Children’s Author Todd Strauss-Schulson’s Revelation: “Your Mind Makes Thoughts Like Your Butt Makes Farts”

From anxious kid to Hollywood director, Todd Strauss-Schulson had to learn mindfulness to work through all his anxious thoughts. His debut children’s book may be gross, but it’s a lesson in mindfulness for kids and parents alike.

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Anxiety, sorrow, fear – it’s not just the adult brain that has to go toe-to-toe with unpleasant thoughts sometimes. The kid brain is just as susceptible to the feelings, emotions, and thoughts that pop up through the day.

It could be an anxiousness about fitting in at recess. It could be the sorrow of an early experience of loss. Maybe, it’s even the fear of the monster hiding under the bed. Kids have a lot to cope with between the ears – how about we start teaching them about mindfulness?

But what is the best way to teach children about mindfulness and how to relate to their thoughts? That’s the riddle being solved by author Todd Strauss-Schulson.

You probably know him as the Hollywood director behind A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, The Final Girls (the cult-hit loved by Quentin Tarentino and Steven King) Isn’t It Romantic, and, most recently, Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin.

Yeah, he’s writing kid’s books now.

Your Mind Makes Thoughts Like Your Butt Makes Farts is his first offering to this genre. It’s illustrated in beautiful watercolor by none other than Phil McAndrew, whose work has been in places like The New Yorker, MAD Magazine, and Popula. The best part? It’s on bookstore shelves and available online – perfect for parents, kids, and anyone cool.

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One part silly, one part gross, Strauss-Schulson’s goofy rhymes are bound to get the whole family giggling. But underneath the snot, drool, and fart jokes, there’s a wise message and meaningful lesson (just maybe don’t read the book at the dinner table).

“The big idea is that you are not your mind,” Strauss-Schulson explains. “It is so easy to be inside of your thoughts, desires, and plans. So often we just see the world from inside of the car. The book invites parents and children to stick their head out the window and realize that they’re in a car, that they’re not their mind, and that they can actually develop a relationship with their mind, and their thoughts.”

The author is writing with sensitive, anxious children in mind, because he once was one.

“I had pretty overwhelming anxiety and fear as a kid,” he recalls, “especially on the way to school. I would sweat so much and my belly would clench and I would fake sick so I wouldn’t have to go.”

This experience isn’t unique to the author – and may be something that you and your child are trying to work through right now.

Life can be scary as a kid. Strauss-Schulson can relate.

“I had terrible nightmares,” he says. “I had to move into my little sister’s room when I was 11. I did not have a real sense of internalized safety. There was a lot of fear inside of me and I didn’t know how to work with those thoughts.”

Your mind – as a child and adult – will sometimes make thoughts that don’t benefit your wellbeing. That’s an unavoidable reality, so giving people the framework to start working with these thoughts is central to Strauss-Schulson’s mission.

Art was an outlet for him, as he came of age in Queens, NYC.

“I couldn’t stop drawing,” he says. “I drew on everything. I got to class early and drew all over the boards – I would get in trouble for that – and I drew all over my notebooks and textbooks. Even my backpack was covered in drawings. But above all, I desperately wanted to make movies.”

For his Bar Mitzvah, his grandfather gave him a movie camera. With an outlet for his feelings, a passion for laughter, and the desire to tell meaningful stories, Strauss-Schulson was an artist bound for Hollywood.

Along the way, he discovered mindfulness as an anecdote to his spinning thoughts. He’s been meditating for over a decade and has gotten the opportunity to learn from some of the country’s most revered Buddhist teachers.

It was at a recent ten-day meditation retreat when everything clicked for the author, and the soon to be iconic line – Your Mind Makes Thoughts Like Your Butt Makes Farts – came to mind.

“The rhyme schemes started bubbling into my mind as I was trying to meditate.” Strauss-Schulson recalls. “It felt like someone was reading me the book.”

The now-published piece has a dedication which reads “for the eight-year-old version of me who could have really used a book like this…”

Maybe it was that little boy, coping with his thoughts, who wrote this beautiful book – with the older Strauss-Schulson as the channel to bring it out into the world.

To see how kids have been reacting to this gross, yet impactful, book about working with our thoughts, you have to check out the author’s Instagram. There you’ll find Strauss-Schulson in conversation with children of all ages as they unpack the biggest lessons (and grossest jokes) in this book.

Take these as your daily dose of wholesomeness.

Parents, kids, and anyone cool can find Your Mind Makes Thoughts Like Your Butt Makes Farts at their local bookstore, on Amazon, or through Simon & Schuster.

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