembered lessons I learned from Barbara Oakley in her Learning How to Learn book and course. Some of these ideas area also in her excellent book, Mindshift.

Basically, you get very clear about when you’re going to study. But you used spaced repetition to take plenty of breaks.

This shifting between focus and taking time off for “diffuse thinking” allows the brain to form connections, primarily while you’re resting.

Four: Accelerate Everything Using Memory Techniques

Now, you might be thinking… I can learn while resting?

Yes, and it’s an important part of any learning routine, especially when studying tough subjects.

There are many ways memory techniques can help you:

If you’d like more information, please dive into my free memory improvement kit:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will walk you through a learning plan for mastering your memory.

Crafting The Perfect Learning Goals Outline

Action is perfection when it comes to learning.

If you’re learning a new language, you need to speak and learn from mistakes.

And when you’re learning how to train your memory, you need to practice putting together the perfect routine.

Time management and setting goals also requires practice.

I suggest always keeping in mind the Feynman quote I shared above.

No one quite understands how to do anything perfectly, or what it means to master a study subject.

We need to keep humble and keep moving.

Action reveals and if you start with the journaling and testing process first, you’ll find that exactly how to accomplish your learning goals will tend to reveal itself to you.

So what do you say?

Dive into these suggestions and I can’t wait to hear about how you feel when you accomplish your learning goals with greater ease and efficiency!

Learning goals are often talked about in terms of SMART goals. That can work, but these learning goals examples go further. Read now. Learning goals are often talked about in terms of SMART goals. That can work, but these learning goals examples go further. Read now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 13:13
Obsidian & the Memory Palace Technique with Aidan Helfant Fri, 06 Oct 2023 22:41:53 +0000 Aidan Helfant loves the Memory Palace technique, and he also uses Obsidian in some next level ways. Learn to combine mnemonics with software. Aidan Helfant feature imageUsing memory techniques in combination with software programs like Obsidian is enticing, isn’t it?

The promise is not only that you’ll remember more… faster… but you’ll also be able to make more mental connections.

Although I personally don’t use software much at all in my learning journey, I have helped promote others who have great ideas and a proven track record of success.

For example, years ago we took a deep dive into Evernote when it was still all the rage.

I never hear anyone talking about it anymore, however.

These days, all I hear about is Obsidian.

That’s why when I learned about Aidan Helfant’s results using the software, my ears perked up.

And I just knew I had to get him on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast.

Click play and listen in as we take a deep dive into the use of Obsidian as part of your learning strategy.

Who Is Aidan Helfant?

Aidan is an incredible learner who is creating incredible tutorials that help students enjoy going to college much more. His excellent blog covers a number of very important learning strategies, from mastering the Memory Palace technique to overcoming distractions.

Aidan’s teaching is well worth paying attention to because he focuses on the fundamentals:

  • Learning habits
  • Staying away from foods that are bad for your memory
  • Aligning your true interests with your choice of degree
  • The truth about multitasking for lasting success
  • What it takes to really succeed at a university like Cornell

In all things, I suggest you get into his work and apply the ideas he shares to what you want to learn a.s.a.p.

Here’s where to find Aidan on YouTube and his excellent Twitter/X account.

In all things, if you want to beat procrastination, create dense mental connections without having to explore mind map mastery, and fill your life with meaningful activities, Aidan’s a great new voice on the scene.

Avoid the soul-sucking tedium of rote learning and actually enjoy studying for a change!

Aidan Helfant loves the Memory Palace technique, and he also uses Obsidian in some next level ways. Learn to combine mnemonics with software. Aidan Helfant loves the Memory Palace technique, and he also uses Obsidian in some next level ways. Learn to combine mnemonics with software. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 1:05:27
How to Rewire Your Brain and Boost Memory With Neuroplasticity Wed, 20 Sep 2023 17:25:57 +0000 If you want to know how to increase neuroplasticity, there are two simple rules that make rewiring neural pathways a breeze. Learn them now. how to rewire your brain feature imageIf you want to know how to rewire your brain, rest assured:

You absolutely can do this.

But you’ve got to avoid the charlatans.

Far too many people are shilling “tricks” and “tips” for rewiring your neural pathways that just don’t work.

That’s because they don’t follow a simple rule I’ll share with you today.

Of course, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy.

And that’s the catch the sharks in the water don’t want you to know.

But I will share with you the pros, the cons and some of the ways that make it possible for you to stretch your brain cells, even if it feels challenging.

Because that’s one of the other secrets that’s usually hidden from you:

Neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells and neuroplasticity, the changing of the brain?

Both require challenge. You literally do have to stretch yourself.

But when you take certain challenges on willingly, there’s no ceiling to how much you can improve the quality of your mind and mental abilities.

Ready for what really works?

Let’s get started!

Rewiring Neural Pathways: Can You Change Your Brain?

It sounds like science fiction.

But countless neuroscientists and other professionals have shown that you literally can change the physical characteristics of your brain simply by thinking.

changes in the brain

This is the core premise of John Arden’s Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way To A Better Life.

The title of this book refers to psychologist Donald Hebb’s famous finding that “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

This statement has been validated by scientists countless times and is now known as Hebb’s Law or Hebbian theory.

Sharon Begley has done great work in showing how the ancient sages were right and why meditation literally changes the brain. Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain is a great study that includes research about how to increase neuroplasticity through meditation.

I’ve personally experienced the benefits described by Begley and other researchers like the authors of How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain. I wrote up my experiences in The Victorious Mind and shared them at a TEDx event.

Long story short: Yes, you can change your brain.

Why It’s Possible to Increase Neuroplasticity After Trauma

According to Dr. Tim Dalgleish, it really comes down to intervention.

For example, he and his research teams have studied using memory-based interventions for depression and PTSD.

I didn’t know about these studies until after my own depression improved after using the same method of loci and Memory Palace interventions they used in their studies.

And my student Nic Castle also reported relief from his PTSD. I was so inspired by the survivor story he shared on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, I wrote an entire “Memory Detective” novel that is influenced by it. (Nic was a police officer.)

Example Of An Intervention That Created Positive Neuroplasticity

After reading Tim Dalgleish’s research, I followed his suggestion and created a simple Memory Palace with 10 positive memories.

These work to “defang” negative memories because when you experience them, you intervene by using the Memory Palace to think of happy memories instead.

I found this technique so useful, I went one step further by choosing a home from my youth that was packed with bad memories.

But instead of filling it with bad memories, I filled by memorizing positive poetry written in Sanskrit.

Since going through this exercise, it’s now possible for me to think about those experiences without re-traumatizing myself. My brain has been “rewired.”

But it did take an intervention.

And that’s the catch if you want to enjoy a rewired brain.

You need some kind of behavioral interruption.

Good news:

I’ve got a bunch of activities that will give you exactly these kinds of positive interruptions, plus another essential ingredient. Just keep reading.

6 Methods to Rewire Your Brain for Memory Improvement

As we go through this list of ways that you can enjoy the benefits of neuroplastic changes to your brain, keep challenge in mind.

As all of the books and studies I’ve cited above show, taking on some kind of mental challenge is the key.

But there’s another key that has been shown extensively by performance experts like James Clear.

This ingredient is called time.

time for learning a language

Typically, when we want to experience meaningful change that lasts, we need at least 90-days of practice.


Well, it takes that long for the brain to form new neural pathways. There are also brain chemicals involved, such as myelin. An excellent and highly readable study that condenses all the science is Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code.

So keep in mind that challenge over time is the special sauce that makes everything I’m about to share with you tick. Without taking on the challenge and giving the challenges the necessarily time to form new neural connections in your brain, it’s unlikely that you will experience the changes you seek.

But use a tool like a simple journal or notebook, and you will succeed and become a whole new version of yourself. Someone with a brain of steel!

One: Neurobics

For most people, the easiest way to get started is a simple set of activities called neurobics.

It’s basically aerobics for your brain.

A simple example is writing with your non-dominant hand. This challenges parts of your brain that you don’t normally use.

Provided you have someone to observe you, you can also practice walking backwards or walking with your eyes closed.

Taking different routes also counts as neurobics. It’s worth taking up these practices to help revivify your brain and form new neuronal connections.

Two: Learn New Skills

We’ve all heard that learning music is great for the brain.

But do you really have to learn new skills that challenging to enjoy neural benefits?

No. You can also build upon abilities you already have.

For example, you probably already know how to bounce a ball and you know how to use a hammer.

A hammer and a pile of nails.

But can you bounce a ball on a hammer?

That’s a new skill, a physical game for building your brain, focus and concentration.

Or you can take up fun activities like card magic, and perhaps even learn how to use a memdeck.

Finally, you can build upon your existing math skills and learn to perform mental calculations.

Adding challenges based on your current skills is a great way to stimulate your brain.

Three: Learn A Language

Many studies show that bilingualism changes the brain in positive ways.

In fact, scientists are actively working on ways to make sure this message reaches the larger public. That’s because language learning creates cognitive reserve.

This special benefit helps protect your brain from diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. So if you aren’t already learning a language, please get started soon.

(You’ll need to spend more than 90-days for full fluency, but it will be worth it. And even just 90-days will give you many benefits, especially if you use a language learning Memory Palace.)

Four: Play Challenging Games

Most of us know that playing games provides a certain level of cognitive training.

The trick is to find solid brain games and game-like brain exercises that legitimately challenge you.

Dr. Christine Till is one scientist who has studied some of the apps that claim to provide benefits through gamification. But like me, she’s skeptical.

brain games crossword puzzle

Crossword puzzles aren’t necessarily the ticket either, as my research into them has shown.

Ultimately, you need to experiment and keep in mind the exact kind of brain rewiring you’re after. Then it will be easier to find games that suit.

Five: Read & Write

Scientists study how reading changes the brain with great gusto.

Although there’s still much to be understood, the reality is that reading transforms the brain in many positive ways.

But it’s not just about reading alone. Writing also helps.

how to focus on reading using the pinch technique

As memory expert Lynne Kelly has shown in books like Memory Craft and The Memory Code, writing has historically been key to the ways we remember.

So I suggest finding a balance between learning how to legitimately read faster and effective note taking.

Six: Use Memory Techniques

My personal favorite method for keeping my neural pathways strong involves using memory techniques.

These are useful when meeting people and remembering their names.

Or you can use them to remember lists using simple rhymes.

I teach ways to use mnemonics much more broadly for what I call “holistic memory improvement.” This is an important approach because many people want to focus only on their working memory. But for better and faster improvements, you want to include memory training in many areas of your life.

That means using memory techniques as part of meditation, diet, goal-setting, positive visualization practices and everything we’ve talked about above related to skills acquisition and language learning.

If you’d like my FREE course on how to get started, just click the image below:

Free Memory Improvement Course

Please just remember that although it’s free, it will challenge you and I do suggest at least 90-days of practice for best results.

And that’s the key takeaway worth repeating.

You see, there are all kinds of things that can negatively rewire your brain and we have no problem doing them repeatedly for very long periods of time. There are also weird ideas floating around, like accepting a brain implant.

Then there are the everyday terrors we put ourselves through. I’m talking about eating horrible foods that cause memory loss instead of memory friendly meals.

So always remember that to make changes, you need to challenge yourself.

And the first challenge is being willing to make the change. Positive changes might not be easy, but they’re definitely the most rewarding.

That’s what this blog is all about, so what do you say?

Are you ready to rewire your brain and live a better life?

Make it happen!

If you want to know how to increase neuroplasticity, there are two simple rules that make rewiring neural pathways a breeze. Learn them now. If you want to know how to increase neuroplasticity, there are two simple rules that make rewiring neural pathways a breeze. Learn them now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 17:34
7 Mental Training Tips To Boost Your Life and Enjoy Total Success Wed, 13 Sep 2023 14:21:54 +0000 Mental training can help you improve your performance in every area of life. These 7 mental training routines will boost your brain fast. mental training feature image

The world’s a challenging (and sometimes crazy) place, and that’s why everyone needs mental training.

If you’re like me, someone dealing with multiple physical and mental health issues, training your mind regularly is even more important.

That’s because it takes a particular kind of mind to show up to life, even when things are going good.

See, you either want your brain to:

  • Start doing something
  • Stop doing something
  • Resume doing something you started but dropped

Or you have a learning situation where you just can’t get your memory to make something stick.

What will help you make the change?

Mental training. And here’s the very good news:

Many scientists have studied what it takes to keep your mind and memory strong. And I’ve personally run a number of experiments I’ll share with you on this page.

So if you’re a person who wants to enjoy a high-performance mind, you’ll love the tips and strategies you’ll find on this page.

Let’s get started!

Mental Training: The Superpower That Helps You Master Any Topic Or Skill

Mental training is defined quite simply as anything you do to keep your mind sharp, focused and helping you move towards your goals.

The main trouble with the idea of taking on various exercises is that in order to grow your mental strength, you need to choose specific exercises with a goal in mind.

A cup of coffee sits on a monthly goals calendar. Keeping achievable goals can help you learn how to stay focused while studying.

To help you think of the goal you might want to pursue, here are some of the main experts in the area of mental performance.

Dr. Carol Dweck

Dr. Dweck measures mental strength in terms of mindset. She distinguishes between having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.

She suggests that hard work, dedication, and training will train your mind on their own.

However, this suggestion may not suit you. Many things involve several learning stages, and you may need to put some thought into where exactly you start. Diving straight into learning new skills without knowing where to begin can sometimes wind up unnecessarily frustrating you.

Still, her book Mindset does contain some powerful suggestions, such as giving yourself a kind of cognitive behavioral therapy. If you get frustrated, she advises you not to call yourself stupid. Rather, she advocates replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

I can agree because I used to ridicule myself a lot until I learned to ask the self inquiry questions I shared in this TEDx Talk. Since learning how to stop filling my brain with so much mental noise, my concentration is so much better. You also can boost your concentration quickly if you wish.

Dr. Anders Ericsson

Some people attribute Dr. Ericsson with developing the concept of deliberate practice. Although he may have coined that term, musicians have been using this form of practice for centuries.

Nonetheless, he scientifically demonstrated how focus on specific goals combined with targeted feedback can lead you to mastery in any given field.

And he’s definitely right that you need continuous practice and some form of journaling to provide feedback if you want to achieve peak performance. As memory champion Johannes Mallow has shared, journaling has been a key part of how he trained his mind to improve as a memory athlete over the years.

Dr. Richard Davidson

Dr. Davidson has conducted impressive research on the brain to teach us about how it is affected by meditation and mindfulness practices.

Similar to Dr. Dweck, he has found that simply starting the practice is a good unto itself. Meditation often makes more meditation easy to perform because of how it increases well-being and resilience. After a short while, you don’t have to force yourself to do it. You simply find yourself attracted to doing it.

I’ve reported similar experiences in The Victorious Mind and shared more substantial concentration meditations you can try.

Dr. Martin Seligman

Dr. Seligman has studied both the bright and dark sides of mental training.

For example, he studied learned helplessness. Before I used mental training to heal my problem with high places, I literally went out of my way to train my friends to help me steer clear of bridges.

It wasn’t until I learned of his work that I was able to use mental training in a better direction. I’ve used concepts he’s talked about like learned optimism to cultivate a more positive attitude and enjoy more resilience in the face of challenges.

Dr. Angela Duckworth

Dr. Duckworth talks about the concept of grit. It’s definitely something we can all use, especially those of us who need perseverance and passion in order to achieve our long-term goals.

Dr. Duckworth has suggested that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ, inborn talent or any level of natural skill or ability.

Like Dr. Dweck, a theme of developing grit through hard work, resilience, and a growth mindset run throughout her work.

7 Mental Training Exercises to Unlock Your Mind’s Potential

Although I’ve learned a ton from each of the experts listed above, some of the books they’ve written are for the popular market and heavily shaped by traditional publishers.

That means they tend to stick to the easy techniques and use the books as long “sales letters” to expensive training programs or software packages.

How about some more substantial mental training exercises? Ones that won’t cost you a dime?

Before we get started, this point is important:

Please understand that if you don’t put these suggestions into action, no mental training will take place. Each person has to pick up the tools and put them into motion, so if you’re depressed or suffering brain fog,  you may need to weed out any foods that harm your brain from your diet first.

Seriously. All the training routines in the world will do very little for your mind if your brain is sick.

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite brain training routines that directly tackle the strength of your mind.

One: Brain Exercise

There are many ways to exercise your brain. For example, you can:

a woman is playing chess

There are many other brain exercises that will provide mental stimulation. But these all go directly to the mind itself.

Two: Memory-Based Meditation

We’ve talked about meditation already, but let’s kick things up a notch.

Memory-based meditation involves memorizing long form content, like personal mantras.

At the moment, I’m personally memorizing the Lojong phrases to create more mental peace. Many of them are also great reminders to keep practicing and how to think about the nature of real practice.

For example, one of the Lojong says, “If you can practice even when distracted, you are well-trained.”


That’s the ideal I strive for, and memory-based meditation is the finest path I know for crafting a mind that remembers to practice for the goal of avoiding distraction.

These practices are also useful for improving negative attitudes, something I certainly needed at one point in my life.

Three: Develop Your Vocabulary

Huh? What does memorizing vocabulary have to do with mental training?

A lot.

For one thing, having a bigger vocabulary helps you read faster.

It will also serve as a learning project that helps you develop some of the grit discussed by Dr. Duckworth.

Four: Read Something Challenging For At Least 30 Minutes Daily

A lot of people weaken their minds and create digital amnesia by endlessly scrolling through social media online.

Make no mistake:

Just about everything you see online is designed to be lightweight and not exercise your mind. In fact, it’s a kind of rote learning that has been shown to reduce critical thinking.

But carrying a physical book, whether it’s a novel or a non-fiction study of something you’re interested in, you’ll get much more mental exercise.

Anthony Metivier reading

Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything. I personally go out of my way to choose books I don’t understand. Challenge is the only way to get the mental fitness I seek, so I go out of my way to find it and you should consider doing so too.

If you struggle to get started, or can’t focus, try these focus for reading tips.

Five: Yoga

Did you know that yoga can improve your concentration? It gives you memory boosts too, which you can increase by memorizing the terms related to the practice.

Even though it’s technically not dopamine fasting, yoga does provide a great way to give yourself a break from the dopamine spikes created by too much time spent online.

Six: Practice Multiple Mentality

One of the hardest courses I ever completed is Harry Kahne’s Multiple Mentality. I first heard of him from performer and magic historian, Ricky Jay in his book Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women. (How’s that for a strange and intriguing title?)

The basic idea is that you play various games with the alphabet in your mind, such as learning to recite it backward.

It sounds silly, but it’s quite a challenge and provides a lot of focus and clarity.

From there, you can learn to write backward, or develop something like ambidextrousness. For some other exercises related to these powerful challenges, check out neurobics.

Seven: Memory Training

The most direct and powerful mental training involves committing information to memory using memory techniques.

One of the most effective is the ancient memory technique called the Memory Palace.

To master this form of memory training, I invite you to check out these Memory Palace examples so you can start training. Next, get my free memory improvement course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will teach you the Memory Palace technique and give you several exercise that will train multiple aspects of your mind.

Mental Training Is The Challenge We All Need

Now that you have a bunch of mental training routines you can follow, what do you say?

Are you ready to put them into action?

I hope so. The world needs more people who seek out the path to owning a finer mind.

So I compliment you on joining us and can’t wait to hear how things go for you as you train your brain for total success!

Mental training can help you improve your performance in every area of life. These 7 mental training routines will boost your brain fast. Mental training can help you improve your performance in every area of life. These 7 mental training routines will boost your brain fast. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 23:49
5 Powerful Visualization Exercises and Techniques [Step-by-Step Walk-Through] Mon, 11 Sep 2023 08:57:19 +0000 Would a few simple visualization exercises help you experience more success with memory techniques? Effecive visualization is possible. Here's how. 3 Visualization Exercises For Better Resuls With Memory Techniques Feature Image with a woman imagining a cityWhat comes to mind when you think about visualization exercises?

Does the simple phrase conjure up images of some woo-woo, fluffy mind game offered by a two-bit guru?

Or are you ready for the real deal from a guy who struggled to see pictures in his mind and almost failed, but…

… after hundreds of hours of struggle, finally found a way?

(I‘m that guy, by the way)

And what if I told you that I’ve discovered something profound about visualization?

Why Visualization Is Not Just About “Seeing Pictures” In Your Mind

I’ve discovered a simple process that suggests everything you thought you knew about “seeing pictures in your mind” is wrong?

Especially when it comes to memory techniques, the Memory Palace and everything related to mnemonics.

There are at least 8 Magnetic Modes:

  • Kinesthetic
  • Auditory
  • Visual
  • Emotional
  • Conceptual
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory
  • Spatial

And “seeing” is just one of them!

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

Multiple Modes Of Visualization Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t “See” Mentally”…

Now that you know there are so many different ways to visualize, would you give a few alternative visualization techniques a try?

If you said “yes,” or are at least nodding your head in the affirmative, that’s wonderful. Read on.

Did you know that visualization is so much more than meditation, and can actually serve you in your everyday life in a practical way?

Again, it’s more than seeing pictures in your mind.

But don’t get me wrong!

Aphantasia Image Streaming Magnetic Memory Method PodcastThe ability to conjure up mental pictures is a great skill. Some people with aphantasia can’t do it at all.

But let’s not disregard our other senses.

Visualization techniques are most powerful when embedded in a multi-sensory experience.

Here are five visualization techniques that show you exactly how:

5 Beginner Visualization Techniques Anyone Can Master

1. The  Candle Exercise

Try this:

Take a moment and close your eyes. Imagine that when you open them a candle has appeared in front of you.

Image of An Angel with a Candle to Illustrate The Candle Exercise For Multi Sensory Visualization Exercise Projection


  • What size is the candle? Is it a tea candle, long-stem candle, three-wick candle?
  • How heavy is it?
  • How much of the candle has burned away? Has it burned down to the base or do you see it still newly lit?
  • How far away is the candle from you? Within arm’s reach? Across the room?

The Lit Candle Variation

You can also try gazing into a lit candle then closing your eyes.

What do you see?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll experience an after burn effect.

You can no longer “see” the candle, but can still see its effects.

Using this after burn as a kind of canvas, mentally trace over the shape in front of you.

2. The Apple Visualization Exercise

Gradually you will be able to visualize, in great detail, a candle and flame of your own making.

We can take this simple visualization technique one step further and incorporate our other senses once we have mastered the “visual” aspect.

Try visualizing an apple.

The Apple Visualization Exercise Using Interaction With The Body For Better Results With Memory Techniques

Feel its smooth peel, observe its perfectly ripe sheen, and then imagine yourself taking a bite.

How does it taste?

Imagine its crispness and taste its sweetness.

The Interaction Variation

Take this apple visualization technique further:

Follow the apple through your body as your entire digestive system interacts with it.

Don’t take this visualization technique too seriously or get too granular. Just play with the idea of being able to follow one bite of an apple through your system.

And ask yourself periodically as you go through the process:

How real is that apple to you?

