I hear the term “Ease suffering” and I get this whole Christian feel about it which immediately gets me on my atheist toes. As for bringing a smile to someone's face, we all know how to put a smile on a friends face if they need it. If it's a stranger then a magic trick might be a distraction. In terms of inspiring people to better themselves I do have a memory routine built around that.
Basically I talk about the limitations people put on themselves in life. When they see someone do something amazing, like a juggler or an acrobat, they look at them and say “I could never do that.” This is immediately followed by some kind of excuse. I say that I used to watch magicians and think the same thing, I could never do that. However once I decided to stop making excuses and give magic a try I found that if I just applied myself to it I really could do that.
During my University course when preparing to revise for exams I watched a program about memory and mnemonics. On it I saw a man memorise the order of 5 decks of cards in about ten minutes. He new the location of every card in every deck. (This is actually true btw the guy was world champion of memory at the time.) I saw it and thought “I could never do that... but wait I thought I could never do magic and here I am pulling cards out peoples ears. So maybe if I stop thinking I could never do that and start thinking I'm going to do that I can do it after all.
At which point the routine begins. I give a brief description of some mnemonic processes that I've learnt and things I've done to practice. Then I say that over the last few months I've memorised these! At which point a produce half a dozen books. These are thrown out to the audience and what follows is ultimately several different book tests. But rather than just going for a word I go for entire passages. I force a page and a paragraph and run off the jist of it, another I ask for a page, line and how far into the line to get just the word. Etc etc..... (different methods to keep the audience on their toes)
Then I memorise a shuffled deck of cards in a few seconds and rattle them off with my back turned, (explaining 1 is much easier than 5). I also have a card removed riffle through the deck and divine it (standard memory tricks really.)
To finish I perform the open prediction but I riffle the cards towards the spec first and use various spiel to convince them that they have the entire order stored in their unconscious mind and they will now know instinctively where a specific card is.
I finish with a closing speech about how we need to stop being so negative and stop applying limitations to ourselves and start thinking “how am I going to do this” rather than “I could never do that.”
If that helps ease suffering I guess it's the best I got.
Hmm...I never looked at easing sufferring as a Christian thing nor was it my intent to force religion down somebody's throat. You can be atheist and use magic to ease the sufferring of others.