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.

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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.