The Memory Palace: How To Remember Positive Psychology Terms

memory palace positive psychology

Building a memory palace of positive psychology terminology can result in a huge impact on your work.

Let’s face it: as a professional, it is key to remember new concepts and their corresponding terminology.

Learning the lingo of positive psychology is all about your mindset and how you use memory. What could be better than being able to look at a new term and definition, play a simple game a few times a week, and begin using what you’ve learned to be a better professional?

If this sounds good to you, then you’ll love these memory techniques. 


The Memory Palace: Remembering Terminology

The most useful technique for learning is called the Memory Palace. This method uses associative-imagery which lets you encode information when you choose to remember it and decode it when you no longer need it.

The memory palace follows four simple principles:

1. Create mental imagery and sensations to help you recall the terms and their definitions.

2. Store these images in a strategic way so you can find them whenever you want.

3. Practice recalling and “decoding” the images in such a way that they become embedded into long-term memory

4. Use what you’ve memorized, by speaking, reading, writing, and engaging with the new terminology as often as possible until it really sinks in.


Using Imagery

Most peoples’ memories respond to images — particularly action-filled, emotion-packed images. Therefore the stranger the images you create, the more you increase your ability to instantly recall them. When you connect vivid — and even shocking — imagery to the sounds and meanings of new terminology, you will remember and recall them with ease.

Take the word “eudaimonia,” which means “human flourishing,” or living a virtuous life guided by reason.

If you want to memorize the word, take stock of its characteristics. This word has five syllables. Now try to imagine, for example, a ewe exposing a diamond to a vat of ammonia and from the diamond, see flowers flourishing.

As you focus, break down the relationship between the image and the sounds: “ewe” kicks off the word, “dai” comes from the diamond in your image and “monia” comes from ammonia. If you can get a simple picture like this in your mind, you can quickly memorize any term and its meaning, no matter how strange it may sound.

remembering eudaimonia memory palace

Really take a moment to picture the scenario. Imagine the figures as huge, vibrant, and bursting with color and action. Focus on those three key figures in larger-than-life action and remember what the diamond is doing. It is flourishing. 

Now that you have the imagery you may ask: how can I find this word when I need it? And how can I connect it to other words to which it relates?


Creating your Memory Palace

A Memory Palace is a mental construct based on location which you can use as an organizational device for coding, storing and decoding mental imagery.

In simpler terms, a Memory Palace lets you use a familiar building to create an imaginary journey. Along that journey, you create “stations” for the imagery you want to remember. Then you repeat your journey backward and forward to memorize the new words.

Key Principles to Creating an Effective Memory Palace

1. Select a place you can easily recall. It could be your home, your office or a favorite cafe – just make sure you can create a solid recollection of all the rooms. Make sure you can see or sense the location of each corner because these will be your stations.

2. Draw your Memory Palace, using a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Drawing the Memory Palace gets your muscles involved in the process, strengthening your mental imagery and activating more representation centers in your brain.

3. Make a list of your stations or features. By writing out the stations in a linear format, you give your mind another way to process the journey. You’ll also use this list to record the images and test yourself.

memory palace stations
List your memory stations. Start with a small number and gradually build on it.

4. Practice using your Memory Palace. Now that you’ve created it, move forward and backward through your palace. It’s also good practice to leapfrog along the odd and even numbered stations to ensure that you know the whole journey well.

If this is your first time making a Memory Palace, don’t overdo it. 8 to 10 stations is more than enough to get started. Later, you can create larger Memory Palaces to store more words.


Which Positive Psychology Terms to Pick?

It’s entirely up to you which words you choose, but ideally, they will be words that you will use or frequently encounter. Have a different Memory Palace for each term, or for each subset of positive psychology. Keeping it simple and specific will serve you well.

Consult the index of a positive psychology textbook or The Positive Psychology Practitioner’s Toolkit and proceed alphabetically based on the terms most relevant for you.


How to Move these Words into Long-term Memory

Assign images for each word, and place them at the stations in your Memory Palace. Think of each station as a theater stage and each image a set of actors, and rehearse them. Once you set them in motion, they deliver their lines, providing you with their term and definition.

A good rule of thumb is to make the journey through your Memory palace 5 times the first day, once a day for the next five days and once a week for the following five weeks. Memory champion Dominic O’Brien calls this ‘The Rule Of Five,’ but you can certainly tweak the numbers to suit your needs and memory.

The more you actively engage in the field of positive psychology, the more you’ll already be rehearsing these terms and their meanings, saving them to your long term memory. 

Another fun memory trick

If you’re active in the field of positive psychology, you have surely come across the name of psychologist, researcher and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (famous for his work on flow and creativity) countless times. But do you also know how to pronounce it?

Here’s an easy sentence you can use to memorize his name:

“Me high? Cheeks send me high!”

That will do the trick next time you want to mention his name to a coworker or someone at a conference.


Ready to Begin?

All you need is a little time and effort. After you practice the imagery, it’s just a matter of placing it in your Memory Palace. Repeating your journey through your Memory Palace regularly will help you commit every term to long-term memory. Then you really can become a master of your field in record time.

Ready for your free memory improvement kit?

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Do you have experience with memory tricks or methods? What does your Positive Psychology Memory Palace look like? Share your story with us in the comments box below.

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