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Dancing with Elephants – or How to Die Smiling


Life is beautiful, even when it isn’t. The following smorgasbord of publications represents my attempt over the years to honour this truth, even as I now live with a fatal disease. It spans my personal bridge to peace. Perhaps there is something in there for you?

“Healing Justice: When There Is No Cure”: Before I was on long-term disability for a chronic and fatal disease, I was a professor travelling the world in search of communities and people who are living examples of a healing kind of justice. In this book, I return to those interviews and people, this time searching for any wisdom to walk in a healing way while facing major life challenges.

“Creating Joy Journal: The Interactive Guide to Transforming Fear into Joy”: Partnering with my more artistic wife, Rhona, we created this standalone, interactive journal to help people identify and live into those things that give them great joy, while at the same resisting the things that lead to fear. It includes exercises to sit in the fire and not be consumed.

From my “How to Die Smiling” series: Vol #1 “Dancing with Elephants: Mindfulness Training for Those Living with Dementia” and Vol #2 “A More Healing Way: Video Conversations on Disease, Death and the Fullness of Life”. They include interviews with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Patch Adams, Lucy Kalanithi, John Paul Lederach and Toni Bernahard.

“Wabi Sabi Lifestyle Experiments: Celebrating The Beauty Of Things, Imperfect, Impermanent And Decaying”: We humans have a profound need for the beautiful and radiant. Sometimes, we mistakenly seek this beauty in the perfect, the permanent and everlasting. This book seeks to recover the human acts of recognizing and celebrating the beauty of things that are imperfect, impermanent and decaying. Those who are journeying this path learn to celebrate life's storms while still standing in them. Living life in response to this beauty is a path of awakening.

“Wrestling With Elephants: More Mindfulness Trainings for Those Living With Dementia, Chronic Illness Or An Aging Brain” is the sequel to Sawatsky’s “Dancing with Elephants”. With wit, style and humor, this book follows my stories as I use myself as a human guinea pig, testing and trying new ways to live in a more healing way.


By: Jarem Sawatsky, author, peacebuilder, researcher and professor.

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