YLYW Interview # 16 – Lori Deschene on Tiny Buddha wisdom + book giveaway

Super stoked to feature Lori Deschene today!

Her site, www.tinybuddha.com is a favourite of many and my first stop for simple wisdom.

Lori’s interview has a lot of great insights and to top it off, she’s giving away TWO copies of her brand new book “Tiny Buddha – Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions” to 2 YLYW readers.

In the interwebs chock full of information and wisdom, tinybuddha stands out with its simple, relatable, gentle and quality content.

You can enter to win 2 times:

1) Leave a comment below sharing your main takeaway from this interview or why you’d like to win
2) Head over to the YLYW facebook page right here & let me know you wanna win for your 2nd entry

The winners will be chosen via a random.org draw on Friday, December 23rd.

Q1. What’s your WHY ie, why do you do what you do, has it changed over the years and what’s your process for finding it?

Great question! When I started with Tiny Buddha, I had one driving motivation: I wanted to do something meaningful to make a positive difference on the web. I was working 50+ hours per week online—by myself, from home—but none of what I was doing mattered to me on a personal level.

Over time, I’ve identified some equally compelling “whys” that guide my choices.

One of them is to connect with people on a meaningful level.

As I’ve written in my book Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions I spent a lot of time isolated, feeling scared of everyone else. Learning to see myself in other people, and them in me, has opened me up to a whole new world where we can all help and support each other, instead of keeping each other at a distance in fear.

Another one of my “whys” is to recycle pain into something positive.

That’s really what the site is all about: exploring our struggles, mining lessons from them to share with the community, and then moving forward empowered, not embittered.

I’ve found my various “whys” by being honest with myself about my struggles, my successes, and where the two intersect. That’s generally my strongest motivation: when I feel I can make a positive difference both in spite and because of all my varied experiences.

Q2. Tell us about a time you failed or nearly gave up. What did you learn and what changed as a result?

In 2009, right after I launched tinybuddha.com, I entered a blogging contest alongside hundreds of other people.

The winner would get to write about happiness every day for six months, and would get a massive salary for no more than two daily hours of work. Two rounds of the competition entailed getting votes from your community, but, ultimately, judges chose the winner.

Like a lot of people, I’d been struggling financially after getting laid off from two jobs, and I thought this would be a wonderful way to support myself while the site grew. I ended up finishing in second place with votes. The judges chose the woman who was in first place – who had existing notoriety from vlogging for ABC Family.

I’d really put myself out there over the two month voting period, approaching my community in every way possible to amass a total of 27,000 votes (over two rounds) and I failed, publicly. Though I didn’t get the gig, a lot of good came from the experience.

  • For one, I became a lot more public. Previously, I’d been running Tiny Buddha anonymously, and this gave me the nudge to shape the site into what it is now.
  • Secondly, I realized that I don’t need a massive salary to do what I want to do. That first year of building Tiny Buddha with a tight financial situation reinforced my “why.” It will never be about the money, and I think that reflects in how I run the site.

Lastly, it reminded me to be humble, which is a necessity for personal growth. I know that I won’t always win at everything I do, but I can always find some way to learn and evolve.

Q3: Your top 3 tips for living a happy, fulfilled life?

  1. Live in accordance with your values and priorities. In other words, know what’s most important to you, and shape your life around those things.
  2. Forgive yourself. When you make a mistake, whether large or small, remember that it all helps you learn and grow. Then focus on what you can do or change from this point forward, instead of getting down on yourself. Dwelling never helps!
  3. Remember that freedom is where your feet are. A Tiny Buddha contributor named Erin Lanahan actually came up with this phrase. It means ground yourself in the present moment, free from stresses related to yesterday or tomorrow. Really see what’s in front of you, and allow yourself to appreciate and enjoy it.

Q4: In your experience, what are the most difficult challenges that people (especially women!) struggle with most when trying to build a business online AND bring balance and simplicity in their lives, and how would you address them?

I really can’t speak for other people, as I don’t offer coaching or provide a service that would give me insight into what other people struggle with in building businesses! However, I can address some of the related conversations people have had through Tiny Buddha.

Whenever someone writes a post about pursuing their dreams, some readers inevitably chime in that not everyone can just drop everything and do what they really want to do.

This is a valid point; people with fewer responsibilities can make different choices than people who have families to take care of and/or debts to pay down. They may also be able to put more time into their businesses.

We all have different circumstances, and that means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for making a career change. My best advice is to be realistic with your expectations so that you set yourself up for success along the way, as opposed to placing heavy demands on yourself and constantly feeling like you’re not measuring up.

If you commit to doing something for an hour every day, or in whatever window of time you have, and then focus on the process, not the outcome, you will feel motivated every time you are able to do that.

If you set massive outcome-based goals, and then struggle to meet them because you have other things to juggle and also need time for yourself, you will feel discouraged at each point in the process.

