What book, or which author, was your model for this book?

Everything I Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten is probably one of the books I modeled this one on. It is also in line with my own previous book Riding the Dragon. If I chose an author it would be my friend Henri Nouwen. I always admired how he would use the gift of discretion so that he would reveal enough of himself so you could identify with him but not so much that you would get into him and avoid looking at your own life.

If you got to organize a book club with three people to read and discuss your book, who do you want to be there?

When I think of people who have inspired me, they have been both kind and clear. If a person is just kind, there is no growth. If clarity stands by itself, it can cause deep (what we call in psychology "narcissistic") injury. You need a balance. Those are the type of people I would like to be there.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Trying to be simple but not simplistic in my approach.

What other books are inspiring you at the moment, and do you have a current favorite book or author?

I enjoy the books of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Abraham Heschel, Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, Annie Dillard, and so many others. Specific titles that I have found continually helpful are: Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, Nouwen's Making All Things New, Merton's Wisdom of the Desert, David Chadwick's The Crooked Cucumber (on the life of Shunryu Suzuki), Richard Bode's First You Have to Row a Little Boat, among many others.

Often, the best book ideas come while you're writing a book. Have you started the next one?

Yes. I would like to write a book on being kind to yourself since it is so tied to being truly compassionate. One of the greatest gifts you can give to others is a sense of your own peace and perspective...but you can't share what you don't have.

However, before that I need to finish several other projects in the works. First, I need to put the final touches on two professional books for John Wiley and Sons, Publishers. I am the junior co-author with one of our recent Loyola University Maryland Ph.D. graduates of a book entitled Primer on Posttraumatic Growth and I have written on my own a book entitled The Inner Life of the Counselor. These professional books will be submitted to the publisher probably in January and be out in September. They were a lot of work but worth it. I am also one third through a book for Sorin Books on Merton and Nouwen's spirituality. Want to have it in their hands come late spring so I better stop responding to your questions and get to work!

Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you.

For more conversation on Streams of Contentment—and to read an excerpt from the book—visit the Patheos Book Club.