Most of us, in general, dwell on the importance of having a good memory. A bad memory is such a handicap in life that everyone realizes the advantages of a good one. By a good memory we mean a retentive and accurate memory; one that will retain for us the knowledge once gained, and retain it correctly. How slow and erratic will be the progress of a student who cannot remember what he has learnt.
He is like Sisyphus, the poor wretch the Greek fable tells about, who was condemned to push a stone up a “hill in Hades which was rolling down again and again before it reached the top. In business life, a man who cannot remember his appointments and is always forgetting their order he receives will soon be left behind. A servant who forgets to do his work at proper, time quickly, loses his job. One of the poorest excuses we can make for work undone is “I am awfully sorry; but I forgot.”
And it is an excuse that is not excused if it is made too often. A good memory is essential for a student, businessman, employee, politician – in fact for everyone in every walk of life. It is necessary, too, in social life; for a person who forgets his social engagements and never remembers the faces of those he met, will never be social success.
People with bad memories, however, need not despair, for even the worst memory is inattention, lack of concentration. We often blame but our lack of attention when learning. You read a book and at once forget all about it; you forget it because you never really took it into your mind, and your mind was wandering so you never really took it into your mind what the author wrote. The first step in training memory is to learn, to concentrate your mind on what we are doing, and give it our whole thought.
We must learn to notice things, carefully observe what we see, consciously and determinedly attend to what we are about; and then regular repetition of the knowledge we have gained will quickly strengthen our memory till remembering becomes a habit.