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Image: Zach King wearing a purple shirt and backwards baseball cap, speaking on stage at VidCon 2014 in Anaheim, CA.

Wonder Makes Us Healthier: A Magician’s Secret to Experiencing it Every Day

When was the last time you looked at the world with child-like wonder? Do you ever wish you could experience that kind of awe again? By the end of this article you’ll get to experience that feeling once again, and courtesy of YouTuber and magician Zach King, have the tools you need to recreate that feeling whenever you need it!

Children look at the world in complete wonder of everything they see. Every rock, every plant, every bug is a curious thing. Every tree is just waiting to be climbed, every hill waiting to be slid down, and the entire world is a playground. 

Not only do children look at the world with this sense of wonder and awe, but they have fun. And yet as we grow, we get used to the things that were once so curious to us, and everything starts to seem… mundane. 

Is it possible to reclaim that sense of wonder? Zach King, known best for his hard-to-believe illusions online, has some thoughts about how we take back this spirit and add a dash of magic into our adult lives. So, how do we do it?

Image: Zach King wearing a purple shirt and backwards baseball cap, speaking on stage at VidCon 2014 in Anaheim, CA.
Source: Gage Skidmore // Flickr

Why we need wonder and awe in our lives!

Ethan Kross, psychologist at University of Michigan, defines awe as “the wonder we feel when we encounter something powerful that we can’t easily explain.” 1 As adults we usually experience these feelings when we look up at the vast beauty of the night sky, feel the euphoria of a crowd at a concert or sporting event, or stand at the rim of the Grand Canyon. These moments diminish our sense of self, moving our attention away from our individual concerns, helping us connect with others. 2 Awe can be an important factor in helping us build relationships, increasing our generosity and compassion, and helping us bond with others. 3

Beyond the social impact wonder has on us, it can have a profound impact on our stress, resilience, thinking, and wellbeing. Research finds that experiencing awe helps us put daily stressors into perspective, decreasing stress and increasing our overall well-being. 4 Awe has been linked to increasing our ability to adopt new ways of thinking 5. In addition, research that looked at the impact of awe inspired by nature found that study participants reported increased satisfaction and wellbeing. 6

Awe and wonder aren’t just feelings we can leave behind in our childhood, they are critical to our social, emotional, and personal wellbeing. So how do we work to cultivate these feelings more often? This is where Zach King steps in to help us start seeing and making our own moments of wonder!

The world is full of magic already!

Any magician worth their salt doesn’t reveal their secrets, but Zach has one for us today that might just change your life, no magic required. With a whopping 15.4 million subscribers on YouTube and 73.1 million followers on TikTok, his illusions are more than just simple tricks. In fact, he holds the record for the highest viewed TikTok video of all time, with 2.2 billion views. Yes, billion… with a “B.” He also holds the #3, #4 and #6 spots on the list of top 10 most viewed TikToks of all time. (Check them all out on this top 10 list.) 

His famous illusions even led him to the national stage on The Ellen Show, Good Morning America, People Magazine, and season 28 of The Amazing Race, and even on to the  TED stage, where he has inspired millions more people to add a little magic into their daily lives. 

You don’t have to be a magician or need one on-call to start experiencing magic and wonder every day. It’s just about looking at the world in a different way.

In Zach’s case, it all starts with a box. Is a box just a box, or is it a rocket ship, a submarine, or a castle, as Zach’s kids like to say? In his world, a pool table can become an actual pool, a soccer ball can become a dalmatian puppy, a glass of water can turn into a chocolate cake. 

We all have this sense of wonder within us. After all, we were all children once, who saw a box and knew… that’s not just a box. In those days, everything was fun, and new, and our eyes were wide, taking in the magic. 

So, back to our original question: how do we find that wonder again? 

Turns out, it’s easy. Just take it from Zach himself, with this TED Talk that shows how you can find the magic once more, and provides a few illusions that will leave you laughing and scratching your head. Check it out: 

Via: TED 7

Shoutout to TED for bringing us this awesome talk, and to Zach for his fun-filled ideas! To find more TED Talks, check out their YouTube Channel, and for more from Zach, head over to his YouTube channel, TikTok, or Instagram

If you’re looking to add a little more awe to your day, watch Zach’s recent video of his best magic videos from 2022, which will leave you slack-jawed, thoroughly entertained, and wondering how the heck he pulls it off. 

