How To Use Stories To Help You Remember Anything, with Jim Karol

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Did you know that by improving your memory, you also improve your overall health? So if your memory is bad now, it’s important to get it functioning at optimum levels. Fortunately, there are some easy tools you can use to start improving your memory right now. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are again joined by memory master Jim Karol to discuss some of Jim’s most effective tricks to radically improve your memory today.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years. Using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back, everyone. We're with our good friend Jim Karol. We're so excited to have him on the podcast. He has a new book, Ultimate Memory Magic. He and I together have a course on Amen University, Jim Karol's Memory Master Course. We're giving you tips and tools to have a better memory. But before we get back to that, and we have so much more to talk about, Jim, talk to our listeners about your work with Wounded Warriors. What do you do with them? When did that start? I know this is a very important part of your life.
Jim Karol: Well, it all started back ... Wow. Oprah was on. When the Oprah show was on, she made an appearance at Walter Reed and my wife watched the show. She goes, "Wow". She goes, "That's what you should do. You should go down to Walter Reed". I'm like, "Lynn, you just can't call Walter Reed. 'Hey, I'm Jim Karol'", and I couldn't do it. You know, it's all connections and things. So I'm at a poker tournament, and one of my loves is playing poker because that's the only thing I'm not banned from-
Tana Amen: Because you can count cards. Of course it is.
Jim Karol: Or you can read people, too. So I'm at this celebrity poker tournament, I think it was the Walhbergs, Mark Walberg's foundation. And here's Montel Williams. He comes up to me and he goes, "Hey", he goes ... He's wondering why I have this big crowd around me. And then the next day he says, "Hey, how would you like to go down to Walter Reed"? He was the first one to take me to Walter Reed. But then after that, the cat was out of the bag because then I got to know Elaine Rogers. She's the president and CEO of USO-Metro. And she started bringing me down every month. And I would teach these classes, which I now call Cogmental Intelligence, where I would not only show tricks, but I would help the warriors with their memory and stuff like that.
So then one day this one boy whose name's Brett. He goes, "Mr. Karol, could I take your course"? I said, "Of course you can, Brett". And I go, "Why are you even asking"? And he goes, "Well my doctor told me there's no hope for my memory". First of all, ESPN, positive thinking. Never tell somebody anything dire like that. I said, "No, you can take my course". I didn't tell Brett that.
He takes my course. I swear that I was so proud of this kid. The very first day, one hour and 15 minute course, he knew the first 13 states of the union.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Jim Karol: That is amazing. You can't tell me this kid doesn't have a good memory. So what I did as a reward was I taught him our card thing that's in Jim Karol's Memory Mastery Course where you have a deck of cards, you shuffle them up, you remove one, and the person has one minute to look through the deck to determine what card is missing. 44 seconds later, I had a timer, Brett hits the timer at 44 seconds, not one minute. He goes, "Mr. Karol, that card's a two of heart". I turn it over, it's a two of heart. I give him a big hug.
That's what drives me, this kind of stuff. And that's why I started doing this stuff every month with Elaine Rogers at Walter Reed. And then I got to know a couple of other people and before you know it I'm doing tours And now, I did 17 military bases in the last two months.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Jim Karol: This is insane. And now, 2020 is going to be bizarre. So yeah, that's my passion. My passion is to help the folks that protect us and keep us safe. And not only the current ones, but the veterans.
Tana Amen: That's wonderful.
Jim Karol: And especially the disabled veterans with invisible wounds, which some people call PTSD, traumatic brain injury. I call it invisible wounds now. And that's what I'm all about. I just want to ... Look, if I could help one person, how do you think about that?
Dr Daniel Amen: So we're going to add another P to your ESPN. So, positivity but also passion-
Tana Amen: I like that.
Dr Daniel Amen: Because your passion drives you to be better every day. And so what are some of the other things you teach the wounded warriors? Let's get back to our listener because they're like, "I want a better memory. I want a better memory". So, buy Ultimate Memory Magic, but we want to give them some tools.
Tana Amen: So, really quickly. I have a question about some of our people, who ... In your book Memory Rescue. We have a lot of people who listen who are headed to the dark place that are scared. This is the question I have. And I like what you're saying about positivity and you always want to go to the hopeful place, but, some of these people are thinking it's too late for them. And, is it too late? Will this kind of work, will working their brain this way, will it actually help them get better?
Dr Daniel Amen: Jim? You have stories.
Jim Karol: In my opinion, yes.
Dr Daniel Amen: You have stories.
Jim Karol: No, no, no, no, no. I have tons of stories where people that it did help. I mean, this one lady, she was pushing 70. She was about to turn 70, and she had stage four cancer. You talk about being in the dark days, all right? And I don't want to get into details, but, she read this like you did, with the states, memorizing the states and capitols, as they were put into the Union, like one, Delaware, two, Pennsylvania, three, New Jersey, four, Georgia, et cetera. And I come to her home, there's a bunch of people around and she's going, "Jim, give me a number". I go, "23". And she goes, "Maine. The capitol is Augusta". I'm like, "Get out of here!" I was so proud of her. She knew all the states. I gave her a big hug. Not knowing, six weeks before that she was in the bed with stage four cancer about to give up.