The Negative Space Variation

Once you feel like you can move beyond seeing and feeling a simple, everyday object, try to visualize that object in relation to space in the room.

Imagine the corner of a table.

The Negative Space Visualization Exercise

Where is it in the room? What is the negative space surrounding it?

Think of this visualization technique almost as an optical illusion.

We are all familiar with Rubin’s vase, though we may not know it by name.

Rubin Vase to Illustrate the Negative Space Visualization Exercise

This is the optical illusion where one can see either two faces or a singular vase from an image.

The key is being able to toggle between the two.

To be aware of the negative space as well as the image.

This visualization technique is helpful when using mnemonics, a Memory Palace and other memory techniques because we need to “suppress” mental imagery at the same time we manipulate it.

3. The Number Skipping Exercise

Hopscotch to illustrate the Number Skipping Visualization Exercise

Think about this:

How abstract are numbers?

They are representations of concepts, right?

Take the number three, for example.

Three only “exists” when we conceptualize a group, or a set of objects, and call it three due to concept of three things we call “one” placed together.

How is three represented exactly?

Well, lots of ways. The Chinese character differs from the Roman numeral, which differs from the character 3.
Images to represent three ways to symbolize threeThree is represented based on a mark society agrees it will call “3.” You can see the 3 your culture uses, or multiples versions used by multiple cultures.

You can also visualize one to 10, to 20, or even to 1,000.

Start with a small goal…

…but the goal is not to reach the highest number!

It’s to stay connected and concentrated in your mind.

If you find this becomes so easy that your mind is wandering, you can build up to higher and higher numbers, eventually going forwards and backwards.

And that’s when the real challenge begins:

Skipping numbers.
Happiness Beyond Thought By Gary Weber Book Cover for blog post on memory training practice habits

I first encountered the idea of skipping numbers in Gary Weber’s Happiness Beyond Thought. This is such a simple idea, but yet it’s such a challenge.

Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

Visualize the number one.

Easy enough, right?

Now try to suppress the urge to visualize the number two.

Next, is three, correct?

Skip, or visualize a blank space in place of the number four.

Keep building, skipping numbers as you go.

Once you reach the highest number you can without losing concentration (say, for example, 10), then go in reverse. Visualize 9, skipping 8, 7, and skip 6, and continue on.

You may be asking “How is this useful? Isn’t this a bit counterintuitive? Am I not supposed to be visualizing? Why are you suddenly telling me to suppress visualization?”

I get you. I do. But hear me out and keep reading…

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

The Negative Space Variation

Remember, for memory training one of the keys is Recall Rehearsal.

You will find ways to use memory palaces in different orders, and actually need to, and want to, for memory benefits, get the von Restorff Effect working.

You can shut down thoughts so that they do not interfere with other thoughts. This visualization technique will undoubtedly aid you in further memory training.

In other words, the ability to not visualize helps you visualize because you can shut out competing images.

4. The Globe Exercise

How well do you know your geography?

Don’t worry about it. This is an exercise based on what you know.

To start, imagine a giant spinning blue ball.

Next, slow it down. Make it completely still.

Zoom in.

Travel all the way down until you touch the blue.

What is that blue?

Is it water?

The choice is yours, but let’s imagine for this visualization technique that it’s water.

Next, pick the color of your house.

Imagine your hand building up your home on the water. (You might want to spread some imaginary dirt underneath first.)

As you build your home through visualization, pay attention to all the multi-sensory details. I’m talking about the feeling of the stair rails in your hands, the smells in the kitchen and the temperature on a cool morning.

Spend 2-5 minutes just on the home construction.

Next, lay out your street. Try to add as many of the houses and buildings as you can, holding each one in mind as you lay it out on the blue globe.

When you’re ready, zoom out. Allow the buildings you’ve built to get smaller and smaller until they are just a speck.

Any time you like, revisit the neighborhood you are building on the globe. I suggest you keep returning to it until you’ve mentally constructed as much of your city as you’re familiar with now.

And for the future, every time you’re out, pay close attention to how things look in the world. Try to remember as much as you can. Then the next time you practice this visualization, add more details to the imaginary version.

5. The Clock

Next time you’re laying in bed, imagine a giant clock on the wall directly in front of you.

Give it a color, name what it is made from and hear the sounds of it ticking away.

Really go through it’s dimensions: It’s height, width, the diameter of the clock face. Think deeply into it, imagining all the gears and their intricacies as they wind through time.

Then, give the clock face numbers. Make the even numbers Arabic numerals and the odd numbers Roman numerals. Or, if you know a language like Chinese, use its hanzi for the numbers, mixing it up with other kinds of numerals.

You can also rotate between Arabic and Roman numerals, synchronizing the change as the imaginary tick-tock takes place. This is great training for your visual, auditory and spatial sense.

And this is really just the beginning because I’m not introducing…

Visualization Mastery Course in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass

The New Visualization Mastery Course in The MMM Masterclass!

If you’re still struggling to visualize when using memory techniques (especially when completing a huge memory project like committing all the presidents to memory)…

I just finished producing a powerful course that is already helping Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass students use mnemonics better.

This result happens because the Magnetic Imagery they use in their associations are far stronger than ever before.

Do you want that?

Do you want to “own” any information every time you place it in your brain?

Cool. I can help.

But take caution:

As we’ve discussed today…

It’s not that easy if you’re only using visualization techniques to “see” pictures in your mind.

The solution begins when people take things to the next level and use a multi-sensory visualization approach.

And in this new course, Visualization Mastery

I didn’t JUST come up with these exercises out of nowhere.

No, I developed these visualization techniques with the help of dozens of memory athletes. I’m talking about memory experts like John Graham, thousands of MMM students and hundreds of hours of my own practice.

In this course, Visualization Mastery, you get the insights, skills, and ability to develop the strongest mental imagery for your Memory Palace efforts ever. They’re even more powerful than these neurobics.

And the calm confidence that tells your brain that you’re serious about memorizing information quickly, efficiently and permanently.

This course in visualization and visualization meditation includes:

  • Video 1: Multi-Sensory Projecting
  • Video 2: Exercises for Conceptual Visualization
  • Video 3: “Details” Exercises For Multi-Sensory Self-Study
  • Video 4: Visualization Meditations
  • Video 5: Auditory-Visual Exercises
  • Video 6: Mental Rehearsal Exercises
  • Video 7: Conclusion & Next Steps

If you’re already in the MMM Masterclass, please login now to take the course.

Or, if you’d like access this special training course and much, much more, you can read all about the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass here.

The Bottom Line When It Comes To Visualization Techniques For Memory Improvement

Use these visualization techniques regularly and consistently. Don’t expect results from just one session.

Also, mix and match these exercises. For example, try number skipping with candles or apples, both forward and in reverse.

Or, add a range of simpler and more advanced exercises. Here’s 5 more easy and fun visualization exercises I shot for you in 2022:

Really, the sky’s the limit here. The more you play with this visualization technique, the more benefits you will receive and the more ideas for more brain exercises will emerge.

Above all, keep challenging yourself and your memory for growth. It’s when we stop getting brain exercise that we go downhill. And if you want more practice, these positive visualization exercises, visualization for reading routines and guided visualization tips will help you keep moving forward.

Would a few simple visualization exercises help you experience more success with memory techniques? Effecive visualization is possible. Here's how. Would a few simple visualization exercises help you experience more success with memory techniques? Effecive visualization is possible. Here's how. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 34:56
How Many Words Do You Need To Know To Be Fluent (+ How to Learn Them) Sun, 27 Aug 2023 12:11:21 +0000 Wondering how many words to be fluent are required? The answer is simple, direct and a lot less than you might expect. Learn more now. how many words feature imageEver heard about the 10,000 hour rule?

It’s the idea that world class musicians and athletes spend at least 10,000 hours to master their skills.

In language learning, some people say that 10,000 words is the minimum number you need to be fluent.

The only problem is…

They’re both absolutely and utterly wrong.

Basic fluency starts at 1000-1200 words and proficiency at an academic level is considered by some testing bodies as a vocabulary of 16,000 words.

But even these numbers are questionable.

So if you’re ever wondered how many words you need to know to be fluent in a language, today you’re getting the real deal.

Even better:

I’ll show you exactly how to memorize 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 words, and more, all while coming to understand a much more important number.

Ready? Let’s get started!

How Many Words Do You Need to Know to Be Fluent in a Language? The Answer

If you want to understand approximately 75% of what native speakers are talking about in everyday life, you’ll need between 1000-1200 words.

This is according to A2 on the CEFR test. For that accomplishment, you’ll need knowledge of approximately 1000 words. I’ve done it myself in German and that number sounds right to me.

words cubes

For some people, 1000 words is going to sound like a lot to cover. But the problem is now the amount of words. What really matters is this question:

How exactly are these words counted? Take the word “run” in English, for example. Is it really just one word?

Not really. It’s also:

  • To run
  • To have run
  • Ran
  • Running

There are other examples, such as dog becoming dogs, or cat becoming cats. A lot depends on the morphology, because in some languages, grammar will determine whether a new word needs to be used or not.

In sum, the number of words you need to learn to become fluent depends on two things:

  • Your personal definition of fluency (a.k.a. your goal)
  • The way you speak in your mother tongue in order to accomplish everyday goals
  • An external testing structure like the CEFR

If you take the CEFR as your standard, which is not a bad idea, then C2 requires familiarity with 16,000 words. But this is generally based on what you will need to understand scholarly and academic writing, a class of information that may have little or nothing to do with your daily life.

Again, keep in mind that how those words in the different levels involves matters of grammar. This means that you can often boost your word count simply by knowing how one word operates in different tenses.

But you can also think about the exact number of words you need by thinking about the goals you need to achieve. If you don’t read scholarly papers, then you might not need anything close to 16,000 words.

How to Figure Out How Many Words You Truly Know

Think about your mother tongue.

How many words in the language can you recall right now?

Chances are that you would struggle to list all the words you’ve learned over the course of your lifetime.

The same thing will be true when working towards fluency. This is because active vocabulary consists of the words we use most often, even in the easiest language you can choose to learn

Passive vocabulary, on the other hand, involves words that have gone into reserve. We have to stretch to remember them because we use them less often. That, or we might undergo linguistic deskilling for a variety of reasons.

For example, this happened to my English when I spoke primarily German for a few years. Likewise, in Mandarin, if I don’t use the new words I learn frequently, I can wind up struggling to get them back from memory or confuse them with other words.

long hair blue shirt woman is thinking

All of these facts about language learning beg the question:

How do you know how many words are active in your vocabulary? Here are a few things you can do.

One: Anki

Anki is a spaced repetition app that will help you track your recall rate.

It’s easy to use poorly, however, so be sure to check out my article on how to optimize your use of the tool.

Two: Flashcards

If you use physical flashcards as part of your language learning efforts, you can simply count how many you answer correctly.

Three: Listening Tests

Throw on a podcast or movie in the language you’re learning.

Using a notebook, keep track of how many words you recognize.

There might be a catch with this kind of testing, however. If the movie or podcast is in a dialect you’re not familiar with, your accuracy count might not be accurate.

This can happen in your mother tongue too. For example, when watching Deadwood or The Witch, both of which use older forms of English, I sometimes didn’t recognize words or expressions, even though they are technically in my mother tongue.

Four: Reading Tests

As you read, keep a tally of how many words you understand. If you read at an especially high level, you can probably just count the amount of words on one line and multiply that by the number of lines on the page.

Also, test with a variety of books in the language you’re learning. These can be books designed for language learners, fiction or non-fiction.

Recently, I got a famous German book and was delighted by how I can cruise through many pages and recognize almost every word. But when I pick up a Thomas Mann novel, I get the inverse effect.

Four: Writing Tests

Every once in a while, sit down and compose an email to someone on a topic in the language you’re learning. If you don’t have a friend or speaking partner in the target language, you can still complete the exercise without sending it to anyone.

But I highly recommend ample doses of communication with a variety of people, especially in writing to help you establish the levels of processing effect.

a woman using her laptop beside a window

In 5-10 minutes per day, you can easily test the amount of words you know in any language.

Pop it into a software that gives you word counts and you’ll instantly know how many words you wrote in that message.

You have to make an allowance for repetition, however. Definite and indefinite articles should be excluded from the count, for example.

Six: Record a Conversation

If you’re meeting with a language learning teacher regularly, you can record the sessions. Then, when you review the recording, count the words you know.

If you need tools for doing this, check out the part of my language learning software post where I talk about how I record my sessions and review them.

Seven: Review Your Memory Palace Networks

In the language learning parts of the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass, you learn to use a special memory device called a Memory Palace.

Once it’s populated with vocabulary, it’s easy to know how many words you know. This is because you’ll have one word on each station.

At more advanced levels, however, you’ll memorize entire sentences on each station of your Memory Palace. That’s why the next strategy is the ultimate way to know how many words you know.

Seven: Sit for an Exam

If you really want to know where your level of fluency is at, arrange to take an exam. The CEFR makes it very easy to see how many words you’re capable of dealing with.

taking an exam

There are other exams you can pursue, depending on the language. When I sat for the level III Chinese exam, for example, it was based on the HSK system.

How to Become Fluent in Any Language Fast

The truth about fluency is that you simply want to be able to accomplish the goals that are important to you in the language.

For most people, you’ll want to shoot for B1, which is achievable within 6 months to a year. This CEFR level will equip you with at least 2000 words.

Chances are that you’ll have a much bigger vocabulary than that, however, especially if you’re reading regularly in the language. After all, books are the ultimate spaced-repetition app.

But beyond reading, here are the steps you need to follow:

Lean Into Multiple Media

I’ve just mentioned the importance of reading. You also need ample doses of:

  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Memorizing

For the listening and reading component, check out my tutorial on using Netflix to learn a language. It will help you combine listening and reading at the same time.

young girl reading in front of green plants

Setting limits with how many language learning books you use at a time is critical to your success as a language learner.

Be Disciplined with Your Language Learning Material

Many people overwhelm themselves with too many options. They’re constantly hunting the Internet for the “magic bullet” that will finally help them learn the language they’re interested in.

It won’t happen.

Instead, you need to milk the materials you already have for all they’re worth.

To make progress much faster, limit yourself to:

  • One video course
  • One audio program
  • One textbook
  • One teacher

Stick with them until you’ve reached a milestone before moving on to the next.

Learn How to Associate

The fastest way to commit anything to memory is association.

This means that you take something unfamiliar and associate it with something you already know.

When you learn how to do so, you’ll be able to benefit from active recall. For help with this, you can learn association techniques like the story method or the pegword method.

For a quick example of association, think of a word like “vocabulary.” Just pretend for the sake of this example that you don’t know it.

To use association to learn it, you would look at the first letter of the word. It’s a V so I’m going to think of a Vulcan named Spock. I would then have him tap his vocal chords while jumping into a cab.

What associations can you think up for the rest of the word?

Hint: It’s not always easy, but Ferris Bueller’s Day Off might help you.

Scale Your Vocabulary with Memory Palace Networks

The only problem with association is that it can be confusing and murky to figure out what association goes with what word.

That’s where the Memory Palace technique comes in.

numbered memory palace example using a 00 99 pao

Let’s say you have a Vulcan getting into a cab while tapping his vocal chords. He’s on his way to see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at a theater next to a library.

Using the Memory Palace technique specifically for language learning, you would place this association in a familiar location, such as on your living room couch. Or you could use an outdoor journey, like the one pictured above that I’ve used for memorizing Sanskrit phrases.

If you get strategic about how you identify and create your Memory Palaces, it’s fun and easy to memorize thousands of words and phrases.

Embrace Mistakes

The fastest way to reach fluency is to make as many mistakes as you can.

Sadly, some would-be learners just can’t get past the embarrassment. That, or their egos are too strong.

But the reality is that making mistakes develops pattern recognition through comparison.

And of course, we need to realize that even as experts in our mother tongues, we still sometimes misspeak. Everyone has to make corrections from time to time.

To develop greater tolerance for making mistakes, it’s important to be relaxed during your learning sessions.

stretching in a sofa room

I recommend meditation and simple stretching exercises a few times a day. These activities are also good for your memory overall.

Fluency On Demand

Anyone can develop fluency.

And everyone should. The benefits of bilingualism are too good to ignore.

The trick is to let the numbers help you, not frustrate you.

The CEFR levels are probably the best indicator out there, and the best part is that you can practice for the texts without worrying too much about exactly how many words you know.

For many of us, numbers will serve as milestones that we use to chart our progress.

But frankly, I’ve never worried too much about it. Although I once counted that I know 1700 words in Sanskrit, this knowledge hasn’t added a shred to the ways that I use the language to create fulfillment in my life.

The same thing goes with using the Memory Palace technique you can learn with this FREE course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

I have created several hundred Memory Palaces. But the actual number isn’t nearly as important as the outcome of using them.

And that outcome has been tremendously useful. It’s helped me earn degrees, travel the world, and speak with the locals in their language while visiting many different countries.

I’ve learned 1200 words for A2, reached B1 and probably now have 16,000 words for German by now. But as I hope to have expressed in this post, the number that matters is not the vocabulary count. It’s the consistent amount of days put into studying and practicing the language.

And the more you base the words and phrases you learn on what you regularly say on a daily basis, the faster you’ll reach functional fluency. Because chances are, what you need to say in daily life in your mother tongue will be the same as in a foreign language.

So what do you say?

Are you ready to dive in and start learning more words in the language you dream of speaking fluently?

Make it happen!


Wondering how many words to be fluent are required? The answer is simple, direct and a lot less than you might expect. Learn more now. Wondering how many words to be fluent are required? The answer is simple, direct and a lot less than you might expect. Learn more now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 42:42
How to Use Kolb’s Learning Cycle to Improve Your Studies Wed, 23 Aug 2023 15:20:50 +0000 Kolb's learning styles provide a cycle of learning that's easy to understand and use. Learn his study cycle model and get more learning tips. learning cycle feature imageDavid Kolb’s learning cycle is based on a simple idea:

We cannot learn effectively or efficiently if we tackle a subject from just one angle.

According to the science of learning?

Kolb is right.

The question is: why do people pick up a book and fantasize that they’re going to master the topic just by reading it?

According to Kolb himself, there are a few reasons.

One of which is that the cycle of learning is not just a process that you clunk through mechanically.

Learning any topic or skill using study cycles is also an art and a craft.

And if you haven’t been taught to think of learning that way by your teachers, then it’s good that you’re here.

Because we’re diving deep into exactly what Kolb suggests. I think he’s right, and I’ll give you some examples and steps you can follow to make learning much easier.


Let’s dive in!

What Is Kolb’s Learning Cycle?

David Kolb taught at Stanford University and wrote extensively on the topic of experiential learning.

However, his research quickly found that merely having experiences was not enough. Reflective thinking about those experiences was required in order for proper learning to take place.

He proposed four stages of learning:

  • Concrete experience
  • Observation and reflection
  • Engaging in abstract thinking as you reflect
  • Testing your ideas and conclusions

He called this approach a “learning cycle” because once you reach the final stage, you’re supposed to return to the top of the list. You can do that either with the same topic or another subject you want to learn.

However, in a chapter he co-wrote in Student Learning Abroad, he said that “the learning cycle is actually a learning spiral.”

He changed the term because:

“When a concrete experience is enriched by reflection, given meaning by thinking and transformed by action, the new experience created becomes richer, broader and deeper.”

Long story short:

If you want to use Kolb’s learning style, just follow the steps. Start by finding opportunities for concrete experiences, observe what’s happening, then reflect on the experience. Finally, abstract some principles and use these to create new experiments that lead to more concrete experiments.

Do You Have To Use Kolb’s 4 Learning Styles (Or Can You Use Your Own)?

You do not have to use Kobl’s approach to learning.

In fact, it has been heavily criticized and for good reason.

For one thing, what isn’t an experience? If I think abstractly about something, how is that not also an experience of concrete thinking at the same time?

That question might puzzle you, but if you consider how I define and use abstract thinking myself, it’s totally possible to start with abstractions. Or you can start with a hypothesis based on either a deduction or induction. Or you can start with an observation.


Kolb was a theorist of how we learn. He was addressing teachers much more than students He wanted to help teachers create better learning environments for students so they could engage in what he called “holistic learning.”

He thought of the student as both the receiver and actor based on the environment and processes provided by their teachers.

The Kolb Learning Cycle adapted for teachers

The Kolb Learning Cycle adapted for teachers in Student Learning Abroad.

You can adapt a lot from this simple diagram. But you don’t have to follow it exactly.

And as I’ve just suggested, there probably aren’t many circumstances where it makes sense to do so. Everything is an experience, including sitting still to perform a concentration meditation where your goal is to try and experience nothing.

How To Craft The Perfect Learning Cycle For Your Goals

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t adapt from Kolb’s learning styles and turn them into either a cycle or a spiral.

I’m only saying that personally, I’ve got a PhD, two MAs and many other certificates. I’ve also written many books and created nearly 1000 videos for this website. I’ve never used it.

Instead, I learn using the following steps. Although I offer them to you openly, they’re not meant to be a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all model.

I don’t always follow these steps in the same order, for example. But generally, they reflect my process and I think you’ll do well to adapt from them with knowledge and inspiration from Kolb.

Step One: Write A Vision Statement

Recently, I decided I was going to learn as much as possible about physics.

It’s a tough topic and in many ways, I don’t have the prerequisite math for it. Still, I’m interested, so I wrote using my journaling process to try and figure out why.

This is kind of like starting with the final step of Kolb’s cycle first: testing.

After that, I wrote out a vision statement. It was very simple:

I will read three of the most important books on physics over the next six months.

I started with two books at the same time using interleaving. And I was pleasantly surprised to find in Sir Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality that he think the math isn’t that difficult for most people.

If you need more information on crafting a vision statement before you start your next learning cycle, check out this free masterclass:

Step Two: Gather The Best Possible Materials

One reason people get stuck is failing to research the topics they want to learn. That, or they rely on their teachers.

Remember, Kolb was working hard to help teachers stop failing their students. But you don’t have to suffer if you’ve got a teacher that isn’t exciting you.

Just do some research.

The internet is amazing for that. You can use search phrases like I did: “syllabus physics textbook”.

That’s how I found out about The Road to Reality. It has so many references, it’s easy to just keep building based on the books Penrose mentions once I’m done with his.

I did something similar when I was learning about computer programming. I shared more of this selection and building process in my detailed blog on how to read faster.

Step Three: Take Notes In A Sophisticated Manner

Do you know the opposite of a learning cycle or learning spiral?

It’s a learning nightmare. That’s what you call a situation in which, even if you’ve identified the best time to study, you’re completely scattered and cannot remember the main points, or what books you found them in.

To avoid this problem, I suggest using either flashcards, Anki or a notebook in the highly optimized manner I teach. To this day, my preferred method is taught on this blog about how to memorize a textbook.

index cards in shoe boxer

I love index cards because they can be stored easily in shoe boxes and alphabetized. It’s also a great learning routine that helps fend off digital amnesia.

Four: Use Memory Techniques

Memory techniques are the alternative to rote learning.

