Why Scientists Say Experiencing Awe (and Magic) Helps You Live Longer

As a magician, I get to travel the world making things happen that others can’t explain. Giving people these kinds of experiences can create all kinds of emotions and responses. These reactions can vary from screaming, laughing, anger, or just stunned silence.

I cannot imagine doing anything else for a living. Whether I’m entertaining at events or discussing the deeper philosophies of magic in an academic setting, this art never fails to lure people in. The audience walks in hoping to see something that will keep them up at night thinking. When I see people after the show, they seem to have hit a kind of refresh button on the way they see the world.

And so it was rather fun to see NBC News put out a great article (read it here) that interviews psychologists on the feeling of “awe,” and how scientists claim this experience helps people live longer. The NBC article beautifully covers just some of the basics of why these types of emotions are good for people’s physical and mental health, and I highly recommend reading it.

The feeling of awe, wonder, and surprise are necessary survival instincts and play an important role in how human beings interact with the world. Magicians, Shamans, Philosophers, Storytellers and tribal Medicine Men have understood this concept since the beginning of humanity. The reasons why this concept is not more widespread today (and unfolding in modern science) I think connects directly to how we consume media, and the overall infrastructure of modern-day cities and lifestyles.

Magic in Real Life!

The art of Illusion is an ancient form of storytelling that can have just as much of a profound effect as all other forms of wonder-like moments.

After all, the feeling of wonder is what caused me to become a magician in the first place. As a teen, I got to witness the great David Copperfield make people vanish in slow motion, right in front of my eyes. The image of their vanishing faces is permanently burned into my mind. This was the starting point of my adventures.

Becoming a magician exposed me to a variety of secrets, lifestyles, and perspectives that I would not have gotten otherwise. And the more I’ve learned about the history of humanity, the more mysteries that start to unfold. I highly recommend that people make a daily point to observe things they find magical and give them that feeling of awe.

So I’d like to finish this article with my favorite ways to feel awe and wonder:

  • Meditation
  • Walking in nature
  • Gardening (and participating in the natural connections of the world around us)
  • Watching magic
  • Performing magic
  • Looking at the stars
  • Listening to children make up stories
  • Looking at old pictures
  • Connecting with old friends
  • Learning history
  • Spending time with my grandmother
  • Spending time with the elderly (in general)
  • Learning about patterns in the universe