“Happiness isn’t getting everything you want. It’s appreciating what you have and staying open to the limitless possibilities before you.”
~Lori Deschene, author of Tiny Buddha
*Important note: Be sure to read to the end to have a chance to win a free copy of Lori Deschene’s newest book: Tiny Buddha – Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions. Take 20 seconds to tell us one of your hardest life questions in the comments and you’ll be entered to win. If you’re reading this in email, I suggest you click here to read it on the site to participate.
A few years ago a struggling writer and someone a tad bit lost in the world, decided she was going to take to the online world to see if she could both get some help and offer what help she could to others. She first started a simple Twitter account where she posted a quote a day. Something inspiring about happiness, purpose, embracing fear, love and all else.
Just a few words a day. But she did it every day.
Fast forward to today and that Twitter account now has over 241,000 followers. Her Facebook page has over 72,000 fans. It turned out she wasn’t the only one struggling with these big topics. A couple years ago she also created a website and blog, called Tiny Buddha, as a place to write deeper articles to further explore our biggest challenges.
When you help people, interesting things happen…
Her site now serves as a virtual lighthouse for those of us (all of us, really) who need a little direction. There are hundreds of contributors (I’ve even been fortunate enough to write a few articles for her).
And it’s a damn bright lighthouse at that. Since the day Tiny Buddha went live, the site as received 8.5 million visits and 16 million page views. To put that into perspective, that is in the absolute top tier of all websites on the planet. People from every country in the world routinely visit the site, and her following is now over 300,000 people strong.
The amazing thing is that none of this existed a few years ago. Before then no one had heard of Lori Deschene or Tiny Buddha.
When I first started blogging and writing online, there were a few people who not only inspired me as to what was possible, but who even took the time to personally show me the way. Those few folks opened doors for me (some I didn’t even know existed), helped me form my ideas and were sounding boards on the most pivotal stuff.
Lori was one of those people. I’m grateful for the time I’ve gotten to spend with her both online and off. She’s a friend, Living Legend and mentor all in one.
And now she’s taking her next big step. Lori just published her first hard cover book, Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions. I have an early copy of it right next to me, and it’s been a blast to get through, especially right as the new year’s about to go live!
Lori’s been awesome enough to answer a few questions about the book and her online success, and as a little bonus, she’s offered to give away a couple free hard-cover copies to the Live Your Legend Community.
Without further ado…
Here are Lori’s thoughts on life’s hardest questions:
Scott: You and I both share an obsession for helping people find meaningful work. How can this book be used as a tool for getting people closer to finding what they’re passionate about and building a career around it?
Lori: I’ve learned that creating a career from a passion requires a great deal of self-inquiry. For me, it wasn’t just about identifying what I loved or finding the right professional situation; it was also about understanding the internal blocks that convinced me I couldn’t or shouldn’t create a passionate, meaningful life.
My book delves into a lot of these issues to help readers answer the questions that may be holding them back.
I split it into 9 sections, each covering one of the hardest questions in life, including: What’s the meaning of life? Can people change—and how? Do you need money to be happy? How can you make each day count?
In each section, I shared a little of my own experiences grappling with these big issues, and then offered a number of possible ways to answer these questions, as supported by Twitter-submitted responses, ancient wisdom, and modern research. I also included action-oriented tips to apply these different ideas, starting right now.
Readers won’t finish the book feeling like they know all the answers, but they may have a stronger idea of which possibilities feel right for them—what makes them feel meaningful, happy, connected, engaged, and satisfied in their day-to-day life.
When you understand yourself and what you need to feel empowered and purposeful, it’s a lot easier to design your life in a way that will feel fulfilling.
Scott: What is the most vulnerable experience you’ve had that you share in the book (I’m talking the one that you cut out and put back in 3-4 times before leaving it in for good).
Lori: The story that I felt most vulnerable sharing was the one in the relationship section, because it’s not easy to acknowledge how little I valued myself and how much I was willing to compromise just so I didn’t have to be alone. It’s really the only one I feel exposed sharing, which may seem odd considering how personal the other ones are.