There are quite a few types, and the strongest of the bunch is the Memory Palace. It’s an ancient memory technique that helps you deal with large volumes of information.

If you’d like to learn how to master the approach to learning, grab my free course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will help you through four free videos and worksheets that help you master your memory.

That way, no matter where you are in a learning cycle, or which adult learning style you have, you’ll be able to recall the information you need to succeed.

This technique also helps you fulfil your cognitive needs while filling the many gaps left by many teachers.

Remember, teachers are only human too.

And that’s why it’s wonderful to be able to discuss different ways of thinking about learning models like Kolb’s learning cycle.

So what do you say?

Are you ready to go out there, experiment with the steps I’ve suggested today or create your own cycle of learning?

No matter what, remember that Kolb stressed one point I agree with above all:

Learning is not just about science. It’s also an art and a craft.

Kolb's learning styles provide a cycle of learning that's easy to understand and use. Learn his study cycle model and get more learning tips. Kolb's learning styles provide a cycle of learning that's easy to understand and use. Learn his study cycle model and get more learning tips. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 17:59
What Is A Paracosm? Plus: 3 Steps To Building A Paracosm Circle Sun, 20 Aug 2023 16:00:44 +0000 As with aphantasia, people are anxious to turn paracosm into a disease. But what if building a paracosm circle could help you learn faster? what is a paracosm feature imageAre you paracosmic?

I know I sure am.

And it was easy and fun to get there by developing my own paracosm, even if it took a bit of time. 

I’m talking about having hundreds of fantasy characters constantly rolling around in my mind. Real people too.

Sadly, some people think this state of having a large mental population is some kind of disease…

Frankly, even if it is a disease, I absolutely love my paracosm symptoms.

I wish I could get more.

And to explain exactly why, on this page, we’ll look into why it’s so beneficial to build and use a paracosm of your own. 

What Is A Paracosm?

A paracosm is an invented world, typically populated by many imaginary characters. They could number in the dozens, hundreds or even the thousands.

“Cosm” simply means world or universe.

The Latin prefix “para” can mean many things:

  • Alongside
  • Beside
  • Near
  • Above
  • Resembling
  • Beyond

And it can even mean “abnormal.”



In the Handbook of Dissociation, Barry Cohen talks paracosm in adulthood as something belonging to either abused individuals or artists, if not both. 

He defines it in terms of repressed images that go through “revisualization.”

Now, I’m not saying that some people don’t suffer so badly that they create what Cohen calls a posttraumatic paracosm. 

But he is walking a thin line and practically reifies having a rich imaginary life as a disease. 

You’ll find a more balanced approach in Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them. In this book, Marjorie Taylor shows how it can be quite healthy.

For example, she discusses the ways that Ancient Greek poets used to use the gods as their muses. The very idea that those gods exist and influence human affairs is an example of a very productive paracosm.

Then we have more contemporary authors.

For example, take the paracosm created by C.S. Lewis for his Narnia series of books. When I read them as a kid, I actively imagined all of those characters, and even added new ones by writing stories that took place in that world. 

a magic book on a desk

Nothing could be healthier when you’re a kid than actively using your imagination. In this sense, having an invented world that lives alongside reality is rarely abnormal.

And as we’ll see, people who use memory techniques have such a world living alongside them all the time. 

If Having A Paracosm Is Abnormal, What Are The Symptoms?

In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattarri famously argue out that capitalism creates mental illness. 

What they mean is that capitalism requires you to justify your existence by participating in an economic system premised upon the notion of production and growth.

People who can’t follow along with this are often deemed mentally ill. You can see this in the Cohen article where you claims that a key symptom of having a paracosm is a lack of “growth.”

Sadly, entire industries have developed in order to sell medicines and other forms of therapy to help people “fit in” and “grow” according to an economic agenda. 

So if you find that you or a loved one is lost in a paracosm to the extent that participating in the capitalistic system is impossible, then you might have “symptoms.” 

a woman is struggling with something

These might include struggles to:

But what if the symptom of having a paracosm could be having a better memory? 

This is where developing your own paracosm circle comes in.

3 Steps To Build Your Own Paracosm Circle

I mentioned at the outset that I went out of my way to create my own paracosm and link it to both the standard Memory Palace technique I use and the virtual Memory Palace approach.


Because I needed to remember a lot of information fast.

At that time, a major depression practically destroyed my ability to focus or concentrate on my PhD studies and dissertation preparation. And a ton of negative memories kept coming up.

Then I discovered memory techniques. 

One principle of these techniques is association, often based on fantasy characters. 

Memory athletes and memory experts often create what is called a PAO System to organize their characters.

A variation technique is the pegword method.

Then, you arrange these in a Memory Palace. The Memory Palace helps you associate your familiar characters with information you don’t know. 

And it lets you revisit both your fantasy characters and the information at the same time. 

To help you understand this better, I’ve created a free course called Memory Palace Mastery. Register here:

Free Memory Improvement Course

This kind of paracosm imaginary world is extremely powerful. I wish I’d created one like it much, much earlier! Here’s how to build one step-by-step.

Step One: Create An Alphabetical Paracosm Circle

Learn the Memory Wheel technique of Ramon Llull.

Basically, you create a circle in your mind built from the alphabet.

Step Two: Link Each Letter in the Paracosm Circle To A Figure

This step is fun. When you think of the letter A, link it to either an existing fantasy character, or one of your own invention. I sometimes use Marvel’s Ant-Man. Other times I use Adam Apple, who is a character I’ve developed for personal use and my forthcoming Memory Detective Jr. series.

I suggest going through the entire alphabet so you have at least one figure for each letter from A-Z.

But it’s also perfectly okay to have a paracosm that uses only part of the alphabet. It really comes down to how much mental training you want to enjoy.

Step Three: Draw Upon The Paracosm Circle With Purpose

There are different reasons to draw upon your world of fun and friendly associations. Primarily I use these images during a learning cycle. For example, when studying a language, instead of focusing on how hard Italian may or may not be, I look upon the letters in the words (or in some cases the characters)  I want to learn and then memorize them.

Here’s a demonstration of what I mean specifically for the language learning example:

You can also draw upon your paracosm when you’re feeling down and want a mental vacation from stress. This technique has helped me a ton over the years.

The best part? It’s something you can do completely in your own mind for a fast and fun distraction. You don’t have to expose yourself to yet another app, which we all know are often the source of the problems we’re trying to eliminate.

Paracosm In Adulthood

As we’ve seen, some people may create paracosms to escape trauma and abuse. 

However, when used for memory purposes, researchers like Tim Dalgleish have found that much relief can be found from using the method of loci in positive ways.

(Note: method of loci basically means the same thing as Memory Palace.)

I’ve seen students like Nicholas Castle turn things around for themselves. He created tremendous relief from his PTSD symptoms as I teach in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.

I myself experienced freedom from trauma by using these techniques. I shared the full story at a TEDx event:

Beyond that, we’ve talked about C.S. Lewis and his Narnia series. 

Then there’s author Michael Connelly. As he has discussed, his Bosch series is inspired by the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights

As Connelly has his detective solve crimes across dozens of novels, he is trying to create a cast of characters that is literally like another world. 

bosch painting as an example of a paracosm

Then there’s Mark Rosenfelder, who wrote The Planet Construction Kit for authors. He also wrote the Language Construction Kit so that all the people on your planets will have authentic sounding ways of speaking.

As someone who also writes fiction, I’ve created many worlds and many people myself. (Ask me about Planet Etc. sometime!)

Beyond fiction, my career as an author now stems from the “fantasy” worlds I’ve built to help me use memory techniques better. I’m not the first one. There have been many others throughout history, Giordano Bruno being one of the best.

So in my final analysis, developing and maintaining a paracosm is a perfectly healthy thing to do. It might even help you experience hyperphantasia.

I’m not a therapist, so please take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt. But it appears to me that a lot of paracosm psychology is broken. 

I’m not saying that it’s a good thing for people to respond to trauma with escapism.

But to lump the creation of imaginary worlds together with acts of dissociation through fantasy is simply false. If you have an active imagination, that’s one of the greatest gifts in the world in my books. So many people wish they had your gifts.

And if you are suffering from trauma, the memory training offered on this site has been scientifically proven to help people with such issues.

So what do you say?

Are you ready to develop your own paracosm? 

As with aphantasia, people are anxious to turn paracosm into a disease. But what if building a paracosm circle could help you learn faster? As with aphantasia, people are anxious to turn paracosm into a disease. But what if building a paracosm circle could help you learn faster? Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 21:27
What Is Prospective Memory? Everything You Need to Know Tue, 08 Aug 2023 09:00:29 +0000 Finding a good prospective memory definition is hard. This post is packed with examples so you can understand it quickly. prospective memory feature imageProspective memory is fascinating. Your entire future relies on it working well. 


Well, let me ask you this:

How do you know that in the future you will remember to remember

To test our ability to remember the need to remember in the future, researchers S. L. Penningroth and W.D. Scott asked a bunch of university students the following question:

“Imagine that your friend has asked you to make a call tomorrow morning to provide a personal recommendation for a full-time job. You must wait until morning to call because that is when the potential employer will be in the office.”

As Beatrice G. Kuhlmann discusses in the excellent book of essays, Prospective Memory, different students listed different strategies. To remind themselves of this future event, they might remember to make the call by:

  • Mentally rehearsing the call 
  • Using an app for notification
  • Leaving a note where they would be sure to see it
  • Setting a specific time to make the call

These are all examples of metacognition that helps us remember future intentions. Without both intention and metacognition, we are all at risk of some serious prospective memory failure. 

That’s why being able to remember to do things and perform actions in the future is so critical. 

Let’s look more at this important type of memory and make sure you understand its importance, how to preserve it and even how to make it better. That way you can stop missing so many appointments and forgetting to do the things that matter

What Is Prospective Memory?

Prospective memory is literally defined by remembering to do things in the future. This means that it is primarily linked to tasks. 

  • Attending a class
  • Going to an appointment
  • Completing a task at work on time
  • Taking medication
  • Remembering to pack a lunch

The Two Main Prospective Memory Tasks

There are at least two kinds of tasks that prospective memory influences:

  • Time-based tasks
  • Event-based tasks

Taking medicine at a particular time of day is a time-based task because it happens at a specific time. Another example would be baking. If you warm the oven for 10 minutes before putting the cookies inside, that task is time-based and your prospective memory operates in accordance. You can also explore these kinds of tasks in relation to procedural memory.

By contrast, event-based tasks involve some kind of cue in your environment.

If you see a grocery store on your way home, this might remind you that someone in your family asked you to pick up some apples or tea. In other words, this kind of prospective memory comes to mind when something you see, hear or feel cues you to think about the task. 

blue dress woman is grocery shopping

Seeing a grocery store can trigger your memory that you need to do some shopping.

How Do Researchers Study Prospective Memory?

In order to analyze how people engage in prospective memory tasks, researchers create models. They do this by finding volunteers to participate in research studies that involve time-based or event-based tasks.

For example, S.J. Gilbert devised a study testing how people “offload” their future tasks. By creating a model of how people behave, he noticed an interesting difference in leaving reminders for yourself that you might recognize:

“I might write the details of an appointment on a piece of paper, which reminds me of where I need to go, but only after I have remembered that I need to go somewhere and consulted this record.”

In other words, making a note about an appointment in the future is no guarantee that you will remember to look at the note. You might even be confused by notes that you left for yourself. Thus, the implication of this study is that:

  • We often need more than written reminders
  • We need to be very clear about the written reminders we do leave for ourselves

What Does A Model Of Prospective Memory Look Like? 

They’re pretty fascinating, actually!

A typical model of prospective memory shows that there’s a process that is divided into three categories:

prospective memory model

A simple model of prospective memory showing three phases with several steps in each. From the book, Prospective Memory (Current Issues In Memory).

  • Prospective memory, which involves:
    • Intention formation
    • Intention retention
    • Intention retrieval
  • Monitoring, which involves:
    • Predictions, “Will I remember this?”
    • Experiencing working memory blanks, “What was it I needed to do?”
    • Assessing your memory for any reminders you might have left, “Didn’t I write the time down?”
  • Control, which involves:
    • Consciously using encoding strategies (like using a Memory Palace)
    • Consciously reminding yourself about the task (rehearsal)
    • Correcting for any errors (checking that an appointment was 4 p.m., not 4:30)

Does Prospective Memory Worsen With Age?

The answer depends on the nature of the experiment. Some have shown that older individuals do just as well as younger people. Others show that there can be issues, especially in cases where Alzheimer’s is present.

Here’s an example from Dr. Dawn McBride, take from “What is Prospective Memory?” In the following quote, McBride discusses a study that reveals the difference between younger and older individuals:

“In a study we conducted in my lab a few years ago, we compared prospective memory for older adults, people who are 55 or older, and younger adults, college students. 

What we asked them to do was a common everyday task. We gave them a postcard and asked them to mail it back to us after a particular period of time had passed. In other words, a time-based task. Some subjects were asked to mail it the next day. Some, two days later. Some, five days later. All the way up to a month later. 

We asked the subjects not to use any reminders. Like, not to put it up on their refrigerator to remind them, not to put it in their calendar, not to set an alarm, anything like that. Because we wanted to know how good their prospective memory was without any of these reminders. 

We sent the subjects off, asked them to mail back the postcard without these reminders. And then we compared the performance for the older adults, those who are over 55, and the college-age students. And what we found is that, over time, the longer the period of time was before they were supposed to mail it back, the college students’ performance declined. 

a woman is sending a postcard

So if it was the next day, they did pretty well with the task. We got most postcards back on time. But if it was a month later, we got very few of the postcards back for the college students.

The older adults, however, did really well at this task. They in fact, almost all of them, sent the postcard back on time, even if it was a month later. 

However, what we found is that, even though we asked them not to use external reminders, the older adults did in fact tend to use external reminders, based on a questionnaire that we sent to them after the study had ended. So in this particular study, we showed that older adults do actually perform prospective memory tasks very well, but they rely a lot on external reminders to do those prospective memory tasks.”

Note: In case you haven’t observed this point for yourself already, the older participants in the study either did not pay attention to the guidelines, or forgot to follow them.

Prospective Memory Examples

Pablo Picasso reportedly said, “What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” 

This quote is important because examples of prospective memory are really examples of intentions people have for the future. The key difference is whether or not they successfully remembered to do what they intended. 

an image stands for future

Why is remembering what you intended to do important? 


The more goals you complete and the more problems you solve in life, the better your retrospective memory becomes. In other words, you enjoy going through your past so much more because you can be proud of all that you accomplished.

With that point in mind, here’s a list of examples from prospective memory psychology textbooks:

  • Setting a New Year’s resolution
  • Joining a pre-scheduled fitness program at the gym
  • Buying a concert ticket and remembering to attend
  • Taking out the trash in time for collection
  • Paying a bill on time
  • Pre-planning a reaction (if x happens, I will respond with y)
  • Watering plants on a schedule
  • Remembering a birthday or anniversary
  • Return borrowed books to a library
  • Follow safety procedures (pilots, ship’s captains, etc.)
  • Remembering to write down your dreams or keep a journal

Can You Improve Your Prospective Memory?

Yes. And you do this by improving on what scientists call “implementation intentions.”

As Anna-Lisa Cohen and Jason L. Hicks point out in their book, Prospective Memory: Remembering to Remember, Remembering to Forget, “ implementation intentions can create habit-like behavior.”

They suggest that it is possible to create plans with an “if-this-then-that” structure broken into two phases:

  • Planning phase
  • Execution phase
implementation intentions for prospective memory

The planning and execution phases of prospective memory. From the book, Prospective Memory: Remembering to Remember, Remembering to Forget.

Basically, you need to add clarity to what you’re doing to strengthen the link between perception and action. With enough focused attention and repetition, you will be able to practice the habit of being clearer in a way that promotes better prospective memory in the future. 

We’ve already seen an example of this above: 

Instead of writing cryptic notes to yourself, like “4.p.m.” you want to include as much information as you can: Specific names, dates, locations and the purpose of the reminder. 

You can also memorize future events using a “Mnemonic Calendar.” 

Memory expert Jim Samuel helps senior citizens remember to take medication by helping them turn their homes into a Memory Palace based on the days of the week.

For example, if you have to take a certain medication on Monday, this day of the week can be linked to your kitchen sink. If you imagine a giant moon in the sink and visualize it swallowing that pill, every time you enter the kitchen, you can think about this and it will help you remember:

  • To check what day it is
  • If it’s Monday, to take the medication

You can have these mental reminders all throughout your home. To learn more about this technique, check out:

Free Memory Improvement Course


Remember To Do Things: It’s Life Or Death

As you’ve seen, prospective memory is pretty clear once you get into the details. And it’s even across the board, even if you think you might have a different learning style.

Whether you’re an airline pilot or someone enjoying your retirement, you need to be able to remember future events. 

All in all, being able to remember what to do and when to do it is what makes us human. And the quality of our lives really do come down to how we’re able to perform both consciously and subconsciously in the now – and in the near and distant future. 

Obviously, science is not done studying this form of memory. But it’s pretty clear that intention is the key to improving it and there are some quick wins I’ve shared with you today.

So what do you say? Is your future looking brighter now that you know the ins-and-outs of this form of memory?

Finding a good prospective memory definition is hard. This post is packed with examples so you can understand it quickly. Finding a good prospective memory definition is hard. This post is packed with examples so you can understand it quickly. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 27:56
13 Powerful Cognitive Activities To Sharpen Your Brain Mon, 07 Aug 2023 08:12:20 +0000 Looking for cognitive activities for adults? Here’s detail on cognitive processes and 13 powerful activities to keep your brain sharp even as you age. 13 Powerful Cognitive Activities For Adults To Get A Sharp BrainAre you looking for cognitive activities for adults to stimulate your brain?

Your cognitive abilities and brain health may weaken with age, illness, or poor habits.

Cognitive stimulation activities are a great way to defy this deterioration — helping you improve your attention, memory, and overall mental health.

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at cognitive processes. I’ll also show you 13 stimulating activities for cognitive development that will keep your brain fighting-fit, even as you age.

Here’s What I’ll Cover In This Post:

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

What Are Cognitive Processes?

While you were binge-watching The Mandalorian, a burning smell caught your senses.

You dashed to the kitchen to turn off the oven.

As you cleaned up the mess, your brain made a list of ingredients you need to bake that cake again.

You then drove to the grocery store, bought the ingredients, and returned home to bake again.

What a day!

But it was worth every bite of that oozy, chocolatey delight sitting at your kitchen counter.

A chocolate cake with frosting, the kind you remember your ingredients for using cognitive processing.


Did you realize you used many of your cognitive skills in the above scenario?

In his 1967 book, Ulric Neisser defined cognition as “how sensory inputs are transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used.”

Let’s go deeper.

What are the Different Cognitive Processes?

Here’s a closer look at the various cognitive skills you use in your daily life. They include attention, memory, logic, reasoning, and visual and auditory processing.

They help you process the world around you.


Attention allows you to concentrate on a particular activity or stimulus instead of processing everything around you.

Activities such as walking, wearing clothes, and driving require little attention because the repeated practice has made them a part of your routine. But activities like responding to a friend in crisis would require more attention.

Your attention could also be selective to a strong stimulus, letting you focus only on it. For example, you could listen to a podcast on the radio amid noisy traffic or work on your laptop with the TV switched on.

Cars in traffic. Your attention is useful when listening to music or podcasts while sitting in traffic.

Sensation and Perception

Sensation is the process of receiving information from the environment through your sensory organs — eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin.

Perception is the process by which you interpret this information. Past experiences influence your perception and allow you to make sense of the world around you.

Gestalt psychologists believe that we perceive our reality as a whole rather than the sum of different parts. For example, a dotted line (…………….) will be seen as a line and not as separate dots.


To comprehend means to understand and interpret what you read or hear. Your brain decodes the language of what you’ve read and makes connections with what you already know.

For example, you read, “The train left the station and John’s friend was gone forever.” To process this sentence, you need to understand what is left unsaid: John’s friend was on that train.

A woman watches a train speed by.


Memory is made up of three processes: acquiring, storing, and retrieving information on ideas, facts, images, habits, or events around you. It is the store of all things you’ve learned and retained from your activities and experiences.

Cognitive reserve is the brain’s ability to find alternate ways of getting things done. You can only improve it by performing new tasks and challenging the brain to learn new skills.

That is where cognitive activities for adults can come to your rescue. Some of them even help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Let’s see what they are.

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

13 Powerful Cognitive Activities for Adults

You’ll find plenty of cognitive stimulation activities for adults, including exercise workbooks and several enticing online brain training games and apps.

I’d suggest you stay away from online apps as they may make you good at completing those tasks, but don’t really stimulate your brain.

Here are my top recommendations for cognitively stimulating activities, especially for older people. All of these will improve your cognitive skills — attention, comprehension, perception, memory, reasoning, and/or processing speed.

1. Mindful Walking

A recent study on mindfulness established that mindfulness-based exercises help elders with mild cognitive impairment improve their daily life.

When you step out for a morning walk, concentrate on sensations like the wind in your hair, your breathing, or the sounds around you.

While the walk keeps you physically active, this mindfulness will help you build your attention span, filter out distractions, and boost your overall cognitive health.

A person walks along a leaf-covered road. Mindful walking like this can be a good cognitive activity for adults.

2. Drawing

Drawing or illustration involves the use of cognitive abilities such as perception and memory. A study also suggests that the process of drawing can help older adults fight memory loss.

Observe a complex drawing with multiple colors or layers, and try to replicate it later. Or take in a scene around you and draw it on paper, bringing out all the minute details.

3. Counting Letters

Select a paragraph from any book and count the number of times a particular letter appears. This will help you sustain your attention by focusing on one letter for an extended period of time.

In a study on older people, researchers have used this cognitive stimulation activity to measure everyday attention.

A person holding a book. A type of cognitive activity would be counting the number of times the letter E appears on the pages.

4. Color Arrangement

Take a piece of printed cloth and find out how many shades of a particular color are present in it.

Color has cognitive stimulation properties and helps older folks improve their spatial memory.

5. Approximation and Estimation Exercises

Keep two spoons next to each other on a desk. Then move the second spoon away from the first spoon. Now figure out how many spoons you can fit in between them.

This is a handy exercise that adults can do easily to improve perception and information processing abilities.

A person holds wooden spoons in their hands, spaced apart on a table.

6. Card Games

Poker, Solitaire, and other card games for seniors can improve cognitive function — especially logical problem solving and memory retention.

Try this card-matching game:

Pick 8 to 12 pairs of identical cards and lay them face down on the desk. Ensure that the pairs are not together. Pick any two cards at a time and see if they match. See how many pairs you can match in five minutes.

Keep increasing the number of pairs, to improve your memory and attention span gradually.

7. Word Games

Try out crossword puzzles, Scrabble, or any other word game that you enjoy.

Here’s another one — finding unrelated words. Pick a random word and think of words that are not related to it. If you pick ‘sky,’ then words like the moon, sun, night, or birds are not allowed.

