Q. What book (or books) have you gifted the most, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. I learned so much about these brains we have in our heads, our unconscious biases, why unhappiness plagues our race and what we can do about that, political and religious “stuckness,” how ancient wisdom literature actually got it right so much of the time, the case for meditation, and so much more. I listened to this on audio, then read it in hard copy form (it’s called a “book”)
Q. If you could have one gigantic billboard with anything on it, what would it say and why?
Be open. Be curious. Be kind.
I believe that if most people practiced these three behaviors, the world would be changed. I’ve been practicing being open to what’s happening in the moment, instead of resisting and pushing back and trying to control things, and it has brought me much peace and, so I’ve been told, made me show up as a better man. It’s almost impossible to practice curiosity and be judgmental at the same time. Plus, it’s really fun to go through life wondering about and exploring other people, other places, other ideas and other perspectives. And of course, kindness…who doesn’t need more of that? I’m finding that when I practice empathy – seeing the world from another person’s vantage point – kindness comes naturally.
Q. What is an unusual habit or absurd thing that you love?
I love scaring my four children. A lot. I’ve hid under their beds at night, I’ve hid in their cars, I’ve jumped out from behind doors, etc. Please don’t call CPS. The problem is now they are all adults, and they are relentless. One of them is going to give me a heart attack, I’m sure. I’ve created monsters.
Q. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I’m really surprised by this (because I’m a born skeptic about everything), but I started experimenting with a daily, brief meditation and mindfulness practice about four years ago, and it’s changed my life. I’ve become more centered, I’ve learned to live in the moment (at least more of the time) instead of stressing about the past or the future, my empathy for others has increased, I’m less reactive and more at peace.
Q. In the last five to ten years, what have you become better at saying ‘no’ to (distractions, invitations, etc)? What new realization and/or approaches helped?
I’ve learned that it’s ok to decline invitations just because I don’t want to go. That’s it’s okay to proactively build margins into my life by keeping myself less busy.