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The Power of Authenticity

Lori Deschene & Melli O'Brien






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The Power of Authenticity

Lori shares how learned to cultivate self-forgiveness, self-compassion and freed herself from getting caught up in emotional reactivity.

I'm your host Melli O'Brien

and I couldn't be more pleased

to be here with Lori Deshene.

Lori is the founder of TinyBuddha.com

and this is one of my favorite websites.

TinyBuddha.com is a multi-author blog

where people share their stories about

how they've tried to really apply

wisdom or mindfulness in their lives.

And it has grown a lot since

it's humble beginnings.

And I think it's now getting a million

or close to a million monthly visitors.

So this makes TinyBuddha.com

one of the most popular,

inspirational websites on the net.

And what I really love about this

website, what I'm really excited about

is that it's a great example of how we

can actually use technology to be more

connected with each other and to live a

more kind, conscious and connected life.

So, Lori, thank you so much for the

work that you do, and thank you so much

for your time, your time to share your

knowledge and wisdom for the summit.

Oh, you're welcome.

And thank you.

It's an honor.

So I just spoke a little bit

about what TinyBuddha is, kind

of touched on a brief outline.

Could you describe in your own

words, for our viewers, what

TinyBuddha.com is all about?


So let's see.

The site's been around for six years now

and I launched it in September, 2009.

And my intention was to create a place

where everyone could come together to

share what they've learned, what they've

been through and what they've learned

from those experiences, both to help

themselves and to help other people.

Because that's what I've found

in my personal experience is that

sharing your experiences and, and

how you've grown through, through

it and what you've learned from it

can be very cathartic and healing.

And to know that you're helping other

people with that at the same time, it's

an amazingly empowering experience.

And the site, like you mentioned,

has grown by leaps and bounds.

Over the last six years is actually

close to 2.5 million readers now.

So, and it keeps growing and I'm

thrilled to see that people are

connecting on a real authentic level.

There it's not so much the numbers, but

the fact that the people are engaging

in a meaningful way And people, you

know, a lot of the contributors often

say that they really appreciate that

it's such a kind community, open-hearted

and, and I appreciate that too.

That's the most rewarding part is that

people do really touch each other's

lives and I get to be part of that.

So that's, that's

TinyBuddha in a nutshell.

And mindfulness is a really hot topic

of conversation at TinyBuddha.com.

There's a lot on the social media and on

the blog, lots of stories about people

trying to live a more mindful life.

And I'm curious to know in your

own experience, do you have your

own personal mindset practice?

Do you practice meditation or do

you find ways to just integrate

mindfulness into your own life?

Well, I'm, I'm not a fan of routine.

In fact, I don't like for any day to look

like the day before or the day before.

So my mindfulness practice

is always changing.

What I recognized for me is that it's

important that I am not rigid with myself

and I just give myself sometime every

day to, to be in the present moment.

Whether that means mindful walking,

which is hiking or walking.

One of my favorite things

to do, just being kind of

aware of my senses in nature.

Mindful eating, which is something that's

actually really challenging for me because

I come from an Italian family where

everyone is eating really, really fast.

But that's something that I really

enjoy doing when I make the effort

to be more mindful in my eating.

Or even just deep breathing

exercises or, I love yoga.

That's something that I.

I do.

And then also I love listening to

guided meditations or, or music,

subliminal messages, uplifting

subliminal messages, whether it's

for competence or to release anxiety.

And, and it's really, every

day I let myself just choose

from one of these things.

And I find that that's what works for

me because there were a lot of options

and a lot of different things to keep

me feeling engaged and excited about the

practice, as opposed to finding it kind

of like, all right, now it's time to sit.

So that's, that's how I practice.


I, I kind of, I like that you, I like

that you brought that up because I think

one of the themes that keeps coming

up in this summit is that we all have

really different personality types.

You don't like, you know, for some

people they love routine and they love

getting up at the same time every day

and I'm doing, but I think, I love that

there's this message coming through

that is we all are so different.

For you, you have a menu to

choose from every day, and it

sounds like you just kind of pick

what works for you in that day.

And, and that's fine.

It it's, and it's so different

for different people.

So I'm curious as you have been doing

that, choosing from your menu and

doing different mindfulness practices

over time, what kinds of insights

or realizations have unfolded for

you over time with mindfulness?

Wow, so much.

