40+FAB Blog

Memory and meaning

It fascinates me how the field of science keeps probing further and further to understand how the world around us works and what to do to make it better. Even more fascinating is how the human being works.

In reading Anders Ericsson’s book Peak, he made a statement that stuck out to me. To summarise it he says, “We only remember what has meaning”. He demonstrated this by reading a sentence backwards and asking people to remember the words he had spoken. The result was that only a few words could be remembered. He then read the words the right way, and the improvement was significant, in most cases all the words could be remembered. The difference was the second time, the sentence had a meaning.

Try this now with someone, read the following sentence to them out loud and ask them to repeat back to you any of the words they remember. “Soon normal to back get things hope we, virus the of cases rising to due everyone for difficult been has year last the.”
Now try reading it this way and ask them to repeat the words they remember. “The last year has been difficult for everyone due to rising cases of the virus, we hope things get back to normal soon.”

When I think about it, I am able to see clearly now why I was poor at remembering certain subjects like Engineering Mathematics. Some of the concepts being discussed did not make any meaning to me. This is a key to unlocking our potential as human beings, what makes meaning to us allows us to successfully work on it. A deeper question arises from this, would your life be more fulfilled if you work with and in the areas of your purpose – what makes meaning to you?

Whatever your answer, your abilities will certainly improve significantly when you find meaning in the various things you have to do.