Don’t forget to breathe

I got my teeth cleaned today and throughout the ~45 minute procedure, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

For some reason, I always tense up my body.

I call it barber anxiety.

When I get my hair cut, I need to remind myself to relax.

When I get a massage, I also need to relax.

When I get my teeth cleaned, I need to remember to breathe.

It just feels inherently awkward to me: another person “operating” on me, while I sit there. I can look at their face and realize that they aren’t even really looking back, because, well, they need to make sure they don’t cut my ears off.

In reality, there is no reason for me to feel tense. Maybe I can feel awkward or slightly embarrassed. But tense? Why? I’m literally not doing anything. Feeling tense while getting massaged by someone who you are paying to massage you is perhaps the most paradoxical sentence I’ve written this year.

Barber anxiety sucks… But it also doesn’t make sense. So don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to relax.

Pressing issues

I’m probably like most people around my age that live on the West Coast in Canada:

Liberal–at least socially.

Scorns at hate crimes and racial bias

Low-key panicking about global warming and the inevitable doom of our environment

Cares about charity and curing poverty

And probably have a few not-to-kind things to say about Trump

But a part of me realizes that I complain too much

The inner economist realizes that the world isn’t as black and white as we’d like it to be. And the world doesn’t care about opinions or complaints; the world cares about facts, data, statistics, and results.

“If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.” – Freakonomics

The great thing about studying economics though, particularly if you also study politics and behavioral economics, is that you begin to understand the world a lot better. You begin to grasp the concept of incentives, of society, of the rationality (and irrationality) behind human decisions.

I think it would be a disservice to myself if I didn’t continue my passion for studying economics, as well as the “moral” aspect of the world. Maybe then, in the future, I won’t need to be talking about the pressing issues of the world; instead, I’ll be able to discuss the solutions we can apply to fix those issues.

Superpowers

I have reoccurring dreams about having superpowers

Last night it was related to the ocean. I felt like Poseidon’s son. I could control the waves, communicate with giant whales, dive deep into the ocean, and fly and levitate.

Often times I have dreams about having psychic powers. I could move things and control the world with my mind.

I wonder why. Is there some deep-seated reason that these dreams are consistently reoccurring?

When I have these dreams, I actually feel like I am in control. Do you guys ever feel like you are literally living in that world, and you can control what you do?

Last night was New Year’s Eve and I hung out with some of my closest friends and a few new ones. I did magic like I often do at gatherings.

And I was reminded that superpowers isn’t just about making things float or being able to fly and lift heavy things.

Someones, superpowers can just be as simple as making someone smile.

And to many people, magic is pretty cool in that sense.

So I guess maybe I’ve had superpowers for a while now. I just haven’t noticed.

How do I define myself

How do you define yourself?

Do you talk about what you do?

Or who you are?

Do you use titles, labels? Do you start with your name? Do you mention your age? Ethnicity? Nationality? Parents? Friends? Family? Religion? Politics?

I’ve always considered myself a student.

A student of business. A student of life. A student of magic. A student of academia.

And I also will mention that I am a magician.

Magic is my medium for connection. So it makes sense.

And then it gets a bit blurry. Sometimes I’ll introduce myself as a writer. I’d like to define myself as one, because, well, I’ve written everyday for over a year. I enjoy writing and it has progressively become more important to me over the past year.

Athlete? Because I also play a lot of basketball. Some weeks, I’ll play more basketball then I perform magic. But I’m not sure if I’d define myself as a basketball player. It’s more of a hobby now than a passion. Magic is my passion. It’s something I plan to pursue and make something bigger outside of just magic. Basketball will always just be a hobby, whereas some basketball players want to continue it as a career or use it as their medium for influence and motivation.

Reader? I’ve read a book a week this year for 2018.

And I also love the violin. I just don’t have the time to play it as often as I’d like to.

Musician?

I think three labels are good.

Student. Magician. Writer.

But at the end of the day, I hope that if all my labels disappeared, if I can no longer call myself a magician, or musician, or athlete, that if you stripped me naked of my self-given definitions, at least I can still be just a good person.

Because that’s all we can really ask of ourselves.

Being a good person. That’s the best label. That’s how you should define yourself.

Hey

Hey Jeff

I’m sorry for the way I used to be

I’m sorry for the person I am

I’m sorry for putting you in awkward situations

But actually, I love my life right now

Not because it’s perfect.

No. My life is far from perfect.

But I love life because somehow, despite how broken I’ve felt, despite my failures and pains and rejections and tripups and awkward situations…

Despite my vulnerability

I’ve still managed to be happy.

There is beauty in my life and I just need to find it.

Once I do, I’ll never let go again

First three principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

I recently started the classic self-improvement book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Here are the first three principles discussed.

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain

Sharp criticism of other people doesn’t work.

People will always try and justify their wrongdoings, and condemn you back for sharp criticism. Sharp criticism is more like a homing pigeon >>> will always come back to you

Principle 2: Give honest sincere appreciation 

Fear the friend who flatters you. This flattery can often be seen as manipulative or insincere/fake. Instead, look for people who offer genuine appreciation and praise, and do so yourself.

Principle 3: Arouse an eager want in people.

Bait the hook for what they want, not what YOU want.

The only sustainable way to get people to do things is to make them want to do it. Do not however create manipulation; create a mutual beneficial situation

Henry Ford once said:
“If there is any one secret to success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own”

Knowledge Gaps

What makes a person more qualified or capable of doing something than the next person?

Usually it’s because of a knowledge gap.

The role of a professor is to close that knowledge gap. The role of a student is to apply that knowledge and further their own skill. The role of a university is to connect knowledgeable people with passionate students.

