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Oprah Winfrey is a living legend.
And her columns for the O, The Oprah Magazine have certainly contributed to that status.
In What I Know for Sure Oprah has collected the best of them, revised them, and updated some of them.
And we have the summary.
Who Should Read “What I Know for Sure”? And Why?
Oprah Winfrey is dubbed the Queen of All Media and the Most Influential Woman in the World for a reason. And What I Know for Sure is a collection of the best of her columns.
If these two sentences don’t spell a recommendation for you, we don’t know which will.
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 in poverty and out of wedlock to a teenage mother, Oprah lived through a tough childhood (including sexual abuse and pregnancy at 14) and landed a job in radio in her teens, becoming a co-anchor for the evening news by the age of 19.
Soon, she transferred to Chicago and became the host of AM Chicago, a low-rated half-hour morning talk show. After making it the highest-rated talk show in Chicago in just a few months, Oprah was persuaded by the movie critic Roger Ebert to sign a syndication deal with King World.
After Winfrey was nominated for an Academy Award for her appearance in The Color Purple, AM Chicago was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and relaunched as an hour-long TV event; the rest is history.
Not that you don’t know already, but in case you need to, you can find out more at http://www.oprah.com/index.html.
“What I Know for Sure PDF Summary”
During an interview two decades ago (1998, to be precise), film critic Gene Siskel (one half of the famous Siskel and Ebert duo) asked Oprah a compelling question: “What do you know for sure?”
Oprah took the question pretty seriously: “Uhhhh, I know for sure… uhhh… I know for sure, I need time to think about that some more, Gene,” she replied.
And she did!
In fact, the question inspired Oprah to start writing the identically titled monthly column for O, the Oprah Magazine – for the next fourteen years!
These columns are collected, revised and updated in this book.
Not because most of them weren’t already famous enough, but because, as Oprah says in the “Introduction,” “when you know something, really know something, it tends to stand the test of time.”
In the book, the columns are organized in eight different sections – joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, power – and we have the highlights of them all.
Joy Is the Ultimate Product of Resilience
Now in her 60s, Oprah Winfrey is one of the wealthiest people in the world and undoubtedly one of the most influential women on this planet.
However, few – if anyone – would have predicted her even a modestly successful future four decades ago.
Born out of wedlock to a teenage mother, Oprah spent the first six years of childhood with her poor grandparents.
At the age of six, she moved back with her mother, who had too many problems of her own to look after her well enough.
Unfortunately, Oprah’s problems only got worse: from the age of ten to the age of thirteen, she was sexually abused by as much as three different people (her cousin, her uncle, and a family friend).
Owing to this abuse, at the age of 13, Oprah ran away from home, only to get pregnant the very next year; just like her mother, Oprah hid her pregnancy from everyone; her son was born prematurely and died just a few weeks after being born.
You can’t go any lower than this in life, can you?
So, how did Oprah find the strength to grow into a planetary star from being a poor and lonely family-less 14-year-old sexually abused girl with a prematurely born and deceased son?
According to her, she managed to make the leap precisely because of her suffering.
“What doesn’t kill me,” wrote once Friedrich Nietzsche, “makes me stronger.”
That’s something would most gladly sign.
Be resilient and endure, she says, and you’ll earn your happiness in the end:
There is one irrefutable law of the universe: We are each responsible for our own life. If you’re holding anyone else accountable for your happiness, you’re wasting your time. You must be fearless enough to give yourself the love you didn’t receive.
Be Grateful for the Little Things
One of the things Oprah learned during her life is to be grateful for all the beautiful little joys in life.
For example, for long years, she struggled with her body image and tried tons of different diets to make herself slimmer: “Beverly Hills, Atkins, Scarsdale, Cabbage Soup, and even the Banana, Hot Dog, and Egg diets.”
However, nothing worked.
And then, one day in 2001, she started suffering from heart problems at night; six months later, she finally had a life-affirming epiphany: she needed to help her heart beat for many more years, not deal with trivial matters such as body image.
“There is no need to struggle with your body,” she concluded, “when you can make a loving and grateful peace with it.”
And so she did.
