The Power Of Suggestion

For the man of imagination, this is the best law to rely upon for recall and recognition. The power of suggestion is a close ally to Association. More subtle than reason, more powerful than argument, it works wonders with the human mind.

Have you ever noticed how an old melody, or an old song, will recall some event away back through the years—back in childhood days?

Just now I am thinking of a picture which rises in my memory every time I hear an accordion play. ‘Whenever I hear an accordion play, instantly the picture. floats up in my memory of an old Englishman sitting in the doorway of an old cabin on the banks of a stream, playing an old accordion. That old cabin and that old accordion, and the hand that played it have long since crumbled into dust, but in memory that picture still lives whenever I hear the strains of an accordion—brought into life through the magic power of association. And this power has influence over the present moment. It will link the events of the present with the past more securely than bands of steel. Just now as I am writing, the snow lies deep on yonder hill and the plains are frozen. This is in my certain knowledge, but if suddenly the song of a robin were to float in through the window, I should instantly substitute for the frozen plains and snow all the pictures of spring, and I should see, instead of the snowdrifts, the mountain-sides green, and covered with many colors of blooming flowers—I should catch the freshness of the May breeze and all the fragrance and color of the early spring. I should see the old apple orchard and the robin singing among the pink and white blossoms, just as the robins have sung every spring for a thousand years. All those pictures, in this moment, would flash into my mind through the law of Association, if I should suddenly hear the carol of the robin in yonder tree. Why is it that we love the robin so well’? Not because he is the sweetest songbird, the sweetest singer. We have many other songbirds that are far better singers. We love the robin because of the association. In our minds, he suggests spring—he is the harbinger of spring, the glad season of the year—and in memory the robin and his song is linked with the bud and bloom, the fragrance and beauty and gladness of that season of the year—all brought to us through this magic law of Association. And so I repeat that the law of Association, working through the psychology of suggestion, is the big law which you must master if you would develop your retentiveness to the nth degree.


But after all the evidence is in, I am inclined to think that the third law has most to do in developing a retentive memory. For the majority of people, Repetition is the surest way to fix the fact or ideas so indelibly on the mind that subsequent recollection is easy. Unquestionably, the power of memorizing and recollecting may be tremendously increased by any one who will practise a series of progressive exercises and make frequent reviews. Every time you review or repeat you will deepen and intensify the original impression, thereby making it permanent and subject to future recall.. The system of exercises outlined at the end of this chapter will prove most beneficial if practised faithfully and repeatedly. And furthermore, “As the repetitions continue, the whole mind secures an increasingly orderly and beautiful arrangement of its contents over which the will rules with unquestioned tranquil authority.” * So we find that the solution for our problem of retentiveness lies in the great basic laws, as does the solution of every other problem connected with memory.


For a practical test of retentiveness, what could be more to the point than to test your recollection of what you have learned about memory and find out how much you have retained from the reading of this book.

1. Write down the names of the chapters read so far, and in order.

2. Draw an outline of the chapter on Facts and Fallacies of Memory Training.

3. Write down the five working principles of mental photography.

4. Write a synopsis of the chapter on Avail-able Knowledge.

5. How many aids were given in ” How to Concentrate ” and what were they?

6. Explain to your wife (or husband) the three great laws. (If wife is not available, try it on your girl friend or boy friend.)

7. Repeat accurately the quotation beginning, ” It is not what you eat, but what you digest that makes you strong.”

8. What reference was made to Houding?

9. Define Motor Memory.

10. What reference was made to Theodore Roosevelt and to Helen Keller?


For those who find recollection difficult I offer this suggestion, which has helped many: Never let anything go that has been forgotten. Try again and again to recall it until you succeed. If you are sure that you ever knew the missing fact or figure or name or quotation—sure that it exists in the storehouse of remembrance, never let your reeollector lie down on the job until it brings home the lost. Send it out again and again on the quest, like a retrieving hound. Form the retriever habit.

Cadman, the eloquent speaker, said that he trained and disciplined his powerful memory in this way He never allowed anything to slip for any length of time from his recollection. Day after day, even if it took months, he would send his memory in quest of the missing item—keeping everlastingly at it, until it returned victorious. Every time such a victory is won, it strengthens the memory and renews confidence. It is a mental tonic. At the same time, it is a most effective form of mental discipline. On the other hand, any one who follows the usual custom of ” letting it slide,” when unable to call up or revive something in memory which he should be able to recollect instantly, is aiding and abetting his memory deficiency and establishing a chronic habit of forgetting. Some one has wisely said, ” Intention has much to do with Retention.”

Every time you give up the recall of something you have temporarily forgotten, you weaken your memory and shake your faith in your own mental power and grasp. In time, if you follow this line of least resistance, you will have a wonderful ” forgettery.” But if you form the retriever habit, and persistently and determinedly go after every escaping impression and bring it back, it will be very seldom that a thought will escape from you, even temporarily. You will develop in time a powerful mental tenacity. And what is more, you will have a memory to be proud of, a memory that will retain the richest treasures of thought which may come to you in a lifetime.






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