If I told you how simple the method of some of the magic tricks I performed, you’d be much less impressed by the magic.

Why?

Because I’ve closed that knowledge gap.

A huge part of why magic seems magical, or impossible, is because us magicians are fully aware of this knowledge gap.

Knowledge is power. 

In academia.

In life.

In magic.

In the spirit of closing knowledge gaps, I sometimes do reveal the simplest tricks to spectators to explain why knowledge is so powerful. How in one instance, a trick seems impossible. And in showing the spectator again and giving them the knowledge of the trick, which I can explain in two sentences, the magic isn’t as magical, but instead, it becomes something both the spectator and I can enjoy. In reality, knowledge IS magic. Knowledge connects us and created a bridge from performer to spectator.

Knowledge and education is one of the most important things in my life right now. How can I close these knowledge gaps I have with the people I admire most? Books. Lectures. Application. 

Let’s close these knowledge gaps and start sharing the magic.

How vulnerable am I?

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How vulnerable am I?

I believe that premeditated vulnerability is paradoxically the most powerful state you can put yourself in.

We all have insecurities. Baggage that holds us down. Some heavier than others. Some are different colors, different shapes. Some look big but inside there’s nothing but empty space. Some are compact. But each to our own.

Last year I found out how difficult it can be to travel alone with three large suitcases. I needed some help. I was vulnerable, but I was too embarrassed to ask for help when I clearly needed it.

Vulnerability is scary. Can you deliberately place yourself in a vulnerable situation?

We do it every day in subtle ways. When we walk past a friend, we look up, expecting them to make eye contact back, hoping that they acknowledge you. You place yourself in a vulnerable situation because they now have the power to simply ignore you, or look down at their phone. You might end up smiling at empty space.

Or maybe a random Asian kid approaches you on campus and asks if you want to see a magic trick. You have the power to decline. You have the power to say “no”. I’m vulnerable, because I have no control of your response. And wow, does it feel extremely awkward to get rejected. 

Or you’re free falling from the sky. Skydiving. You have nothing to hold on to but yourself and the air. You are not grounded. Yet, at the point of highest fear and vulnerability, instead, you feel bliss.

Vulnerability is scary. But when you cross that threshold of vulnerability and fear, you can see on the other side which is pleasure. There is no pleasure without risk. There is no bliss without vulnerability. There is no acceptance without insecurities.

Acceptance of self is not a lack of insecurity; rather, acceptance is the acknowledgement of your vulnerability. Acceptance is seeing the baggage and picking it up.

Image result for baggage ted mosby

The best person

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Who is the best person you know?

If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would have instantly responded with “my sister”

But now, I’d probably answer that question in a more self-aware narcissistic way: the best person I know is myself.

Not because I don’t think my sister is amazing. She is. But, I think I need to look at this question differently.

I grew up admiring my sister; I put her up on this pedestal as invincible. But, as John Green says in Paper Towns, “‘What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” In childhood, I thought my mother loved her more. Teachers liked her more. Her grades were better. She was mature, smart, responsible. I played piano because she did, went to Chinese class and felt bad for how behind I was, and I even tried to pick up art and illustration at one point. And to me, those were all things I was supposedly meant to emulate.

But as I grew up, I started to find my own identity. I followed different passions. I created my own path.

In today’s readings in my Human Person class, we said that it was possible to know something and not love them, but then discussed whether it was possible to love something without knowing them. God was used in this context. Do we truly know God?

I spun it in a different way because I don’t follow a religion.

Can I truly know someone else?

I barely know myself… and all these spiraling thoughts from my mind that often run rampant. In fact, I often surprise myself with emotions, with actions, with feelings, with thoughts. Patrick Star said it best: “the inner machinations of my mind are an enigma”

But to love something is to discern that the thing you love is good and just, or at least is actively attempting to achieve that good we all seek.

So I love my sister. I love my friends and family. I love certain people, certain places, certain books, certain things.

And I love myself. So therefore, I am either good and just, or am actively working towards such. 

And because I barely know myself, how can I know what other people are truly like? If I never know them at their best and worst. It might be impossible to fully know who someone else is. Nonetheless, I still love other people.

But because I love myself, and because I am attempting to be good, and because I know myself the best out of anyone in this world, then I must answer that I am the best person I know.

If I were to answer with anyone else, then that would mean I am making a judgement call that I know what other people are like and distinguishing individuals from myself. But I don’t know who you are. Or who my sister is. Or who my family is. Not to a full extent that I can discern who they truly are.

And so, I am the best person I know.

Subsequently, I am also the worst person I know. You don’t want to know what cynical thoughts I have up there…

Good Jeff Wang

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Dear Jeff,

I’m writing to you because I heard around the grapevine that you listen. I think you are in a good place right now. Not a great place, but a good place.

You’ve done a lot this semester, and I honestly, you’ve been a little too harsh on yourself.

Did I get a 4.0 GPA? No. But at least I won’t be regretting the fact that I never put myself out there and be questioning “What if?” in all the opportunities that I would have easily passed up on just a year ago, or even just a few months ago.

The only time I regret not studying more for a test is immediately after the test, and that regret lasts maybe a few hours at most.

To this day, I still regret not asking asking out my best friend in high school to prom, or asking out that pretty girl in high school, or starting that poetry club I always wanted to start, or performing poetry, or learning to dance, play more violin, learn to drive, travel more…

You get the idea.

Your life will continue to spiral. The cycle will continue. Just remember to rebound when you hit the trough, and make sure to really enjoy those peaks.

Anyways, I’m ready to keep on keeping on. To keep trying. To putting myself out there into life. To be a Good Jeff Wang, in my own way. How do you like them apples?