In case you’re curious, today I spent a couple of hours practising putting razor blades into my mouth in order to do something amazing with them. (Kids, don’t try this at home!)

I realize this is not how the typical citizen spends their time. It’s just one of the crazy things I’ve done over the years in order to amaze an audience. Magic is an interesting thing: from the outside it seems like, well, magic; but from the inside, it’s countless hours of work. (I’m talking, of course, about professional quality magic here, not a “trick” your Uncle Harvey might buy at a novelty shop and show you the next day.)

So what would I have been doing with my mind if I hadn’t been practising those moves? Probably worrying about getting older, indulging fears of arthritic fingers no longer capable of riffle-shuffling a deck of cards, and a hundred other such things. Not that I see evidence of any of that happening, but my imagination often goes to places like that, and I suspect that yours does too.

So, here’s a little tip: You can’t lose those thoughts by confronting them directly and saying “Go away!” or “Stop thinking about that!” But you can turn your thoughts in another direction if you refocus on something productive and interesting to you. Your mind is a horse: you have to take hold of the reins and steer it. And if you can use your body as well so much the better. Do something with your body and your thoughts will follow. I’m glad magic involves the body — manipulating cards, coins, and even razor blades (!) — because once the hands are creatively engaged it’s hard for the mind to wander off.

Have a plan. What will you engage today the moment your mind starts dragging you down?