During the late 1800s, a fascinating parlor game arose in Paris. The game consisted of about three dozen probing questions that were believed to reveal a person’s true nature. The game was popularized by Antoinette Faure, daughter of the French president at the time, Felix Faure. One of the individuals that Faure presented the set of questions was the famous French writer and critic Marcel Proust. When published in 1892, Proust’s answers to the questions became quite famous; henceforth, the set of questions became known as the Proust Questionnaire. Fast forward to 1993 — the editors of Vanity Fair decided to adopt the Proust Questionnaire as one of their regular features. In 2009, a collection of the best of those interviews were published the insightful and beautifully illustrated book Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, and the Meaning of Life. Deepak Chopra (born 1946) is a well-known alternative medicine advocate, prolific author, and public speaker. Here are some of his answers to the Proust Questionnaire:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It does not exist. If it did, we’d all be doomed to eternal senility.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
What is your greatest regret?
That I have no regrets to talk about or be nostalgic about.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
What do you regard the lowest depth of misery?
The hypnosis of social conditioning.
Who are your favorite writers?
Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, T. S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw, William Shakespeare
How would you like to die?
What is your motto?
“Don’t take yourself seriously.”
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For further reading: Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, and the Meaning of Life edited by Graydon Carter