Are you happy? Matt Hennem, performer

My act is difficult to describe - it's a combination of illusion, juggling, mime and dance. I manipulate a crystal ball so it appears motionless in space, while I use body-popping techniques to glide smoothly around it. Learning that skill scratched an obsessive itch in me. Rolling a ball is intrinsically relaxing, meditative even. It demands focus; isolating the ball requires that focus to be combined with a certain level of muscle relaxation.

I hide from unhappiness more than seeking happiness. The more you look for it, the more it floats away. I have my back pressed against a door, with unhappiness on the other side, knocking. Occasional distractions let the door slip open. Unhappiness comes in many forms: people who think only for themselves, the occasional loneliness of singledom, spam email.

My nephew and nieces make me happy - it's important to learn about happiness from children. And smaller things make me happy: my penchant for wearing mismatched socks; even long, vacant stares into the fridge.

We build up an array of tools to help fend off unhappiness, and so long as one can keep a good inventory of those things, one can stay reasonably happy. Remember not to get too involved in what life's going to be like, but to enjoy living it now, listen to others, learn to juggle, get out and see a cabaret show. Occasionally, the good feeling from my act remains after the show. Other times, the comedown is enormous and sudden. How can the bus journey home ever follow a standing ovation?

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