So, no. There's something here. There's something here. There's positive hope. As long as there's hope, as long as there's passion, as long as you're positive, hey, I'll put the money on at anytime.
Tana Amen: I agree with you. Now, from a scientific standpoint, if someone's suffering with their memory, will working their brain like this help to improve it in any way?
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, there's a whole chapter on Jim's work in Memory Rescue. So yes, I mean if you want to keep your brain healthy, you have to prevent or treat the 11 major risk factors that steal your mind, blood flow, aging, inflammation, and so on. But, you also have to work your brain, and Will Rogers said it a long time ago, which is, "The brain is like a muscle. The more you work it, the more you can work it". And that's why I love Jim's story, because he's 49, he's got heart disease, he gets on a bicycle, and he starts working his memory and then over time ... We're what, 17 years later, he's a world expert on memory.
Tana Amen: Right. Awesome.
Jim Karol: And I didn't even have any intention of being this. I mean, I just wanted to keep from being bored on a bike. That's why I know this works. It really works. And, I think it could work for everybody. I believe everybody out there has the ability to improve their brain, and in my opinion, in improving your brain it improves your whole wellness and your health. I really truly believe that now. I mean, it's not just my heart condition. I mean, I improved my knee problems, my back problems. I was suffering from severe back problems, especially working in a steel mill in the beginning of my life. And now I have these back problems settling in, and boom! Now they're gone.
Tana Amen: Well, what's good for your brain is good for your heart is good for your knees is good for ... So, when you're taking care of yourself-
Jim Karol: I believe the brain-
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Jim Karol: Yeah, Well, you know. It's nutrition, look. Nutrition is a big part of it.
Tana Amen: It's all part of it, your ESPN.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, one more strategy for this podcast. If someone goes, "Help me have a better memory". What else would you say? And then, in the next podcast, we'll talk about the Mental Matrix a bit.
Jim Karol: Well, here's one that I don't even know if I told you about yet. I have this thing now where if people give me a list of things that I have to remember, like maybe items from a grocery store or just words at random. We know the average person can only remember, like, seven bits of information. I can double that just by telling a story. Like, for example, say I gave you the word cinder block, I just give you ... I'll double it. 14 words at random. Cinder block, toe, a bear, a potato, a swimming pool, a taxi cab, a priest, spaghetti, ping pong balls, which Daniel could relate to very well. A butterfly, a can of Coke, a table, and a triangle. 13 words I just gave you. I can tell a story right now that every one of the listeners, probably 90% of them, would remember all 13 of those words.
Here. This morning when I was leaving to go to the store because I knew I had this podcast, I'm backing up my car. Oh, by the way, we'll throw car in. Car will be the first word. That'll make it 14 words. So, I'm backing up my car, and all of a sudden I hear this thump. I hit into a cinder block. Like, "Who put a cinder block behind my car"? And I looked back, and it fell on a bear's toe. I'm like, "What's a bear doing in my yard"? The bear's eating a potato.
Like, "Come on. That's really" ... See, the more outrageous you make the story easy. So, the bear's eating a potato. He looks at me and he throws it at me, and up in upstate New York right now, people have their pools drained. So, he goes in my neighbor's pool, and I look, and there's a taxi cab in the bottom of the swimming pool. "What's this cab doing down there"? So I go to the edge of the pool, and in the back of the cab, in the back seat is a priest. And he's eating spaghetti. He's not eating spaghetti and meatballs, he's eating spaghetti and ping pong balls.
So he rolls the window down. He looks at me, has a ping pong ball in his mouth, and he goes, he spits it out. It turns into a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly lands right aside of me on a can of Coke, which was sitting on a table shaped like a triangle. Now, just from telling that story, you probably would remember all 14 words. I backed my car out of the garage. What did I hit?
Tana Amen: A cinder block.
Jim Karol: A cinder block.
Tana Amen: The bear, toe, potato.
Jim Karol: What did it fall on? The bear's toe, eating the potato. He threw it at me [inaudible 00:11:21]. It's just actually, like you said, making up stories, using your brain and focusing. If you don't focus on the story I just told you, you wouldn't remember the 14 words. But if you were focused ... When I do this at military bases, I have a thousand people shouting out all the items when I'm done. That's what it's all about to me.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, it's working it, making it visual, making it a little crazy. The more crazy you make it, the more likely you are to remember it.
Tana Amen: Yeah, that instant, my brain went through the whole sequence.
Dr Daniel Amen: We're going to come back and we're going to talk about the Mental Matrix and More with Jim Karol, author of Ultimate Memory Magic. You can also go to and sign up for Jim Karol's Memory Master course, where we go over all these techniques in great detail. Stay with us.
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