My answer to the Proust Questionnaire.
What is your present state of mind?
I am happy. I am at peace. I am overwhelmed by my to-do list.
What is your idea of happiness?
A deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind. An optimal state of being built upon a profoundly peaceful mind and loving heart. And chocolate.
What is your greatest fear?
Death. My own, especially.
Which living person do you most admire?
His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He gives me hugs.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Permitting myself to be a glutton. Fortunately, while gluttony is my favorite sin, vanity is my second favorite sin, and they cancel each other out. My next greatest extravagance is permitting myself to be lazy, but happily, laziness is not a sin. Oh, it is? D’oh!
What words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your most marked characteristic?
I am paradoxical. Examples: I strive hard to be lazy. I am a famous unknown. I’m so rich I’m working for food. I desire to not want. Often, I am not here, where I am. I am an engineer who wrote a bestseller on emotional intelligence. I’m a deep meditator who plays Grand Theft Auto.
What is the trait you most dislike in others?
What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Natural perfection in wisdom and compassion. Either that or stunning good looks.
How would you like to die?
Very young, and very very late.
Where would you like to live?
In a paradise with great Chinese food. Sadly, Santa Barbara only satisfies one of the two criteria. No, seriously, I love living in the Bay Area. I can live here for the rest of my (very long) life.
If you died and came back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Either a saint, or a playboy, or a saintly playboy.
What is your favorite journey?
The inner journey towards oneness with everything. Much easier than going on a long road trip with young children.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Maybe someday I will be considered a historical figure, and if that happens, the historical figure I most identify with will be me.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Every person of great wisdom and compassion who uses those qualities for the benefit of all sentient beings is a hero of mine. There are many of them amongst us. I see great people. Walking around like regular people. They don’t know they’re great.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction or history?
Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Buddhas kick ass, but not usually in a literal sense.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I learned to calm my mind, to love people, and to be happy. Every other achievement in my life is merely a bonus. And, oh, I was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006.
What is your motto?
Life is too important to be taken seriously.