This exercise will help you improve your comprehension skills. Elderly adults can play this engaging brain game with their family members or caretakers.

Hand painted Scrabble letters. Word games like Scrabble can help improve comprehension.

8. Remembering Sequences

Try to remember words in a particular order. For example, list all the fruits you know. After an hour or so, try to remember the fruits in the same order.

This is a classic memory improvement technique. You could do multiple variations such as unknown words, nonsense words, and increased distractions.

9. Number Games

Calculation exercises and number games like Sudoku will keep your problem-solving skills sharp.

Here’s an interesting twist — a license plate game. When you see license plates on vehicles, you could try to figure out the relationship between those numbers. For example, XX4812 could be 4 + 4 = 8 and 8 + 4 = 12. Alternatively, 12 * 4 = 48, hence, 4812.

This is an entertaining game that elderly adults can even play from the comfort of their home balconies to improve their memory and processing speed.

License plates (also called number plates) from many different states in the U.S.

10. Board Games

Board games like chess can help you boost your IQ, concentration, and focus.

Get some partners to play with and alternate among Checkers, Clue, Monopoly, or any other board game to increase your creativity and cognitive functioning.

11. Reading

Researchers have proven the power of reading in keeping Alzheimer’s disease at bay. Besides keeping you informed and entertained, it will spark your imagination and exercise your brain.

You could read magazines, fiction, or non-fiction books. To make it more effective, retell the gist of what you read to someone.

A woman in silhouette, reading a book. Reading is one of many cognitive activities for adults.

12. Physical Exercise

A study by Italian researchers proved that regular physical activity “is a strong gene modulator that induces structural and functional changes in the brain”, leading to improved cognitive skills and wellbeing.

The Alzheimer’s Association says that regular exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia as well.

Choose a workout routine that you enjoy and stick to it — be it aerobic exercise, resistance training, badminton, or swimming.

13. Creating Memory Palaces

Creating Memory Palaces using the Magnetic Memory Method is an incredible memory technique that boosts your long term memory.

To make it simpler on your brain, always draw them out before using them in your mind.

memory palace based on location

Then, when learning a new language, mentally walk around your home. Use associations to place vocabulary and phrases related to shopping (in that language) on your kitchen counter, or the words related to travel on your sofa.

This will help you store the information in your long-term memory and recall it easily at will. You can also try mind mapping to activate yet another level of your memory and creativity when learning something new.

Why are Cognitive Processes Important?

Cognitive processes let you:

1. Understand sensory inputs:

Your brain transforms the sensations and information around you into signals for you to understand and act on.

That’s how you instinctively drop a hot piece of coal or turn when someone calls your name, or push a person onto the sidewalk when you see a vehicle dangerously veering towards them.

2. Elaborate information:

When you recall information, sometimes your brain fills in the missing pieces.

For instance, while buying groceries, you may remember an item that needs to be restocked but wasn’t on your list. Also, at times when you narrate incidents to your friends, you may add details that weren’t part of the original memory.

A man restocks produce at a market.

3. Remember and recall information:

Your short-term memory stores information, such as the office address for your upcoming interview. And your long-term memory helps you remember your childhood home address or a language you learned at age five.

4. Contextualize information and solve problems:

Cognitive processes link past information to current information and help you make decisions to solve problems. Your attention to your surroundings, memories, understanding of language, biases, and judgments all contribute to how you interact with your environment.

For example, you rush to turn off the oven when there’s a slight burning smell because you know the consequences of what might follow if you don’t.

Now, here’s another important question:

Do Cognitive Processes Decline as You Age?

The answer is – yes – just as much as your physical function weakens with age.

Some cognitive skills start to fade with age, especially your memory and attention.

An older man plays chess in the park with a younger man. Chess is one type of cognitive activities for adults that may be beneficial as you age.

How does cognitive decline manifest itself?

Here’s how:

  • Life experiences that come with age (like your knowledge or vocabulary) remain stable. But your abilities such as riding a bicycle start to decline.
  • Your childhood memories remain relatively intact, but forming new ones gets difficult. It may get tougher to remember where you kept the house key or spectacles, or the name of the new neighbor you met yesterday.
  • Older adults may show a slower reaction time (the speed at which we respond to stimuli).
  • Paying attention to multiple activities such as watching TV while chopping vegetables might become difficult.
  • Solving problems and puzzles will take more time than when you were younger.

Progressive neural decay leads to neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

People with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) are considered to be at an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In their study, researchers Roberts and Knopman proved that 15% to 20% of people aged 65 or older have MCI.

Diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia are incurable, and a healthy cognitive reserve is the only way to combat these diseases. Some people who are diagnosed with mild-to-moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s disease opt for psychological intervention, including Cognitive Stimulation Therapy.

Cognitive Stimulation = Get a Super-Fit Brain

Keeping your cognitive processes sharp is a critical part of successful aging.

All these brain-stimulating activities, especially the powerful Memory Palace technique, will help you improve your cognitive performance effectively — even as you go about your day-to-day life and social activities.

If you want to learn more about how to improve your memory (including how to use a Memory Palace), sign up for your free memory improvement kit.

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

Looking for cognitive activities for adults? Here’s detail on cognitive processes and 13 powerful activities to keep your brain sharp even as you age. Looking for cognitive activities for adults? Here’s detail on cognitive processes and 13 powerful activities to keep your brain sharp even as you age. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 22:14
How Many Languages Can You Learn at Once? A Shocking Answer Tue, 01 Aug 2023 16:28:51 +0000 Is it possible to learn every language? Discover how many languages a person can be fluent in now. The answer is not what you think. how many languages can you learn at once feature imageSome people claim that the number of languages you can learn at the same time is unlimited.

Of course they do. They own a language learning software company!

But the fact of the matter is you can’t learn an unlimited number of languages at the same time.

Think about it:

There are only 24 hours in a day. A huge chunk of them are devoted to sleeping, eating, working and other forms of self care.

Worse, a lot of articles claim that it all depends on your motivation.

This is problematic because top performers simply do not rely on motivation.

You might find this surprising, but motivation rarely works. Certainly not on its own. Other strategies are needed in order for even the best performers to take consistent action.

So let’s bring this discussion back down to earth and bring clarity to this question.

The answer will not only help you, but it’s incredibly interesting too!

How Many Languages Can You Learn at Once (Realistically)?

The truth is that most people can barely find time, focus and energy to learn one language at a time.

And there’s no shame in this. None whatsoever.

When I was in grad school and needed to learn Biblical Hebrew as part of my Phd, that was the only language I studied. Period.

Later, when I was in Germany, I focused solely on acquiring German.

The only times I’ve studied more than one language at the same time were after I knew how to learn languages in the first place.

Only then did I focus strategically on learning more than one language at the same time.

Why Children Can Learn Multiple Languages on Autopilot

Now, you may have heard that children can learn multiple languages with ease.

children are learning with their teacher

This is true to a certain extent. For one thing, kids are very good at learning out of context. In other words, they’re not looking for the meaning in everything. They’re just observing and absorbing without the contextual judgments adults have been trained to make.

And here’s the problem with that: As mature individuals, we often have misconceptions about our adult learning styles and even how to create or optimize a proper learning cycle.

So if one thing is true, it’s that children tend to enjoy high levels of access to what some scientists call “socially contingent partners.” These are people willing to not only correct children as they learn languages, but to do so with reasonable accuracy.

In other words, this means that children can only pick up languages relative to their access to socially contingent partners.

In Germany, some kindergartens will speak up to three languages at once. Many experts think three languages at once is the sweet spot in order to provide enough access to socially contingent partners. But three languages offered in one kindergarten was still relatively rare as of 2014.

Language Learners Should Not Compare Themselves To Children

Although it’s tempting to think that children are exceptionally good at learning languages, this isn’t really true. Yes, they’re good at picking things up without them needing to be contextually related.

But think about it:

A shockingly high level of kids cannot write grammatically correct sentences even after graduating from high school. And in order to pick up another language, studies have shown that they would need lots of writing practice in each language under instruction in order to develop meaningful fluency in the language.

This means that kids are just as time-strapped as adults. All the more reason to teach the young learners in your family all about mnemonics.

How Many Languages Should You Learn at Once in Light of This?

But the reality is that most of us will need to focus on one language at a time. Then, once we have developed the meta-skills involved in learning new languages, we will want to focus on learning 2-3 maximum at any given time.

white shirt woman is learning something

And it can really help if you choose languages that are close, such as Spanish and French. It’s especially enjoyable to learn languages using Netflix and other streaming services when the languages share parallels.

Even better, you can use tactics like the Memory Palace technique to help, especially once you have an accurate understanding of how many words you need to learn.

There’s also the Memory Palace specifically for language learning to check out.

Is It Possible To Learn Every Language? 

Theoretically, yes. Given enough time and access to socially contingent partners who can correct your mistakes

But we face limited time. And we also face the fact that many languages simply aren’t in use at all. Many others are used by such small numbers of people that accessing qualified learners will be a challenge.

Of course, limited access to teachers shouldn’t discourage you whatsoever.

For example, the Ancient Language Institute does great work in providing you with experts who can help you in a variety of languages. Likewise, there are classes available in Sanskrit, Classical Chinese and Navajo.

How Many Languages Can One Person Learn?

Here’s the great news:

Many people exist who have learned 20 or more languages.

Steve Kaufman is one example. And he’s frank about how he spent his time in order to make this happen. (Hint: It’s pretty much the same as the suggestions given above.)

Of course, he had a head start with some early bilingual experiences. He’s also been at it for over 50 years, but didn’t start on his 9th language until he was 60. It’s also important to know that he created and represents a language learning site, so it is a professional focus. 

colourful different languages

In other words, don’t pressure yourself to learn a language overnight! Kaufman didn’t and his background and interests propel him in ways that many people won’t have. Remember: Motivation is not to be relied upon – at least not entirely.

The Alternative To Motivation When Learning Multiple Languages

If motivation isn’t the key, what is?

Systems and goals.

I know that my approach to language learning without motivation is controversial. But think through the logic.

Rather than waiting to feel motivated, create a learning system that involves regular exposure to not only the languages you want to learn, but also the people who can help you.

Make lots of mistakes.

And use the Big Five of Language Learning:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Memorizing

My speciality is helping people memorize words and phrases. 

If you’d like to learn more about how memory techniques can help, check out my FREE Memory Improvement Kit:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It’s not exactly a magic bullet, but it has always made the process much more fun and engaging for me.

Plus, it’s easy to use it systematically and learn vocabulary and phrases much faster while doing the ample amounts of reading, writing and listening needed to make progress.

So what do you say?

Are you reading to stretch how many languages you can learn at once? Rest assured that once your first language is under your belt, it gets so much easier from then on in. You just have to follow the goal-based systems many before you have used.

And that’s not rocket science, especially when you realize that adults have been providing kids with those goals and systems for a very long time.

Because adults know how to do that for themselves, with a bit of thought and consistency, learning any language much faster than the years kids put into it will be a breeze.

Is it possible to learn every language? Discover how many languages a person can be fluent in now. The answer is not what you think. Is it possible to learn every language? Discover how many languages a person can be fluent in now. The answer is not what you think. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 24:28
Does the Pimsleur Method Really Work? A Little, And Here’s Why Mon, 31 Jul 2023 19:15:13 +0000 The Pimsleur Method divides people who misunderstand how to optimize Paul Pimsleur's method. Read this and you'll learn how to make it work. Pimsleur method feature image of Paul PimsleurPaul Pimsleur wanted language learning to be fun, interesting and engaging.

He spent much of his career finding ways to make language learning keep the attention of students without them needing to refer to a dictionary.

To do this, he focused extensively on the specific words and phrases his various programs involved.

He also included a variety of spaced repetition elements within short learning sessions.

We talk about shrinking attention spans now, but even back in 1972, one of his books suggests that students of that era could not focus on a paragraph with more than 200-300 words in it.

Since very little has changed for better or worse, many people still seek out and try the Pimsleur approach.

But what is it exactly?

And how can you know in advance if a Pimsleur language program will work for you?

Good news:

In this Pimsleur review, I’m going to share my experiences with it as a learning and memory expert.

I’ll tell you why parts of his approach work and how to enhance those parts.

That way, if you’re going in cold, you can hit the ground running.

And if you already have a bunch of Pimsleur books or audio recordings kicking around, you’ll now be able to get much more out of them.


Let’d dive in.

What Is The Pimsleur Method?

The Pimsleur Method accomplishes a few things at the same time:

  • Introduction to new vocabulary and phrases
  • Listening and comprehension practice
  • Voluntary speaking practice
  • Exposure to passive, irregular spaced repetition
  • A relatively weak invitation to voluntarily use active recall

Having read a few of Dr. Paul Pimsleur’s textbooks, I feel that he was a credible educational innovator. There’s some real genius in what he put together, even if it has several weaknesses.

The main weaknesses have to do with a combination of user error and “faults” common to all self-study programs:

The individual has to bring their own personal volition and mental strength to get through the lessons.

So whether you’re using one of the now dated Pimsleur textbooks (like the ones he made for Spanish and French) or an audio program, here’s the first thing to consider:

Are you mentally stimulated by reading books on your own or listening to audio programs in a quiet study place where you won’t be disturbed?

These are important considerations because that’s what the Pimsleur approach is:

A technique that involves you studying from a book or an audio program on your own. You listen by yourself and repeat words and phrases based on a kind of mix of spaced repetition and context dependent memory exercise.

This means that you could become quite good at “playing the game” while listening to the recordings and responding. But you won’t necessarily be able to read or speak the language in a real life situation.

And if you’re a learner who needs interaction with others, Pimsleur risks being incredibly boring.

But for what it is, the approach is definitely legitimate. It’s just not something that’s going to help you develop fluency for reasons we’ll discuss in a minute.

How Does the Pimsleur Method Help You Learn a Language?

The answer is that the Pimsleur Method doesn’t help you learn a language at all. And it can’t.

It’s especially weak in some cases because it’s almost purely auditory. Even if you go through the guidebook, it won’t help you learn the hiragana or katakana, for example.

It’s also weak because if you aren’t aware of how to supercharge it with mnemonics, you’ll quickly fall into rote learning.

But don’t give up hope because it can help you develop some basic vocabulary and pattern recognition quickly.

colourful different languages

Let me share an episode from when I first started learning Chinese to show how specifically it helped me.

Instead of expecting the Pimsleur program in Mandarin to help make me fluent, I used it for some basic vocabulary and phrases. That realistic mindset is key: I approached it as a tool, not a magic bullet.

While listening, I actively engaged with the audio material by writing down a version of what I was hearing. Then, without resorting to Anki or flashcards, I memorized the material using a Memory Palace.

I next wrote out what I memorized from memory and took the material into lessons with language tutors I found using some of the best language learning software.

And yes, the Pimsleur Method helped me quite a bit as a source for some basic familiarity with Chinese. I previously used it this way for German too.

The Pimsleur Method vs Other Auditory Memory Techniques

This question is easy to answer:

Most Pimsleur programs are dated. They often give you phrases in situations that are much less relevant in the 21st century than when they were recorded.

This isn’t a total deal breaker. But Olly Richards has been doing amazing work by creating audio programs to accompany story-based language learning books that are very up-to-date with contemporary issues.

Benny Lewis has likewise been proactive in making sure his language learning materials include phrases that relate to modern situations.

Frankly, the datedness doesn’t devalue the Pimsleur Method that much. But it does make context a big issue that may discourage you because you’ll often meet native speakers who will tell you, “we don’t say it that way anymore.”

Plus, even for the words and phrases that are good, you’ll still need to use the Big Five of Language Learning no matter which audio source or reading textbook you use.

Graphic illustration of the Big Five of Learning

The Big Five of Language Learning is essential. It gives you a balance of all the activities needed to develop fluency in a language.

You’ll learn how to balance them all effectively in this tutorial on how to learn a new language fast.

The Pimsleur Method vs Other Memorization Methods

Technically, Pimsleur is not a memorization method. It’s not even a memory technique.

As Pimsleur wrote in Sol y Sombra, one of his still perfectly useful textbooks for learning Spanish, his goal is to help learners:

  • Increase active vocabulary knowledge
  • Practice grammatical structures
  • Exercise comprehension
  • Practice speaking and writing

Although each of these things provide memory exercise, the approach is not mnemonic in the sense we mean in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.

Don’t get me wrong. Pimsleur’s approach is effective. It’s just not a mnemonic strategy because it doesn’t involve elaborative encoding.

Having short study sessions and spaced repetition does involve some chunking, however.

But if you do want a memorization-based language learning strategy, here’s what I suggest:

One: Develop Memory Palaces

Memory Palaces are useful in language learning for a few reasons. And they’re becoming increasingly popular since 3x World Memory Champion Alex Mullen and Mandarin Blueprint arrived on the scene.

Then you have my students like Sunil Khatri and Kevin Richardson, amongst many others, who have crushed their language learning goals thanks to this simple ancient memory technique.

Pre-Numbered Memory Palace Example

This pre-numbered Memory Palace example shows you how I prepared to memorize the Atma Bodha in full. I know the text and the number of each verse in an ancient Sanskrit text thanks to my favorite memory technique.

So what is it and how does it work for learning a language?

Basically, you associate words you’re learning with familiar locations. Instead of passively listening to the Pimsleur material, you mentally translate those words and phrases and “place” them in a bedroom or on a living room couch.

Two: Use Highly Memorable Associations

For example, when I first started learning Chinese, I used Pimsleur in combination with a library in Berlin.

The first sentence was, “Do you speak…?”

I created a mental image, something like Bruce Lee kneeing Hemingway with his shoes.

This translated easily into, “Nǐ huì shuō…”

From there, you just add more images to learn an entire phrase.

Three: Recall Strategically

As mentioned in the video above, I wrote out what I memorized from memory. This exercised my memory through active recall.

Pimsleur certainly prompts you to recall the information, but because it involves no memory training elements, you don’t form memories as quickly as you could.

And again, if you’re recalling only in the presence of a recording, you might do okay in that context. But it’s actually conditioning you to not be able to recall nearly as well in real life situations. You need to also practice recalling what you’re memorized with native speakers.

Four: Dictionary Sourcing

As much as I admire many of Dr. Pimsleur’s innovations, I feel that one of his motivations was patently false.

So many language learning gurus seem to think that students should not be using dictionaries.

I find this incredibly strange because dictionaries are sources of words and meanings. Why would you want to avoid them when you’re learning a language?

yellow tassel dictionary

Not only that, but when you don’t know what a word means in your mother tongue, the dictionary is precisely where you go. Plus, if you want a variation on a word, you go to a thesaurus.

So the prohibition or deviation from using dictionaries strikes me as utterly false. Using a Memory Palace Network in combination with a dictionary is incredibly useful. I also sometimes use mind mapping in language learning in combination with dictionaries, especially for tough words.

Even though I’ve trained myself to become something like a walking mnemonics dictionary, for whatever reason some words still evade even my many years of practice using the Magnetic Memory Method approach to mental imagery.

The point is ultimately moot no matter which way you look at it. Olly Richards’ books always come with a kind of mini-dictionary with key words in what you’re about to read or listen to.

This kind of dictionary-esque feature has been with us at least since Wheelock’s Latin. And it’s this feature that makes Olly’s books amongst the best language learning books in existence.

In a word, dictionaries work when you want to memorize the vocabulary of any language. Take advantage of them!

So, Does the Pimsleur Method Really Work?

As I hope you’ve discovered in this article, I think “Does Pimsleur work?” is the wrong question.

Pimsleur can be a useful part of learning any language.

But there’s no such thing as one source when it comes to learning any language. You need to combine a number of approaches.

And if you’re willing to book enough sessions with language learning partners, you could potentially skip it altogether. Frankly, there are so many free sources of words and phrases from so many languages these days, you don’t really need to invest in an old recorded program that this company has transferred to MP3s.

And that’s ultimately its biggest failing.

It has “crystallized” how a handful of native speakers pronounce the language. What you really need is exposure to a variety of speakers, which these days can be accessed easily within your Netflix account.

Plus, you need feedback from native speakers, especially when it comes to sharpening your verbal memory for sounds and meanings.

So although I’ve used the program twice for German and Mandarin, I learned far more by following the Big Five and spending time with native speakers based on memorization.

And if you’d like to know more about using a Memory Palace to commit mounds of vocabulary and phrases to memory quickly, grab this FREE Memory Improvement Kit:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will help you rapidly commit essential words and phrases to memory from any source.

So what do you think?

Do you like the Pimsleur concept yourself?

Or are you ready to update your approach for the 21st century with the most scientific and direct language learning methods available to you at a very low cost?

The Pimsleur Method divides people who misunderstand how to optimize Paul Pimsleur's method. Read this and you'll learn how to make it work. The Pimsleur Method divides people who misunderstand how to optimize Paul Pimsleur's method. Read this and you'll learn how to make it work. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 24:55
Mnemonic Devices: How to Use Them to Remember Anything (with Mnemonic Examples) Mon, 31 Jul 2023 08:13:27 +0000 What are mnemonic devices, and how can you use them to improve memory? This post shows how, including helpful techniques and strategies. Mnemonic Devices: Everything You Need to Know (And How to Use Them)Instantly memorizing what you need to know is the ultimate dream for many people.

But for many, their inability to remember anything is the ultimate nightmare.

One reason people struggle is that there are so many terms. It can be confusing.

But the facts are that anyone can use mnemonic devices to learn faster and remember more. You just have to find the approach that works best for you.

Here’s what this post will cover:

What Is A Mnemonic Device?
Mnemonic Devices Examples
– Personally Created Flashcards
– Acronyms
– The Memory Palace Technique
– Associative Imagery, Linking, and Pegwords
– Story Method
– Major System and Dominic System
– 00-99 PAO
– Mind Maps

So if you’re ready to dive in, let’s get started with…

What Are Mnemonic Devices?

The best mnemonic device definition we can start with is this:

Anything that helps you remember better is a mnemonic.

Even the dictionary says that mnemonic devices are anything: “assisting or intended to assist the memory.”

3 blank polaroids against a floral background, a reminder that mnemonic devices can assist memory.

For that reason, it’s a highly adaptable term that works as an umbrella to cover a wide range of activities including:

  • Personally created flashcards
  • Acronyms
  • Memory Palaces (sometimes called a Mind Palace, the Method of Loci, Journey Method, or Roman Room)
  • Associative imagery, linking, and pegwords
  • Story method
  • Major System or Dominic System
  • 00-99 PAO
  • Mind Maps
  • … and more

Given this adaptability, it’s little wonder there’s so much confusion over the term.

But here’s what I’d like you to notice:

None of these are really “devices.” They are processes.

As memory expert David Berglass made clear in A Question of Memory, memory is not a unitary mechanism or a “thing.” It is a behavior.

And that is how you use mnemonic devices. You understand them as processes and then you sprinkle them into your life so they become part of your behavior.

Let me make that more concrete:

When I gave a TEDx presentation, I not only memorized my talk — on that day, I memorized all the names of the people I met. I used a wide variety of techniques (see how to memorize a speech) and chose the specific mnemonic devices I used based on the circumstances.

