Lori Deschene has created a viral social media phenomena with “The Tiny Buddha”
Even before I realised how much I would get involved and connect with others across social media and the internet; one of the first personal resources I found which resonated with me was Lori Deschene and her Tiny Buddha twitter feed. As a life-long learner and self-awareness student, I have read my way through literally thousands of books which speak to my heart and soul, and I have to say Lori’s work stood out in it’s simplicity but also because of the truthfulness and vulnerability contained in her articles. So when I published the People Development Network, one of the first internet resources I wanted to show my gratitude to, was, the Tiny Buddha, and I contacted Lori to get permission to use her branding in the e-zine. Not only did I get a swift and positive response from Lori, I was absolutely delighted to persuade her to let me interview her for a future issue of the ezine.
I am delighted that this interview with Lori also coincides with the publication of her second great book “Tiny Buddha’s Guide To Loving Yourself”. I pre-ordered the book and was struck by the powerfulness of the chapters within. A must read! (More later) Lori’s inspirational first book “Tiny Buddha Simple Wisdom For Life’s Hard Questions” is also available from Amazon.
So here is what Lori had to say about her work on the Tiny Buddha and also her inspirational new book.
What inspired you to create the Tiny Buddha?
At the time I was working from home as an online content manager for two different websites. I didn’t have a personal interest in either of the topics, so I felt purposeless, not to mention disconnected and overwhelmed by my demanding schedule. I knew I wanted to do something that felt more meaningful to me, and through the process of discovering and exploring the world of personal development blogging, I realized what that would entail. I’d formerly struggled with self-loathing, depression, and an eating disorder, and had spent years isolating myself in fear of being seen and judged. With this in mind, I felt compelled to create a space where we could all share our experiences and lessons to connect with each other and feel more empowered and less alone. The community aspect of the blog was important for me because I didn’t want to build the site around myself, as though it was all about readers learning from me. I wanted it to be a place where we could all be both students and teachers.
Who is the Tiny Buddha for?
It’s for anyone who wants to share what they’ve learned, learn from others, and feel a sense of belonging within a community of supportive, openhearted individuals. The Tiny Buddha has been active for a number of years now. What has made you feel like you had created something really valuable over that time? For a long time, I gauged the site’s impact through reader emails and comments. When people wrote about how the site or my writing had changed their life for the better, it gave me a sense that I was doing something important. Now what really excites me is seeing the community engagement. In witnessing how community members inspire and support each other through blog posts, comments, and forum threads, I feel proud to know that I’ve done more than help people; I’ve enabled people to help themselves and each other.
Why do you think the Tiny Buddha has such a huge and loyal fanbase?
I believe it has a lot to do with the heart behind the site. People share themselves honestly and vulnerably in their writing, and this invites a type of authentic connection that’s sometimes hard to find. I also think it has to do with the way the site has grown—organically. Even as it attracts more readers and writers and we launch new products and features, it’s never about maximizing page views or meeting traffic or sales goals. The purpose is always the focus, and everything else is secondary.
We have many readers who have based their businesses around helping others. What would your advice be to them?
Clarify your “why.” Most of us want to help others, both to give back and create a sense of purpose. We’re best able to do that when we understand and can communicate our unique set of motivators. In my case, that entailed sharing the darkest times of my life and the years of isolation that impressed upon me the importance of genuine connection. People aren’t attracted to causes or businesses solely because of their missions. They’re attracted to the people and stories behind them. When others believe in and connect with your “why,” they’re most invested in helping with the “how.” And this, I’ve found, is one of the best ways to help others—to create a cycle of giving and receiving help so that it’s far bigger than your own individual efforts.
We love your new book, Tiny Buddha’s Guide To Loving Yourself, which has just launched this month. What inspired you to write it?
I was originally planning to write a different book about what it means to “win” in life. Shortly after I signed my contract, I went through a series of life challenges—a major surgery, a robbery, financial struggles, and the death of my grandmother. It was an emotionally draining time for me, and one of the most difficult I’d experienced in years. After telling my publisher I wasn’t going to be able to write the book, I started being a little hard on myself, especially since I’d already announced the project on the Tiny Buddha blog. As time went on, I began to reevaluate what it means to take good care of myself, and I thought about a goal I’d had to write a series of “Tiny Buddha’s Guide to” books, sharing stories and insights from community members. Since I had just gone through a time when I really needed my own love and compassion—and since I’d spent my younger life hating myself—I realized I wanted to start with a book focused on self-love. I think it’s something we all struggle with at times, and yet it’s so important for our happiness. Everything we do in life is a reflection of how much we love ourselves.
What is next for the Tiny Buddha?
I have some exciting plans for 2014! Some projects include: the first Tiny Buddha app, designed to help users feel and create more love (hopefully to be followed by other apps on different topics); and another “Tiny Buddha’s Guide to” book, also including stories from the community (topic as yet undecided). We also have some new site features in the works, but it’s a little too early to elaborate. I hope as we approach and enter 2014, Tiny Buddha continues to facilitate connection, inspiration, and growth within the community.
What’s the best way our readers can engage with you?
Readers can reach me at tinybuddha.com/contact.