LIVE IN a world so rich with possibilities that you could eat
a different dish every meal and youd never eat them all;
you could watch a different movie every day and youd never
see them all; you could read a different book every day and youd
never read them all; and you could think a different thought
every second and youd never think them all.
In a world like this, it seems awfully
foolish to repeat anything to read the same book twice,
or think the same thought over and over again. It seems foolish,
but it is very much not foolish. Repetition generates power in
many different ways and in many different contexts. Let me go
over a few to give you an idea.
Obviously the first place to start is with
is what makes slotras work. Repetition goes over and over the
same pathway in your brain, making that pathway stronger and
easier to go down again, and that strength and easiness is exactly
what makes the slotra worth anything. It allows that thought
to be very easy to think, and if its the right thought
for the right context, it can do a lot of good. The good was
created with repetition.
The most lasting way to memorize something
is a seemingly clumsy, time-consuming, and old-fashioned way:
Go over it again and again. If its a poem, for example,
that would mean reading it aloud again and again.
Go over it enough times, and you will have
it memorized. And it will be memorized so well that forty years
from now youll be able to recite it by heart. This is the
power of rote learning. Repetition generated the power to put
something in the mind and have it stick. Repetitition gave you
the power to take something as wispy and ephemeral as a thought
and make it solid in the mind.
If you were one of the many children who
recited The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning
at school, you have with you right now a good example of how
solid repetition can make something in an organic organ as soft
and alive as the human brain. You can stand up right now, put
your hand over your heart and say the whole thing start to finish
without batting an eye, and chances are good you havent
said it or even heard it for a long time ten, twenty,
maybe even fifty years. But there it is, complete.
It would seem really old fashioned to walk
by a fifth grade classroom and hear them all chanting aloud the
rules of grammar, because that was done in the olden days before
mimeographed copies could be handed out. But those rules and
facts that were repeated over and over out loud were indelibly
printed on the mind of those students.
Unless youre a writer, you probably
know very few rules of grammar by heart. I am a writer and I
hardly remember any of them.
Weve gotten away from that sort of
learning in our schools, and for some good reasons. But it has
its uses for some things, and perhaps weve gotten too far
away from it.
One of the arguments against rote learning
is that it stifles creativity. But that isnt true. Perhaps
nothing but rote learning would stifle creativity, but
memorizing some things by repeating them over and over doesnt
keep the mind from being creative.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of
Creativity and Flow, and a researcher in the field for over
forty years, wrote,
It is a mistake to assume that creativity
and rote learning are incompatible. Some of the most original
scientists, for instance, have been known to have memorized music,
poetry, or historical information extensively.
Theres something very calming about
well-memorized words. It is a place to come home to, a stable
place in a sometimes unstable world of experience. A person
who can remember stories, wrote Mihaly,
poems, lyrics of songs, baseball statistics,
chemical formulas, mathematical operations, historical dates,
biblical passages, and wise quotations has many advantages over
one who has not cultivated such a skill. The consciousness of
such a person is independent of the order that may or may not
be provided by the environment. She can always amuse herself,
and find meaning in the contents of her mind. While others need
external stimulation television, reading, conversation,
or drugs to keep their minds from drifting into chaos,
the person whose memory is stocked with patterns of information
is autonomous and self-contained.
Benjamin Franklin wrote in his essay The Way to Wealth, To encourage the
Practice of remembering and repeating those wise Sentences, I
have sometimes quoted myself with great Gravity.
Of course, he said that tongue-in-cheek,
but he did create a lot of aphorisms and they have been
repeated often, and became like proverbs and rules people lived
by, and some still do to this day. Many of his aphorisms are
well-known. He made many of them rhyme or made them especially
pithy and memorable.
Here are a few of Franklins gems:
Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and
wise; God helps them that help themselves; Diligence is the mother
of good luck; Constant dropping wears away stones; Little strokes
fell great oaks, and so on and on. He was fond of making sayings
and repeating them often in his writings. He repeated himself
so much that others got the ideas stuck in their brains, and
they have become a part of our culture.
His rhymes made the aphorisms a little
less boring to repeat, but let's face it, repeating anything
is boring. But if you will create motivating slotras, or slotras that create a feeling
of strength and determination in you, and then practice thinking
those thoughts repeat them to yourself many times every
day you will find a new source of power in accomplishing
the goals you want.
Repetition may suck, but it can also suck
your goals right into your hands.
Another good reason to read the same book
again: Sturgeons Law. Quoting from Answers.com:
Ninety percent of everything is crud.
Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon,
who once said, Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. Thats
because 90% of everything is crud.
When Sturgeons Law is cited, the
final word is almost invariably changed to crap.
Ninety percent of everything is crap. It's got a nice
ring to it. And it rings true.
So when you find a good book, read it again,
or get it as an audiobook and listen to it many times. Why? Because
you could read another nine books and you have a good chance
of finding that none of them is as good or as useful as the one
youve already read.
Read the next chapter: Repetition,
Focus, and the Power to Achieve
This article is part of a series on Slotralogy.
Read the first section here: Slotralogy