Allow yourself to feel proud of what you are able to do – without overextending or exhausting yourself – and let each mini success fuel others. The tiny steps all add up. Even if you don’t feel like you are making progress, you are – and you will see it eventually if you keep going at a reasonable, steady pace.

Q 5: Many people fail to get going because they have so many passions that they can’t decide which one to pick. How did you discover and pick (if you had more than 1) a passion you could turn into a business / career you love?

I know what that’s like! For a long time, I felt clueless as to what I really wanted to do, and as a result, I bounced through numerous industries, and held more than 100 jobs (if you count various freelance and contract gigs).

I eventually realized I was struggling to choose something because I didn’t think I could do what I really wanted to do. I knew in my heart that what I loved most was writing, but I assumed it would be too hard. So I looked for other things that would fit.

Eventually, I simply started tweeting quotes that inspired me, while also doing other things. Since that meant something to me, and it was just a small daily activity, I was able to do it with consistency. And it grew.

So that’s my best advice. Start making tiny choices based on what moves you. You’ll likely stick with what you love because it means something to you—and it’s through consistency that we choose what we do with our lives.

Wow! This interview is one of my absolute favourites! Lori consistently impresses me with her honestly, genuineness and generosity. What a beautiful woman and what a beautiful heart! Thank you SO much for the fantastic insights, Lori.

Lori Deschene is the founder of tinybuddha.comone of the most popular wisdom destinations on the web that features tips and authentic stories from readers of all ages all over the globe. You’ll find posts about happiness, motivation, inspiration, love, relationships, meaning, possibilities, mindfulness, and letting go. Get the book here!

Wanna win it instead?

Each of these is counted as one entry (you can enter 2 times): leave a comment below & then go comment on this thread on the YLYW facebook page. Good luck!


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  1. says

    Awesome interview and I would totally love to win this book!! I love reading tinybuddha and some posts there have definitely helped me in times of need (just like this blog:)). I agree with the section above about failure… although it may have felt like a failure at the time, it was really a learning experience that turned out positively. I need to remind myself more of this for situations in my life. Thanks to Lori for doing the interview! :)

    • says

      Great response, Crystal. And here’s the thing – sometimes failures are just failures with nothing to learn except that life goes on and that’s fine too :D Every day above ground is a success in my books. Here’s to winning!

  2. says

    Amazing interview. I love tinybuddha, too! I love the thoughts and ideas surrounding freedom and honoring your values. It makes clear the ideology of doing what you love so that you can honor your passions and live richly. Reading this, today, puts an additional spark into my writing tasklist. Thanks to you both!

  3. shannon says

    i just stumbled upon tinybuddha on twitter and love it!

    i have had some major changes happen in a matter of a couple months. i was stressed, am recovering from a cold, and just feeling worn down from the past couple months of upheaval. then, when reading this interview, it hit me that although everything has changed and i’ve been focusing on how much it has changed, life has actually started to shape itself around what is most important to me–my children. i now see my new schedule as a blessing and a way for me to be more present in their lives.

    thank you for a great interview and the great giveaway opporunity! :)

    • says

      Hey Shannon! Great awareness there ~ this speaks to that old fable about taking care of the rocks in your life (health, family, love) and letting the rest of the sand filter around it (perfect lives, dirty dishes, etc!). Appreciate your sharing, good luck!

  4. Caro says

    Tinybuddha is one of my favorites websites. I really enjoyed Lori’s interview.
    “Taking small steps” is a great advice. I usually feel overwhelmed by big goals and dreams. So I try to do something everyday, a simple task, that gets me a little closer to what I want to achieve. It helps me keep motivated and focused.
    I’d love to have this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • says

      I liken it to the eagle and ant scenario – keep your eye on the big picture but focus on the small, tiny steps :) Looks like you’ve got it figured out pretty well, Caro. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jennie says

    Thank you again Tia for bringing yet another source of inspiration via YLYW. I would very much like to win a copy of Lori’s book. I’ve had difficulty in adjusting to changes which have come about by being laid off from 2 jobs this year, especially with the last one only being a few weeks ago – right at Christmas; finding a job, staring a new job then the stress of losing that new job through no fault of my own, only to start over again. These all have a negative impact on how I look at myself and I supppose it also show in my job applications and interviews as I have had no luck in securing another job. I need to turn that attitude around not only for myself but also my family who have had to put up with me! I will be adding Tinybuddha next to yours in my Favourites tab.

  6. Joy M. says

    I would love to read this book!!!! I LOVE this quote from article: “Another one of my “whys” is to recycle pain into something positive.” That’s just awesome!

  7. Lonnie says

    I am curious if you have heard about the new Law of Attraction movie The Gratitude Experiment, featuring many of the cast from The Secret. (Bob Proctor, John Demartini, Marie Diamond and others.) Considering gratitude is such an important part of the law of attraction, I thought this might be a movie of interest to you. Here is the Website: http://www.TheGratitudeexperiment.com 

  8. says

    Wow…GREAT interview!! I love the process-focused approach vs. the outcome-based one. So true & definitely a way to “enjoy the journey!!” Thanks for this…one of my favorite posts in recent history!!!

