14 min read ⌚
Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose
Oprah believes that every one of us is born with a purpose.
And she’s adamant about helping you step into your God-given calling!
Who Should Read “The Path Made Clear”? And Why?
If you are one of the billions of people googling questions such as “what is my purpose?” or “what is the meaning of life?” — then this book will probably interest you.
Also, if you know and like Oprah and you feel that you can never have enough of her, then, really, is there any need for a recommendation?
About Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American talk show host, actress, and media executive, best known for The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated TV program of its kind in history.
Born and raised in poverty, Oprah became a co-anchor for the evening news already in her teenage years, after which she transferred to Chicago to become the host of AM Chicago. In just a few months, she made it the highest-rated talk show in the state and, as they say, the rest is history.
In addition to being one of the most famous women in the world, Oprah is also an Academy Award nominee for her role in The Color Purple, and one of the most generous philanthropists alive.
If you want to find out more, visit http://www.oprah.com.
“The Path Made Clear PDF Summary”
If you type in the question “What is my purpose?” in the Google search query and then press “Enter,” you’ll get 2 billion responses!
(Oprah says “one billion,” but we did the experiment, and it’s actually twice as that!)
That means only one thing: it is in the nature of humans to ask themselves what they are doing on this planet, and it is not at all surprising that we all long for an existence that matters.
“On the surface, typing those four little words … what—is—my—purpose … and pressing Enter may seem trivial,” writes Oprah, “but it’s really a profound reflection of an intimate prayer rising from the deepest part of the heart. It’s asking to be acknowledged. Initiating that search is a sign that the journey toward an elevated life filled with meaning and character is ready to begin.”
The great news?
Your purpose is not something you need to look outside your own self. Because it is unique to your own existence: we are all born with a God-given calling. All you have to do is follow your path to answer this call.
Oprah’s hope with The Path Made Clear is “to offer the wisdom of experience from the visionaries, artists, teachers, and trailblazers who have walked this road before you, and who have shared their inspiration and lessons with [her].”
The common thread among them: “They have discovered that in this world, there is no real doing without first being.”
If you’ve read your Bible, you probably remember “The Parable of the Mustard Seed.” It appears in all Gospels except that of John, but we’ll quote it from Matthew (13:31-32):
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Oprah says that this was one of her favorite Bible parables.
Because it suggested that no matter how small or insignificant you are, anything is possible. “As a child,” she writes, “listening from my seat in church, this brought me so much comfort—just as it did when I was struggling as a reporter in Baltimore and as it still does today.”
The mustard seed is so small and, yet, in time, it grows into something so big and significant. The only thing you need to do is discover it, and let it grow inside you.
Our lives are not static, she says: “every decision, setback, or triumph is an opportunity to identify the seeds of truth that make you the wondrous human being that you are.”
She herself had an experience such as this.
As you know, she worked as a news anchor for several years in the early 1970s, and, then, in 1978 she was demoted to become a co-host of the talk show People Are Talking.
It was then that she discovered her seed.
You can do it too: just pay attention to what feeds your energy. “Trust that the Universe has a bigger, wider, deeper dream for you than you could ever imagine for yourself,” concludes Oprah.
Oprah doesn’t believe in coincidences: she believes that there is a divine order to the magnificent mystery of our lives.
And one of the things she enjoys most is watching someone experience an aha moment.
In her mind, this aha moment is proof that there’s something deeply rooted within us, and that to experience the true joy you must tap into it. It’s like a puzzle: sometimes the pieces just click, and you know that everything’s going to be alright.
“Whatever your calling,” Oprah writes, “it’s already rooted within you, and those roots can be trampled or tugged at but never removed. They grow stronger only when tended, nurtured—and, most important, shared with others.”
Oprah’s deepest desire is to help people discover themselves in the literal meaning of these words. The world would be much more beautiful, she thinks, if everybody does what he/she is born to do.
When you align your personality with your purpose—spiritual trailblazer Gary Zukav brilliantly taught Oprah—no one can touch you.
“Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest good,” writes Oprah at the beginning of this third chapter, quoting, well, herself (after all, she is Oprah, and she can do that!)
She experienced this herself when she was demoted.
Many people would look at an event such as that as some kind of failure and do their best to get back where they had been before the demotion.
Not Oprah: she just remembered to relax and see if this was some kind of a sign. The very first interview she had confirmed her initial suspicions: the demotion was a blessing in disguise.
“Your life is always speaking to you,” says Oprah, noting that this is one of her most cherished spiritual principles, one that she has taken every opportunity to share with the world.
Life speaks in whispers, she goes on, and these whispers are your guides to your next right step. They can take many forms: a shiver, a goose-bump, a pit in the stomach, a pause before you speak. And they can be positive, saying things such as “I should do this. I really ought to do this in life,” or negative whispering sentences like “Hmm, something feels off” or “This is no longer your place of belonging.”
“Whatever form the whisper takes, it’s not a coincidence. Your life is trying to tell you something,” writes Oprah. “Heeding these signs can open the doors to your personal evolution, pushing you toward your life’s purpose. Ignoring them—sleepwalking through your life—is an invitation to chaos.”
When in 2013, Oprah Winfrey was invited to give a speech at Harvard’s 362nd Commencement on May 30, 2013, at Tercentenary Theatre, for the first time in her long and successful career, she felt the fear of public speaking.
“I felt a lot of pressure,” she writes, “the kind of internal angst that makes you sit down at the computer to write, take one look at the empty screen, close the computer, and say, I’ll get to this in a little bit. Then worry about it more, set a deadline to work on it again, and, when the alarm goes off, find an excuse not to do it. You know how that goes.”
Oprah’s usual mantras in situations such as this are “When you don’t know what to do, do nothing and the answer will come” and “doubt means don’t.”
However, no answer came even after a few weeks, and Oprah was more and more sure that it wasn’t doubt that crippled her: it was fear—fear that she had nothing new to tell to these brilliant Harvard minds.
And then came her revelation!
“The more important an activity is to your soul’s evolution,” said to her author Steven Pressfield during a conversation, “the more resistance you will feel to it.”
In other words, fear and doubt stem not merely from the devilish voices inside you: they are sometimes resistance embodied. And resistance is the cloud that accompanies every dream.
To lift this cloud, turn your will and your desire into allies. “You get to decide. You get to declare, I want this, and confront the fear head-on,” writes Oprah.
“When you want something,” wrote Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist, “all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Oprah is a firm believer in this aphorism.
However, she also feels the need to highlight that want: “the variable between winning the race and faltering at the finish line,” she writes, “lies with one of the guiding forces in my life: intention.”
In other words, the Universe will help you, but you have to be clear in your vision so as to not let it nudge you in the wrong direction.
You’re not going to a new place without studying the map beforehand, right? Why should living and achieving your goals be any different?
Before you embark on any quest, you must first articulate your vision. Set your course. It doesn’t have to be a public or formal declaration, but it does need to be clear. Particularly in today’s climate, where there is a palpable craving for meaning and authenticity. People can feel what’s real and what’s not. So, if you want support for your idea, stand in what you hold sacred. Those who sense your truth will rise up. And, most important, you must believe with your whole heart that you are capable of achieving your goal. If not, your path becomes murky, and the goal stays out of reach.
And committing to your course starts with a simple question: “Why?” Why are you doing this? What is your real intention?
Only then, you can move to the next question: “How will I execute the action?”
Leave the rest to the Universe.
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem is one of the people Oprah believes are the truest expression of themselves.
Once, Gloria told Oprah her secret: she moved through life with such “razor-sharp clarity” because her mind is in a constant “on the road” state.
This way of thinking, she said to Winfrey, reminds her to stay open to learning at all times, because travel “brings people out of their heads and into their hearts” and offers the promise of expanding the truth.
The “on the road” philosophy makes you feel “boundaryless, spontaneous, and at one with everything”—just like traveling when it’s done properly.