With practice, using mnemonic devices happens almost on autopilot!

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

Mnemonic Devices Examples

Let’s dig a little deeper using our list of mnemonic examples above.

Personally Created Flashcards

My friend and language learning expert Gabriel Wyner inspired me to give these a try after reading his book, Fluent Forever.

Basically, instead of downloading software put together by a stranger, get some paper and colored pens. (Obviously, you also have all the information you want to memorize organized too.)

Next, use the paper and colors to help you create images. These images should remind you of the target information you want to recall.

Flashcards with Chinese characters on them.

Flashcards as mnemonic devices for Chinese characters

Now, there’s a whole lot more going on in this example, so please keep it in mind. I’ll go deeper into it later in this post.

For now, if you’re worried about having a bunch of cards flying all over the place, don’t be. You can wrap them up in a Memory Palace drawing just like this:

A stack of flashcards wrapped in a Memory Palace drawing.

I used simple and elegant combinations of mnemonic devices to pass level III in Mandarin last year

Next, let’s look at how abbreviations can help.


Have you ever asked… what is it called when you use letters to remember words? As usual, there’s no one answer, but the first method is called an acronym.

3 letter blocks spelling out the acronym "AMA" - an example of an abbreviation.

For example, when I teach memory improvement in a live setting, I usually talk about how following the rules will set you F.R.E.E.

“Free” is a word that helps me remember the meta-rules students need to make learning with memory techniques easy and fun:

Frequent practice in a state of…
Relaxation and a spirit of…
Experimentation so that you can be…

Just follow those rules as you use mnemonic devices and you will truly be free to memorize as much as you want.

The best part?

You can lay out acronyms inside of a Memory Palace.

The Memory Palace Technique

The Memory Palace is an ancient technique. It essentially involves using space as a mnemonic device.

You do this by thinking about a familiar location. Then, you chart out a logical journey that does not take energy from your memory. If you have to memorize the journey, it is not a good Memory Palace, so pick something else.

For example, I visited a bookstore in Zamalek, a part of Cairo, Egypt. To keep it simple, I used only the parts of the bookstore I remembered.

To help my brain reduce the cognitive load even further, I made a quick drawing of the space:

A Memory Palace based on a bookstore Anthony visited in Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.

A Memory Palace drawn on an index card to maximize its value as a mnemonic device

Notice I’ve actually drawn the Memory Palace on an index card (or flashcard). I do this because it makes it easy to store many of them for quick reference if I ever need them.

I also write down the number of stations and name them. I find this helps me “set and forget” the Memory Palace and ensure I’ve gotten it right the first time.

I believe scientists call this kind of activity a means of harnessing the levels of processing effect.

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

Associative Imagery, Linking, and Pegwords

Inside of these Memory Palaces, place a list of mnemonics you create. These will be a kind of mnemonic that are multi-sensory.

A red autumn leaf clipped on a wire with clothespins, an example of an associative image.

For example, think back to that first image I shared above with the flashcards for Chinese. Those colorful drawings help me remember the sound and the meaning of the Mandarin words.

But those mental images aren’t just on the flashcards! They’re also mentally situated on stations in the Memory Palaces I use.

(Some people call these stations “loci.” It’s basically the same thing, but “Magnetic Station” is my preferred term because recent advancements make them much more powerful than the ancient teachings suggest.)

To make such imagery, you will want to complete a number of exercises.

For example, go through the alphabet and think of an image for each letter. The pegword method is a great way to explore this technique further.

Alphabet tiles from a Scrabble game laid out against a starry background.

If you’re really serious about mastering the Memory Palace technique, you can explore having an image on each and every station.

For example, when I memorize cards, I always have images on the stations to help me “trigger” the row of cards I’ll be placing and later recalling on a Magnetic Station.

Basically, what I’m talking about is multiple levels of linking all at once. Some people talk about the linking method in a very weak way, that amounts to just “this links to that.” I don’t find that approach is strong enough.

What most of us need is for our association imagery to combine:

  • Sound and meaning links at the granular level of the alphabet
  • Multi-sensory links that are concrete and specific, not vague and abstract
  • Tied tightly to space so that we are working from the foundations of the strongest level of memory: spatial memory

Furthermore, the real trick with these associative images is that they must:

  1. Actually associate in a way that triggers what you want to memorize (for example, the barber symbol I used on the card above triggers the ‘ba’ sound).
  2. Help you get back the meaning of the content (where relevant).
  3. Have a Memory Palace so you can mentally “find” the imagery. Some people don’t need the Memory Palace, but in my experience, they are few and far between.

And when you think about what mnemonic devices mean more holistically, each card is a kind of station in a Memory Palace.

Story Method

Using a story (with or without a Memory Palace) is not much different than using, links pegs or associations. The only difference is that with the story method you’re adding the extra step of creating a narrative.

For example, let’s say you want to memorize a list of names at an event:


If you were using pegs, you would look at “h” when seeing Haley and associate her with something like Halley’s comet or a hat. Allan could be associated with an Allen key.

You can also spontaneously produce associations or have stock characters. For example, every Sharon could be Sharon Osbourne.

A comet streaks across a darkened sky. Using Halley's comet to remember the name Haley is a way to help you remember names.

The story method, on the other hand, requires us to add a narrative to the association, such as:

Halley’s comet is crashing into an Allan key in the hands of Sharon who finds it burning hot and hands it to Andrew.

The story method can possibly be used without a Memory Palace. However, stories have parts. And those parts exist somewhere in your brain which means they are inherently spatially located.

I think you’ll find it a lot less mentally taxing to lay out any narrative elements you use in a Memory Palace.

Another way to approach the story method is to use a movie or novel plot you know well.

For example, let’s say you have mentally reduced The Matrix series down to three scenes: the hotel, the desert of the real, and Neo’s cabin on Morpheus’ ship.

For the first piece of information you want to remember, you would use the first room and perhaps Trinity doing her flying kick. Then you would move on to the next location for the next piece of information.

This example shows how stories are always spatial in nature from another angle… after all, if they don’t take place somewhere… how can they be stories?

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong to this application. It basically comes down to your level of skill, the context, and the nature of the information.

I personally would not add a story step while memorizing names in a live setting — and tend to create my associations on the fly rather than draw upon stock images. But if a stock image makes sense, I’ll certainly use it.

Major System and Dominic System

When it comes to associative imagery, the alphabet is a great tool. But it can also be mixed with numbers.

The Major System (often called the Major Method) helps you associate a consonant with each digit from 0-9. This mnemonic device has been in use since the Katapayadi of ancient India.

A more common approach that has been in use since the 1700s looks like this:

A common approach to the Major Method, using numbers paired with letters.

A more recent innovation is the Dominic System. It has some key differences, so make sure to study both.

00-99 PAO

PAO stands for Person, Action, Object. Basically, you’re taking the Major System and using it to help you make words from numbers.

Here are some examples from mine:

01 – Sad (tragedy mask)
02 – Sun (from the movie Sunshine)
31 – Mad Magazine mascot (often dressed as a maid)

A giant fireball sun, much like the one in the Movie Sunshine, one of Anthony's PAO examples.

Notice that I’ve put some concrete indicators in parentheses. This is because “sad” is not very evocative. It’s just a concept.

But when I think of a tragedy mask, it still links to the concept of sadness. To make it even more specific, I think of the tragedy mask worn by William Shatner in Oedipus Rex.

Mind Maps

Tony Buzan is one of the greatest innovators of mind mapping, but he says in Mind Map Mastery that he abandoned this technique for improving memory back in the 70s.

He focused more on using keywords that help with creativity, problem-solving, and planning.

I feel that the conclusion to remove their use as a memorization tool was premature. If you would like to learn how to combine mind maps with Memory Palaces, for example, here’s a simple way to also add in the Major System for incredible results:

As you can see, it’s fun to mix keywords with the Major Method on paper in a way that turns the mind map into a simple Memory Palace.

And this is really just the beginning when it comes to learning how to remember things.

It’s not just that there are a TON of mnemonic devices to choose from. It’s that we get to delight in how they can be mixed and matched in so many ways.

I Love Using A Combination Of Mnemonic Strategies — How About You?

We’re incredibly lucky.

Although it can be confusing, the Internet has enabled dozens of memory competitors, memory athletes, and plain ol’ memory fanatics like me to create tons of free content for the world.

Even though it’s easy to get lost in the intricacies, remember: Memory is not a thing. It is a behavior.

Dive into each of the approaches you learned today.

Really dig deep into their nuances through practice.

Let me know if you found this guide helpful and comment below. If there are mnemonic devices I missed, please share it so I can update this post. All of us will be eternally grateful.

And if you want to learn more about how to make the most of your new mnemonic strategies using a Memory Palace, pick up your free copy of the memory improvement kit today!

What are mnemonic devices, and how can you use them to improve memory? This post shows how, including helpful techniques and strategies. What are mnemonic devices, and how can you use them to improve memory? This post shows how, including helpful techniques and strategies. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 33:17
Memory Palace for Language Learning: Does It Really Work? Wed, 19 Jul 2023 15:18:14 +0000 Using a Memory Palace for language learning is effective if you approach it the right way. Get the best tips now and improve quickly. Palace with flags to express a concept related to the memory palace technique for language learningIf you’re learning a new foreign language, you’ve probably heard about the Memory Palace for language learning.

Does it work?


But some people struggle with this mnemonic strategy.


To remove all struggles and maximum your success, on this page, I’ll discuss why some people exert too much energy and wind up fizzling out.

And I’ll remove each and every pitfall based on decades of personal experience using and teaching these techniques with multiple languages.

That way, you can use this incredibly powerful learning technique to supplement your language learning adventure.

Because let’s face it:

The whole point of using this technique in the first place is to make language learning much more fun, and a lot faster and easier.

So if you’re ready ready to optimize how you’re using this powerful tactic and go over the ultimate Memory Palace example for language learners, let’s dive in.

First, Avoid These Memory Palace Mistakes

If you’ve tried using a Memory Palace to develop your fluency in another language and struggled, this first mistake is important to avoid.

Stop blaming yourself.

A lot of memory training on the Internet lacks nuance. Worse, a lot of it is designed to peak your interest with big promises, but not teach you anything. That’s not happening here.

In reality, the technique works wonderfully for speeding up retention with any information. Beyond not having good sources of information, people struggle because:

Again, forgive yourself if you’ve encountered any of these situations before. We’re about to solve everything together.

Can a Memory Palace Really Teach You a New Language?

The Buddha reportedly said that “Expectation is the quickest path to suffering.”

And a lot of people mistakenly think that the Memory Palace technique is going to magically “teach” them the language or make them fluent.

But remembering vocabulary and phrases is not just a solitary activity. It’s a communal one.

This is a key point made by Tim Doner in a TEDx Teen Talk where he also shows how he used the Memory Palace technique.

To see such a young person so wisely embedding this ancient memory technique in the larger principles of what it takes to learn a language is inspiring.

Because that’s what it takes:

Use the Memory Palace as a tool from a toolbox containing other tools, not a magic bullet. What are some of those other tools?

How to Design a Memory Palace for Language Learning

The key to getting your first Memory Palace optimized for language learning involves these steps:

  • Making sure it’s a true Memory Palace
  • Making sure you can navigate it naturally
  • Making sure you don’t trap or confuse yourself
  • Making sure it works for Recall Rehearsal (spaced repetition)
  • Making sure you have multiple Memory Palaces
  • Making sure you populate the Memory Palaces with truly Magnetic Imagery
  • Making sure you learn to scale from individual words to entire sentences

Let’s go through each of these steps in order.

One: Use A True Memory Palace

By “true” Memory Palace, I mean basing your Memory Palace on a location you already remember.

Some people don’t mind spending the time to memorize a location in order to use it. Or they are happy to base a Memory Palace on a video game, movie or even a story. All of these are what I call Virtual Memory Palaces.

By all means, experiment with these forms. But if you find yourself spinning your wheels, come back to the principle of basing each Memory Palace for foreign language learning purposes on actual locations. Chances are you’ll be much more successful.

memory palace example

This better outcome happens because you’re reducing the cognitive load by simply laying out associations on a journey you already remember. This principle reduces errors and saves time. Segmenting space you already remember is what distinguishes a Memory Palace from a Memorized Palace.

Two: Navigate Your Palaces Naturally

Many times I receive messages from people who have issues with language learning. When I ask them what they’re doing, they tell me they’re crossing through walls or mentally leaping through space and time.

I counsel them to try navigating their Memory Palaces using one of these five examples.

Each of them involves walking or moving mentally from one station in the Memory Palace to the next exactly as you would in real life.

A visual representation of a Memory Palace journey Anthony uses to help him do the ultimate visualization meditation.

Again, this procedure has to do with reducing cognitive load. If you choose to magically penetrate a window and fly across town, you’ve given yourself an additional memory task. That takes time and energy away from using the technique to memorize vocabulary and phrases.

But if you move from your bedroom to your balcony exactly as you would in the real world, you can focus much more attention on the content you’re memorizing.

Three: Avoid Traps And Confusion

So many Memory Palace tutorials tell you to start at your front door and move inwards.

Sure, this can work, but personally, it makes me cringe. Every time I do this, I wind up running out of space very quickly.

Jared Russell Memory Palace

That’s why I learned to start at the “dead end” and move towards the entrance. That way, I can add more stations if desired by using driveways, mailboxes, etc. This approach allows you to patch in the best parts of the journey method, which involves outdoor locations.

It also helps ensure that you don’t have to renovate any of your Memory Palaces later.

Four: Make Sure The Memory Palace Assists Recall Rehearsal

We know that the Memory Palace technique works. One of the most recent and most powerful studies conducted by a team involve David Reser and Tyson Yunkaporta showed excellent results in a study using an Aboriginal variation of the Memory Palace.

This study revealed positive results for people with dyslexia using a software variation of the Memory Palace technique. And Lynne Kelly’s Memory Craft provides even more research if you’re interested.

The point is that you need to follow all of these steps I’ve outlined because active recall and review are necessary. But you can’t be fussing around with the Memory Palace itself because that drains you of time, energy and enthusiasm for the technique.

Some people find the setup itself daunting, and I can appreciate that. But I don’t think they’re correct when they say that rote learning would be better for them. Research has shown that rote learning can reduce your critical thinking abilities.

So it’s worth the small amount of pre-loaded learning it takes to master the Memory Palace technique for language learning.

Five: Multiple Memory Palaces

Once you’ve made one Memory Palace and put it into action for approximately 10 words, it’s time to make more.


A few reasons:

  • You can gather related words alphabetically or thematically in different Memory Palaces
  • Rotating between Memory Palaces maximizes the benefits of chunking through interleaving
  • You learn to use the technique better
  • It helps you reuse or expand previous Memory Palaces effectively

Some people find creating multiple Memory Palaces daunting. You don’t have to create dozens overnight.

But if you sit down and complete the exercises I teach, the rusty chain in your brain will soon be oiled.

Plus, once you start thinking alphabetically, you’ll see that the entire world is optimized for you to harness this technique.

A simple case in point is that every street in my town has a name. Even if that name is a number, it can still be spelled.

If I used 1st Avenue as a Memory Palace for ‘F’ words, I have a highly optimized mental journey that leans upon a feature in the world. This kind of Memory Palace reduces cognitive load by harnessing what is already known instead of wasting energy on coming up with invented associations.

Memory Palace for Language Learning example from a student

Six: Use Magnetic Imagery

When people send me their associations, they often involve associations like “a hair stylist” for a German word like Herstellen.

Don’t get me wrong. This is a great start.

But it’s not optimized Magnetic Imagery. Mnemonic Images need more specificity to really pop and help you recall both the sound and the meaning of the words you’re learning.

To improve the example a student sent me, I suggested imagining the German author Hermann Hesse “producing” a hair style for Ellen Degeneres. To be clear, I’ve linked the “Her” in Hermann to the “her” in herstellen, and “Ellen” to “stellen” and had their interaction express the meaning of the world.

This level of specificity follows a variation of the principles I shared above. It relies upon people that are already in memory. They are concrete and specific and easy to animate. “Hair stylist” on the other hand is vague and generic.

Sure, learning to make sure your images are properly “Magnetic” can take a bit of practice. But it’s well worth it and you’ll pick up the habit soon enough. In fact, with consistent practice, the skill will enter your procedural memory and you’ll find yourself doing it on autopilot.

Seven: Scale To Entire Phrases

The best part of this technique is that you don’t have to stop with individual words.

Of course, it only makes sense to start by mastering one word at a time. That’s why I suggest started with approximately 10 words per Memory Palace.

Once you can do this reliably, it’s time to add a useful phrase to each word. (And I do mean memorizing useful phrases. Often people spend time and energy on vocabulary and phrases they don’t actually need.)

There are a few ways to do this depending on how you’re using the technique.

For example, I first get all of the words into memory. Then I pick a couple and add phrases on the same station I originally used.

But other times, I will transport the words to completely different Memory Palaces. I suggest taking everything on a case-by-base basis, even if you have some trusty and reliable routines.

That way, you’ll always have a path forward, which becomes especially useful when you start to learn more than one language at a time.

Memory Palace Q&As: What Does Success Look Like?

Success obviously looks different for different people. But in general, here’s how I suggest you think about the process:

Have fun.

If you’re not enjoying the process, it really isn’t successful.

But also take responsibility for making it fun.

Memory techniques are like a bike. Everyone needs to adjust the seat and the handle bars, so spend enough time with the technique so that you’ve really settled into what it is and how it works.

How Long Will It Take To Learn A Language?

The length of time it takes to learn a language depends a lot on how you define fluency.

Personally, I’m a fanatic of language, including my native tongue. I don’t think I’ll ever be done learning English, so I don’t worry about this question in any language I study.

Rather, I set very specific goals. For example, after CLI heard my language learning podcast episode on The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, they invited me to China. That meant I had only three months to study Chinese.

Instead of making a massive and impossible goal, I set the achievable goal of developing a 300 word vocabulary and mastering basic conversational phrases. And this worked very well.

Later, I was able to start Level 3 at the Confucius Institute school in Brisbane without taking the first two levels. And I set my goal as simply mastering the course content. I passed with flying colors.

But I expect to never stop learning Chinese, or German, or Sanskrit or any language I take up. Each language is an adventure for life.

How Often Should I Use My Memory Palace?

In the beginning, I would suggest using the technique as often as possible. Daily is best, and you can get great results with just 15 minutes a day, or even less.

The reason to use the technique frequently is to ensure that your procedural memory can develop the skills involved in the technique.

As I discussed in my first book on language learning with memory techniques, memory techniques and your mind are a bit like a bicycle. Once you learn how to get them working, you can take time off and still enjoy smooth sailing.

Cover of How to Learn and Memorize German Vocabulary

But without consistent practice, it’s very difficult to build enough brain connections to ride freely.

Is There A “Best” Way To Use Memory Palaces?

Absolutely, yes. You want to use the Memory Palace technique in a way that will get you results.

Returning to the bicycle analogy, you can’t just hop on a bike and expect it to be perfectly comfortable. You usually need to adjust the seat height and the exact angle of the bars.

Memory techniques are like that too. The principles are universal, but some adjustments to personalize them are always required.

Plus, there’s always personal experimentation involved. The need to dive in and get your hands dirty is a common theme in Memory Palace books, and your adventure is unlikely to be any different.

Rather than seek the best way, I suggest you first find the most effective way for your specific language learning goals. Then develop your skills so that you’re more efficient. Finally, experiment with yet other approaches so that you’re able to grow your skills over time.

The best part? You’ll be growing your fluency as you go thanks to developing your own “mnemonic style.”

Now It’s Time to Create Your Own Memory Palace

When you’re ready to start applying the Memory Palace technique to your language learning goals, please grab my free memory improvement kit:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It gives you some powerful exercises and templates that will ensure your Memory Palaces are well-formed and error free.

That way you can dive into crushing your language learning goals immediately.

Enjoy this journey in whatever language you’re learning and I look forward to hearing from you in multiple tongues!

Using a Memory Palace for language learning is effective if you approach it the right way. Get the best tips now and improve quickly. Using a Memory Palace for language learning is effective if you approach it the right way. Get the best tips now and improve quickly. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 31:19
How to Visualize Clearly And Effectively: 7 Proven Tactics Tue, 18 Jul 2023 08:54:52 +0000 Want to achieve success in all you do? Learn how to visualize clearly and map out your vision in this post. How to Visualize Clearly And EffectivelyIf you want to know how to visualize clearly and effectively, you probably already have a vision statement written.

You have written out a vision statement by hand, haven’t you?

If the answer is “no,” then I’m here to tell you that your visualization is neither clear nor complete. And that means you’re still struggling to achieve your goals.

If you’re still not living the life you want, study this page carefully.

You’re about to learn how to visualize images in your mind that will make it impossible not to become the architect of your dreams and fantasies.


You’ll also learn how to be the builder of your success.

Here’s what this post will cover:

How to Visualize Clearly: 7 Tips For Success
1. Don’t Stop At The “Visual”
2. Have a Written Vision Statement
3. Mind Map Your Vision
4. Create a Treasure Map
5. Do a Visualization Meditation
6. Journal Daily
7. Plan Your Action Steps
Visualize Images Based On Existing Competence

Let’s dive in!

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

How to Visualize Clearly: 7 Tips For Success

Ready to learn how to visualize better? Here are 7 pointers.

1. Don’t Stop At The “Visual”

Far too many people think that “visualization” is about seeing clear pictures in their minds.

A man with a camera in his hand looks across a field during sunset.

Not only is this single-sensory form of dreaming your way to success extremely limited — it also fails to really help you access all levels of your experiential brain.

Instead, you want to tap into every possible sensation you can muster. That’s why I want you to memorize this simple acronym:


These are the eight most powerful senses of multi-sensory visualization I know:



Every time you visualize images, make sure you’re also feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing, and emotionally experiencing your goal.

2. Have a Written Vision Statement

A written vision statement is a simple, 2-5 page declaration of what you want to achieve in your own words.

A person writes in a notebook, on a table with a laptop, coffee cup, and books.

Words are just as “visual” to your brain as images, with each word acting like an interpretable picture at the conceptual level.

Plus, by writing out your vision you symbolically and literally signal to your brain that you value your goals. You “see” yourself taking action and it becomes a lived experience.

Plan to write multiple vision statements. It is a repeatable activity and each time you it will serve you well. So too will these additional 5 visualization exercises.

3. Mind Map Your Vision

A mind map, on the other hand, is more visual in the traditional sense. Here, you will use a combination of words and drawings to let yourself conjure up your goals at a glance.

A mind map drawing of Anthony's. Mind mapping can help you in your quest to visualize clearly.

I was very fortunate to learn mind mapping directly from Tony Buzan. In fact, I mind mapped the Magnetic Memory Method mission under his personal tutelage back in 2016 and still follow the vision you see represented above.

I find this approach very useful because mind maps are big, colorful and you can place them in your work area.

This keeps you focused on the goal — and helps ensure you never forget what you’re working to achieve.

