Houdini Logic

Houdini Eyes copy
Harry Houdini. Who doesn’t know the name?
His daring escapes, his legendary stamina, his amazing resourcefulness and
 his uncanny gift for self-promotion have secured his name among the icons of the 20th century. Much more than a performer, Harry was an explorer, inventor, researcher and savvy businessman who almost single-handedly created the field of “escapology” by freeing himself from locks, shackles, jail cells and all forms of bizarre restraints. Harry constantly searched out new and exciting challenges. He was encircled in chains, handcuffed, and stuffed into a packing crate which was nailed shut and thrown into a frigid river. He was crammed into a metal can filled with milk, even a giant stein brimming with beer. Harry got out of all of them.
Houdini also 
created “ghost-busting,” the tireless search for legitimate apparitions and the exposing of phony “mediums” or psychics who preyed on wealthy, bereaved patrons reeling from the horrors of World War I.

Harry’s real name was Ehrich Weiss. He was a Hungarian immigrant who spoke little English, had few formal skills, and was just 5 
foot, two inches tall. What he had in large supply was a deep love for his family and his adopted country, along with a steely 
resolve to conquer any challenge. Today, America faces challenges not witnessed since the Great Depression. In 2013, our country is still navigating a tenuous “recovery” and faces the specter of a government shutdown. Every time I speak with a neighbor, a business owner, or a family member I hear a slight quiver in their voices and see doubt in their eyes. Houdini’s greatest accomplishment was conquering his fears and embracing opportunity wherever he found it. We can do the same. But first we have to free our minds of constricting beliefs, irrational fears and negative self-talk. More than 80 years after his death, Harry Houdini can still show us the way. 

Lessons from the remarkable life of Harry Houdini:

1. Believe in Yourself 
Only then will others truly believe in you and embrace your gifts.
2. Recreate Yourself
Use your talents and channel your singular combination of abilities to create a new 
service, product or unique way of seeing the world to solve problems at work and home. Provide value to the world and the world will reward you with opportunities to thrive.
3. Promote Yourself
Your accomplishments can only be leveraged if the world knows about them. 
Be humble, but don’t be invisible.
4. Be resourceful
Read voraciously, become an expert, then apply your knowledge to solve tough 
challenges and open up new avenues for advancement. Plus, you’ll be a more interesting person at parties!
5. Set lofty goals 
Even if you don’t achieve every goal, your extra efforts open new doors and help you grow in areas you never thought possible.
6. Learn from your mistakes
Houdini had an encyclopedic knowledge of locks and kept a diary of 
all his escapes – what worked, what didn’t, and what he would do the next time he found himself in a similar predicament. Do you have a success diary? How do you build on lessons learned, especially from your failures?
7. Anticipate and embrace change
Harry saw that vaudeville wasn’t the future, so he made movies, presented lectures, wrote books and created the fields of “escapology” and “ghost-busting”.
8. Think differently to solve problems
Use your past experience and apply it in a completely new way to find unexpected approaches and possibly reveal entirely new opportunities, product ideas, inventions, even an entire school of thought!
9. Look for new combinations
Harry turned an interest in locks, magic and athletics into “escapology” and helped define entertainment in the early 20th century.
10. Free your mind
Houdini loved to explore and try new things. He was the first man to fly solo in Australia, not long after the Wright Brothers’ groundbreaking accomplishments at Kitty Hawk. Try meditation or yoga, browse through the library and check out a book chosen at random and read it. Listen to different types of music on the radio or at home. Go to a new restaurant this month. See a play. Go to a magic show. Watch a foreign film. Just do something new! New experiences stimulate your brain, stretch your mind and keep life interesting.

The Social Mind

361102_best_friends_forever copy
You don’t have to be a crossword puzzle junkie or Sudoku master to build your brainpower. Just be social.
The best way to stay mentally fit and grow your mind is to be social, according to leading surgeons and neurologists. Dr. Michael Roizen, a cardiovascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and author of the YOU series of health and wellness boo
ks, says that calling a friend can be just as beneficial as solving the toughest brain teaser. According to articles posted on Dr. Amen’s website Realage  (www.realage.com), staying in touch with friends and loved ones could slow the pace at which your memory dwindles with age.

