I am pleased to feature Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions by Lori Deschene as this site’s inaugural book review. Lori is my favorite blogger. Her posts on Tiny Buddha are simple yet deep, practical yet not obvious, and plentiful yet not overwhelming. She is a gifted writer. Her words are beautiful, and yet make for easy reading. I’m amazed by the volume of material she produces and the quantity and quality of the wisdom she dispenses.

Lori regularly provides suggestions from her life experiences, something I’ve gotten quite a bit of positive feedback about regarding my book. And she is definitely not preachy. Because she feels she doesn’t have a monopoly on all of life’s answers, she regularly shares contributions from her readers, something I have mimicked on my blog. And like I do at the start of my book, she acknowledges her non-expert status.

Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions is a wonderful book that I was eager to read. It would make for a good use of those Amazon gift cards you received for the holidays. Lori’s book is full of the same positives as her blog. In the book, Lori’s life experiences are even more compelling as she weaves her life story, her struggles, and her growth into the narrative.

Readers of my book, and my blog, will see that Lori and I share a philosophy and approach to making changes to your life. In her chapter on change, she says that people expect immediate results and get frustrated if change isn’t instantaneous. I refer to that as the dark side of New Year’s resolutions. Later in the chapter she concludes, as I do, that the secret to successful change is to slow down to make changes — “one small piece at a time,” she says. That, of course, fits right in with my Life is Long philosophy.

I read Lori’s book straight through, because that’s what I do. Others will read it over time. This book works either way. Now I’m going back and reviewing my notes and I’m looking forward to incorporating into my life, over time, the many ideas I took from the book, which will then take its place on the bookshelf that holds other favorite books.

I had the opportunity to interview Lori and am pleased to share some of her wisdom with you. Enjoy.

1. The amount you write — and the consistent quality — always amazes me. What’s your method for time management? What are the things that you fit into your schedule? How do you make it work?

First off, thank you! One thing that helps me is that Tiny Buddha is my main focus. Earlier this year, I was still doing more than 20 hours per week of other freelance work alongside running the site. I still do writing for ‘tween girls on the side, but Tiny Buddha is my top priority.

I generally do most of my writing over the weekends, as I take Mondays and Tuesdays as my (mostly) off days. It’s more laid back in coffee shops on Saturdays and Sundays, which creates a nice space for introspection.

During the week, I engage with the community, connect with other bloggers/websites for potential partnerships, work on new initiatives for the site, and complete my ‘tween writing.

I’m pretty flexible with my schedule and what I do when. That’s the main reason I wanted to work for myself, from home. As long as I start the day with an updated to-do list that highlights priorities, I know I’ll stay on track.

2. Your blog is full of personal experiences and lessons learned. How did you cultivate that kind of self awareness?

For a long time, I felt helpless about myself and life. I thought I was powerless to change some of the things that caused me a tremendous amount of pain. Eventually I realized that I was responsible for most of my suffering—that it was my thinking, and how I felt in response to it that made life so hard.

I can’t say that I’ve completely let go of all the behaviors that cause me pain. I’m a work in progress! But I know that if I can be honest about my challenges and what’s going on in my head, I have the potential to improve how I perceive and respond to the world, little by little every day.

This is why I love sharing my personal experiences through Tiny Buddha. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on my choices and learn from them, instead of feeling frustrated because I’m human and imperfect.

3. Writing about personal experiences — how does all of that journaling work for your own well-being?

Writing for Tiny Buddha is a large piece of my self-care, in that it nurtures and fulfills me on many levels. First of all, as I mentioned, it allows me to explore insights and lessons, which ultimately helps me apply them more regularly.

Secondly, sharing my experiences starts conversations on the site and the social media pages, which reminds me that none of us is ever alone in what we’re going through. The honest, loving Tiny Buddha community makes a huge difference in my life, especially since I formerly spent a lot of time isolated and ashamed.

Lastly, I feel thrilled to know Tiny Buddha helps other people do these same things, when they share their stories and insights on the site. It gives me a lot of joy to know I created something that helps people.

There are times when putting myself out there feels scary—when I receive criticism or feel like I’m being judged. But it’s a small price to pay for the many benefits I get from sharing myself through the site.

4. Your work has done a world of good for others. How has helping others helped you?

The quote that best explains the mission behind Tiny Buddha is “When you light a lamp for someone else, it also brightens your path.” We’re constantly helping ourselves and each other—there’s always an overlap. That’s the outlet Tiny Buddha provides for me, and from what I gather, for other people.

5. In addition to learning from experiences, lifelong learning includes reading. How much do you read? When do you read? What do you read?

I’m always reading! A big part of running the site involves receiving and editing submissions from other writers. That takes a lot of my time—and then I also read countless other related blogs. Off the web, I regularly receive books from writers and publishers who want their books to be featured on Tiny Buddha.

When I step away from all of that, I enjoy books about psychology and sociology—but I also read a lot of mindless magazines. It’s a nice break from some of the heavier reading and writing I do.

6. I heard an interview where you said that learning to accept that you won’t always be happy is a secret to your happiness. Can you say a little bit about that?

Sure! I used to think that happiness was a destination—that I would eventually become and stay that way. Whenever I went through difficult times, I prolonged my pain by bemoaning it. I was always wondering when I’d stop making mistakes, or when I’d stop feeling certain things.

It was a big mental shift when I realized I will always make mistakes, and I will deal with difficult emotions all through life. In accepting that life is cyclical, with highs and lows and ups and downs, it’s a lot easier to let go and move on when faced with a challenging situation.

Instead of wondering when it will all be better, I instead say to myself, “Here we are again. What have I learned that I can use to do better this time—and what can I learn to take forward?” In accepting I won’t always feel happy, I am happier on the whole.

7. Why did you write Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions ? To you, how does it differ from the work you do on TinyBuddha.com?

I wrote this book because I’m someone who has always thought about the big issues in life. At times, I’ve felt overwhelmed by what I don’t know.

The truth is there are very few concrete answers to the big questions. It’s up to us to find the answers that empower us individually and to utilize them well for our own peace, happiness, connection, and fulfillment.

That’s why I chose to start this process by asking these questions on Twitter, and why I ultimately included 200 tweets in the book: I wanted it to be a guide of possibilities for joy hinged upon the reality that life is uncertain. In many cases, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer based on what we know—it’s just about what feels right or wrong for each of us.


Lori’s book is available for purchase on Amazon.

GIVEAWAY: I have two copies of Lori’s book to give away. If you would like to be eligible to win, please leave a comment below with a favorite piece of wisdom that you try to live by and would like to share. The winner will be chosen by random drawing on Friday, January 6. I look forward to reading your comments below…

(1/6/12 Congrats to book giveaway winner JT.)