4. Create a Treasure Map

To use this technique, which is similar to mind mapping, open a Word document and search for images that represent your goals.

Anthony's "treasure map" which includes pictures of a band performing on stage, playing cards, an airplane, books, a chest, and J.S. Bach holding an electric bass.

In the above example, I made it my vision to publish multiple books, travel the world, and play in a band. So I added images that represented these outcomes.

Within a few short months, using a combination of all the techniques you’re reading now, I was out on the road — and I’ve never looked back since.

The trick is to print out a couple of copies and keep them where you can see them.

5. Do a Visualization Meditation

To experience a visualization meditation, sit on the floor, on the side of your bed, or on a chair. Close your eyes and bring your goal to mind using KAVE COGS.

A woman in purple pants sits on a meditation cushion with her hands in a mudra, with a singing bowl next to her.

I like to go through each experiential mental image in that exact order because it’s easy to remember the stack.

For example, if you want to master playing a musical instrument and have learned how to memorize a song, start with kinesthetic sensations.

That means you might imagine the feeling of holding your instrument or the stage beneath your feet as you step in front of an audience.

Then hear the music flowing out of you. See the stage next, including the lights, the audience, and your fellow musicians. Let the emotions roll through you and carry on with the rest.

Powerful stuff, isn’t it?

Add a walking meditation to the mix and the other varieties I teach in The Victorious Mind: How to Master Memory, Meditation and Mental Well-Being and watch the results unfold.

6. Journal Daily

When I was learning how to visualize effectively, journaling was key.

Two journals sit against a blank surface, with 2 colored pencils on top. Journaling can help you learn how to visualize effectively.

In fact, I still journal a “Perfect Present” vision statement every day. It goes like this:

I wake up healthy and strong. The worth of my being is great. I live in joy and abundance. I meditate, exercise and eat well. My passive income exceeds my lifestyle by 10x. I write and play music every day in joy and abundance.

Again, writing things out makes your action visible to you. And you can run through KAVE COGS as you write out your goal.

Not only is writing out a vision statement scientifically viable, research groups at schools like Notre Dame have been using texts formalized by other scientists and researchers (like Janel M. Radtke) going back to 1988.

7. Plan Your Action Steps

I took a snap of this Japanese Proverb outside of a cafe in Vancouver, British Columbia:

Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare.

A chalkboard sign outside a cafe reads, "Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare."

In reality, there’s nothing wrong with daydreaming — so long as you’re willing to accept the suffering that comes from not achieving realistic goals.

That’s why we need to break our goals down into milestones and individual steps or micro-actions we can take. These need to be charted out over time.

As much as possible, these steps should be automated, or optimized, so they take place without the need for willpower or motivation.

For example, every week I release new blog posts, videos, and podcasts. There’s a system behind how everything happens. It’s not exactly flexible, but not rigid either.

It just serves the needs of my vision statement for the Magnetic Memory Method.

And I plan, and replan, as you should too — including the time to meditate and visualize using KAVE COGS.

Visualize Images Based On Existing Competence

One last power tip:

A lot of people visualize goals beyond their abilities.

A person's hand sits on the frets of a guitar.

For example, I am in no way accepting a “limiting belief” when I realize that I am not going to become a world-famous musician.

My musical competence was good enough to play on quite a few stages in quite a few bands and do some recording. But I’m just not going to put in the time and effort to reach that “next level.”

And that’s why when I worked to visualize clearly what I wanted to achieve musically, I placed it within the realm of what I could actually accomplish.

That way, my efforts to join a band and get out on the road were not wasted. I could learn songs quickly and perform them to a decent standard.

But my psoriatic arthritis flared while I was on the road. No amount of visualization was going to make my hands performance-ready for recording on the album with The Outside I’d been preparing to produce with them.

But I could help out with the lyrics and even write a short vocal cameo I had on the album. In other words, I didn’t give up on the vision: I pivoted.

Expand Your Existing Competence

Sometimes you can visualize beyond your competence. For example, I’m a decent writer and it was great that I could get The Victorious Mind to reach #1 in three bestseller categories on Amazon as an independent author.

The Victorious Mind: How to Master Memory, Meditation, and Mental Well-Being

But I don’t want to be independent forever. So I have to visualize with radical honesty my existing competence and my dream of having a traditional publisher help with a book that will reach a larger audience.

Then, I have to visualize all the skills I need to add in order to reach that next level — and write them out. Next comes the plan with all the milestones and individual micro-actions.

Finally, the 7 visualization steps listed above are needed to make everything as clear and doable as possible. And it’s clear to me that the number one thing I need to expand is reaching out to editors and mastering relationship building with them.

Sure, all of this takes mental strength. But it’s worth pursuing every ounce of grit you can get, and so I ask you:

What can you do to visualize your existing competence related to your bigger goals right now?

Never forget, every moment you aren’t taking action and visualizing based on the strongest possible multi-sensory models, you are leaving so much of life’s precious riches behind.

Hopefully, by now you have more than a few solid ideas that will make your visualizations clearer than ever before. And if I’m missing any, let me know. I’ll visualize them into the mix!

And be sure to pick up your copy of The Victorious Mind: How to Master Memory, Meditation and Mental Well-Being and put the meditations in the book to use on your journey to visualize clearly and effectively!

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

Want to achieve success in all you do? Learn how to visualize clearly and map out your vision in this post. Want to achieve success in all you do? Learn how to visualize clearly and map out your vision in this post. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 36:45
From Cardiac Arrest to Fearless Bible Memory Before the Congregation Fri, 14 Jul 2023 03:18:51 +0000 Matt Barclay suffered memory issues following a cardiac arrest. Yet, using the Magnetic Memory Method, he recited almost an entire Psalm. Matt Barclay Bible Memory feature imageHave you ever wanted to memorize Psalms from the Bible?

Or that matter, any verbatim text?

If so, delve into the extraordinary story and memory tips gifted to us today by Matt Barclay.

I mean, get this:

Matt experienced challenging memory issues following a cardiac arrest.

Yet, using the Magnetic Memory Method, he recited almost an entire Psalm from memory!

In public. Without breaking a sweat.

Matt’s triumph is a true testament to the power of resilience, memory techniques, faith and using the Memory Palace to accomplish big goals

Especially inspiring is how Matt rose up from the cognitive challenges created by a cardiac arrest to become a fearless master of Bible memory.

This episode of the Magnetic Memory Method combines heartfelt conversation and strategic analysis of Matt approaches memorizing scripture.

Listen in as Matt shares his profound insights, guiding us through the intricate process of harnessing the mind’s potential to recall and recite scripture with unwavering confidence.

Prepare to be moved and inspired. Matt’s incredible journey exemplifies the unyielding power of the human spirit and the triumph of action over adversity.

How Matt Barclay Memorized So Much Of The Bible, So Quickly

Here’s the good news:

Memorizing scripture is not rocket science.

Far from it.

Whether you want to memorize a short prayer or even long passages to include as part of a memorized presentation, you have options.

As Matt explains in this discussion, he started off using one of many linking-type methods, in this case the one described by Harry Lorayne.

Although linking can be perfectly suitable for short lists, it’s not a particularly strong memory technique for any kind of verbatim text.

That’s when Matt found the Magnetic Memory Method and the Memory Palace solution.

It provides you with a much more flexible mnemonic strategy. You can use it to memorize the books of the Bible, and scripture in any language.

How do I know? Because I’ve memorized a lot of scripture in Sanskrit and a smaller amount in Latin. Here’s a longer Sanskrit demonstration and a detailed case study of memorizing some of the Book of John in Latin.

Even Mike McKinley who felt like he wasn’t using spatial memory still had a component of it in his 66 Psalms memory project.

How To Use A Memory Palace For Biblical Scripture

As Matt discovered, the principles I share in my memory courses really matters.

The key principles boil down to:

  • Create your Memory Palaces in advance
  • Make sure you don’t lead yourself into dead ends
  • Don’t burn mental energy on crossing your own path
  • Use proper mnemonic images
  • Gear everything toward an effective spaced repetition strategy

how to memorize a passage memory palace example

For scripture, I also suggest you give yourself a lot of space. One of my longest pieces uses the entire neighborhood you see in the illustration above.

It’s not possible to always predict exactly how much space you might need when you start. So it’s a best practice to design your journey so you can always add more Magnetic Stations if you need them.

There’s a lot more to say in terms of the tactics you can easily learn. So if you want to learn more, check out How to Remember the Bible for additional details.

You can also sign up for my free course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will help you master the fundamentals of the Memory Palace quickly.

I hope you enjoyed this impressive and incredibly practical demonstration of memorizing scripture and reciting it from memory.

I’m grateful to Matt for sharing this part of his journey and would love to hear from you if you’re also memorizing the Bible or other verbatim texts.

Matt Barclay suffered memory issues following a cardiac arrest. Yet, using the Magnetic Memory Method, he recited almost an entire Psalm. Matt Barclay suffered memory issues following a cardiac arrest. Yet, using the Magnetic Memory Method, he recited almost an entire Psalm. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 1:04:25
What Is Active Recall and Does It Help You Remember? Thu, 13 Jul 2023 08:00:23 +0000 Active recall works incredibly well. You just have to make sure you're using it correctly. Learn two rules that make it work flawlessly now. old lady recalls her memoryHave you heard the hype about active recall, but still feel skeptical?

Or maybe you’ve heard the latest “learning guru” say that this recall method is better than the Memory Palace technique. 

If that statement has gotten your hackles up, I can’t blame you.

After all, the Memory Palace, when used correctly, is active recall and self testing all rolled into one. 

So where does the confusion come from? 

Should you use Anki instead of one of the ancient memory techniques? 

Are there exercises for improving active recall?

Well, if you want information to “stick” permanently, then stick around. We’ll get into the answers to these questions in-depth on this page. 

What Is Active Recall? 

Here’s the best scientific definition I’ve found so far:

Active recall is a personalized recall strategy that involves variety.


In other words, spaced repetition software might help you use active recall. But it can only help you and pales in comparison to what personalization with variety can do for you.

And that’s where the memory techniques taught on this blog come in.

Here’s what I mean with an example:

This morning I learned 态度 (tàidu). It’s Mandarin for “attitude” or “manner.” 

To use active recall and spaced repetition to rapidly place the sound and meaning of this word into my long term memory, I followed these steps:

  • Memory Palace
  • Elaborative encoding
  • Revisiting the Memory Palace
  • Elaborative decoding
  • Speaking practice in a sentence
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Listening

Technically, the “active recall” part happens only during the attempt to recall the information. 

brain ideas

However, we know from memory athletes like Boris Konrad, that active recall is a lot easier when you use personal associations to “encode” information. He’s a neuroscientist too, so his views are very valuable.

If you have difficulties with coming up with associations, consider learning how to image stream the Magnetic Memory Method way.

Retrieval Practice

Another way of looking at the recall part is to use the term “retrieval practice.” When I recall the association I made in the Memory Palace for this word, I’m practicing one level of retrieval. Speaking and writing the word are other levels. Pulling up the meaning when hearing the word through listening is yet another level. 

The reason retrieval practice at multiple levels helps your brain form memories faster is simple. The more levels of recall you engage, the faster your brain makes multiple connections.  

This has been called the “levels of processing model” and works for just about everyone. People with schizophrenia may struggle, however, no matter how much active recall they perform.

Does Active Recall Really Work?

In a word:


The real question is:

Are you doing it?

And if you’re doing it, are you doing it in a deep or shallow way?

If you’re using Anki or some other flashcard app and not using elaborative encoding, then that is a passive and shallow way to engage with what you’re learning. 

But if you at least make personalized associations for each and every piece of information, your recall rates will soar. 

brain connections

In order for active recall to work, your associations need to be personalized and varied. You are a living being, not a programmable computer, so if you use software, always personalize how you use it.

(Side note: There is a place for passive memory training, and it is shared by Dr. Gary Small. It’s very powerful for its intended purpose.)

Why Active Recall Works In Any Language

One of the key researchers to know about is Dr. Richard Atkinson. He has shown 88% retention rates for those who use elaborative encoding. That’s compared to 28% recall for those who don’t. 

Here’s more on retaining information efficiently.

You can also learn more about why features of human language make this process work, and see it reproduced for students with different mother tongues. For example, Dr. Horst Sperber has reproduced these research findings for German speakers with ease.

In other words, the language you speak doesn’t matter. It’s your strategy with this recall method that makes all the difference.

So the question isn’t really whether or not these techniques work. The question is:

How do you make sure you are always using active recall in a deep way? 

7 Passive Study Techniques for Active Recall

The trick is to learn how to encode quickly, place the associations you make into Memory Palaces and then remember to decode using active recall. 

Luckily, all of this can be “automated” through habit formation. 

Step One: Have Your “Palette” Prepared

The first habit to develop is having enough Memory Palaces and then thinking of them as you learn.

To get started with this, make sure you have enough of them. My free course will help you:

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

When I’m encoding, it takes just a second to think of the Memory Palace for a word like 态度 (tàidu). 

Since its core meaning is “attitude,” I thought about a lecture hall where I’d seen Margaret Atwood give a lecture. 

Attitude and Atwood share a core sound. And if you’ve ever seen her speak, you know that she’s definitely a woman with an interesting attitude about many topics. 

Step Two: Have Your Encoding Materials Prepared

A word like 态度 (tàidu) can be broken down into pieces: tài and du.

If you use the Magnetic Memory Method, you’ll have associations ready to go based on the alphabet. I just thought about Attwood wearing a tie made of doodoo. 

Here’s more on using a “Magnetic Alphabet” to rapidly encode information:

Step Three: Elaborate All Of Your Associations

Fast associations generally aren’t enough. You need to elaborate on them in a multi-sensory way.

We do this through a process called KAVE COGS. Each of the letters stand for one of the “Magnetic Modes.”  

Let me take you through the process with 态度 (tàidu) as an example.

  • Kinesthetic: Physically feeling the weight of this tie on Atwood’s neck.
  • Auditory: Hearing the sound of her voice having a bad attitude about the situation.
  • Visual: Thinking about what the scene looks like.
  • Emotional: Experiencing her disgust at having a tie made of doodoo.
  • Conceptual: The fact that Atwood is an author is a concept itself, but I add on the idea that her next book is called “Attitude” and is about someone forced to wear a tie made out of doodoo.
  • Olfactory: The smell of the tie is all too easy to imagine.
  • Gustatory: So is the taste – yuck!
  • Spatial: This is where you spend a second thinking about the sizes of things involved in the association. In my imagination, this tie is rather tiny. 

With practice, using KAVE COGS should take only seconds. 

For a simple exercise, try to remember that a sound like tai (as in Thai food) and du mean attitude in Mandarin Chinese. 

thai food

Encoding with highly personal experiences like eating particular kinds of foods makes active recall much easier.

Come up with your own multi sensory associations and then after five minutes, see if you can bring each association back to your mind.

Step Four: Purposefully Bring Back The Association

There’s no cookie cutter answer for how to do this. 

Memory expert Dominic O’Brien suggests the Rule of Five, but I’ve never found a specific description of how he does it.

Myself, I make sure to just start recalling the information. 

  • When I’m learning Chinese, I use new words and phrases in conversations with my wife.
  • When I’m learning history, I pepper the facts into my writing and conversations.
  • I recall in the shower.
  • I practice active recall while walking. 
  • I apply the recall method in a journal I use for testing. 
  • I keep using active reading to instil the source material of the information.
  • I continue listening to relevant audio and visual programs.
  • Etc. 

The important point is that recall happens in multiple formats and locations. It really helps that some of the active recall takes place out on walks, for example.

Step Five: Use Recall Rehearsal

The absolute best way to use active recall is by following patterns that maximize the primacy and recency effects. These are the laws of memory that help us build mental connections faster and ensure that they last. 

This process also harnesses the serial position effect and the Von Restorff Effect

layout memory palace

There are 5 key patterns for using active recall with a Memory Palace. Please make sure you use them all.

To use it, you mentally travel in your Memory Palace using different patterns. On each station of the Memory Palace, you use active recall to decode your associations and bring back the target information. 

Here are the patterns:

  • Beginning to end
  • End to beginning
  • Middle to end
  • Middle to beginning
  • Skip the stations

If you keep your Memory Palaces small, or at least segment them, you’ll find this process easy and fun to do. And it’s incredibly effective too. 

Step Six: Use Questions

When revisiting the Memory Palaces, exactly how to trigger recall can be a silent process. You can simply bring the location to mind and let the association you created replay.

But sometimes things don’t start up so smoothly. 

And that’s where I suggest you learn to use a simple “decoding” question.

What was happening there? 

If this question doesn’t help you start recalling the information, then you can start self testing using KAVE COGS. 

  • What was the kinesthetic association I made?
  • What was the auditory association? 
  • What was the visual association? 
  • Etc. 

Usually, you won’t have to ask many of these questions. And the questions are a great “cheat detector” that expose when you’ve tried to take shortcuts by not using all of the Magnetic Modes built into KAVE COGS.

ask questions

When that happens, just add them in. This will probably fix the problem and improve your rate of recall quickly. 

Step Seven: Develop More Advanced Approaches

As you develop with these skills, you’ll want to be able to encode while reading. 

Usually, I extract the information from books I’m studying onto cards. I taught this process in How to Memorize a Textbook.

But if you want to practice a skill that releases you from this, you can turn each page into a mini-Memory Palace on its own. 

You can do this by developing a 00-99 PAO, which is a variation on the pegword method.

Let’s say that you encounter a fact. For example, I’m currently reading Adam Zamoyski’s Napoleon: The Man Behind the Myth

To remember that Napoleon was born in Corsica, I use 09 because it’s on page 9 that I encounter this fact. 

My image for 09 is Brad Zupp driving a Saab. To elaborate this image to recall “Corsica” I imagine him throwing an apple core about the window. I place this image not in a traditional Memory Palace, but at the top of the page.

Later, when I want to remember that Napoleon was born in 1769 and died in Longwood in 1821, I can add these facts to the middle and the bottom of the page. 


Using mnemonic devices to help with active recall is great for facts like historical dates, people and locations.

Then, when performing active recall, I have page 9 to easily refer back to as the “palette” where I “painted” the associations.

Although this technique is a bit more advanced, it does not mean you can skip Recall Rehearsal. You just wind up using it a different way as you mentally revisit the pages of the books and your associations in them.

Why Mastering Active Recall Is A Must

As we’ve seen, the Memory Palace technique is a great way to use Active Recall. 

To call it an alternative to flash cards and spaced repetition software would be a mistake.

Or better said, it’s the other way around. Leitner boxes, Anki, Quizlet and other programs are the modern alternatives to this ancient technique.

But do they work as well?

They certainly can, provided you engage deeply with the elaborative encoding steps I’ve shared with you today. However, I’m confident you’ll find they work even better if you strengthen your spatial memory using the Memory Palace technique.

In sum, here’s the takeaway to remember:

Active recall studying throughout the day is totally possible. You just need to set up your memory systems. 

But it’s technically not to be called “active recall” if you’re not making highly personal associations that help you recall. 

And you need to be reading, writing, speaking and listening in ample doses to make sure you’re actively recalling through multiple channels of your mind. 

So what do you say? Are you ready to approach active recall and spaced repetition in a new way? 


Active recall works incredibly well. You just have to make sure you're using it correctly. Learn two rules that make it work flawlessly now. Active recall works incredibly well. You just have to make sure you're using it correctly. Learn two rules that make it work flawlessly now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 28:59
7 Signs of Genius (& How to Work Towards High Intelligence) Wed, 12 Jul 2023 14:05:54 +0000 Tired of the same old signs of genius? Read this list and discover the truth about genius and how to rapidly enjoy high intelligence. signs of genius and high intelligence feature image of Albert EinsteinIs it a sign of genius if you sound like a walking encyclopedia during a conversation?

Or are you just annoying?

How about being able to rattle off the names of every political leader in the history of your country? And their key contributions?

Although such abilities might be signs of extreme intelligence, they could indicate something else.

In my view, we need to be careful when throwing around terms like “high intelligence” and “genius.”

Many people tend to have tunnel vision and think of genius as a very narrow repertoire of abilities.

But as you’re about to discover, true signs of a high IQ operate quite differently.

So let’s dive into the most common signs of true genius and pick up some tips on how to improve your intelligence along the way.

What Does It Mean to be a “Genius?”

Ever heard of a “genie in a bottle”? Although the word “genius” is probably not directly related to the Arabic Jinn where this mythical idea comes from, there are similarities between the words.

Our word genius in English descends from the Latin for “guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth.”

It also can mean wit and talent, or even generative power.

And that’s what we usually mean today: a genius has some kind of powerful intelligence or enhanced ability to create something or perform with skill.

The individual might display linguistic intelligence, musical mastery or even draw upon synesthesia or hyperphantasia they have such conditions.

The Science Behind Finding Signs of Genius

Right or wrong, there’s a lot of folk wisdom around what genius means. The term is thrown around fast and loose and a lot of people get duped into thinking they are less intelligent as a result.

neuro lights in a brain

But scientists have spent quite a lot of time and energy trying to nail down where exactly the brain produces intelligence. Einstein’s brain was preserved for study, and reportedly even stolen at one point.

Scientists noted a certain thickness to parts of Einstein’s brain, but this probably had more to do with his deliberate practice of music than physics.

In the 80s, Norman Geschwind and Albert Galaburda created a watershed of ways to think about how intelligence develops when they dug into the topic in Cerebral Lateralization. These neurologists demonstrated the different ways the left and right hemispheres of the brain develop and theorize why some people have larger right hemispheres than others.

Frankly, this data is very important to consider in addition to studying people with the highest IQ scores.

“Reverse Psychology”

Often, scientists need to look at brains that have undergone traumatic brain injury to help them draw conclusions about how different areas of the brain related to intelligence.

That, or they study the brain scans of neurodiverse people experiencing autism, savantism or even a condition called hyperthymestic syndrome that creates the illusion of photographic memory.

a woman is playing chessIt’s important to study these alternative cases because we see a lot of new trends emerging recently. There’s also not really such a thing as a “normal” brain.

The most recent studies of chess players, for example, have shown no special transference of their playing skills to intelligence in other realms. But you’d think there would be, especially when using memory techniques for chess. Aren’t grandmasters trained to make critical decisions?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean they transfer to any other aspect of life. Now that we have more data and better ways of parsing it, earlier conclusions about chess players and enhanced critical thinking abilities are no longer considered true.

In other words, if you want to increase your IQ, it’s helpful to look at many examples and focus your attention on activities that do transfer. And since the ego is involved when trying to improve your intelligence, you’ll need to overcome many critical thinking barriers.

To help you with that, let’s look closer at the different ways our society thinks of genius and “reverse engineer” how we can improve our own minds.

7 Signs of High Intelligence That Could Indicate Genius

As we go through this list, there’s no order of importance to consider.

However, each of the genius traits I’ll cover have something to tell us about how we can make ourselves smarter.

Let’s dive in!

One: Intense Interest

In a 1992 essay, “Why Children Follow in their Parents’ Career Footsteps,” Laband and Lentz pin everything on how kids observe their parents. Social forces like economic potential by going into other fields plays a much smaller role.

