of us are fortunate enough not to be absent-minded at times.

Many people make the mistake of confusing absent-mindedness with a poor memory. Actually, I feel that they should be considered as two entirely different things. People with excellent memories can also be absent-minded. You've all heard of the absent-minded professor stories; well, be assured that in order to be a professor you must have a good memory to begin with. The hundreds of gags about the absent-minded professors who wind their wives, kiss the cat good night and put out the clock, may be true for all I know, but it still doesn't signify that they have poor memories.

I believe that you can cure absentmindedness with just a little effort and with the tips contained in this chapter. However, please do not feel that you can do it by just reading it. You have to make it your business to use the information supplied here. Then, and only then, will it help you. I assume that many people will read through a book of this type; never try to use the information given, and then complain that this will never help them. That, of course, will be true, if you just read through this book without attempting to apply the systems. Many adults always claim that they are too old to learn. I believe they mean that they are too lazy to learn—no one is too old! E. L. Thorndike, an authority on adult education, said that "age is no handicap to learning a new trade, profession, or anything you want to do at any time of life." The italics in this quote are mine; if you really want to learn, you can; so don't use age as an excuse.

Actually, absentmindedncss is nothing more than inattention. If you paid attention to where you put your glasses, naturally you would know where they were when you needed them. The American College Dictionary gives "pre occupied" as one of the definitions of absent-minded, and that just about hits the nail on the head. The little things that we do continually, like putting down things, are just not important enough to occupy our minds—so, we become absent-minded.

It stands to reason that if you put things away without thinking, or mechanically, you'll forget where they are, because you never remembered in the first place. When you leave your house, you usually worry about whether you locked your door or not, simply because you locked it unconsciously, without giving it a thought.

So, I've solved your problem! To avoid absentmindedness, think what you're doing. I know, you're thinking, "I knew that. If I were able to think each time I put something away, or locked a door, I wouldn't be absent-minded!" Okay, then, why not use conscious associations to help you remember trivial things? You can, you know, and it's easy to do.

For example, one thing that is annoying to all of us, is forgetting to mail letters. You either forget to take them when you leave your house, or, if you do take them, they remain in your pocket for days. If you want to be sure that you take the letter with you when you leave the house, do this:— First decide what it is that you do or see at the very last moment upon leaving your house. I personally see the doorknob of my front door, because I check it to see if the door is locked. That is the last thing I do, so I make a ridiculous association between doorknob and letter. When I leave my house the next morning, I'll check the doorknob; once I think of doorknob, I'll recall my ridiculous association and remember that I must take the letter!

The last thing that you do before you leave your house, may be entirely different; you may kiss your wife or husband

good-by—well, associate that kiss with the letter. Make sure that your associations are ridiculous and/or illogical.

Now, how can you be sure to mail the letter? One way is to keep it in your hand until you drop it in a mail box. If you'd rather keep it in your pocket, make an association between the person the letter is going to, and the mail box. You might "see" him sitting on top of a mail box, etc. If you do not know the person well enough to picture, use a substitute word as you've already learned. If the letter were going to the telephone company, you would associate telephone to mail box, and so on. When you see a mail box, in the street, it will remind you to mail the letter. (After all that, I hope you remembered to put a stamp on the envelope! )

This idea can be used for all the little things you want to remember to do. If you keep forgetting your umbrella at the office, just associate umbrella to the last thing you do upon leaving the office. If your wife calls and tells you to be sure to buy some eggs on your way home—associate eggs with, say, your front door. This will act as a final reminder. Instead of waiting to be reminded when you're home, associate eggs to grocery store; then when you see a grocery store, it will remind you to go in and buy the eggs.

Of course, all these are theoretical examples: you would know just what to associate to what, in your own particular case.

Now we come to the real petty annoyances of absent-mindedness; such as putting things down, and then forgetting where they are. Well, the method applied to this is exactly the same. You have to make an association between the object and its location. For instance, if the phone rings, and as you reach for it, you put your pencil behind your ear—make a fast mental picture between ear and pencil. When you're through with the phone, and you think of pencil, you will know it's behind your ear. The same thing goes for any small item or small errand. If you're in the habit of putting things down anyplace, get into the habit of making an association to remind you of where it is.

One of the questions usually asked at this point is:— "Fine, but how am I going to remember to make these associations for all these petty things?" There is only one answer to this question—use some will power at first, and be sure that you do make the associations. When you see the results, I'm sure you'll manage to keep it up, and before you know it, you will have acquired the habit.

There is no doubt, by the way, that this system must cure absentmindedness. The reason is obvious; the eyes cannot see if the mind is absent—and your mind is absent when you put things away mechanically. The very idea of making an association makes you think of what you're doing for at least a fraction of a second, and that's all that's necessary.

If you make an association between your key and your door, as you lock the door—you are no longer doing it mechanically. You are thinking of it; therefore, later on when you wonder if you locked the door, you'll know you did. When setting the alarm on your clock, make an association between clock and hand, or between clock and anything, for that matter. It doesn't matter; the important thing is that you're thinking of it for the moment. And, because you did think of it for the moment, you won't have to get out of bed later to check if the alarm is set.

I say that the association doesn't matter, and it doesn't. As a matter of fact, if you closed your eyes and saw yourself turning off your iron as you were doing it, you wouldn't have to worry about whether it was on or off, while trying to enjoy a movie. Closing the eyes and picturing the action, is just as good as the association. It serves the same purpose; that of forcing you to think of what you're doing at the moment.

That's all there is to it. But I can't stress strongly enough the necessity of using what you've just learned. Please don't read it, nod your head and say it's a great idea, and then forget about it. Put out the bit of effort necessary at first, and you will be glad you did.

Captain of ship talking to sailor: "Don't you ever say 'the back of the ship' again—that's the stern of the ship; and that's portside, that's starboard, that's the crow's nest, that's the gig, that's the forecastle, etc.

"If you ever say 'back of the ship' again, I'll throw you out of that—that, er, that little round hole over there!"

Just as absentmindedness is often mistaken for a poor memory; so is absentmindedness often blamed for mental blocks. Again, I don't think that one has anything to do with the other. Having something familiar on the tip of your tongue and not being able to remember it, is not ab-

sentmindedness. What it is and why it happens, I don't know; but, unfortunately it does happen; to me as well as to you.

There isn't much I can do to help avoid mental blocks. There isn't any system I know of that can stop them. However, I can tell you that when it does happen—try to think of events associated with the name or event you're trying to recall. If it's the name of a familiar person that you can't think of, try to picture the last time you saw that person, where it was, what you were doing and who else was present at the time.

The mind must work in its own devious way; more often than not, just thinking around the fact you want, will make it pop into your mind.

If this doesn't help, the next best thing is to forget about it. Stop thinking about it completely for awhile, and the odds are it will come to you when you least expect it.

That's about all the help I can give you when it comes to mental blocks. Try my suggestions the next time it happens to you; you may be surprised at how helpful they are!

0 0

Post a comment