I think it’s because I’ve told many of the other stories countless times over the years, but very few people knew about that one before I chose to publish it in a book.
I knew I wanted to be honest about my struggles with these questions, and there were two reasons for that. The first: I wanted anyone reading who may have had similar experiences to know they are not alone—that their struggles, past or present, do not define them, and there is no reason to feel trapped in shame.
The second reason: I wanted to encourage other people to be honest about how they’ve gotten in their own way. I still get in my way at times, but my saving grace is self-awareness. I am always willing to call myself out, publicly or not. That’s what keeps me growing, and that growth is a big part of my peace, happiness, and purpose.
Scott: This book is not just written by you. How is it different than others?
Lori: There are other books that include tweets, but for those ones, the tweets are the book. I included around 200—and I didn’t just weave them throughout Tiny Buddha; I shaped the book around them.
To start the writing process, I asked the questions on the @tinybuddha Twitter stream, and noticed pretty quickly that there were a lot of similar answers. For example, there were more than 100 responses to “What’s the meaning of life?” But really, there were many variations on five different ideas.
I chose the sections for each chapter based on the main ideas that came from Twitter, and started each with five of those tweets. In that way, the community is the backbone of this book.
Scott: It must add so much to a book to be able to pull from the experiences of over 240,000 people among your Twitter followers. It makes it so much more relatable for the rest of the world. With that said, you have been helping hundreds of thousands of people via your writing, site and work in the past years. What are your biggest goals about how this will help the world?
Lori: Well first of all, thank you! I love knowing I’m helping people. Really, that is my biggest goal: to do what I can through the site to help myself, help other people, and help them help each other.
That’s why I run Tiny Buddha as a community blog. It’s a place where anyone can share what they’ve been through, what they’ve learned, what they’re going through, and what they’re learning.
From what readers tell me, it’s a space that helps us all remember that we’re not alone, and we can all make a difference in the world. It’s definitely that space for me. I can’t think of anything bigger than doing my tiny part through the site every day.
Scott: It’s no doubt making all the difference Lori. Seriously – nicely done! So can you tell us a little about the experience of getting a book deal? What made that possible?
Lori: Things fell into place nicely because publishers had started contacting me to review their books. One day, I decided to ask one of them if they were accepting new proposals—and they were! They were planning to attend a conference where I was scheduled to speak. Once we were able to meet face-to-face and explore a few ideas, it all snowballed from there.
One thing I learned in the beginning weeks is that publishers look for new authors who have some type of existing platform, and are willing to invest their time, energy, and resources to promote their books. I had a growing social media following, and I had a specific, creative marketing plan—part of which is this blog tour that’s been going on for two weeks now.
Thank you so much, Scott, for being part of it and allowing me to share Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questionswith your readers!
It’s honor to host Lori, especially at such a crucial time for change being right at the end of the year. Those of you who’ve been around for a while, know that I absolutely love the New Year as it’s my favorite time to set big goals and get inspired to put an even bigger dent in the world. I hope Lori’s work will get you in the right mindset. It certainly did for me.
You can learn more about Lori’s new book or pick up your own copy here at the book website here.
Also, be sure to keep an eye out next week for the totally free Live Your Legend 2012 Goal Setting and Action Workbook. I’m putting all the finishing touches on it this week and it will be available to you all in just a few days. I can’t wait.
Happy New Year – there are big things to come!
Leave a comment to win a free copy of the Tiny Buddha book:
Take 20 seconds to leave a 1-2 sentence comment below sharing one of your hardest life questions (email readers click here). Two of you will win a free hard-copy of the book. Lori’s publisher has been awesome enough to send it directly to your door. Tell us what you think (and I might even get Lori to jump in to provide some of her own responses ;). You can also be entered to win by sharing this on Facebook or Twitter.
*Update 1/2/12: Congrats to Renee and Chris for winning the two books! They will be in the mail and on their way shortely! Thanks to everyone else for contributing your questions. We loved reading them.
Image courtesy of Stuck in Customs