Laband and Lentz even argue that genetics isn’t nearly as powerful in determining a child’s future career. This conclusion is different than Francis Galton’s notion of Hereditary Genius. Galton thought genetics was so important, he argued for eugenics.

Want to be a genius?

Forget about nature vs. nurture. If you have an intense interest in something, that’s a sign you could be a genius in that field. Pursue it.

Part of developing higher intelligence comes down to looking your situation in the face, acknowledging it and following your dreams anyway. Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Bruno, Darwin, Tolstoy… all of the great writers, artists, musicians and scientists we hold in high regard hold in common two things:

  • They had an intense interest in their chosen field
  • They went against all social oppositions stacked against them to pursue their passion

In other words, genius is not a thing. It’s an action and it lies in the choice to pursue your dreams.

If this bold claim makes sense to you, but you still feel stuck, try these mental strength exercises.

Two: Interrogate the Truth

Whereas some people mindlessly join groups like Mensa without taking a second to look at its history and politics, the comedian Jamie Loftus infiltrated their ranks and exposed what’s really going on.

(Spoiler Alert: On the final episode of her podcast, Loftus reveals that members think intelligence is fixed, which science and critical thinking reveals cannot be the case.)

You don’t have to do this kind of immersion journalism yourself to develop higher intelligence. The point is to poke around. Ask philosophical questions. Don’t take things at face value.

Asking questions is one of the smartest things you can do. Who knows? You might find tremendous value in a self-described “high-iq” group like Mensa. But you might also wonder why, if they’re so intelligent, they need to take down their critics as they did to popular YouTuber, Flammable Maths?

Wouldn’t such high IQ people use their intelligence to tackle anything they found uncouth in such social commentary in a more distinguished way?

In reality, there are all kinds of people who want to teach you how to be smarter. A lot of them rely on you to be naive and won’t help you interrogate the truth.

As someone in this business myself, I still find the depths to which certain charlatans will go  shocking.

And with AI helping people scan websites and “memory hole” any criticism of their business interests, being willing to interrogate the truth (and admit any wrongs along the way) is one of the biggest signs of genius out there.

Three: Slow Logic, Not “Speed Rationality”

Humans are computing machines. Information comes in, our brains examine the symbols and we spit out a response.

Our ancestors noticed this and early on in history tried to help us slow down. For example, Ramon Llull developed memory wheels for improved critical thinking and enhanced memory.

1555 copy of Rhetorica ad Herennium

A 90 BCE book called Rhetorica Ad Herennium helped speakers use logic and reason better, especially in court. Instead of rapid fire responses a debater might regret, this book helps you think structurally through how arguments work. When you respond, you use structure to explain and validate your point.

Our world is filled with people who sound smart, but they’re just computing quickly. It’s word salad, not genius.

Look for people who consider their thoughts, speak in measured tones and work on doing so yourself.

strong brain exercise

Four: Courage For The Unorthodox

I believe we all have some kind of attraction to “weird” and unconventional ideas.

But often we suppress them out of fear that we’ll be judged.

When you use the slow rationality tip I’ve just shared, however, you can be interested in even the strangest things and explain yourself in a way the endears you to the masses.

Look at Stephen King. Sure, he’s got his detractors. But overall, he’s into some dark and bizarre stuff. And he sells millions of books, millions of people watch movies based on them and his interviews on YouTube rank in the millions of views.

All because he has the courage to lean into strange and unorthodox ideas.

A pink and purple rendering of plasma.

Five: Embrace Mistakes

Learning involves taking on chaos. You find structure and paths along the way by shining light into the darkness.

So many people email me that they’re afraid of making mistakes. Or they display an unrealistic need to understand the Memory Palace technique I teach “correctly” the first time they use it.

Avoiding mistakes is not only impossible. It’s not even desirable. Every learning cycle needs errors.

Geniuses also need to run into learning plateaus. And to overcome them, the best memory athletes we have use reflective thinking and journaling. Memory athletes like Johannes Mallow use journaling in a particular way to identify errors and weak spots in order to fix them.

Six: Teach Yourself

In Genius: A Very Short Introduction, Andrew Robinson quotes the 19th century polymath Thomas Young.

After studying at three of the most famous universities in the world, Young concluded:

Whoever would arrive at excellence must be self-taught.

Part of Young’s critique of the universities involved the quality of the students. He observed that people seemed to go to school to be motivated by outside factors

But the way you can find your inner genius is to find motivation within yourself. Once you’ve done that, there’s more information on the Internet than ever before. As Scott Young has demonstrated, it’s possible to get degrees at major universities without attending them. He calls his self-study process, “Ultralearning.”

study in a bus

Seven: Control Your Environment

So many people fail to experience the full potential of the genius they already have because they cram or study in highly distracting environments.

I used to study on the bus all the time myself, but it was never ideal. By doing some self-analysis and structuring my time, I quickly worked out the best places to study.

With a bit of scheduling and clever positioning of your body in front of the most important books, anyone can read faster.

a woman focuses on her study

When you’re able to reduce distractions, your focus and concentration will automatically go up. As Harry Lorayne pointed out many times during his career, memory starts with attention. So enable yourself to pay focused attention and your genius will automatically go up.

Examples of geniuses who controlled their environment? Einstein in the sciences, just about every artist and philosopher and most students with an edge.

And it’s not just about learning. People with military and martial arts skills are also highly attuned to their environment, and their skills involve and connect with memory and multiple intelligences too.

In fact, one major skill is the skill of being able to learn new skills quickly. That way, you’re able to take your current level of genius and compound it. You can do this through habit stacking or the kind of study program I suggest in Read with Momentum.

Powerful Ways To Improve Your Memory and Raise Your IQ

Now that you’ve discovered the signs of high intelligence and learned how to model them, let’s get into a few practical tricks of the trade.

Practice each of these and you’ll find your smarts soaring.

To master each, all you need to do is start putting them into practice. And now you now all about controlling your time, environment and shutting out anyone who thinks what you’re doing is unorthodox. (Or at least not letting them shut you down.)

Master Your Memory

It’s essential to improve your memory. There are many techniques you can pursue, and here are some of the best:

Don’t worry if exploring these ancient memory techniques makes you feel like a kid again.

That’s another major sign of genius: the ability to play!

Explore Unconventional Learning Techniques

Accelerated learning has so much to offer, even if some of the techniques need a bit of time to explore.

I’m thinking specifically of tactics like:

The techniques I’ve just listed are used by people keen to use strategic thinking and develop long-term vision. They help formulate big picture overviews and map the territory needed to achieve big goals.

mind map example for planning a youtube video

Not only that, but it creates the confidence needed to step into the unknown.

It’s not that geniuses are unafraid. It’s that they temper the fear with robust learning tactics. That way, they can feel nervous and take action anyway.

Action reveals statis conceals desktop art a sign of genius

Nurture Curiosity & Creativity

Someone emailed me recently that he turned one of my many personal mantras into a desktop image on his computer:

Action reveals, Stasis Conceals

I love that this subscriber to my teaching sent this because he has embedded a sign of genius onto a surface he sees every day.

It’s a genius move itself. Memory is a miraculous thing, and well worth training. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t create cues.

In fact, the science of context dependent memory strongly suggests that we should make wisdom as visible to ourselves as possible.

Using signs that remind us to operate as our highest possible selves is another form of environmental control. Reminders like these help you continue to be curious and take action on your inherent thirst for knowledge.

It will help you continually take action that introduces and re-introduces you to your unique brilliance.

Embrace Your Genius Traits

Tony Buzan used to say that we are all born genius artists and scientists.

Conditioning through observing our parents, teachers and co-workers beats it out of many of us.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

intelligent woman is thinking

You can spot the signs of genius already within you by making a plan right now to start playing more freely and more scientifically with your interests.

Make an unwavering commitment to excellence, but don’t fall prey to perfectionism. Unlock your extraordinary potential by studying more about what you’ve read here today, but not to the point of information overwhelm.

Also make sure that you take action on the suggestions you’ve just encountered. And if you need help with the memory improvement part, get my free memory course now:

Free Memory Improvement Course

Remember: Action reveals.

And so much of genius and higher intelligence is in the action. If not all of it.

Tired of the same old signs of genius? Read this list and discover the truth about genius and how to rapidly enjoy high intelligence. Tired of the same old signs of genius? Read this list and discover the truth about genius and how to rapidly enjoy high intelligence. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 24:36
How To Memorize Spanish Sentences Fast: 4 Tips to Memorize Spanish Vocabulary Wed, 12 Jul 2023 09:08:41 +0000 Spanish is a fantastic language. Use these memory techniques and you'll experience a massive boost in your fluency faster than you can say "pronto." ;) Spanish phrases feature image of a sign asking if you speak SpanishYou’re standing in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open. You know you’re not hungry, but for some reason you’re staring inside. You think to yourself, “What was the reason again I’m here?”

But nothing comes. Your mind is blank. You can’t remember why you went into the kitchen at. “Curse this short term memory of mine!” you say. “If only I had a better memory…”

Do You Make This Epic Mistake About Your Memory?

Many people give up on trying to learn a foreign language because they have this notion that they don’t have the memory for all of the vocabulary words involved. We’re here to dispel that myth.

Many believe a strong memory is something you are either born with, or are lacking and are doomed for all of eternity.

People watch the World Memory Championships and think “Man … I could never be like that”.

The truth is, improving your memory is a coachable skill that like any coachable skill, can be improved upon by proper training. We’re not talking about training through rote memory, which is simply the process of memorizing through repetition. We’re talking about the use of Mnemonics.

How To Understand Why You Remember Some Spanish Words And Forget Others

Before defining mnemonics, let’s try and understand why we remember certain things, and forget others.

Thanks to your inborn cognitive abilities, your mind takes in information through any of our five senses during the day. It has the chance to accept or reject thousands of stimuli at any given point. Right now, while you are sitting and reading this article, pay attention to all of the external stimuli to which your mind can pay attention.

Where are you? What are you staring at? How do you feel? Are your shoes too tight? Do you smell anything? Are your taste buds still active from the last meal you had?

In order retain that which is important, the mind needs to filter out that which is not.

This point brings us back to our earlier question:

Why do we pay attention to some items while discarding others? The answer lies in the significance that we place on the external stimuli.

The Blazingly Obvious Truth About Organizing New Spanish Words In Your Mind

What did the 13th person you saw today look like?

Can’t remember?

What if you saw a clown walk by you today holding 6 puppies while crossing the street. Would you remember that?

I bet you’d remember that not only today, but for many years to come. Why? Because it was a unique experience to which you attached significance.

Training your mind to remember anything at any given time is a simple task once you are prepared to attached significance to the item you are trying to remember.

Here’s a quick question:

What is easier to navigate?

A large filing cabinet with forty index cards containing one word on each of them, randomly dispersed in the cabinet. Or a small filing cabinet with 1,000 index cards containing one word on each of them, each set up alphabetically?

The key to training your mind to memorize any content is to attach significance to each item and organize the information in your brain effectively. While there are many ways to train your mind to do so, we are going to focus on association.

Big yellow balloon. What are the first thoughts that come to your head? Birthday party? Children? Celebration? The mind is constantly associating new information with information we are already familiar with. The key to organizing information in your brain effectively is to use association to link items together.

Rubber band, keychain, eraser, river, drum, jelly, magic wand, mud, dart, ice cube.

How To Take Charge Of Information Using Linking And Stories

How can we apply what we just learned to remember the items listed above?

Let’s start with associating and linking the first two items to each other.

Now, we could just imagine a rubber band on a keychain, but remember, in order to remember something we need to make it unique.

Add some significance to it. A rubber band on a keychain is too ordinary for us to find any uniqueness  and attach significance to it.

What if we imagine shooting a rubber band and it landing in someone’s pocket, attaching to their keychain. That would be a unique event that you would probably remember, would you not?

Now what if we took that keychain, and imagined getting rid of it entirely by erasing it with an eraser? and what if the friction from rubbing the eraser was so strong that your hand caught fire, and you had to put it out in a river?

But while you were in the river, someone threw you what was supposed to be a lifeboat but was instead a drum? So you took some jelly, but rather than sliding the drum off of you with it( that would be too plain), you broke off a piece of the drum and made a drum and jelly sandwich?

And as you did that, you got some jelly stuck in your teeth and had to use a magic wand to pick the jelly out.

Now, instead of picking the jelly out, you just turned it from jelly to mud. So you asked a friend to throw a dart at the speck of mud in between your teeth. When your friend threw the dart, he hit a bullseye right on your teeth, and out popped an ice cube.

See if you could recall the story, starting from the rubber band.

Alert, Alert: How To Take Charge Of Unruly Spanish Vocabulary

Now, what if the word is difficult to picture in your mind, like the word “magnificent?” What if we broke down the word magnificent to words that sounded similar, like “magnify” and “cent?” Now when we hear the word magnificent we could think of a cent under a magnifying glass, maybe catching fire from the sun.

The same holds true for words in another language!

Let’s now try memorizing 5 key phrases in Spanish:

Key Spanish Phrases

In order to remember buenos dias, we can imagine booing Carmen Diaz after she walks out of her house with a poor nose job, and says good morning. To remember mucho gusto, we can imagine meeting a goose and smooching its toe as a nice gesture.

To remember cómo estás, we can imagine combing a stack of pennies (or anything for that matter), and responding that we have been very busy combing when someone asks us “How are you?”.

To remember me llamo, we can imagine telling someone our name, and then holding a yam in your hand and introducing it as well.

Finally, to remember muy bien, gracias, we can imagine a cow saying “Moo” as you try to stop it from bending over, and the look of grace in its eyes as you save him.

These don’t have to be the examples you use to remember things – the important thing is that you attach significance to these words with your own kookie imagination to help you remember them 1-2-3.

The best part?

You can use these same techniques to learn Spanish and French at the same time. All it takes is a bit of strategy with the mnemonic images you choose.

Stop Forgetting Spanish Phrases Once And For All!

Let’s do a recap of what we learned.

In order to remember something, the mind needs to attach a sense of significance to it. A good way of attaching significance is if something is unique. Once we attach significance to an item that is unique, we need to organize and store it effectively in our mind. A good way to organize data is through association.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to put theory to practice. Think you’re ready for some more Spanish words?

Dive into this free course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

Further Resources

Olly Richards’ Fluent Spanish Academy

How to Memorize 50 Spanish Provinces On Your First Go

Fluent Spanish Academy

Spanish is a fantastic language. Use these memory techniques and you'll experience a massive boost in your fluency faster than you can say "pronto." ;) Spanish is a fantastic language. Use these memory techniques and you'll experience a massive boost in your fluency faster than you can say "pronto." ;) Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 24:07
German Phrases: The Ultimate How To Learn German Phrases Guide Wed, 12 Jul 2023 08:43:09 +0000 Magnetic Memory Method user Richard Gilzean takes you through how he memorized a new German phrase every day for an entire year. Image of a school and art to illustrate how to memorize German phrases with a Memory PalaceHow I Memorized German Phrases Every Day For A Year

Guest post by Richard Gilzean

Note: What follows is a deconstruction of the steps I took (and continue to take) to improve my German. But rest assured, these same steps will work for memorizing phrases in any language.

Sound good?

Regardless of whether you’ve been learning a second or third language for a while, or just starting out, this approach to memorizing foreign languages will help you.

In the beginning was the Word SENTENCE.


You might be wondering: Why learn German phrases and not just individual words?

Good question. The answer is that we all read, write, listen and speak in sentences, or fragments thereof. The sentence is at the core of any language and learning to master the sentence should be considered. Even the most basic language guide book for travelers teach simple German phrases that follow syntax.

Don’t get me wrong. Words are beautiful in their own right. We all should invest in the time to learn what a word means and how to best use it. And this is achieved by working those words into sentences as you work on your bilingualism.


How I Built My “Internal GPS” (And You Can Too)


Before launching into memorizing my first German phrase, I designed the Memory Palace system that would store them.  I’ve been interested in the art and craft of memory training and self-improvement for a couple of years.  But I only really started to study it closely after coming across Anthony’s book How to Learn and Memorize German Vocabulary which, in turn, led me to the Magnetic Memory Method website.

Recommended resource: The Magnetic Memory Method Masterplan.

Anthony’s approach to teaching anyone how to learn, memorize and recall vocabulary, names, mathematical formulas and pretty much anything that can be memorized is both well-structured and comprehensive. So I’ll just highlight the essential components as they relate to learning languages and all of you who have been following Anthony’s site will be familiar.

  • Have a store of real locations to house your sentences.
  • Imagine real concrete / tangible objects or people that are creative, vivid, colorful and zany. Therefore, not just an elephant, but a pink pygmy elephant with Dumbo-like ears and with a runny trunk.
  • Schedule time for practice so the sentence can work its way into your long-term memory.

You’ll need to draw from your own personal memory bank a real location in which to store your sentences. It can be a place you know well, like the house you live in, or the place where you grew up that holds its own strong memories. It can be a route you follow regularly, such as a park or your daily commute from home to work.

With a little practice you can come up with more than enough Memory Palaces. While there are some general guidelines about how to make your Memory Palace effective, there is a lot of divergent opinion on how to make best use of your own Memory Palaces because no two thought processes are alike.

A Journey Method image for the Magnetic Memory Method German post by Richard GilzeanBecause I knew I would need a large location to hold my expanding sentences, I chose a route that ran from the front door of my house, along the street, through a local park and over to my son’s local primary school – some 400 meters in total.


From AA to ZZ: Where I Keep My Memorized German Phrases


But before you set off on your journey, you’ll need to figure out your memory anchors. Think of the process like mental orienteering where you go for a jog in your mind along a set trail and arrive at control points along the way.

To help, I created an excel spreadsheet with an index of initials for names of famous people, friends and cartoon characters, running all the way from AA to ZZ. This process took a little time to work through and I made some compromises along the way. In particular, I left out the letters Q – X – Y (just too hard to come up with names).

I ended up with a list of 600 names running from Andre Agassi to the bearded rockers from the band ZZ Top. Six hundred names means, in theory, I am able to memorize at least 600 foreign language sentences.

Running alongside my list of names I also have a separate list of 100 what I refer to as my memory tag words. These words use the well-established mnemonic Major Method which is a technique used to aid in memorizing numbers and has been used in memorize shopping lists, the sequence of a shuffled pack of card and memory competitions. The Major Method works by converting numbers into consonant sounds, then into words by adding vowels.


How To Choose Which Phrases To Memorize


Armed with my list of 600 names and 100 Major System tag words, I now have the memory anchors in place to hold my German sentences.  I also have the memory route from my house to my son’s primary school. There is a smorgasbord of foreign language sites out there to choose from, but the question is, which phrases should I memorize in order to get the best results for building fluency in German.

I subscribe to the German Flashcards section of a website run by Learn With Oliver for collecting many German phrases. It contains an easy to navigate database of material to assist you in learning several of the most common languages.

The site produces a daily e-letter with a word and phrase of the day, an audio recording of the text plus a whole bunch of other useful resource material.

From this site I have taken almost all of my German phrases. That’s because it’s important to focus on your target language.

Once I have material to work with, my  approach is to review the phrases I want to memorize and make sure that I am comfortable with the grammar and etymology. I then copy the sentences and the English translation into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is made up of the following columns:

  • Initials running from AA to ZZ
  • The English sentence
  • The German sentence
  • My mnemonic interpretation (this is explained below)
  • The full names of my AA – ZZ group
  • My 100 tag words

Here’s an example:

Graph of mnemonics for learning German using mnemonics by Richard Gilzean

Here’s how I’ve adapted my practice from memorizing single words to whole German phrases.

As you can see, I’ve front-loaded three of the components into the sentence. They include the initials of a well-known/memorable name (Michelle Obama), the English translation (no problem) and the tag word (hail).

By splicing these three components into the sentence I’ve built an imaginative cross reference for whenever I need to recall the German phrase “Keine Ursache!” the rest of this mnemonic interpretation follows some established mnemonic guidelines.

German sayings like this are powerful to have in memory – just make sure to also include funny German phrases as you learn the language.

Personally, however, I suggest avoid learning German insults – you might wind up blurting them out at inopportune moments! If you’re stuck on finding any material to learn and memorize at all, one tip for finding good German phrases is to search Google for “German phrases PDF.”

Carrying on: For the word “keine” I thought of Keyser Soze, who some of you may recall as the evil dude Kevin Spacey played in the film “The Usual Suspects”.

For the word “Ursache” I broke it down into two images, one for “UR” and one for “SACHE” and came up with Keith URban (well-known country singer) + SACK.

I then imagined Keyser (rhyming with kaiser and which just happens to be an example of German vocabulary) shoving URban into a SACK. Don’t forget to take the time to imagine this scenario with crazy, vivid, memorable images. Gimpy-legged Keyser shoving guitar-wielding URban into a big smelly potato SACK works for me.

If you have troubles with creating images like these, try these 5 Sensory Memory Exercises.


If You Can Imagine A Castle, You Can
Use Memory Techniques To Boost Your German Fluency


Let’s take these ideas and incorporate them into a more challenging sentence. Is it worth visiting this castle? = Lohnt es sich diese Burg zu besuchen? Jacques Tati is king of a CASTLE in a MoVie starring Lindsay LOHAN playing the role of ESther who is throwing up SICK over DIESEL (a musician I know) after eating a BURGer served by ZUlu armed with a BAZOOKa.

In this case I’m using some mnemonic shorthand. Again, I’ve loaded three of the components at the front of the sentence Jacque Tati / Castle / Movie. Jacque Tati (famous French film actor and director) is my fMy Memory Palace for Richard Gilzean's Magnetic Memory Method guest postamous name and CASTLE is a single image I want to use represent the entire sentence. It’s a concrete image that is easy to visualize. (Is there anyone who can’t imagine a castle?)

The third component is the word “MOVIE” which is number 38 in my 100 memory tags. For the rest of the exercise you should be able to make the connection between my sentence and the similar sounding words in the German phrase.


How To Make The Most From Mnemonic Shorthand


Regardless of whatever foreign language you want to master, you’ll soon figure out the high frequency words and syllables and will want settle on some shorthand images to help you form your mnemonic sentences.

For example, I’ve settled on the following shorthand for these common German words:

es = it. For this word I use an image of a family member whose name is Esther.

ich = I.  Here I just imagine “ItCHy”, the mouse from The Simpson’s cartoons.

der = multiple meanings including:

  1. the (masculine definite article)
  2. (definite article for genitive and dative singular feminine and genitive plural)
  3. who
  4. which
  5. that one, this one

I found some mnemonic shorthand harder to imagine than others. In what is probably an understatement, the German language has many words with the prefix ‘ge’. After much trial and error, I settled on an image of GoethE as my go-to guy for the ‘ge’ words.

An image to express the use of mnemonics for GermanBut if GoethE doesn’t make sense to your imagination and you encounter an issue Anthony talked about in his Remember Names At Events podcast, you might think that Agent Maxwell Smart from the GEt Smart television series works better for you. Or perhaps someone more contemporary comes to mind.