Strong Connections
In a study of 16,638 older adults, people whowere married, active in volunteer groups, and in regular contact with friends, family, and neighbors had slower declines in memory than their less social counterparts. In fact, declines in the most socially active types were about half of those in the least social group.

Nurture Your Ties
How do social ties bolster a waning memory? Researchers aren’t exactly sure, but it’s possible the greater sense of meaning and emotional acceptance that social connections foster may support healthy brain chemistry. Here are a few tips for staying sharp:
• Join a book or movie club. Not only does it ensure that you get out more, but you’ll be held accountable for “doing your homework”, whether it’s reading the latest NY Times bestseller or seeing the hot new techno- thriller at the multiplex. Sharing opinions increases your perspective, grows your brain by fostering new neuronal connections and gives you  fresh insight into others’ likes, dislikes and worldview.
• Start or join a Conversation Cafe. These are informal discussion groups first developed in coffee shops in Seattle and are proliferating throughout the US. The structure is simple. A question or topic is offered, then each person comments briefly so that several views are aired in a short period. In the second round, individuals can add to another person’s earlier statement or go deeper with their own. The key here is that everyone receives equal time, everyone must contribute, and the conversation is fueled by a spirit of openness and mutual respect. No wonder they’re so popular! My wife Christine began a cafe and was concerned that no one would show up or that it would fizzle after a month or two. That was ten years ago and the cafe is still going strong. To find a local conversation cafe or start your own, go to www.conversationcafe.org.


Fabulous You

Based on my extensive research and understanding of your particular interests and personality type, I have a clear idea of who you are. Here are my findings: You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. Although disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you can sometimes be worried and insecure on the inside. There are times when you have doubts as to whether you made the right decision or did the right thing. You like a decent amount of variety in your life and you don’t like to be hemmed in by restrictions or limitations. You’re an independent thinker and rarely accept other’s statements without proof. You can be extroverted and sociable, but what others don’t realize is that you are also introverted and can be reserved at times.

Does this sound like you? Amazing, right? Not really. This pretty much describes everyone. The “insights” above came from a 1948 experiment by Bertram R. Forer and the description was compiled from snippets of horoscopes. So, why did you bite? For just a moment you succumbed to the “Forer Effect”, which is part of a larger phenomenon psychologists call subjective validation, a fancy way to say we are much more vulnerable to suggestion when the fascinating subject is ourselves. This is why people are taken in by pseudoscience like biorhythms, iridology or even the Psychic Friends Network. If a statement seems specific but is ambiguous and you’re convinced it addresses you directly, you’ll ignore the ambiguity and find ways to match up the “details” so that they are compatible with your traits and view of yourself. If you want to believe that the psychic is the real deal or the I Ching can divine your future, you will look for patterns in the moment that reaffirm that belief and employ confirmation bias afterward when you tell your friend how the crystal gazer “told me things about myself that were uncanny.”

Psychologist Ray Hyman has spent years studying the art of deception. He even worked as a magician, then moved on to mentalism when he realized he could make a lot more money reading palms than doing card tricks. Hyman, like other mentalists, was using a technique called “cold reading”, starting with a series of generalities and watching the other person for cues (a nod, a faint smile, a furrowed brow) to constrict his focus to include just those statements that made it appear that he was peering into their soul. In fact, the people who came to Hyman for readings were so impressed he began to think that he might have a real gift. No one is immune to subjective validation, it seems. Fortunately for him, another mentalist, the great Stanley Jaks, took a shine to the young Hyman and decided to save him from delusion. He asked Hyman to try telling his patrons the opposite of what he really believed their palms were telling him. Guess what? His patrons were just as amazed and dumbfounded by his incredible insights. Hyman realized that, as powerful as a good cold reading was, what he said didn’t really matter all that much as long as his presentation was compelling. He had the Forer Effect working for him either way, and the real magic in play was his genuine warmth and charisma.

So read all the horoscopes not just your month, and pick the one you like best, since they’re all pretty much the same. And when someone claims they can peer into your psyche, enjoy the deception, um, attention, and remember that we’re all fabulous, and as human beings, much more alike than different.

Excerpted from You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney