Your "Mega Memory"

by Bobby Rock

Continuing on with our 21st-Century Mind theme—and this idea of upleveling our brainpower so that we can better assimilate the technological onslaught of which we are all now a part—here’s a cool “feat of memory” exercise that will help lead us down that path.

It comes from a home-study course I grabbed off of a TV infomercial back in 1990 called “Mega Memory” by Kevin Trudeau. Hokey as fuck, sure… BUT, the techniques work, so long as you put in the time and practice a bit. The one I wanted to pass along today is called “The Tree List,” and it’s based on a centuries-old memorization technique.

Imagine this scenario: You’re hanging with a friend. You hand her a notepad and a pen. You instruct her to jot down a list of 20 random things: household or grocery items, a city or country, a type of animal, a celebrity, an instrument or tool, etc. It is essentially a list of 20 nouns. You then ask her to number the list, 1 through 20, but not show it to you.

Now, with the list still out of your eyeshot—and obviously without you writing anything down—you ask her to slowly read the list back to you like so: 

"Number one is Coke bottle,” (pause)  
"Number two is squirrel,” (pause) 
“Number three is Clint Eastwood,” (pause), 
"Number four is Jello," (pause) etc. 

Once she makes it through all 20 items, the fun begins. First, you recite all 20 items back to her from memory, in order. And then, you invite her to say any number, 1 through 20, and you will tell her what list item was represented by that number.  For an encore, you can even recite the list backwards… all with 95 to 100% accuracy (after just a bit of practice). Enjoy her bemusement… and get ready for the “how did you do that?” questions to commence.

No, this isn’t a magic trick. This is pure memory, "total recall,” if you will. And with a little effort, anyone can do it.

BUT, the catch is, the technique involved is basically the exact opposite of how we learned to memorize things. It’s way more effective and efficient because it uses both sides of your brain—a 21st Century Mind tactic, for sure—and, therefore, includes real visual association, as opposed to the typical attempt at forced linear memorization through repetition. (Good luck with that one, especially in this kind of abbreviated time-frame.)

This type of technique is commonly used among memory experts. It has to do with “pegging" the new list item to an existing item, on an existing list that’s already locked into your long-term memory. BUT, you must make the connection in a way that is unforgettably visual. It has to be fairly outrageous… outlandish, unusual, violent, even sexual. For real, anything goes. I know it might sound whacked, but you will find that you’re not likely to forget some of the outrageous shit your imagination can cook up as you quickly link the two words together.

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The Tree List Two-Step Process

Ok, so here's the simple two-step process where the "magic" happens.

Step One: Memorize the "Tree List" below.
Next to each item, you’ll find an attribute or two that will help you remember why each item is associated with each number. 

List item in black - Attribute that links it to the particular number in red

1. Tree - The trunk of a tree looks like a 1
2. Light switch - 2 Positions: up/down, on/off
3. Stool - 3 legs
4. Car - 4 doors, 4 wheels, 4-wheel drive
5. Glove - 5 fingers
6. Gun - 6 shooter, 6 feet under
7. Dice - lucky number 7
8. Skate - 8 wheels , rhymes with 8
9. Cat - has 9 lives
10. Bowling ball - 10 pins, 10 frames, 10-pound ball
11. Goal post - 11 players on a football team, post looks like an 11
12. Eggs - dozen eggs
13. Witch - Friday the 13th
14. Ring - 14-carat gold, February 14
15. Paycheck - 15th is when you get paid; April 15 is when you give your paycheck away for taxes!
16. Candy - sweet 16
17. Magazine - 17 is the name of a magazine,17 rhymes with magazine
18. Voting booth - 18 years old to vote
19. Golf club - the "19th hole" (golf term)
20. Cigarettes - 20 per pack

Once you can easily recite all 20 items on this Tree List, you are ready for the next step:

Step Two: Practice “pegging” other people’s random 20-item lists to your Tree List.

Here’s an example (from my own twisted imagination) on how I would link those initial list items above to the Tree List:

1. Coke bottle (linked to Tree): I see a huge tree that, instead of leaves, has coke bottles hanging from the branches. (It’s a Coke tree!) I run towards it, leap up, then start swinging from bottle to bottle like Tarzan, going around the tree in circles.

2 Squirrel (linked to Light switch) - I’m in a dark room. I reach over and flick on the light switch. A bright light illuminates the entire room, which is filled with flying squirrels with bat wings. They all start trying to attack my head. I fight my way back to the door and try to sneak out quickly without letting any of these little fuckers out of the room.

3 Clint Eastwood (linked to Stool) - I walk into a truck stop and see a long row of stools at the counter. Every chair is filled with truckers eating… except for the first stool. It’s Clint Eastwood, dressed like Dirty Harry. He leans forward and says “Make my day.” I give him a roundhouse kick to the head, then he falls into the guy next to him, who falls into the guy next to him, until the entire row of truckers topples over like dominoes.

4 Jello (linked to car) - I’m stepping toward a car sculpted entirely out of cherry Jello. I grab the jiggly door handle and open it. I then sit down on the cool, jiggly car seat. It’s squishy, but solid enough to support me. I put my hands on the jiggle steering wheel and marvel at the craftsmanship of this thing. Everything in there is made from Jello. I take in the strong, sweet aroma of that fake, chemical cherry smell. I then lean forward and take a bite out of the steering wheel.

Now, keep in mind that in real time, you can make your own crazy-ass associations in seconds. Go with the first outrageous imagery that comes to mind. And then, simply go down your memorized Tree List, and let each item on it be a prompt for the new item from your friend’s list. Works great!

Plus, even the next day, you will still likely remember most if not all of them. When she says, “What was number four?” my case, I will remember car as the 4th item on my Tree List, then have no trouble remembering my taking a bite out of that Jello steering wheel. “Jello,” I will tell her casually.  She will be stunned.

Practice this regularly, and you will see how it becomes a form of “weightlifting for the brain.” You will notice the mind becoming a bit sharper, and you will recall more things with greater clarity. It’s freaky. But again, just like working out, you only enjoy the benefits when you keep up with the conditioning. 

Check it out!

PS. FYI, yes, this Mega Memory program is by is the same Kevin Trudeau who has utilized questionable business/marketing tactics through the years (understatement)  and has had to serve some jail time.  I really don’t know any of the specifics, but thought I should mention it. That aside, I found this actual program to be legit.