Diaz: What motivated you to start Tiny Buddha?

Deschene: I was looking for a way to work on the web meaningfully. As a freelance writer, I spent a lot of time writing and editing for websites that didn’t really matter to me. There had to be some way to connect technology and mindfulness instead of letting technology pull me further away from myself.

Also, I wanted to help people become happier, more self aware and more peaceful. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to understand how to be happy, and yet most of my searching has made it more elusive. I have come to realize that joy exists only in this moment, exactly as it is, because life never takes place anywhere else. There is nowhere to get to; there’s only the challenge of being.

Diaz: What is the purpose of Tiny Buddha?

Deschene: My main goal with Tiny Buddha is to help people act on what they’ve learned. Oftentimes we read or learn something, and as poignant or insightful as it may seem, it doesn’t motivate change if we haven’t experienced it directly. Even when we have experience it directly, sometimes we either don’t know how or simply don’t make the effort to put it into practice.

I hope Tiny Buddha reminds people of the endless possibilities available to us in this moment; and empowers them to observe and quiet the thoughts, fears, and beliefs that stand in the way.

Diaz: What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your project off the ground?

Deschene: Tiny Buddha started on Twitter as a daily quote, and there really weren’t any challenges there. People enjoyed the quotes and shared them, which allowed the follower base to grow organically over time.

Starting the website was a different story. It’s not the usual order of things to start a Twitter account and leverage that into a website. It usually goes the other way around. For a year and a half, people who followed @tinybuddha received just a daily quote. Many people weren’t happy to see links popping up on their stream.

I received a lot of criticism through email in the first month, partly because it was new, and partly because I was learning as I went. A close friend even suggested I might want to stick to Twitter. I didn’t want that to be an option because all my heart was wrapped up in the project, so I just kept going.

Over time, a lot of people who didn’t love the site have un-followed on Twitter, but many more who do enjoy it took their place. I have learned I don’t have to please everyone. I just need to do what feels right and allow people to think and do what they will. I don’t need to change the world. I just need to my best within my sphere of influence.

Diaz: What was the greatest success?

Deschene: The greatest success is making a meaningful difference for people. I don’t get many critical emails anymore. Instead I get a lot of personal emails from people who, like me, have struggled with feelings of inadequacy, sadness, and helplessness—and, like me, still do at times.

When someone opens up to me about positive changes they’re making, both in thoughts and actions, I feel like I have reached the pinnacle of success.

Diaz: On your blog, you talk about Tiny Buddha being a community to share wisdom. What does wisdom mean to you?

Deschene: Wisdom, to me, is more about unlearning than learning. It’s about letting go, staying open, and living mindfully in the present without regretting the past or fearing the future.

It’s about being—and accepting that sometimes you will get in your own way. We’re human. We’re meant to make mistakes. Wisdom isn’t about perfection; it’s about accepting life and ourselves, imperfections and all, and finding the courage to let ourselves be.

Diaz: We live in the information age. Do you think we as a society are wiser?

Deschene: I don’t feel the need to make that judgment. If I did, it would be a sweeping generalization pointing fingers in every direction outside myself. That’s not how I choose to operate. I’m not really looking to change the world; I’m looking to tune into myself next to other people who want to do the same.

I can tell you this much: we’re doing better than we think. Progress always presents new challenges, but it also provides new opportunities. I see people seizing them every day, in front of my eyes and on my computer screen. If we keep focusing on ways to stay present in a tech-driven world, we will continue to leverage technology for good.

Diaz: How should people use the information provided on Tiny Buddha?

Deschene: It’s different for everyone, and I welcome that. People should use the information however it makes sense to them. We’re all at different places, with different experiences, different challenges, different internal blocks, and different sensibilities.

All I hope is that people keep stay open to new ideas, take time to simply be with themselves and learn to trust their own intuition. We’re always looking for authorities in life—people to tell us what to do so we can trust we’re doing the right thing.

I am not that person. No one who writes for Tiny Buddha is. We need to learn to tune into ourselves, even if it feels like a heap of responsibility. The future is uncertain no matter how well we follow someone else’s plan. We may as well chart our own.

Diaz: What do you see for the future of Tiny Buddha?

Deschene: I am now working on my first book, which explores life’s hardest questions and how we can live happily and powerfully in the uncertainty. It will be published by Red Wheel/Weiser and available in stores next fall.

Since Tiny Buddha started on Twitter, I’m using the site to get readers involved in the process. Anyone who wants to answer one the questions for inclusion in the book (by tweeting with a hashtag) can read more about that here.

Beyond that, I am working a site redesign with Joshua Denney, a talented web strategist who has worked with me since the site launched. Next year, I expect to see a lot of developments on the site, potentially including eBooks and eCourses.

Diaz: How can people help Tiny Buddha?

Deschene: One thing people can do is help spread the word about the book. I have received hundreds of responses so far, and I hope to receive more insights before September 15th. There are many other ways to support the site—sharing it with friends or donating, for example. You can read more about that here.

Diaz: What would you tell someone else staring over the cliff, contemplating making the leap into a new life?

Deschene: You don’t need to stare over a cliff to make a new life. Usually all you need to do is take one step forward right where you are. That can sometimes feel even scarier because it means sinking into the moment and working within it instead of trying to escape it. Your new life isn’t a huge plummet away; it unfolds from this very moment and place.