Assumptions We Make About the World 

Kids see the world with wonder and stars in their eyes because they don’t have assumptions about what anything is supposed to do, or be. And without assumptions, the other possibilities enter their mind. 

“For you and I, as we approach life and try to solve new problems, if we’re able to remove our assumptions for a moment, we can see with this new childlike wonder once again… And that’s the moment when new ideas can enter the world.”

– Zach King

So make an effort to rediscover that childlike wonder you once had! Try…

  1. Going to a fun exhibit in the closest city
  2. Visiting a planetarium
  3. Thinking differently on your next walk around the neighborhood
  4. Creating something with art materials, without caring what the final product will look like
  5. Watching an awe inspiring documentary
  6. Creating an “awe playlist” to turn on whenever you need it
  7. Or literally, anything else you can think of!

When we embrace that childlike wonder, we allow ourselves to think big. And like Zach said, that big thinking is what drives progress and new ideas in the world. 

For more on noticing the beauty in small things, living with fun in mind, and keeping that childhood wonder alive, check out these articles and podcasts next: 

Stop and Smell the…Weeds? A Reminder that Wonder is All Around You!

Weeds are seen as pests, but what if we thought of them as miraculous, instead? Is it possible that we have been wrongfully hating weeds for years, seeing their ability to grow anywhere as a great nuisance instead of a remarkable feat?

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Never Lose Your Childhood Genius: How to Live with Wonder with Jeffrey Davis (Episode #90)

In today’s episode, we have Jeffrey Davis to talk about wonder, and recognizing the interconnectedness of everything and experiencing joy in the face of challenge. Jeffrey will share how we can see the world in a new way, and how we can focus on the things that make us feel connected to the world.

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Living with Fun in Mind! Lessons from New Zealand’s Smartest Parrot

Adding more fun into our daily lives may not be as difficult as we think! The kea—an unbelievably unique parrot known for their curious and mischievous ways—are masters at play, and they have a few things to show us about this delightful way to thrive in life!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
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  1. Fessell, D., & Reivich, K. (2021, August 25). Why you need to protect your sense of wonder – especially now. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved February 17, 2023, from https://hbr.org/2021/08/why-you-need-to-protect-your-sense-of-wonder-especially-now
  2. Bai, Y., Maruskin, L. A., Chen, S., Gordon, A. M., Stellar, J. E., McNeil, G. D., Peng, K., & Keltner, D. (2017). Awe, the diminished self, and collective engagement: Universals and cultural variations in the small self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(2), 185–209. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000087
  3. Piff, P. K., Dietze, P., Feinberg, M., Stancato, D. M., & Keltner, D. (2015). Awe, the small self, and prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(6), 883–899. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000018
  4. Bai, Y., Ocampo, J., Jin, G., Chen, S., Benet-Martinez, V., Monroy, M., Anderson, C., & Keltner, D. (2021). Awe, daily stress, and elevated life satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 120(4), 837–860. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000267
  5. Gottlieb, S., Keltner, D. and Lombrozo, T. (2018), Awe as a Scientific Emotion. Cogn Sci, 42: 2081-2094. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12648[/ref] and increasing creativity 8Zhang, J. W., Howell, R. T., Razavi, P., Shaban-Azad, H., Chai, W. J., Ramis, T., Mello, Z., Anderson, C. L., Monroy, M., & Keltner, D. (2021). Awe is associated with creative personality, convergent creativity, and everyday creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000442
  6. Anderson CL, Monroy M, Keltner D. Awe in nature heals: Evidence from military veterans, at-risk youth, and college students. Emotion. 2018 Dec;18(8):1195-1202. doi: 10.1037/emo0000442. Epub 2018 Jun 21. PMID: 29927260.
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrGpipgcfi4
Image: Ellen Allerton

Ellen Allerton

Former Chief Operating Officer

After graduating from St. Lawrence University in 2020 and returning home to Vermont, Ellen found that helping make the world a better place with the Goodness Exchange team was just where she wanted to be. You can usually find her watching television while getting crafty, on the ice as a figure skating coach for 10-14 year old's, or in her inflatable kayak named Heidi. She's quite the film nerd and quite the cook, and likes it best when those two things—movies and food—coincide.

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