I, I've had so many just amazing insights

through my mindfulness practice that

I, have been life-changing really.

Now but the biggest one I'd say

is that I am not my thoughts.

And that they can really hurt

me if I give power to them.

And that's something that I don't,

I, I have to remind myself of often.

I have a busy mind.

I'm a writer and I'm a thinker

and I'm always analyzing.

And that's something that

has been very helpful for me.

When I can get into my mindfulness

practice and step outside myself and, and

become aware of the thoughts I'm thinking

and realizing that I can choose what to

think and I don't have to identify them.

And also knowing that if I can

change my thoughts, then I can

minimize my emotional reactions.

And in addition to being an

over-thinker, I'm a highly

sensitive person and very emotional.

I tear up way too much.

So, but being able to be, to catch

my thoughts before they take hold and

therefore minimize my emotional reactions

has also been really life-changing.

For me, it's helped in my relationships

in a tremendous way, too, because

I'm able to observe a thought I might

have about somebody else before I

immediately jump to an emotional reaction

without having to really, without

really thinking about that thought

and where it came from and, you know.

I'm able to observe it

more and be more objective.

And also another thing in the same line

of these thoughts, that's been really

helpful for me is realizing well,

if I'm not my thoughts, then I don't

have to judge myself for my thoughts.

By realizing that they arise naturally

and I don't have to attach to them,

then I don't necessarily have to

feel bad about having those thoughts.

And that's something that

I did for a long time.

You know, I kind of compound my difficult

thoughts and feelings by then, you

know, you shouldn't be thinking that

or you shouldn't be feeling that.

And then it's just a web and

you're trapped in it.

Because then you got, then I think, well,

I shouldn't be thinking that because if I

was really mindful, then I shouldn't be.

And where does it end.

Yeah, yeah.

That's another one that's helped me.

I say another really big one

for me is letting go of control.

Because I've realized that in my life

most of the pain that I have caused

myself has been trying to maintain

a sense of control, whether it is

control of the outcome or control

of how other people see me and what

they think of me when they see me.

And, it's exhausting because

you can't control those things.

No much, you know, no

matter how much you try.

And when you're mindful, you realize

that this is the only moment you

have, trying to control other

people or the future is fruitless.

And if you do spend your time trying

to control your people or the future,

you're going to miss out on this moment.

So that's, that's another big one for me.

I have one more actually.

I have a lot.

Yeah, yeah.

Another really powerful realization

I've had through mindfulness

has been, it's helped me embrace

the, the darkest parts of myself.

The parts of myself that perhaps.

I may not be as proud of as other parts.

But in the same way, I was saying

before, that mindfulness helping,

has helped me become aware of my

thoughts and not identify with them.

I can realize and have realized through my

practice that I am not my worst mistakes.

And I don't have to hold onto

that and let it define me.

So I guess really mindfulness has helped

me forgive myself and embrace myself.

And then in doing that, be more

compassionate for others because

if I'm not my mistakes, then

they are not their mistakes.

So it's just kind of a short

list of the benefits that I've

seen from being more mindful.

So, Lori, before we started this

interview, I was telling you how

much I really appreciate this quality

that you have of authenticity.

And I think that it is a

quality that has now rippled all

throughout the Tiny Buddha culture.

And I was wondering if you had any

thoughts on what the relationship might

be between mindfulness and authenticity.

Well, I think that when you think about,

you know, if mindfulness does allow you

to untangle yourself from your thoughts

and have a little more, I guess, not

control over but the minimize your

emotional reactions really mindfulness

then is the gateway to being authentic.

Because I know for me, for example,

one of the things that prevented

me from being authentic are those

fears and worries about how people

are going to perceive me, you know,

and if they're going to accept me.

And when you can kind of quiet those

thoughts that would prevent you

from showing up as your, you know,

wherever you happen to be on that

day, it's a lot easier to just be.

I guess that's what it is.

Mindfulness is just being, and

that's what authenticity is.

Being as you are without

trying to change that, I think.

Yeah, exactly.

And it's, it's crazy that just being

is so hard to do since it would be kind

of just the natural state, but there's

all those layers of, you know, beliefs

and thoughts and fears and worries.

And mindfulness allows us to,

I don't, I don't know for me, I

haven't completely cleared them away.

But, you know, get some, you know, a

few clear spots on that window and the

more clear spots I can get on there,

the easier it is to let me be seen.



