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Mindful : August 2019
By Elaine Smookler Thuddd. That was the sound my body made when it slammed against the mat. Along with being a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist, I am also an actor. Once upon a time, much to everyone’s surprise, I was hired with no prior experience to do a stunt in a commercial. I had to launch myself off a trampoline and appear to fly across a table as I plucked a pear from someone’s hand. The stunt ends with a face-plant on a thin mat. At first, I felt insecure and uneasy. But with the promise of a paycheck and a healthy dose of curiosity compel- ling me forward, I dove in, literally and figuratively. By the end of the rehearsal I was covered with bruis- es—and I felt great! I had pushed far beyond my skill set and comfort level. It took grit, determination, and sur- render, and I was, for a brief moment, a stunt actor. I’d never been happier. When I was younger and I imag- ined finding happiness, body slams for a TV commercial is not what came to mind. I was sure happiness would be the by-product of becom- ing an award-winning actor who was gorgeous, rich, and adored, living a life of luxury and ease. Sigh. It does sound pretty good. As it turns out, between working as an independent artist for decades, going through cancer, facing my credit card bills, and dealing with all the little pains and strains of being human, my life hasn’t been all that comfortable. Yet, when I look back on the moments when I’ve been happiest, they haven’t been times when life felt effortless and simple, but moments when I have met challenges and come out the other side. From moving to a new city to training as a psychothera- pist, angst and difficulty have often led me to richness and fulfillment. In all my years, through all the ups and → Why Happiness Isn’t Always Comfortable We assume being happy comes from living a stress-free life. But does it? ABOUT THE AUTHOR Elaine Smookler is a registered psychotherapist with a 20-year mindfulness prac tice. She is a senior faculty member at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto. 28 mindful August 2019 inner wisdom PHOTOGRAPHBYJEFFREYCOOLIDGE/GETTYIMAGES