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What a lot of personal, family, social and business troubles -yes, even tragedies -result from forgetfulness! You, and everyone, desire to change this mental habit of often and easily forgetting to a habit of remembering easily and readily. Such a habit of good memory cannot be attained by using the clownish mental gymnastics that are called “memory systems.” Waste no time on these substitutes for memory. Many of their methods are ridiculous in nature and complex in operation. For instance, -if you wish to remember who was the Fourteenth President of our country -you are instructed to think of the initials of these two words -F and P -and then to remember that it was Franklin Pierce. But F and P might also stand for “Filthy Pig!” Such a memory relationship would be of no value at all unless you had PREVIOUSLY remembered (1) that Franklin Pierce was the Fourteenth President; (2) that the initials of Franklin Pierce are F and P; (3) that the initials of the Fourteenth President are F and P; (4) that the initials of Franklin Pierce and Fourteenth President are the same; (5) that F and P must not be remembered as initials of Filthy Pig, Funny Pictures, False Policies, Fatty Peters, Fancy Poultry and (6) some 10,000 or more other possibilities of such initials.

To remember by using “memory systems” requires about ten times the energy and mind effort required by memory itself. It is when you have not remembered, that the mind makes effort. When you have remembered to do what you intended to do, the act of remembering was easy. Why? Because your mind then used its own process of remembering. If you idealize this process, you make it perfect, -a habit of remembering easily. What is the process of idealizing memory? What is the mental act of idealizing the process?

Let me make a confession. In my psychology, I wrote of this development of memory at least twenty years ago. I have used it much; I have never known it to fail when used. That is the point, when used.

A few months ago, after returning from Mexico and the south, I had no residence ready for me and for a few weeks took a place with which I was entirely unfamiliar -a place that was very inconvenient in that it was necessary to keep certain manuscripts in the basement. The electric lights of the basement were turned on by a button switch at the top of the stairs. I do not like to waste anything, yet for two weeks, over and over again, when I started for the basement I would find that the lights were already on. This meant that over and over again, after getting the important thing I wanted, I had forgotten to turn out the lights after I came up. I thought about this; I reminded myself again and again not to forget to turn out the lights; but my mind being occupied with things which I considered very much more important, I continued again and again to forget.

This is the point: mere thinking to remember will not develop memory nor make you remember. A mere idea that you must remember something often leads to forgetfulness, no matter how good the intention to remember.

One day, like a flash it came to me that I had been very remiss in not putting my own ideals into practice -the very things I had written twenty years ago -the very things I had practiced for twenty years whenever important things were to be remembered. What I did illustrates the idealizing process. What you forget to do is not a material thing but the process in your mind that you intend to do a certain thing at a certain time. If you idealize this process you build it into the structure so that it works automatically. This was the actual process I wished to attain.

I wished to be able automatically to go to the stair, even while my mind was centered upon getting important papers from the basement, turn on the lights, go down, get the papers, return, and automatically switch off the lights. As stated, I had previously thought of doing so, I had had an idea of doing so a score of times and had reproached myself for forgetting to do so.

It took two minutes to idealize this process. I closed my eyes to shut out all other images. I first saw and then felt myself move, approaching the door leading to the basement; I saw and felt myself move in turning on the lights, descending the stairs, getting a file of papers, mounting the stairs, turning off the lights, and going about my work. Immediately I re-imaged this process. I went over it again; a third time; a fourth; a fifth. What was the result?

That process was built automatically into my mind process. I had an ideal -a perfect image of myself -remembering to do the thing I wanted to do, built into the brain structure so that no matter how important were the things occupying my mind, I could go to the basement and return, not forgetting to turn out the lights, not even being bothered to remember to turn them out.

If your mind has been trained to idealize -if it has been trained for only a week or a month -you can idealize such a simple process fifty or a hundred times in five minutes -that is, if your eyes are closed so that the mind is not interrupted by impressions of other things.

Apply this idealized process not only to memory, but to the development of any mental process you wish to establish, any habit of character you desire to attain. After all, memory is a habit of character, and the process given here -idealized as I have described it -will change not only any mental process but any habit of character -mental, ethical or spiritual. The essential thing is to idealize the process, making it perfect in the mind; then it will always come true.


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