“If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.” ~Buddha
Lori Deschene started posting daily tweets on Buddhist thoughts few years back under the twitter handle @tinybuddha. She now has over 240,000 twitter followers and 70,000+ facebook fans. Since then Lori has started a blog named Tiny Buddha of course, and recently wrote a book. Stay tuned till the end of this post for a chance to win a copy of her book. Let me just add that Lori is very personable and interactive. I read her blog daily for inspiration and there is always something that applies to my situation. There is no shortage of content since she allows readers to contribute authentic stories that breaks the complexities of life into simpler form for everyday application.
I wanted to learn more about Tiny Buddha and so I approached Lori, and she immediately responded, wow! She was eager to share her story not only because it resonates with working parents, but because its applicable to everyone – our friends, coworkers, neighbors, co-workers, and just about anyone looking to improve their lifestyle. Here is what Lori has to say:
Hello Lori, I have been following Tinny Buddha for a long time. Tell us about applying simple wisdom to life hard’s questions.
Well that would depend on the question! I suppose I should back up first and talk a little about the book itself. I started by asking @tinybuddha Twitter followers nine of (what I determined to be) the hardest questions in life. They revolve around pain, meaning, change, fate, happiness, love, money, possibilities, and control. I received nearly 1,000 responses, and I realized that there were a lot of similar answers. So while there were 100 different thoughts on meaning, there were really 5 main themes expressed in different ways.
I shaped the book around these themes, exploring the varied perspectives and offering suggestions to apply them to everyday life. That means the book includes close to 40 different possibilities to live a purposeful, mindful, engaged, empowered life. I wrote the book this way because I realized that none of these questions have concrete right and wrong answers. It’s up to each of us to identify and utilize the answers that make sense to us as individuals.
Your website/blog’s categories really resonate with me. “ Happiness, Work Fulfillment, Change & Challenges, Meaning & Passion, etc.”, those are things that I think every working mother aim to achieve. What advice to have for readers around living their best life at home and in the workplace?
I think “best” is a tricky word because it suggests that perhaps we’re not doing a good enough job in some area of our lives. Over these past few years, I’ve tried to strike a balance between improving myself a little every day, but also accepting and loving myself just as I am. That means I need to simultaneously remember that there’s always room for growth, but that there’s no need to stress about getting somewhere or being someone other than exactly where and who I am now. For any readers who are wondering how they can improve their experiences at home and at work, my suggestion is to focus on the tiny things you can do from moment to moment.
Sometimes we assume that change is something massive that should make life feel completely different. But I’ve found that it really comes down to moment-to-moment choices—like what we choose to think about, what we choose to let go of, and how fully we plant ourselves in the present moment. Then there are also the tiny external choices— like doing something healthy instead of reaching for an old crutch, taking a moment to think before reacting in anger, and doing what we can and then cutting ourselves some slack.
Your book claims to share action-oriented tips that you can apply at any time to improve your state of mind. Do you mind interpreting that in practical ways for readers who seem to feel overwhelmed with balancing their everyday activities?
The book includes around 40 different exercises, so there’s a lot to interpret! One thing that’s helped me create a sense of balance and feel less overwhelmed is to consistently ask myself, “What can I not do?” or “What can I say no to?” As a recovering people pleaser, I find it very tempting to say yes to everything. However, I know I value having time to just be, and if I want to create that, I need to limit the amount of work I take on. Sometimes the things I choose not to do are things people request of me—participating in a course or seminar, for example. Other times they’re little things that aren’t really essential—like small administrative tasks for my site, or certain chores around the house. Other times, it makes a big difference to focus on what I’m doing mentally. Sometimes when a day feels overwhelming it has nothing to do with my to-do list and everything to do with how I’m thinking about it. Choosing to practice deep breathing and release worries, assumptions, and judgments can go a long way in creating balance.
So tell us about your book Tiny Buddha and how do you think working mothers will benefit from it.
Since I touched upon this in first question, I’ll jump to how working mothers can benefit from it—and the answer is: in much the same way anyone who isn’t a working mother might. This book explores many of the big issues that are relevant to each and every one of us. I shared a lot of my personal experiences in the book, including my struggles with depression, isolation, self-loathing, and uncertainty. Not everyone will be able to relate to my specific challenges, but we all have our own—and we all need to be honest with ourselves so that we can create meaning and happiness, open up to love, and experience our lives with a sense of presence and possibility.
I hope my book helps readers do just that: look inside to recognize how they’re getting in their own way, and then make tiny changes, starting right now, to be who they want to be.
It’s a new year, what kind of habits do you think one needs to let go, and which ones are worth cultivating for a successful 2012?
That depends on what habits you currently have! Certainly unhealthy habits, like smoking, excessive drinking, and chronic worrying are smart to release. As for habits to cultivate, I can speak to what’s helped me personally:
- Everyday mindfulness through deep breathing and yoga
- Emotional self-care, including self-forgiveness and time to just be without anything to do
- Genuine connection based on open, heartfelt conversation
- Meaning in action, by doing at least one tiny thing every day that supports your values and sense of purpose
As with the answers to the hardest questions in life, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for successful habits. We each need to identify what works for us as individuals—and then we need to do our best to honor that from moment to moment.
The Tiny Buddha Giveaway: Lori has graciously agreed to offer a reader one copy of Tiny Wisdom. Be sure to leave a comment below, and retweet this giveaway for a chance to win – RT @BlessingOshin -> Win a copy of @TinyBuddha new book “Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions” http://bit.ly/AjKpbX
** Giveaway ends on January 13th, 11:59pm EST. Goodluck!