WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE? If you were asked the question – WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE – how would YOU respond? Apparently Oprah Winfrey struggled with this question as well when asked by Gene Siskel in an interview 16 years ago. After years of contemplating this, she finally has an answer – or many answers – all compiled in her beautiful little book What I Know For Sure.
Most of you know her history – Oprah grew up a poor black girl in rural Mississippi, born out of wedlock, sexually abused at age 9 and pregnant at 14 years old. Despite the seeming insurmountable obstacles, she rocked the stereotypes and shattered glass ceilings, becoming the richest self-made woman in America and named “arguably the world’s most powerful woman” by CNN and TIME. The book is filled with practical and spiritual insights on relationships, career, finances, health, and spirituality. I would highly recommend LISTENING to the audiobook – she narrates herself and uses beautiful inflections telling her stories. I found myself laughing, crying, experiencing gratitude and awe right along with her.
So what can we learn from what Oprah KNOWS FOR SURE? Here are a few of my favorites:
ON HEALTH – “WHEN YOU NURTURE YOUR BODY, IT RECIPROCATES” – you may remember watching her on the Oprah show over the years…skinny Oprah, overweight Oprah, dieting Oprah, Oprah running a marathon…. you name it, she’s done it! She learned from friend and health coach Bob Green that the best rule when it comes to healthy eating is to EAT FOODS THAT MAKE YOU THRIVE! What a simple concept! She now prides her ability to do just this by growing an abundance of beautiful vegetables and fruits on her Maui farm. She says so beautifully, “I know for sure that taking care of your body, no matter what, is an investment and the return is priceless.”
ON RELATIONSHIPS – “WE ALL WANT TO FEEL VALUED” – after talking with thousands of people all over the world for years, Oprah has determined that each of us longs to be loved, needed, and connected. She gives a powerful example of an interview she did with several men who cheated on their wives. It all came down to the need to feel heard, validated…to feel like we matter to someone else. People will go to extreme measures to get this. As a mom of five small children, I for sure can relate to this craving to feel heard and valued, as I know most moms do. She has a powerful message for all of us, “Stop waiting for your husband to say “I appreciate you,” your kids to tell you what a great mother you are, a man to whisk you away and marry you, or your best friend to assure you that you’re worth a darn. LOOK inward – the loving begins with you.” Powerful stuff.
ON GRATITUDE – “IF THE ONLY PRAYER YOU EVER SAY IS THANK YOU, THAT WILL BE ENOUGH.” Meister Eckhart. One of the most remarkable things about Oprah is her strong dedication to the practice of gratitude. The woman has more money than I could ever imagine, and she finds the greatest appreciation in small things that are free – a beautiful sunset, the oak trees in her backyard, a cup of masala chai tea, a bowl full of hand-picked lemons in a white bowl with a green bow given to her by a neighbor. She reminds us that, “Life is full of delightful treasures, if we take a moment to appreciate them. I call them ahhh moments, and I’ve learned to create them for myself.”
ON AGING GRACEFULLY – “Getting older is the best thing that ever happened to me. I wake up every morning rejoicing that I’m still here with an opportunity to begin again and be better.” Unlike the rest of Hollywood, and the rest of the entire culture in this country, Oprah believes, like a fine wine, we get better with age. And she is proving herself right!
ON HAPPINESS – WHAT YOU PUT OUT COMES BACK – Oprah heard a lot of complaining from some unhappy people on her show over the years, and she has discovered that “the happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love or happiness that you’re able to give.” It’s the Golden Rule – Do unto others; the third law of motion – every action has an equal reaction. She lives by this rule and says, “What I know for sure is that what I think, what I say, what I do, everything…will be returned to me. And the same is true for YOU.”
Just last week, I was in the grocery store and noticed the latest issue of Oprah’s O Magazine featuring the cover photo of her posing next to a gigantic, beautiful lion. I thought to myself — what an appropriate animal to represent her life story. Katie Perry’s song “Roar” immediately came to my mind and has not left –“I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath / Scared to rock the boat and make a mess / So I sat quietly, agreed politely / I guess that I forgot I had a choice / You held me down, but I got up / Get ready ’cause I had enough, I see it all, I see it now, I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter / Dancing through the fire, ‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re, gonna hear me roar / Louder, louder than a lion, ‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.”
What I know FOR SURE is that Oprah would want each of us to take our OWN experiences, the delightful ones AND the painful ones we would rather forget, and use them all to express our own unique voice, our own wisdom, our own passion, our own ROAR…and share it dauntlessly with others.
Photo: Jen Edwards