And I think it's like, you know,

the thoughts, they still come, I

mean, especially, I know that my

oldest videotape in my, my mind

is the, you know, I'm not good

enough story and there's a million

different versions of that, you know?

Whatever, you know, my mind can make

up lots of kinds of stories about that.

And I, and they still

come even to this day.

But I think it's the difference that

you were talking about before is

there's this distance between me and

the thought where it's like, well, I

have a choice about whether to listen

to that or whether to believe it.

It still comes and goes, but it

just doesn't really, doesn't really

touch me anymore, which is, I

guess what you're describing as

those clear spots on the window.

It's like, well.

There are some things it's

still there, but I can see right

through it to the other side.

And it's, doesn't hold

any weight really anymore.


It's kind of like, I guess, turning the

radio down a little, I think, because...

Yeah, that's a good analogy.

so it's not as loud, you know, and it's

easier to kind of tune it out, I guess.

Just like, I always think, you know,

especially in the work I do, I always

wonder if people expect that you're kind

of like a before and an after picture.

Like, I had all these

fears, now I have none.


And then if I think that thought, I

think, I'll think, Oh, I'm a fraud or

I'll start to wonder, should I have none?

But then I'll remember the reality

is that's human to be alive, is

to have thoughts and feelings.

It's only natural.

But I think that the true, the true

journey is not to completely eliminate

those natural things, but to learn how

to re-engage with them differently.

So they don't have a grip on you

and quiet them over time, you know.

I, I do think I can tell I've

seen lots of progress over time.

And I think that's what

mindfulness is, is as a practice.

It's not, you know, perfect.

It's a practice.

Yeah, yeah.

So one of the things I, one of the things

that you and I have in common is that

we both use technology a lot, and we

both use technology to express ourselves

and to connect with other people.

And so I was wondering if you had

any tips for our viewers on how

to use tech a bit more mindfully?


So this is something that I'm

always putting thought into

because I'm online a lot.

Me too.



I relate to that.

I work on the web and sometimes

long days, you know, depending

on what I'm working on.

And it can be hard to disconnect

when the time comes to disconnect.

And it also can be easy to kind of

drift to other things while I'm online,

because maybe I want a break, but I,

I think, Oh, I can't take a break.

I can't get up right now.


So I've learned a few things that I've

found helpful for me in all different

facets of using technology, whether

it's, you know, social media or for,

for work, emailing, running my blog.

And one of the first ones

that's been helpful to me is

to get clear in my intentions.

So now, I don't use my personal social

media pages that much these days.

I hardly ever tweet on my personal

page and on my Facebook, on my

Facebook page, it's kind of sporadic.

But when I do, I always try to

ask myself, why am I posting this?

Do I want attention?

Or is there, is there something I'm trying

to get from doing this other than just

sharing it because I want to share it.

So I think that's kind of an

important thing to do is to be

aware of your intention with

anything that you're doing online.

What it is you're looking to get from it.

And then another thing is I try

to recognize when I'm just trying

to avoid just being, you know.

It's very tempting to sometimes just,

you know, surf from site to site

and read all kinds of things I don't

even need to read, just to maybe

keep myself busy doing something.

So that's something that I think is

kind of important to do is to recognize

if you're just mindlessly searching

because there's a lull or you.

Or you're in line somewhere and you

don't want to be waiting, so you're,

you know, decide to pull out your phone.

Or maybe you don't want people to think

that you're just waiting and that's a

vulnerable state of mind to just be seen,

like sitting by yourself at a restaurant

or something, so you pull out your phone.


So I think all those times when you're

just tempted to kind of take out

technology to avoid just being both,

you know, mindfully being in the moment

and being vulnerable or authentic,

that can be a powerful thing to do too.

I like that.

And then another thing along the lines

of, where I was mentioning kind of

hopping from site to site, to site.

I actually have a little tiny little

Buddha with a book icon on the bottom of

all the blog posts on Tiny Buddha that

truthfully, I'm not sure if people even

see it or know what it is, but it's if

you clicked on that, you'd see this,

something that says to read what you need.

And my, my thought process there is

that, you know, the web is sticky.

It's, you're going to find links to

different articles and, and there's

nothing wrong with that practice.

I do it as well.

Sometimes it's very helpful because

you can, you know, follow the link

and find more information, but it's

quite possible though, that you

don't need any more information.

