Personal experience of how, over time, I’ve answered the question ‘if you could trade places with anyone, who would it be?’
Initially, the answer was a celebrity of some sort, sports, music, actor, etc. Then, it was someone rich/powerful, like a businessman (Gates) or politician (President). More recently it was a highly ‘cultivated’ person, like a spiritual or religious leader (my favorite was Rev. Heng Sure). Now, I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone at all – but most interesting to me about that answer is the ‘why’.
My initial answer was due to the sense that attention or popularity was a source of happiness, so those that had tons of it were certainly worthy of switching places with.
Then, my feeling was that happiness and leading a worthy life actually comes from changing the world for the better – and of course the more leveraged one was (having money or power), the more one could do this.
Next came the belief that a worthy life is actually one that is free from mental imbalance (which by consequence would change the world for the better anyways), and so certainly it would be desirable to switch places with a very balanced person.
Now, my feeling is that its not that mental balance is desirable, but that the process of moving towards awareness and equanimity is beautiful. Reason being that my process is uniquely my own, tailor made to help me understand my own blockages. To be free from that process doesn’t free the blockages – I actually need every experience that comes my way. Every moment the process continues is a beautiful moment :)
On semi-related point, I read a wonderful quote by Jack Kornfield recently – “There are many writings on spiritual paths, and not one of them speaks the truth, for the truth cannot be spoken anyways. Such writings are spiritual garbage in many ways. However, eggshells and grapefruit rinds do indicate that somewhere near by there has been nourishment” :)