We’ve been reading this blog about “Worldchanger magic!” and it’s taken this long for us to finally reach an article on how to do a piece of actual magic to change our world.
Before we get too excited, let me clarify that this is only at the beginner level though. This specific magic has been chosen because it is easy to explain and easy to understand. This makes it ideal for our purposes.
So, over the next three articles, we will be using this as a case study. To help us understand the basic principles of how magic works, and how we can go about creating our own magic, for our own world.
What will this case study be?
Well, it is a small, interesting piece of magic that, when used, changes the world of the user, into a world that is filled with smiling people!
You may know some people who have already performed this magic. They walk into a room, and it seems everyone is smiling at them, waving at them, saying “hello” to them. This will turn you into one of those people.
If you are already one of those people, this post will cover some stuff you already know, but it will also (more importantly) talk about how you can apply those same principles to changing other parts of your world.
This series is a “How To” post.
We will be touching on a lot of different principles here. However, in this series, we will focus more on explaining how to get these principles to work, rather than explaining why they work. (We aim to discuss the why’s in different future posts though, as that will improve our ability to create more complex and more difficult magic).
Cool. Let’s get started then.
Every piece of magic… , every change we try to make in our world, has four main components.
- The Cost
- The Preparation
- The Direct Effect (aka The Result)
- The Indirect Consequences (aka The Side-effects).
The better we understand these components, the more effectively we will be able to create and use magic in our world.
For a brief explanation of what these four components are, let’s use cooking as an example. If we were cooking a dish…
- The Cost would be the ingredients.
These are the things we have to put in, in order to create the dish.
- The Preparation would be the recipe.
These are the instructions on how to use the ingredients to get the desired result.
- The Direct Consequence would be the *hopefully* delicious and satisfying meal we have at the end of it.
- The Indirect Consequences would include things like:
- The smell of food that will fill the house.
- The messy dishes that we will make in the kitchen.
- The rising steam/smoke from the cooking.
- How tired we are after doing all that work, etc.
Indirect Consequences are actually incredibly important and often undervalued.
They come in both positive and negative flavours.
In the long term, the combined effect of these Indirect Consequences can have a huge impact on the quality and shape of our lives.
In the same way that the wall above a much used cooking stove can slowly turn totally black. Even though each meal cooked only produces a tiny amount of smoke.
Very often, people make the mistake on just focusing on a couple of these components when trying to change their world.
As an example, let’s take the phrase “You have to work hard if you want to succeed”. This is totally true. However, “Working Hard” is only the cost of the magic.
There are different ways to work hard and there are different things we can work hard to do.
How we work hard and what we work hard at, will determine what kind of results and side effects we get.
Using the cooking metaphor again;
“Working Hard” is the raw beef in the dish of “succeeding” that we are trying to make.
How we use that ingredient (the preparation) will determine whether we end up with delicious steak, crispy suya, aromatic stew or powerful food poisoning!
This particular magic we are discussing is considered “beginner” level because the cost is cheap, the preparation is relatively straight forward, the results are clearly visible and the side effects are (mostly) safe.
Okay, so let’s look at the first component, The Cost.
How do we figure out what a piece of magic is going to cost?
The first step towards finding this out is to try to get a better understanding of our goal. In this case, the goal of filling our world with smiling people.
So we ask the question:
“What makes people smile?”
Hmmm…🤔? Well people smile when they are happy. Okay, so if we want people to smile whenever we are around, we need to figure out a way to make everyone around us happy whenever we show up.
“Whoa! Every time we show up!? That sounds like a lot of work!” Yeah, you’re right. It does. I mean, how many jokes would we have to tell each day? How many presents will we have to buy? It just isn’t practical.
Now this feels like a dead end, but it isn’t. We have learnt something helpful about the goal we are trying to achieve, but we don’t yet have a practical way to implement that knowledge.
So we take a step back, we ask a different question.
Let’s try “Why do we want this goal? Why do we want people around us smiling?”
Well, having people smiling around us will brighten up our day. It will energise us and make us a bit happier each time it happens.
So if people smile at us we get a bit happier. And we have already identified that when people are happy they smile more.
So, if people smile at us we are more likely to get happier and smile back. In that case, if we smile at them, they are also likely to get a bit happier and smile at us.
This is the cost. In order to fill our world with smiling people, we need to smile at them first!
Finding the cost
The cost at this beginner level was quite straight forward to figure out. Many results we aim for will be more complicated than this, but the process will still be the same.
Finding the cost always requires us to ask questions. …to understand the “How” behind any particular magic we want to perform. Basically we keep asking “How?”, “Why?” and “What about…?” until we are able to join the dots from cause to effect, from the Cost to the Result.