You got everything you need.

So, you know, for example, if you

came online to research blenders,

and then before you know it, you're

reading about smoothies, and top

celebrities who love smoothies,

the best costumes for Halloween.

So that's one that I've found

helpful is to recognize, okay, I

don't need to keep hopping around.

I've gotten what I need.

There's an intentionality about it.

Kind of like before you start

you, like, I am here for blenders.

I am looking at blenders and

now I am finished looking

at blenders and I can stop.


I also think it can be kind of fun to

just get lost in mindless, you know,

when, if that's the case though, but

I find it helps me to be aware of it.


I'm going to just jump

around for about 20 minutes.

And in that way, it's not like

I just lost an hour because I

got into this addictive zone.

Be like, you know, just hopping

from quiz to Buzzfeed article.

Yeah, yeah.

So that's something that's

been really helpful.

And then for me, like I was saying before,

where I don't use my personal social

media accounts that much these days.

When I was using them more regularly,

and even now when I do, one thing

that's always been important to me

is experience now and share later.

So I've never been one to do

like live tweeting at an event.

And I, you know, had people

ask me to do that before.

Or I, I don't like the idea of

sort of posting on, I'm with,

you know, my sister right now.

I mean, cause then if you do kind of

share something in the moment, it's

tempting to look who commented on it and

who liked it, and what are they saying?

Am I, and then you're

completely missing the moment.


You know that you're out with

your sister, but you're not

really out with your sister.

Yeah, you're talking about it.

Yeah, not really present in either place.



That's been something that's

really helpful for me.

And then to the same extent,

along the same lines, I think

about turning FOMO around.

So that whole fear of missing out

where you tend to just sort of

like monitor everything, to see

what you know what's going on.

But then I think to myself, if you

are monitoring what's going on online,

you're also missing out on where you are.

So if you're going to be afraid

of missing out on something, be

afraid of missing out on right now.

And, you know that I was thinking

about how, like I said about routine

earlier, I don't like routine

and I kind of can very easily get

bored and feel like I'm in a rut.

And I think that that's when it's tempting

to sort of pull out, you know, your

phone or whatever when you're bored.

But then I think when you really are

truly mindful in a moment, even if it

seems similar to many moments you've

had before, if you're paying attention,

there's always a little nuance of

difference that makes it interesting.

It makes you realize that life really

isn't like Groundhog Day, but you

can only notice that if you're paying

attention, if you're open to it.


So that's, that's another one

for me, in terms of recognizing

when I'm turning to technology, n

that, you know, what's going on?

What am I missing out on?

And instead saying, okay, what

will I miss out on if I do that?

I love that.

Well, it's been, it's been very helpful

to me to remember that, you know,

this moment will never come again.

And I don't always remember that, but I, I

try to, I try to recognize and appreciate

little things in my environment.

And I guess the last one I'm going

to say is that, and this one's hard,

is realizing that you don't have

to respond to everyone instantly.


And that's, it's tempting

to do because I think.

We all sort of think, well, why

aren't they answering my texts?

They always have their phone right on

them, why wouldn't they write back?

And then you can start kind

of analyzing if you wanted to.

And sometimes I do, but it's, I love

to be able to, like leave my phone

upstairs and then watch a movie.

And it took me a while to be able to do

that, I think because, you know, people

will be like, you didn't answer my text

or, you know, or I'd think to myself,

well, what is something, you know, I

live across the country from my family.

So I might think to myself,

well, what if it's an emergency?

I want to know right now.


But it's such a sense of relief to put

my phone away and think of it as like

an answering machine from the nineties

or eighties or whatever that was, as

opposed to this thing, I have to be

like, you know, always responsive to.

People, you know, most often, there

isn't an emergency and it's not so

urgent that it needs to be right now.

And I think that if we can kind of,

for me, I know if we getting into that

mindset and allowing things to wait,

creates such a sense of relief and it's

so much easier to be in the moment.


Those are great practical tips.

It's funny, isn't it, like that we live

in a world today where we have to really

have these discussion about, you know,

I need to leave my device away from me.

We don't really, I think, I think we

don't realize sometimes the subtle

stress of that, of having these thing

right there that can beep and ding

and demand of you at all the time.

And it's, it is actually my, my

partner is a tech entrepreneur, so

we're really immersed in that world.

