Reading what the most famous people in the world have been through is always an eye opener. What did they do to get to where they are now? What makes their mindsets apart from the rest of society? These kinds of questions have recently made me rather curious about many of the big names in general, regards of how familiar I am with their field of interest. In this case, I have never followed Oprah or her show at all in the past, but as one of the most influential women on Earth I was naturally still interested in what she had to say when I discovered that she wrote a memoir herself. Let’s find out!
Verdict: Nice nuggets of wisdom off her genuine experiences, but cliche and nothing memorable.
Joy. Resilience. Connection. Gratitude. Possibility. Awe. Clarity. Power. These are the topics Oprah organizes her mini essays (varying from one to about eight pages each), making each story a quick, short, digestible one; they’re actually stories from previous O magazine columns.
Oprah exposes herself as being just as human as any other as she talks about her life experiences, making her rather relatable throughout her book. Living in poverty with a single teenage mother, being sexually abused and becoming pregnant at 14, getting her first job for 50 cents an hour, her unconditional love to her pets – her experiences are just as real as any of ours. At the same time, however, she does sometimes delve into the richer side of her life, purchasing a home in Hawaii and traveling in her private jet, talking about the warmth she gets when she gave the entire audience of one of her shows a new car, etc. She talks about several stories she’s heard from others, and how hearing thousands of others’ stories has affected her and made her who she is today.
The way that this book is structured – just a collection of short columns, without much cohesion as a story – makes the book not so memorable from years on out. Each story that she does tell comes with a small nugget of wisdom. These bits of wise words are rather cliche as you hear them everywhere. Reading this book has in the end just been a helpful reminder to how I should be living my life today. In the end, the book is essentially just a collection of life quotes for you to live by, with some personal insight from her. Some insightful pieces I’ve personally enjoyed and took to heart:
“The gift of deciding to face your mortality without turning away or flinching is the gift of recognizing that because you will die, you must live now. Whether you flounder or flourish is always in your hands – you are the single biggest influence in your life.”
“My highest achievement: never shutting down my heart. Even in my darkest moments—through sexual abuse, a pregnancy at 14, lies and betrayals—I remained faithful, hopeful, and willing to see the best in people, regardless of whether they were showing me their worst. I continued to believe that no matter how hard the climb, there is always a way to let in a sliver of light to illuminate the path forward.”
“What I know for sure is that a lack of intimacy is not distance from someone else; it is disregard for yourself.”
“Extend a hand of connection and understanding, and offer three of the most important words any of us can ever receive: ‘I hear you.’ I know for sure your relationship will be the better for it.”
“Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But it’s when you feel least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective.”
“What I know for sure is that whatever your situation is right now, you have played a major role in creating it. With every experience, you build your life, thought by thought, choice by choice. And beneath each of those thoughts and choices lies your deepest intention. That’s why, before I make any decision, I ask myself one critical question: What is my real intention?”
“My goal: to stay open to all the universe has to offer. Every year. Every day.”
“I know for sure that you can’t give what you don’t have. If you allow yourself to be depleted to the point where your emotional and spiritual tank is empty and you’re running on fumes of habit, everyone loses. Especially you.”
“If you think something is missing in your life or you’re not getting what you deserve, remember that there’s no Yellow Brick Road. You lead life; it doesn’t lead you.”
Nothing too different what you hear out there, but because of how life can take over and and how distracted we can get, it never hurts to have another reminder of the things we already know but never truly implement. The way she communicates in this book makes those cliche messages quite powerful and impactful too, making you want to make a positive change to your life right away.
The biggest message I received, more or less a summary from this book: life gets busy. Just slow down for a quick moment. Enjoy that moment. Be genuinely grateful for what’s happening. What happens next is up to you.