Gloria compares this “on the road” thinking mode to “a bird in flight, riding on a current, perpetually focused on forward motion, at all times checking the direction of the wind, yet open to all possibilities.”
Somehow, birds let things go and still make things happen; and so do human beings when they adapt to this “on the road” philosophy of life.
That’s why, for Oprah, this philosophy is practically synonymous with the word Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi introduced a while ago: flow. Or, even better, it is synonymous with a phrase athletes have been using for decades: “in the zone.”
To describe it, they use phrases such as “tunnel vision,” “complete calm,” or “ultra-focus.” “Some liken it to a spiritual experience,” says Oprah, “a state of consciousness in which time feels like it has slowed down or completely fallen away.”
When you’re in the zone, the road is clear in front of you, open, smooth and yours for the taking.
And as LeBron James himself told Oprah once, to be in the zone, all you need to do is stop playing for the others and start playing for yourself.
“I have always thought a mountain is a magnificent metaphor for life,” writes Oprah. “From a distance, the ascent looks clear and smooth, but once you actually set out for the summit, you discover unexpected valleys and precarious ridges along the way. If your internal compass isn’t set to keep climbing, every stumble will give you an excuse to turn back.”
But you are not allowed excuses if your goal is to climb the mountain. Even when it is a steep and rocky road ahead of you, you must go forward—and, thus, upward.
Stumbles are an inevitable part of any road, but they are also, sometimes, what makes the road worthwhile.
One of Oprah’s favorite lessons coming from pastor Joel Osteen is “What follows ‘I am’ is what we’re inviting into our life.”
In other words, if you say things such as “I am exhausted” or “I am overwhelmed” that’s inevitably what you’ll become because that’s how your adaptive unconscious works.
Oprah felt this herself a few years back when she started building her OWN network (the Oprah Winfrey Network).
When she shifted her perspective from “I am struggling” to “I am honored,” suddenly everything changed: her climb was transformed “from an arduous trek into a still challenging but now stimulating adventure.”
Since then, she looks at both stumbles and failures as teachers—not as setbacks.
Oprah Winfrey considers Maya Angelou her “spiritual queen mother” and her “ultimate teacher.”
Once the great poetess told her: “People may not remember what you did or what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel.”
This thought has resonated with Oprah ever since: it was the first time she realized that every single moment we have here on earth is an opportunity to be of service to other people.
Most people wait to assess their legacy until their second or third act of life when there is time to sit back and reflect. But what if, right now, you began to structure your decisions based on how you want to be remembered, rather than on what you believe you still need to accomplish? What I’m suggesting is that you don’t wait until you’re sitting on your porch in your rocking chair to evaluate the character of your actions. Ask yourself today, in the middle of your complicated, demanding, chaotic life: “What do I want my legacy to be?” And then start living from that intention.
“When you know, teach,” said Maya Angelou. “and when you get, give.”
Has something truer and more humane ever been said?
We haven’t gotten to summarizing it yet, but Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach was all the rage a decade ago.
The book—a collection of evocative essays, one for each day of the year—has sold seven million copies to this day and has been translated into more than 30 languages.
What fascinates even more, it was Sarah Breathnach’s debut!
You can imagine how much her life changed after Simple Abundance: she became a multimillionaire practically overnight.
The problem with that: she didn’t really know what to do with the money!
She hired nine assistants, bought eight pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes in one trip, and even bought a chapel actually owned by Sir Isaac Newton once!
Fifteen years later, there she was—talking to Oprah about losing it all.
“What I learned from Sarah and so many others,” comments Oprah, “is that the way people handle money reflects the way they see themselves. Many times when people win the lottery and experience a windfall, they don’t see themselves as worthy of their newfound riches. They wind up spending on possessions to create an idea of self-worth. When you’ve become blinded by the status symbols, it’s easy to lose sight of the unique gifts only you can offer the world.”
Oprah is not like that: she knows she isn’t the salary she receives. Because she also knows that everything passes and changes with time.
Everything, that is, but you—who you are, what you are, and what you are meant to share with the world.