And, you know, we have those times where

we will deliberately do the same as you.

We will, you know, we're, if we're

hanging out together, we put the phones

on silent at the other end of the house.

And we, we really need that space.

So I think that's, it's just a

wonderful practical thing to just

leave your device for a little while.

Does it have to be always on us?


Well, you know, it's interesting.

Recently I have for the past,

like month or something, I

think I just need a new phone.

My battery dies in a matter

of like 15 minutes, but I

haven't gotten a new phone yet.

And I think I'm kind of liking the fact

that I only use it now when it's plugged

in or, cause I know that the battery

life isn't going to, you know, last.

But it's kind of freeing as I've

gotten used to more and more and

more now being like, Oh, well I

guess I have 10 minutes of phone

life, so when am I going to use it?


And then I, and then it's when it's off.

It's off.

Yeah, yeah.

So Lori, a big part of Tiny Buddha

culture is the sharing of quotes.

And I was wondering if you

had any favorite mindfulness

quotes that you could share.


Well, there's one of them that ties into

what I was talking about earlier that is

probably one of my, probably my favorite

mindfulness quote is a Dan Millman quote.

And it's, "You don't have

to control your thoughts.

You just have to stop

letting them control you."

And that one is so helpful to me, both

because I mentioned before I struggled

with trying to control everything.

That's always been a challenge for me.

And, and given that thoughts

do arise naturally, and I, I've

never been able to control them.

It's been an incredible, an incredible

relief for me to realize I can stop

trying and I can also stop berating

myself at not being able to do it.

I can embrace the fact that

that's just human nature.

It's not a shortcoming.

It's not, it's not a

slight on me as a person.

It doesn't say anything about me.

But I have the power to not

attach to them and not make

meanings on the thoughts I think.

And, and so that one's

been really helpful to me.

And then there's another quote

I like quite a bit, and this is

a, an anonymous, or at least I

believe it's an unknown quote.

It's, "Worry looks around, fear

looks back, faith looks up, guilt

looks down, but I look forward."



I love that.

I've never heard that quote before.


I just, I just love that idea to not be

caught up in any of those things really,

to just focus on what's in front of you.

That's that's simple and

I, I love the message.


So just one more question that I have,

which is the same question that I've

been asking everybody who's taken part in

this summit and, so my question is this.

It's been said that mindfulness

has gone mainstream.

I don't really think it has.

I think it's starting to

enter mainstream culture.

It's certainly becoming de-stigmatized

and you know, much more popular.

What do you think would happen if

mindfulness really did go mainstream?

I'm talking like half the population

were, were practicing mindfulness.

What kind of a world do you

think that could create?

What kind of, the audio outed, but, you

said, what kind of world would it create

if, if mindfulness went mainstream?



Got it.


I think it would be a world with

less suffering, less conflict.

It would be a less reactive

world, a more compassionate world.

It would be a world with fewer

misunderstandings and a world

with more people committed

to understanding each other.

And I think that that is

a, a pretty powerful thing.

People, you know, if we could be, if we

can all become aware of our own thoughts

and emotional reactions then we can be

more compassionate to other people's

thoughts and emotional reactions.

Well, that's a pretty amazing change.


Lori, thank you so much for your, for

your time today.I really appreciate it.

And I love the work that you do.

Is there anything else that you'd

like to share before we close?

Actually I'd love to just very briefly

tell the listeners a little bit about

my book that's about to come out since

it's perfectly timed with this event.


We'd love to hear that.

It's coming out October 6, and I'm

really excited about it and proud of it.

And it's called Tiny Buddha's

365 Tiny Love Challenges.

And what the book is, is it's a year's

worth of daily activities that people

can do to strengthen their relationships

with their loved ones, to, you know,

turn strangers into friends and to

create greater love in the world.

So it's really about, you know,

relationships on every level.

And every month has a theme,

whether it's compassion and

understanding, or anger and forgiving.

And every week starts with stories

from members of the Tiny Buddha

community that are related to

the challenges in that week.

So I think it's a really fun, creative

book that I hope will inspire people to

open up more in their relationships, to

let people in, and to strengthen their

relationships and to form new ones.

So if people want to learn about that,

they can go to TinyBuddha.com/lovebook.


So thanks again so much for your time.

And thanks everybody for tuning

in and we'll see you next time.

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