From Anxious To Mindful: Todd Strauss-Schulson’s Passion Project Toward Inner Peace

Navigating adulthood isn’t easy, and you never quite know whether you’re in the calm or entering the storm. But there are ways to ease this uncertainty and feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety, things Todd Strauss-Schulson learned through mindfulness. Read on to discover more. 

Mindfulness can be a strange concept to digest. What does it mean exactly? As the University of Minnesota aptly defines it, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” 

When you learn to practice mindfulness, which largely consists of focusing on the present moment, it can have a significant positive impact on health and well-being. A reduction in anxiety and depression are a few benefits, but it goes even further than that: it can help heal your inner child, which is where a lot of those negative feelings stem from. Something Todd-Strauss-Schulson is very familiar with. 

“I was an anxious, nervous kid for a lot of reasons … that anxiousness came with me into adulthood,” Todd shares. “I became very anxious after I made my first movie and found mindfulness as a way to help myself get back above board.” 

Todd went on to become a practitioner and incorporated books, podcasts, Dharma talks, and retreats into his personal life to heal himself and ultimately take care of that little kid inside. And “the fruits of all that labor” was writing a children’s book which, in a way, he wrote to his younger self. 

Todd Strauss-Schulson is not only an author but a screenwriter, producer, editor, and cinematographer best known for directing the comedy film A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011), the horror comedy film The Final Girls (2015), the romantic comedy film Isn’t It Romantic (2019), and the drama tv series Glamorous for Netflix (2023). His most recent venture is writing a children’s book, called Your Mind Makes Thoughts Like Your Butt Makes Farts, a funny, and slightly gross, book about mindfulness for kids. 

“I primarily direct and write movies and TV shows, but for the last ten years have been practicing mindfulness and going on retreats, and that’s a pretty significant part of my personal life,” he shares. But even so, Todd still experiences the difficulty of remaining mindful, as everyone does. 

“One of the great teachings I had was you have to remember to remember, but you don’t always remember that,” he says. 

The reality is, sometimes life gets in the way and we start believing our thoughts as truth. Whether it’s from a stressful, busy day, falling down the rabbit hole of scrolling on your phone or experiencing something traumatic. It’s not easy to maintain balance 100% of the time, but little prompts help to remind you your thoughts are not real. 

“Knowing that it’s not true or knowing that there’s space around it, you can soothe yourself a little bit instead of being stuck inside the tornado,” Todd discusses, “and if you can’t do it for yourself, it’s always helpful to have someone else remind you. And that’s why I wrote this book, knowing you can always grab it off the shelf if you or your child are having a tough time and forgot what you already know.” 

As we virtually sit discussing mindfulness, farts, and healing our inner child, I ask Todd what he would say to his 8-year-old self. He laughs, saying “An eight-year-old Todd? What can you say? I mean, I wouldn’t say things like, relax, that’s just not helpful. I think I would say ‘You are not your thoughts. You are something else besides that. You are the awareness that knows your thinking,’” he imparts.  

“When I was filled with anxiety or fear, knowing that was separate, that was not true, that it would pass like gas or like a cloud or like a wave, images like that, I think would have been helpful in learning how to self regulate when I was young.” 

And his book was created with that purpose in mind and is achieving just that. It’s hard teaching ourselves how to deal with anxieties, fears, and nightmares, let alone our kids. That’s where Todd’s book comes in. Using humor and relatable examples kids understand makes the “teaching” process fun – and easy. 

“The pictures are funny and disgusting and there are farts and snot, but it secretly gets the message in and you go, ‘Oh, I’m not my thoughts.’ That’s a pretty big insight. And to have had that younger would have been very helpful.”

And don’t just take Todd’s word for it, the reviews speak for themselves:

“OMG! This book is the perfect way to introduce the essence of mindfulness to kids: not by ‘meditating’ but by learning to not take the mind so seriously. Honestly, though, I and a lot of my grown-up students could learn from it too.” – Jay Michaelson, senior editor, Ten Percent Happier, and author of Enlightenment by Trial and Error.

So, the question remains, are you ready to embark on a quirky, mindful journey? 

Perfect for kids, parents, and everyone in between, Todd Strauss-Schulson’s book Your Mind Makes Thoughts Like Your Butt Makes Farts is a great place to start. To purchase his book, click the link here and visit his website to watch silly videos and learn more about the story. 

Written by Samantha Renfro