    • says

      Leslie! Ditto girl, that’s one I need to remember more often as I get all caught up in outcomes .. oops :D And whoa, that’s high praise indeed coming from you, so glad you liked this post! Love you, woman!

  9. Jennifer says

    Oh, I needed this! I wanted to scream when I read “I’d really put myself out there over the two month voting period, approaching my community in every way possible to amass a total of 27,000 votes (over two rounds) and I failed, publicly.” FAILED? Not in a million years! And then I realized, this is exactly how I feel when I don’t meet my own expectations. To have 27,000 people admire and connect to something I’ve done would be incredible.

    I have nine children, am single, and just completed my first semester of school. I have so much to be proud of and to keep me motivated. I didn’t really SEE that because of some bumps in the road which were beyond my control. Amazing. Amazing! Thank you!!

    • says

      I KNOW, RIGHT!?!? What part of that was failure!? MINDBOGGLING but that’s exactly how our minds work. Focus on the 1 person who said something bad vs the 300 who said good stuff. I’m guilty of this quite often, attaching my success to numbers and a certain outcome. It’s a challenge to let go of that. Or, is it? Could it be possible that these are all stories in our heads and letting go is way easier than we make it out to be? Something to think about..

      Your story sounds incredible, Jennifer. Bystanders can see that much more easily – time to start seeing yourself as the amazingness YOU are! Way to go on the schooling, what are you studying? And may I just say – you’re a fantastic role model for your children. I admire your conviction, tenacity and willingness to focus on what’s already good in your life. Rock on sister.

  10. says

    I named my in home childcare Peace of Mind Home Childcare.. IRONIC as I am the one needing Peace Of Mind.. I am also married to a Police Officer and this time of year is the most stressful.. yet I am grateful for all that I have.. I am wishing for solice.. more me time and time to rejuvinate and educate myself on how to be more spiritual. I think your book may be something that Santa needs to magically put in my stocking.. or mail.. I am a believer in fate and that good things come to those that do good and that I am a postive person people come to with their problems and I need to learn how to do the same.. Maybe its the winter solstice.. or the Cancer/capricorn rising in me… but I feel your book is what I need right now.. Thank you for allowing me to put my name in for the drawing and I wish you a peaceful evening.

    • says

      Beautiful girl with the beautiful name! I honour your desire for solace and self replenishment. Trust that you will get what you need when you need in forms that may not be obvious right at first. Stay open and trusting. Thanks for entering your name in the draw and happy holidays!

  11. Margaret says

    Wow…what a great interview; alot of wisdom & food for thought! Thankyou Tia & Lori. I’m always loading too much on my plate & never accomplishing all of it….I end up frustrated & overwhelmed. I’ve always wanted my own business, but, never have started one. I love cooking & baking edpecially. For the past 20 years I’ve imagined some kind of food business…
    but, end up thinking I could’nt start one or be successful. I get stuck thinking of what type of food business. I’ve also thought of writing a cookbook, writing a book about my husband, opening an organic food store or co-op or farmers market, opening a gift shop or a bookstore, running a bed & breakfast, starting a website selling baked foods, sewing things to sell on the web or at crafts fairs. It seems like I’m just getting older & that I’m not ever going to have my own business. For the past 16 years I’ve been taking care of my disabled husband who is a Vietnam Veteran with severe “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” & now we believe he is starting to get Alzheimer’s. I would like to win this book…I can definately use some help. Tia…thank you for all your wonderful posts…you’re so encouraging.

    • says

      Margaret, sounds like you could be a Scanner! Check out this article http://www.yourlifeyourway.net/2011/04/21/a-scanners-resume-how-to-tell-if-youre-one/ and if so, get Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher – PRONTO!! Don’t give up hope – it can all still happen. Instead of trying to do it all at once, take one baby step at a time. I’d love to help you more, stay tuned for the Sparkle Club coming in March 2012 (a forum for accountability, challenges, inspiration, support and lots more). Thank you for being here, the draw has already been done but I will have more giveaways in the new year. Happy New Year to you!

  12. says

    Thank you for your encouraging words and the compliment. I hope your holidays are blessed, I hope they are prosperous, healthy, happy and SANE! Did you pick your name for the drawing as of yet? Enjoy your day and have a peaceful one! Tamela Passantino Hill

    • says

      Hi Tamela! Yes, the draw was done on the 23rd using random.org and Jennie and Jennifer won! Stick around, there will be more in 2012 :) Good luck for that and thanks for entering!

  13. says

    I have just had a click around tinybuddha and its pretty impressive, I am viewing on my phone now so need to give it some time at the pc when I get home from my mums. Phone screens never do interesting sites justice.

  14. says

    Great interview! Different circumstances- great point; there is too much of the one-size-fits-all philosophy being proselytized on the internet. There is much value in learning to listen to your own inner voice and having an awareness of your own circumstance.

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