The important thing is that you learn to link figures with information so that you can recall it at will. This skill comes in handy in many ways, particularly when trying to memorize German genders. For example, in all instances of “der” I use an 80’s television character DERrick from the popular German detective series.


How To Get Ikea To Optimize Your Memory Palace


Now, you may be thinking: Do I really need to be able to recall all of my mnemonic sentences? Answer: No. I’ve found that once a schedule of recall practice is established you’ll be able to rely on the processing power of your mind to summon the sentence.

The next problem I had to solve concerned mental real estate. I now had in place my daily practice of learning and memorizing new German phrases and placing them along my chosen route. But I eventually realized I was running out of stations along my route and I wanted to get more benefit out of the site of this Memory Palace.
A bookshelf used as a Memory Palace for German vocabulary and phrases

My solution was to use a system of alphabetical modular shelving – think Ikea wall units – in which to place my mnemonic imagery.

So when it came time to assign German phrases to my prepared list of EA to EZ letters, instead of using up 23 separate places (remember letters Q, X and Y are out) along the route, I imagined a rather large E-shaped white Ikea wall unit with 23 compartments at the next station along the path.

And in each compartment I would place my mnemonic interpretation of whatever German sentence I was learning that day. Kind of like the dioramas I used to help my son make for his school projects.

Forging The Memory Chain Using Recall And Difference

The main advantage I’ve found with using what I call my double-bind memory link strategy (i.e. initials plus memory tag words) is that if I happen to forget one when practicing my recall I can usually rely on the other one to help me out. Take up this practice and you’ll see quick results too.

Memory Palaces do not have to be photographic / perfect representations – they just need to be consistent with how you recall them in your mind. Once I’ve memorized a batch of 23 sentences to the point where I can mentally recall the sentences forwards, backwards and in some random order, I use a simple spaced repetition system that involves setting a date in my Google calendar with a title like – “LA – LZ 1 week”.

I then mentally run through my recall, check my responses on the spreadsheet and, if I get them correct, will reset the next recall for two weeks, followed by 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months. If I’m not happy with my recall practice I’ll review the mnemonic sentence I’ve constructed and practice again a few days later.

I recommend you rehearse your phrases out loud because you need to hear the sounds your voice makes. Make a practice of writing them out by hand as a way of reinforcing the learning. For extra bonus points you might like to record the sentences and listen to them when you’re out and about.

That pretty well sums up what I’ve achieved in a short period of time. This method takes the key features found on Magnetic Memory Method site and tweaks them to get the best value out of your Memory Palace. Try creating warehouses in your own Memory Palaces using the alphabetical system outlined. My German phrases continues to swell and grow. So far I’ve gone from Andre Agassi to Van Halen. That’s about 500 sentences.

Sprechen, Lesen, Schreiben und Hōren
(Speak German, Read, Write & Listen)

As I mentioned at the start of this post we all write, listen, read and speak in sentences and German phrases. Learning to speak and understand any foreign language with fluency requires application to all four components in equal measure. The method of memorizing sentences I’ve described ticks all four boxes.Portrait of Richard Gilzean Who Uses the Magnetic Memory Method for German

Of course, you’ll need to get out there and road test your German phrases (or those in the language you’re studying) in real world situations to become comfortable with your newly acquired knowledge. All good language learners say so, including polyglot Luca Lampariello when he describes language as a kind of net.

If you’ve found this training on memorizing German phrases helpful, or you’d like some clarification on the points, please contact me at

Viel Gluck!

Richard Gilzean is a writer and blogger specialising in creating content for small business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate clients. He has thirty years of writing, research and training experience in corporate and government sectors. Whether you want to create great content to boost traffic to your website or you’re looking for a professional writer who can tell your story in your voice, Richard can help. Check out his freelance writing website here.

Magnetic Memory Method user Richard Gilzean takes you through how he memorized a new German phrase every day for an entire year. Magnetic Memory Method user Richard Gilzean takes you through how he memorized a new German phrase every day for an entire year. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 38:47
What Is Mental Imagery in Memory Psychology? A Simple Answer Thu, 06 Jul 2023 02:52:41 +0000 Mental imagery is about more than the psychology of memory. Understanding it can help you learn faster and remember more. Learn more now. mental imagery feature imageMental imagery is a confusing topic.

There’s tons of data.

Oodles of opinions.

Zero consensus.

That’s fine. That’s what science is all about.

But when it comes to memory, both in terms of psychology and using your memory better, I’ve got good news.

There are some stunningly clear definitions.

And for those of us who use memory techniques, I’m going to uncover powerful and interesting angles that lead to better results. Quickly.

If you’re not into using mnemonics, you’ll discover how mental imagery compares with perception too.


Let’s dive in!

What Is Mental Imagery?

Unfortunately, there is no agreement on what mental imagery is or how it should be defined.

For example, philosophers of mental imagery dismiss – albeit not without reflective thinking – some of the most interesting findings in books like The Case for Mental Imagery.

The controversy and debate is certainly interesting, but for our purposes, let’s define mental imagery in a variety of ways. We’ll do so based on a single core principle:

Mental imagery is an experience in the mind that resembles how you could potentially interact with real people, places and objects.

This definition assumes that everything imaginary is based on an extension of something that is real.

But before we get into controversy over that, let’s look at some of the angles that help substantiate this basic definition.

Iconic Memory

Iconic memory typically involves brief experiences of mental imagery. These images reside in short term memory and are typically disregarded.

Daydreaming, for example, is often completely forgotten seconds after the fantastic images enter the mind.

Image of a lightbulb to express how flashbulb memory relates to memory improvement training

Or, your iconic memories may be striking enough to enter long term memory. They could even be as strong as flashbulb memories.

Some studies show that this kind of mental imagery helps with human movement through space as well.

There’s also potentially a relationship between these rapid mental images and verbal memory.

For example, the experience of mental images may not have any words involved. But experiencing a quick mental image prompts you to speak. It doesn’t provide the exact words per se, but is a deep generator of the message.

In sum: If you do or say something, this theory suggests that the image comes first, then the action.


Did you ever play with an imaginary friend? Or even develop an entire paracosm of them?

If so, you’ve experienced a subjective mental state that no one can observe but you.

Your imaginary friend may appear and fade, sometimes feel concrete in your mind, other times abstract.

brain imagination

Either way, this kind of mental imagery leads to more than just fun. It can help you be creative, use memory techniques better and even solve problems.

The question here that no one has an answer to is this: can you invent anything in your mind? Or does mental imagery always need a starting point or some kind of association?

Personally, I think everything is connected in a wave of relations. Anything that seems original is always born out of something that already existed. As the literary theorist Northrop Frye put it, “all poems come from other poems.”

Mnemonic Images

Using associations in pairs is well-known in the psychology of learning to be essential, particularly in areas like reading. Phonological awareness, for example, has been shown in studies to help with many aspects of literacy.

As my colleague in memory, Richard Ruben, has pointed out, people without phonological awareness struggle to use mnemonics. If they haven’t been taught to sound out the alphabet, they struggle later to make paired associations, for example. In fact, every letter of the alphabet is a paired association of at least a shape and a sound.

Overall, mnemonic images are essential to learning faster and remembering more. Mental imagery extensively with the Memory Palace technique as people imaginatively tie associations to loci.

numbered memory palace example using a 00 99 pao

Medical students, for example, rapidly form memories by using mental imagery. In fact, medical mnemonics is a huge industry, covering everything from anatomy, to pharmaceutical terms and information related to nursing.

Without paired associations made possible by mental imagery, people would have to rely solely on rote learning.

Demand Characteristics

Here’s a neat one:

In science, it’s important not to give away too much information. If people predict or intuit what’s going on in a study involving participants, they can skew the results.


This is because participating in a study creates pictures in your mind – think of the icon part of iconic memory.

And it’s not just that you think about what the study might be about. As we’ve seen, iconic memory dictates how we behave physically.

How do scientists deal with demand characteristics?

Their tactics include everything from double-blind studies to outright deception.

Dual-Coding Theory

This theory suggests that there’s a division between what you imagine visually and your verbal intelligence.

Essentially, the dual coding effect started with Allan Paivio who published over two hundred articles on this topic.

I find the theory problematic myself because his distinction between analogue codes and symbolic codes seems problematic. The first deals with anything in your visual perception. Symbolic codes deals strictly with words.

image of words

But aren’t words perceived too? And in a variety of ways? I can imagine the alphabet visually without tying it to a sound and imagine a sound wave produced by a technology I might not even know by name.

Alternative theories include propositional representation, parallel distributed processing, cognitive mapping and a number of constructivist theories that you might want to look at.

How Does Mental Imagery Compare with Perception?

Mental imagery and perception are two crucial processes that shape our understanding of the world. While both involve the representation of sensory information, they exhibit unique characteristics and play distinct roles in our cognitive experiences.

Mental imagery, often described as the ability to create sensory experiences in the absence of external stimuli, allows us to mentally represent and manipulate sensory information. Of course, there are people without a mind’s eye (aphantasia) who are still able to do exactly this, creating a puzzle about what exactly imagery is in the mind and imagination.

Similarly, perception involves the interpretation of sensory input from the external environment to form our conscious experience. We need this in order to enjoy the benefits of sensory learning. Yet, there are people who cannot see, hear or feel with their limbs. They still manage to navigate the world and learn all kinds of things.

At the end of the day, I’m convinced that mental imagery and perception are not separate, but joined at the hip in some very special ways.

Unlimited Imagination?

Perception, with its emphases on access to actual learning material and your physical surroundings, is obviously bound by sensory input and material constraint. Our perception is literally limited by the information available from our senses and the physical properties of the objects and events in the external world.

Some people will argue that mental imagery is more flexible and unconstrained by the same physical limitations. They suggest that we can create vivid mental images that defy the laws of physics or imagine events that surpass the boundaries of our sensory experiences.

Although this may be true, the strength of our ability to do so comes down to reference and practice. By reference, I mean how well you read and how much. In order to imagine flexibly, you need deliberate practice with worthwhile books.

We will always be limited by both perception and mental imagery, but we can expand our limits by constantly learning.

How Memory Training Improves Your Mental Imagery

In order to enjoy much more interesting mental imagery that truly will expand your current limitations, you’ll want to start using memory techniques.

I suggest exploring:

Although that might seem like a lot to explore, you can rapidly learn each approach by starting with the Memory Palace technique.

Get my free course in order to learn how.

Free Memory Improvement Course

You’ll get four clear, crisp and direct video lessons along with some worksheets that will help you understand mental imagery experientially.

The learning cycle I’ll take you on in this course helps you chunk even the toughest information down into small bits of imagination that you won’t soon forget.

So what do you say? Are you feeling clearer about this important term now? Let me sum things up like this:

Mental imagery is not in the same category as seeing an image on the wall. It’s what you experience when you imagine what a picture looks like hanging either in your home or in an art gallery.

But people use the term in different ways, and I’ve covered the majority of them today.

Personally, I think of mental imagery as a kind of “inner language.” It’s non-linguistic at its core, but still semantic because of how iconic memory uses it to produce words.

One way or another, mental imagery appears to be a process that leads to either representation or action.

And if others happen to see the actions you take and remember them, then that too is another special kind of mental image. The brain is always monitoring and updating its knowledge of the world and we clearly need mental representation to do it.

Enjoy this intensely special aspect of your mind!

Mental imagery is about more than the psychology of memory. Understanding it can help you learn faster and remember more. Learn more now. Mental imagery is about more than the psychology of memory. Understanding it can help you learn faster and remember more. Learn more now. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 42:33
Time, Tech and Memory Palaces with Ronald Johnson of The Craft of Memory Wed, 05 Jul 2023 07:39:34 +0000 Ronald Johnson and Anthony Metivier discuss time, technology, and advanced Memory Palace tactics. Optimize your memory with these tips. Ronald Johnson from Craft of Memory feature image for the Magnetic Memory Method PodcastThe Craft of Memory Podcast and Substack are two of the best sources of information about memory techniques to appear on the Internet for a long time.

Ronald Johnson is behind both of them.

Join us on this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast as Ronald and I delve into his best tips on using the Memory Palace technique.

We embed his specific experiences and tactics in a larger discussion of history, technology, society and even how streets and roads influence our learning lives.

As you’ll soon hear, Ronald Johnson is an incredibly knowledgeable mnemonist.

He’s also a passionate writer seeking to preserve the joy, beauty, and wonder of natural memory and mnemonics.

Join us now as we embark on a journey through time, technology, and advanced memory palace tactics.

Time: Unveiling the Ultimate Secret of Memory Mastery

In our captivating discussion, Ronald and I dive deep into the realm of memory, unraveling the mysteries and exploring cutting-edge techniques that will revolutionize the way you remember information.

We start by addressing the crucial topic of time and its impact on memory.

Time, in its essence, is a double-edged sword.

While technology enables us to access vast amounts of information instantly, it also poses the risk of outsourcing our memory to devices. This can lead to digital amnesia.

To help you avoid that problem, or even worse issues (like Alzheimer’s), Ronald emphasize the importance of reclaiming the power of our own minds and uncovering the joy of natural memory.

Focusing too much on time can also make you miss the beauty of reflective thinking.

Although I’m not sure I agree with Ronald on one point he makes, he does provide a compelling way to think about rote learning I haven’t considered before. Given his take on the relationship between memory and time, he might just be on to something.

The True Art of the Memory Palace

One of the most intriguing aspects we delve into are some of Ronald’s advanced Memory Palace tactics.

As you probably already know, Memory Palaces have been utilized for centuries as one of the most potent mnemonic techniques. It allows you to store and retrieve vast amounts of information through the creation of vivid mental landscapes.

Ronald shares his expertise, guiding us through the intricate process of using mnemonic devices effectively. Prepare to be astounded as we unlock the secrets of this ancient art and discover firsthand how Memory Palaces can transform your learning experience.

The Craft of Memory:
A Unique Call to Embrace Memory Mastery

Ronald is truly unique in his approach to teaching memory techniques.

His writing awakens in me the joy, beauty, and wonder of memory, providing a refreshing and liberating take on freeing ourselves from the constraints of a forgetful age.

I’m confident that by listening to Ronald’s podcast, and especially reading his Craft of Memory Substack, you’ll find yourself adopting the techniques and insights in new ways.

Ready to revolutionize your memory?

Don’t miss out on Ronald’s transformative insights and the many practical tips provided through his media. Here’s where to find him online:

The Craft of Memory on Substack

The Craft of Memory on Apple Podcasts

The Craft of Memory on Spotify

Ronald Johnson and Anthony Metivier discuss time, technology, and advanced Memory Palace tactics. Optimize your memory with these tips. Ronald Johnson and Anthony Metivier discuss time, technology, and advanced Memory Palace tactics. Optimize your memory with these tips. Anthony Metivier's Magnetic Memory Method Podcast full false 1:00:05
How to Memorize Vocabulary: A Step-By-Step Guide Mon, 03 Jul 2023 08:06:07 +0000 If you want to know how to memorize vocabulary quickly and permanently, this step-by-step guide is your one-stop resource. How to memorize vocabulary Count Von Count Mnemonic Example for Magnetic Memory Method Blog Featured PostYou’d love to know how to memorize vocabulary at epic speeds, right?

Whether it’s for improving your mother tongue or learning a new language, the desire to expand your vocabulary is natural.

In fact, if you don’t want to get better with language, you really need to sit down and think about why you aren’t devoted to lifelong learning.

Knowledge truly is power, after all, especially when you apply it to speaking.

People who speak well perform better at all aspects in life, love and professionalism.

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

Basic Rules That Let You Memorize Vocabulary Forever

Let’s begin with a bird’s eye view of vocabulary memorization.

Let’s face it:

You may be overwhelmed at the beginning with questions about where to start.

This feeling is normal.

After all, there are well over a million words in the English language alone.

How could you even make a dent in this number, never mind if you are learning a second or third language?

Let me break it down in simple terms.

1. Your goal is to memorize the sound and the meaning of a word.

2. You do this by having a Memory Palace Network prepared in advance.

3. When you know how to navigate the Memory Palace Network well, you “encode” each word using Magnetic Mnemonic Imagery.

4. You use Recall Rehearsal to get the words into long term memory.

5. You use the Big 5 of Learning to speed up the process and ensure longevity.

If you have any doubts about putting these steps into action, please remember that bilingualism makes for a healthier brain. You owe it to your long term health.

The Amazing Truth About How To Memorize Word Meanings

Now, when I talk about memorizing the sound and meaning of a word at the same time, this doesn’t mean EVERY meaning of a word.

We’re talking about one, or at most two, meanings of any given word when we start.

Image showing a man frustrated by crossword puzzle multiple word meanings


Be willing to let the 430 other possible definitions and usages listed in the Oxford Dictionary go.

The same thing goes for German or any other language.

Speaking of German, here’s The Story Of How To Learn and Memorize German Vocabulary  It’s about my very first book on memorizing vocabulary and includes more mnemonic examples to help you memorize vocabulary forever.

You Do Not Have To Commit Every Meaning To Memory To Learn A Word

Again, just because multiple definitions exist, this fact does not mean you should commit them all to memory.

You need only to memorize the one, or very few, meanings relevant to you.

You do this by thinking about the Magnetic Station in your Memory Palace.

Then you create Magnetic Images that remind you of the sound and one core meaning of the word.

Then, take a deep breath.


Walking Meditation works for improving focus and concentration

Come back and do Recall Rehearsal later and encode a few more words.

Or you can come back and add an entire phrase to the word.

Often less is more. Keep that principle in mind.

The Powerful Rule Of Difference In Vocabulary Memorization

Each word is different.

Words have varying syllables, different origins, and are fluid in certain grammatical contexts.

Words might also be changeable when you add prefixes and suffixes.

Don’t turn these changes into the enemy!

Just treat these changes like the beautiful differences in a diverse experience of language that they represent.

And then memorize them as individual examples like you would any other word.

If you want to scale the process, you can sometimes create a Memory Palace series just for regular and irregular verbs.

If you’re still unclear about what this technique involves, here are 5 Memory Palace examples. Even better, try this:

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

But only use Memory Palaces if you find them helpful.

Whatever you do, don’t generalize the process too much.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” magic bullet that will work with every single word when it comes to memory techniques for language learning.

15 Reason Why Language Learning Is Good For Your Brain

Words do not all behave the same, and we cannot treat them as if they do.

Once we understand that we must work with vocabulary individually we are ready to hit the ground running.

7 Memory Techniques to Help You Memorize Any Vocabulary

1. The Magic Of Word Grouping for Memorization

Do you remember learning to count syllables as a kid?

Perhaps your elementary school teacher taught you to clap with each syllable as you said words out loud.

Maybe he taught to you hold your hand under your chin and count every time your jaw would “drop” when you said the word aloud as a syllable.

I have a friend who remembers practicing se-ven, el-e-phant, yel-low, and rock-et as a young child. She made a game of it.

She found it exciting!

And it is exciting. You can take a little bit of that wonder, that excitement, and put it into practice with vocabulary memorization techniques.


Group words with the same number of syllables together.

Arranging words in a like with like form based on syllable is a powerful tool to help with memorization.

You can also experiment with arranging words by vowels.

Another professor I learned a lot from named Christian Bök spent a long time arranging words by vowel for his excellent book, Eunoia.

Here’s a sample:

Do you notice what he’s doing here?

All of the words in this passage feature only one vowel. “I.”

Although you might not do exactly this in your own Memory Palace Network, I’m sure reading more of Bök’s works will inspire you to think up many games you can play with language learning.

Sure, organizing words takes a bit of initial legwork.

2. Why Practice Makes Progress Better Than Any Memorize Vocabulary App

Once you have your target vocabulary organized and know what you need to commit to memory, you are free to practice using memory techniques for language learning.

You can now focus solely on the task of expanding your vocabulary.

It really is that simple.

How do you improve your abilities with memorizing vocabulary with consistent growth over time?


You memorize vocabulary.

Commit to practicing a word list every single day.

The Freedom Journal used for language learning will help because I’ve shown you how to combine it with a Memory Palace technique.

Gradually you will notice improvement – if not very quickly.

Chart this improvement in your Memory Journal. You will soon see how far you’ve come.

3. The Power Of Context For Memorizing More Words Quickly

Then, use your memorized words in context.

Just as with any other memory technique, the key is immersion.

Use your vocabulary when reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Use The Big Five techniques to your advantage.

4. How To Choose The Words You Memorize Wisely

Another rule of context that is so simple, yet profound is to choose the words you memorize carefully.

Just as we discussed the bird’s eye view of memorizing relevant definitions, the actual words you seek to memorize should only be ones that will improve your life.

If the list of words is not improving your life and moving you towards your goals, then the words really have no business being memorized.

There are many sources of word lists, but Ogden’s Basic English is a great and free source for figuring out what words you might want to learn in any language.

You just need to make sure you have goals – meaningful goals.

Image of Scrabble letters saying Carpe Diem to express the need to take action now with memorizing vocabulary

What are some goals you might have for memorizing vocabulary?

* Learning a foreign language

* Studying Medicine

* Preparing to pass a law exam

All of these goals add meaning to your efforts, which is essential to the formulation of a life long skill that becomes habitual.

5. A Review Of The Fundamentals With A Few Mnemonic Examples

Why does meaning matter so much when memorizing vocabulary?

To really commit words to memory they must be more than just words.

In addition to having a reason for memorizing them, meaning will help you come up with associations, especially when the going gets tough.

For example, there are a lot of Sanskrit words I’ve been memorizing and it’s only because I have a meaningful goal driving my project that I’ve been able to push through.

In addition to the mnemonic examples in that video, recent research further validates the notion that the signing and chanting element also play a role in memory formation.

Of course, we usually aren’t singing the vocabulary we learn. Definitely do that in the shower if you’re worried that people won’t like your voice!

And with singing on your side, here are some every day words in English that are quite challenging.

All you have to do in addition to having a Memory Palace ready is to associate each word with images.

And think about how these examples apply to the words you want to learn and memorize.

6. “Account” Mnemonic Example With Magnetic Action

Think of the word “account.”

If you’re like me you grew up with Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and a host of other characters on the children’s show Sesame Street.

Who taught you numbers? Count von Count, right?

He’s the one who taught me, and because he is deep in my brain’s chemistry, he’s the perfect “sound-match” for “count” in “account.”

But we have an additional “AC” to add to that word.

For that, think of an air conditioner falling out of a window onto the Count.

To get the meaning into the image, this air conditioner also looks a fair amount like a calculator – the tool used by an accountant while engaged in the act of accounting.

This action and object-based visualization with a meaningful character from pop culture almost guarantees you’ll not forget that word.


Because movement catches the “mind’s eye.”

Even if you have “aphantasia,” you will likely find this imagery shocking to you.

The only “trick” is that the images and actions are meaningful to you.

The next example will demonstrate this principle a bit further.

Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch.

>>> Click Here For This Special Free Offer.

7. “Agreement” Mnemonic Example with Personal Magnetic Imagery

As with the Count in “accoun