Why Happiness Isn’t Always Comfortable

Most of us believe that happiness comes from living a stress-free life. But our greatest challenges may hold the secret to uncovering our greatest joys, writes 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 compelling me forward, I dove in, literally and figuratively. By the end of the rehearsal I was covered with bruises—and I felt great! I had pushed far beyond my skill set and comfort level. It took grit, determination, and surrender, and I was, for a brief moment, a stunt actor. I’d never been happier. 

When I was younger and I imagined finding happiness, body slams for a TV commercial is not what came to mind. I was sure happiness would be the by-product of becoming an award-winning actor who was gorgeous, rich, and adored, living a life…