This can be a bit tricky, so let’s briefly look at a more complicated example.
Let’s imagine the magic we want to perform is to eliminate all the suffering caused by poverty in the world.
(Yup, that is quite a big goal. Some might even say it is impossible.
Luckily, we are discussing magic here, so “impossible” is just a minor speed bump. 😊)
So, we want to eliminate suffering due to poverty in the world.
Straight off, we know we can’t meet every single person in the world. That means that our solution needs to be able to keep working even when we are not there. Not just affecting the people we can meet, it needs to be able to spread from those people to the people they meet, and the people those ones meet.
It will need to work like a kind of anti-poverty pandemic. That way, before we know it, everyone will be “infected”.
However, our journey starts with a question, a few questions actually.
We must take time to ask ourselves “What is the actual problem with poverty?”, “Why does it lead to suffering?”
We will probably come to an answer similar to “Lack of basic needs” or “Not having positive options to choose from”.
This then enables us to ask the next question “What can be done to eliminate that suffering?”
Based on the first answers we may conclude we need to “Provide for more basic needs” or “Give them more options and choices”.
Great! Is this the cost we are looking for?
Not yet. This may be what we are aiming to achieve, but we still have no idea what we can do to achieve it.
So we need to ask the next “How?”. “How can we provide more basic needs or more choices?”
An answer that may pop to mind is “What if we can just give everyone more money?“
Many others have thought that though, and they have tried different versions of it. From printing money (Venezuela, Zimbabwe, etc.) to systems where a central leadership collects all the wealth and tries to distribute it equitably (USSR, Old communist China, etc.).
It never quite worked. It did a good job of distributing what was available, but it didn’t meet the goal of “providing for more needs” or “giving more choices”. In fact, in the long run, it seemed to provide less needs and give less choices.
So asking the question, and researching the answer, will help us understand that this first answer won’t work.
In that case, what type of answer could work?
Well, since the problem is a “lack of basic needs” and a “lack of choices”, perhaps we could focus on producing more.
If we could produce more of the things that are needed, or more of the choices that are desirable. Then these needs and choices will begin to become cheaper (via demand and supply) and will become more available for all those who need or want it.
We can compare how available a hot bath is today, to how available it was in the days before underground water pipes and gas heaters being widely available.
Many people can easily get a hot bath today but it’s not because those people are wealthy. It’s because we have been able to produce more of the things that they need to create those hot baths.)
This brings us closer to finding our cost.
“To eliminate poverty, we need to produce more needed resources and more available choices for everyone.”
It is still not the final step we are looking for though. We need to keep asking these questions, and investigating the possible answers.
Until we come to a set of specific actions that we, as an individual, can take today or tomorrow (latest by end of the week), that will bring us closer to the world we are creating.
Understanding the real cost.
Okay, so we have identified the cost;
“In order to fill our world with smiling people, we will have to smile at them first.”
However, for any magic to work well, we need to remember to keep in mind the real cost.
The real cost is not just contained in the action we need to take, but in the reason behind the action.
In this case, we have identified that the cost as “We have to smile at them first”.
However, that is just the action that we need to take. The “Why” of that cost is something we identified earlier, we have to “Make them happier every time we show up”.
“Smiling at them first” is just a way we have identified to pay that real cost in an affordable way.
Keeping the true cost in mind though, will affect how we do that affordable action. In other words, knowing that we are trying to “make them a bit happier” will affect how we smile and when we smile.
It will help us understand that we need to give friendlier, more authentic smiles that truly impart a bit of happiness to the receiver.
It will also help us, each time we perform the action, to better interpret the receiver’s response in a way that can help us improve.
These are all insights that will be more valuable to us as we go into “The Preparation” stage of this magic
After reading all this, those of us who are quick at sums may be wondering something.
If we need to give one smile, in order to get one smile back, don’t we simply end up where we started? And what if the smile we get back is not as positive and energizing as the one we gave at first?
Doesn’t that mean we end up with less than we started with?
I understand the concern. However, what is missing here is one of the most central principles of magic.
Effective magic does not operate on the principle of exchange.
It is not about us giving something and getting something else in return (minus maintenance costs).
Effective magic operates on the principle of growth!
We start with a seed, which we need to plant and tend to. As we do that it begins to grow, slowly but steadily, until it becomes something unbelievably magnificent compared to that first seed we planted. And, it bears fruit.
This is the type of magic that gives us the ability to change the world.
An apple seed
An apple tree
And a whole lot of apples!
Thanks for reading. In the next article we talk about the Preparation.