The Importance Of A Hook

Blog 2149 – 08.14.2021

The Importance Of A Hook

Many are familiar with the principle of the importance of little things that is expressed in the poem about a war that was lost because a critical message was not delivered in time, because the courier was lost, because his horse fell, because the horse’s shoe was lost, because a nail was lost from the horse’s shoe. An important battle was lost for lack of a nail and therefore the entire war was lost.

But, I am not writing about nails today as important as they are for holding things on and together. Today I would like to consider with you for a few paragraphs the importance of a hook.

I read some years ago that way the human brain stores information and recalls it is by use of hooks. We must have a hook to hang each new piece of data on in order to retain it. It must be linked to something that we already know. And to recall it we must find the hook we hung it on.

The military training instructors that I encountered in my brief three year active duty military career and previous to that for two years of Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corp) training in High School, must have had it drummed in to them, this principle, for every lesson without exception began with a hook, something like, “How many of you have ever driven a car?” an attempt to link a new piece of information with one we already possessed.

I have over the years taken several memory courses and each of them had at it’s core this same basic premise that the way to recall quickly information that we want to memorize even long lists of names or number or complicated and detailed instructions is to link it or them to something we already know in a way that we can easily recall the thread of memory and the hook where we we hung that information.

I mentioned a few blogs back how very powerful scents are at helping us recall vividly even long past events and people. The sense of smell is a strong hook to hang important information on, but so also are sight sound, and touch. I often try to visualize the written list of information that I am trying to recall and maybe the song that was playing in the room when I wrote it down, or hear myself reading aloud the notes that I took in class to help me remember important facts that I need to recall for a test.

I read just yesterday that scientists think the explanation for early childhood amnesia (the phenomenon that most of us cannot recall the events of our early lives before age three or four years) is our lack of language then to verbalize those early events. They say most of what we think we remember of our early lives is really just stories others have told us later of those times. Parents, older family and friends are our memories of those events. Pictures, video and voice recordings are also helpful memory hooks, but it is all there, every word, every act, every fact recorded unless that part of our brain has been permanently damaged by injury or disease where the information was stored.

How do we find the hook to recall that important piece of stored data. Try this the next time you are having a hard time retrieving information that you know you know: 1) Relax, 2) Quit racking your brain trying to recall, 3) Calmly reassure yourself “I will recall the information,” 4) Then try to go on about your other activities trusting that the information will pop up into your conscious mind. That system works and faster than you think with practice.

I have a sneaky suspicion that the great subconscious mind, the Universe, is our connection to all knowledge, as it is to one another. One of my favorite lines in English literature comes from the King James Version of the Bible and reads: “You have no need of any man to teach you for you have the Holy Spirit within you to reveal all truth to you.” I may have not recalled that exactly word for word but that is the gist of the actual quote. Another verse from that same big often rambling and confusing book of books says, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Freedom is a wonderful thing that a handful of self-promoters are always trying to corner the market on by feeding the rest of us a false narratives, fake news, and fake memories if you will. The truth like a genuine memory always has a way of popping into our consciousness we need it most.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White


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