“True freedom is the freedom from your own self-imposed limitations. It’s the ability to accept situations as they are, in all their abundance and all their lack…” – Lori Deschene
A few weeks back, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to preview Lori Deschene’s new book, Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions. Lori is well-known for her on-line accomplishments. Her Twitter feed (which Lori started as an outlet to publish daily, inspirational quotes) currently has 240,000 followers. Her website (tinybuddha.com) receives 1.5 million page views each month while tackling some of life’s deepest questions. Her Facebook Group counts over 70,000 fans. And, just one week ago, she released her new book with the same name as her website, Tiny Buddha, published by Conari Press. But more importantly – as she would say – her writings provide needed inspiration to countless readers around the world.
Given the backstory and everything that I know to be true about Lori, when she sent me an advanced copy of her book for review, I graciously jumped at the chance to read it.
Tiny Buddha is a unique book written in a unique fashion. While it is centered around many of life’s deepest questions and the universal themes that unite us (letting go of pain, finding meaning in life, choosing happiness, creating positive change, maintaining healthy relationships, living life to the fullest, and accepting uncertainty, etc), it is a far cry from the typical, lengthy, philosophical arguments that one might expect given such subject matter.
In fact, much of it was written through conversations that took place on Twitter. Actually, each of the 9 chapters were based upon the answers given to a single question asked on Twitter to her 240,000 followers (for example: “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why is there suffering in the world?”). The Twitter responses were then carefully categorized and summarized into common themes. What emerged is a book that not only seeks to provide answers for individuals seeking them… but also a stunning look at how humanity as a whole views each of these common themes.
And it exceeded my expectation in every respect.
- I found the book to be particularly inspiring and optimistic. In each chapter of the book, Lori offers positive reinforcement that our lives can be bettered and lived in meaningful ways. For example, speaking of change she writes, “Can people change? Absolutely! It’s the one thing that everyone and everything does. We just have to choose – in one moment, and then in the next.” And encouraging her reader on the topic of living life to the fullest, Lori writes, “You get to choose the things you do each day… every day, you can decide to do something to feel meaningful, empowered, happy, and connected.” Each chapter is filled with similar sentiment.
- I found the book to be intimately personal. To be honest, a book based on Twitter feeds excited me little… studying humanity through the eyes of Twitter feeds did little to excite my passion. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the book to be far more intimate and personal than expected. Throughout the philosophical answers to life’s toughest questions, emerged a story of one woman’s personal journey through each of them. Lori appears to hold nothing back as she recounts her own personal, vivid experiences of finding meaning, companionship, happiness, and life. Her stories are both compelling and entirely relevant.
- I found the book to be incredibly well-researched. If I had any fear greater that the impersonal nature of a Twitter feed, it was my fear of reading crowd-sourced wisdom. I mean, I’ve got no hesitation in asking my Twitter followers for restaurant recommendations in #Nashville, but asking them to help me define the meaning of life? How would I know who to trust? Luckily, Lori doesn’t offer wisdom without looking outside herself. In fact, for every answer she offers, she provides additional research on the topic. Whether she is quoting philosophers, psychologists, or researchers studying the affect of free will on our behavior, she rarely attempts to answer life’s questions on her own. And for that, I hold her in much higher esteem than if she had claimed expert status on her own.
- I found the book to be highly practical. Whether offering 4 steps to choose being happy over being right, keys to minimizing work- and stuff-related stress, or ideas to practice learned optimism, Lori offers specific advice at the conclusion of each section in her book. Again, above and beyond all expectations, the steps are applicable, measurable, and well-researched.
- I found the book to be less religious than anticipated. Coming from a faith tradition other than Buddhism, I was immediately put at ease in the introduction when Lori admitted, “You’ll notice I didn’t ask questions directly relating to religion.” The book is not framed primarily by Buddhist thought, instead it is primarily framed on the understanding, “that we all deal with universal problems and questions… and how we answer them dictates the choices we make and what kind of person we’ll be from moment to moment.” And regardless of your spiritual tendencies, you’ll certainly agree with that truth.
- I found the book to be highly engaging. Lori’s mix of personal story-telling, calculated research, practical application, and willingness to tackle life’s deepest questions proves to be highly captivating.
- I found the book to be calming, encouraging, and invigorating - an impressive combination to say the least. And yet, somehow, in some way, she is able to use her words to stir up each of these emotions within me.
Overall, Lori presents an engaging, personal, and compelling description of the life we live, the joys we experience, and the struggles we face. It does not seek to be the magic bullet that solves all of our problems. Instead, it proves to be highly thought-provoking, optimistic, and practical. It encourages us to make the most of our short-time here on earth – learning from both our successes and our failures.
Lori has graciously offered to give away two free copies of her book to our readers. If you would like a chance to win, please leave a comment below mentioning one thing that you are grateful for today. Two winners will be randomly selected on Monday morning and notified via e-mail.
// UPDATE (Monday, 11:30am MST): Tiny Buddha winners have been selected and notified.