How many times a day do you go into your refrigerator, but when you're at the
grocery store, forget what was in there? You have to learn to recognize the difference
between looking and seeing. Don't be misled by 'seeing' only what you expect to
see. See what actually exists. Be aware of visual tricks that can make you
misinterpret what you think you see, and don't overlook the obvious. Without
looking, does your wrist watch have Roman numerals or no numerals at all on it?
What other details are depicted on it? How well did you do in recalling details on the
watch that you look at every day?
Walk past a store front window and recall as many articles in the window as
possible within 15 seconds of study. Now do the same thing, but flick your attention
from object to object for a split second at a time. Your eyes register more information
in the first 1/10 of a second of looking at something than at any other time. If you
rub 2 pennies together briskly between the thumb and forefinger, a "third" penny will
appear between the other two. This retinal image appears for only a fraction of a
second, but it is the principle of cinematography which gives you the impression of
continuous motion through a series of rapidly proceeding picture frames.
Daily practice of 'flicking' on landscapes and cityscapes will marvelously improve
your powers of observation. Flick first, then close your eyes and see everything in
your mind's eye. Repeat the process until you see and remember everything, but
make sure you have consciously projected your attention into the process as much as
Make a game out of noticing minute details about everything in your environment.
While attending a party, take note of all the strange or odd items in the room, or how
peculiar the area is decorated. Picking unusual items allows your brain to more easily
establish associations with the normal items for better recall later. After being
introduced to someone, create a caricature and over accentuate the odd or special
features of the person's face or body posture. These ridiculous pictures will stick in
your brain for longer periods of time than normal pictures.
Next, study a room full of items. After taking a minute to do so, go out of the
room, and make an overhead drawing of the room with the positions of all the items
in the room. After finishing, take another look at the room. Go out of the room
again and correct your errors. With practice, your attention to detail will improve.
Look at a picture in a book or magazine and draw it from memory. Put in as many
details as possible. Look at an object in a room, like a radio, lamp or bookcase for a
few minutes. An hour later, draw it the best you can from memory. Practice reading
labels on records for 5 minutes per day, as they turn on a turntable, and you will start
seeing things around you much more quickly and in finer detail.
Test and question yourself during the day. Ask yourself what your friend is
wearing after he leaves the room. Recall how many men and women were in the
elevator or in the bus with you an hour after leaving it. How many traffic signals or
stop signs did you encounter going to work? What were the items on the breakfast
table? Invent your own questions, and remember that if these exercises prove tiring,
your brain is improving in its abilities.
Reading subtle trail sign in the jungle is learned by natives from early childhood.
The deaf are able to read the subtle movements of your lips through attentive
concentration. Attention to subtle detail is also very much exemplified by Arthur
Lintgen of Philadelphia. His talent is the ability to 'read' the grooves on a phono-
graph record and identify the music on it with the label covered!
To improve your memory for detail, do the following 15 second exercise. Sit in a
quiet location and look around you for a single object - a bottle, a comb or a brush.
Now for 15 seconds, study that object like you’ve never seen it before. Concentrate
and focus all your attention on that object and its details. Then after 15 seconds,
cover it up or put it out of sight. Now write down a description of exactly the details
you saw - the shape, the size, the color, etc. When you’re done, look at the object
again and compare what you wrote with its true appearance. How close did you
The next day, choose another object and take 20 seconds to look at its details.
Repeat everything as you did before. Each day, repeat the exercise, adding 5 seconds
and picking a new object each time. At the end of a week, check yourself. Are you
concentrating with better perception? Is your attention to even minor details im-
proving? Continue with the exercise, adding 5 seconds each time, and choosing
objects that are progressively more detailed. Soon you will notice that this little by
little increase in focus time gives you the practice to achieve total attention on any
object you are viewing and with flawless memory of that object afterwards!
To sharpen your memory awareness and attention to detail, put something you'll
need the next day in an unusual place, like the keys to your car, your coffee cup or
hat. When the next day comes, it will force you to replay in your mind where you
put it and press you to be more consciously aware of things. The more you get out of
rote movements in your daily life, the more synaptic firings are made throughout your
brain's neurons, and the less brain cell deterioration is likely to occur.