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My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a global awareness company committed to inspiring change for humanity, the environment and animals, one choice at a time.

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha, a community blog that features stories and insights from readers from all over the globe. Since it launched in 2009, Tiny Buddha has grown into one of the most popular inspirational sites on the web, with more than 1.5 million monthly readers. Lori is the author of Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself and the Tiny Wisdom eBooks series, and co-founder of the online course Recreate Your Life Story: Change the Script and Be the Hero.

Lori Deschenehttp://www.tinybuddha.com

1. What Journey are You on?

These days, I think of myself less as on a journey and more as embracing stillness—aiming to spend as much time as possible experiencing and enjoying where I am now.

I do, however, hope that I learn and evolve a little every day, so I suppose that’s the journey I’m on: one defined by personal growth, even if it sometimes entails two steps forward and one step back.

2) What has been one of your greatest challenges over the years, either with the work that you do or in another area of your life, and how did you overcome it?

My greatest challenge thus far has been overcoming self-loathing and self-destructive habits.

I’m pretty sure I started hating myself before I learned to walk and talk, but I was around 12 when I first started feeling shame as my default emotion.

As a consequence, I struggled with depression, bulimia, and extreme social anxiety.

It took me more than a decade to make progress with these issues. I spent ten years in therapy, half a year hospitalized, and years more moving all around the US, unknowingly running away from myself under the guise of trying to find myself.

Discovering yoga was a real turning point for me, as it enabled me to experience myself as present in my body, as opposed to trapped in my head, where I obsessively analyzed my thoughts and emotions.
In retrospect, I see that I was a lost little girl who searched all over for peace and love; and while I ultimately realized they weren’t outside me, I learned something that helped me on each step of the journey, from every person and place I encountered.

3) What are your 4 steps to a fulfilled life?

Some things that have contributed to a sense of fulfillment in my life include:

  • Finding purpose in pain—recycling my former struggles to help others and make a positive difference in the world
  • Creating balance in my life—giving equal attention to my work, hobbies, and relationships
  • Identifying and honoring my unique needs, values, and priorities—which include family, adventure, creativity, and independence
  • Practicing mindfulness and non-attachment—knowing that even if my circumstances change, I can still find something to enjoy and appreciate in each moment as it comes

4) What advice would you give to someone who is in a situation they feel there is no way out of, they feel hopeless…How do you feel someone begins to create change from that place?

A while back someone asked me, “What do you do when you feel like everything’s fallen apart?” I responded, “You start rebuilding, one piece at a time.”

In the moment when you feel helpless and hopeless, that may seem hard to do. I know when I’m struggling, I want to feel better now, and my inability to accept that I don’t can be paralyzing.

But we can only create change when we accept that it will take time and many tiny steps, and then focus on each one as we take it.

That requires us to believe things can and will be better, as long as we keep going. And it’s somewhat paradoxical. We need to believe things can be better or we won’t take action; but it’s taking action that makes things better. So really, we need to believe in ourselves.

5) I love what you say on your site: “I want to make the most of every day. I want to challenge myself to be better, wiser, stronger, more self aware, and more effective. I want to enjoy as many moments as I can. And I am human—which means some days are better and easier than others.” How do you deal with those days that are more challenging? What helps you to navigate those days?

It helps me to remember that nothing is permanent, and everything is cyclical. I’ve experienced some incredibly low lows in my life—but inevitably, on the other side of sadness, I’ve found my way back to joy.

And in many cases, in the light that’s followed the darkness, I’ve found some reason to appreciate the time when I felt lost and blind.

Once again, this isn’t always easy to remember when you feel stuck in your emotions. Meditation helps a great deal. It gives us perspective when we feel too close to our pain to recognize that it’s fleeting.

6) Why is it so important (as you say) to let go of the past to feel unlimited in the present?

As long as we’re stuck in the past, we’re only partially experiencing the present.

There are lots of different ways to be stuck in the past.

You could be stuck in painful events you can’t stop reliving. You could be stuck in a limiting definition of who you are that prevents you from discovering who you could be. You could be stuck in learned beliefs about everything that’s wrong with the world, which limits you from seeing what’s right.

All these stories we carry around act us layers between us and the now. The present is full of possibilities for purpose, connection, and joy—but only if we let go of whatever prevents us from fully experiencing it.

7) What is your greatest hope for our planet at this time?

I don’t often think about hopes for the planet, but I hope that everyone who hurts heals, grows stronger, and finds something in their pain that they can use to help themselves and others.

What Journey are YOU on?