“That is your true treasure,” she concludes.
Have you watched The Wizard of Oz?
Of course, you have: who hasn’t!
Oprah thinks that the film (as well as the book, of course) is “one of the great spiritual teachings of all time.”
Because it illustrates perfectly the universal human coordinates of something, Joseph Campbell dubbed “the hero’s journey”: the Yellow Brick Road represented nothing but Dorothy’s path toward her true self.
Just like many of us, Dorothy started her journey believing that she needs something outside herself to bestow the cherished virtues on her friends (a brain for Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man, and courage for the Cowardly Lion) and reach home.
Of course, the truth is that all of her friends were “the disempowered parts of herself,” and that the goal of her journey wasn’t a place on the map, but a higher level of consciousness about her own existence.
That is why Oprah says, the most powerful scene in the film is when Glinda the Good Witch says “the words that spiritual teachers have been trying to convey for thousands of years:”
“You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power.”
“Then why didn’t you tell her before?” asks the Scarecrow.
“Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself,” answers Glinda.
This was the greatest aha moment of Oprah’s life: there is always a path home because you are always you.
That’s the essence of Dorothy’s words at the end:
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it, to begin with.”
“You already know,” says Oprah in the epigraph.
And, trust us, you do.
Key Lessons from “The Path Made Clear”
1. Your Purpose Is Rooted Within You
2. Listen to the Whispers and Climb the Mountain
3. The Goal of the Journey Is Not a Place, But a State of Mind
Your Purpose Is Rooted Within You
Whatever your calling, Oprah says, it is already rooted within you, in the way Buck’s calling to become something more of a dog was rooted within him even when he was the most obedient and loyal sled dog in Thornton’s camp.
Meaning: no matter how much you’ve strayed from your purpose, it will always be there inside you, waiting to be discovered and grasped.
Your purpose grows stronger when tended and shared with other people—so start doing that right now.
Listen to the Whispers and Climb the Mountain
Don’t really know your purpose?
Life is whispering it to you all the time!
It may be the goosebumps, the fire in your eyes or your belly, or, simply, the gut feeling that something’s off. Be they positive or negative, these are all whispers, body signals which nudge you in the right direction, toward the top of the mountain.
Because that’s what life is: climbing a mountain and overcoming all obstacles. Not using the latter as excuses.
The Goal of the Journey Is Not a Place, But a State of Mind
This is the essence of most spiritual teachings ever devised: what you want the most, you already have within you.
You just need to discover it.
Material gains, fame, property—all of these things are just surrogates, substitutes about something else. And to discover that something else, you need nothing but attention and awareness.
The holy mountain isn’t located in the distance: it is buried deep inside your heart.s
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“The Path Made Clear Quotes”No matter how far away from yourself you may have strayed, there is always a path back. You already know who you are and how to fulfill your destiny. And your ruby slippers are ready to carry you home. Click To Tweet The true meaning of courage is to be afraid--and then, with your knees knocking and your heart racing, take the leap anyway. Click To Tweet I resolved to continually ask myself, How am I making things more difficult than they need to be? Your answer to that same question is the next step in your path. It's that simple. Click To Tweet My life’s goal is to be of service to a greater good. Wherever that true calling takes me, I’ve always been willing to go. Click To Tweet Find your lane. Make space for the flow to show itself. Follow the natural rhythm of your life, and you will discover a force far greater than your own. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
A collection of quotes, conversations, and real-life anecdotes—all framed within Oprah’s ever-wise words and neatly structured into ten aptly titled chapters that simulate one’s journey to self-discovery—The Path Made Clear is Oprah at her best—which is precisely what we have grown accustomed to expecting from her.
In addition to Oprah’s thoughts and illuminating pieces of advice on all sorts and topics, on these pages you’ll find words of wisdom from everyone from Eckhart Tolle to Brené Brown, from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Jay-Z, as these renowned men and women “share the greatest lessons from their own journeys toward a life filled with purpose.”
And it should be easier to walk the path toward self-discovery with their help, shouldn’t it?