Now she is grateful for it – as well as for at least fifteen different things she lists in one column:
1. Planting vegetables in my garden.
2. Making blueberry-lemon pancakes on Sunday morning for Stedman. Never fails to delight him—like he’s 7 every time.
3. An off-leash romp on the front lawn with all my dogs.
4. A rainy day, a chill in the air, a blazing fire in the fireplace.
5. Picking vegetables from my garden.
6. A great book.
7. Reading in my favorite place on earth: under my oak trees.
8. Cooking vegetables from my garden.
9. Sleeping till my body wants to wake up.
10. Waking up to the real twitter: birds.
11. A workout so strong, my whole body breathes.
12. Eating vegetables from my garden.
13. Being still.
14. Embracing silence.
15. The daily spiritual practice of gratitude. Every day I bless my life by counting my blessings.
What are the things you’re grateful about?
Everything Is Possible If You Don’t Apologize for Yourself
“Beginning when we are girls, most of us are taught to deflect praise,” Oprah writes in one of her columns. “We apologize for our accomplishments. We try to level the field with our family and friends by downplaying our brilliance. We settle for the passenger’s seat when we long to drive.”
Oprah experienced this in the third grade, in, as she says, “one of the defining moments” in her life. After her book report earned the praise of her teacher, her classmates grudgingly started whispering to each other something along the lines of “She thinks she’s so smart.”
For years Oprah feared that people would see her as arrogant. In fact, she even thinks her weight was some sort of an apology on her part: “See,” her body seemed to her to be saying, “I really don’t think I’m better than you.”
But that’s not the way to go.
Too many of us are willing to hide our light as adults. Instead of being filled with passion and purpose, “we empty ourselves in an effort to silence our critics.”
The truth, according to Oprah, is “that the naysayers in your life can never be fully satisfied”:
Whether you hide or shine, they’ll always feel threatened because they don’t believe they are enough. So stop paying attention to them. Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you. What I know for sure is this: You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.
Key Lessons from “What I Know for Sure”
1. Joy and Love Stem from Self-Sufficiency and Resilience
2. The Power to Choose
3. Saying No Is Also a Choice
Joy and Love Stem from Self-Sufficiency and Resilience
It’s an understatement to say that Oprah had a difficult childhood.
She was born out of wedlock, raised in harsh conditions, sexually abused for at least three years by three different people from her near family, ran away from home at 13, got pregnant at 14, her son died a few weeks after being prematurely born.
And yet – she became a global superstar!
How did she do it?
Well, by enduring and by learning to be self-sufficient.
Instead of looking outwardly, she learned to look inwardly. Instead of looking for validation for her actions in someone else (be that a parent or a lover), she decided to look for it in herself.
And if you want to be loved and successful, you should do it too!
Because, for one thing, you’ve endured a lot as well already.
“Think back for a moment on your own history,” Oprah writes at one place. “What were the moments along the way that wounded or scared you? Chances are, you’ve had a few. But here’s what’s remarkable: You are still here, still standing.”
Isn’t that a lot?
The Power to Choose
“After the hundreds of stories I’ve heard of atrocities around the globe, I know that if you’re a woman born in the United States, you’re one of the luckiest women in the world,” writes Oprah.
Andshe has a point.
Because, unlike millions and millions of women in the world, you’ve almost certainly been given an opportunity to live the life of your choice.
Why don’t you start using it:
Take your good fortune and lift your life to its highest calling. Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.
Saying No Is Also a Choice
It isn’t at all surprising that Oprah – being Oprah, aka the greatest black philanthropist in American history – was often overwhelmed by too many requests for help by too many needy people.
“Some would spend their last dime on a bus ticket to get to me,” she writes, “children would run away from home, abused women would leave their husbands and show up at the doorstep of my studio, all hoping I’d help.”
And, of course, she did!
After all, she had a difficult life and knew that many people needed help; however, after writing thousands of checks, she started feeling worn out.
More importantly, she started realizing that she wasn’t helping anymore because she thought that she could help, but because she was afraid that if she didn’t write a check, people would hate her.
“I was saying yes so people wouldn’t be angry with me, so they would think I was a nice person,” she concluded. “My intention was to make people feel I was the one they could call on, count on, last minute, no matter what.”
She was 40 years old when she realized that this was the wrong way to go in life.
And she started saying “no” – because that’s also a choice.
She still keeps the note she wrote that day on her desk
Never again will I do anything for anyone that I do not feel directly from my heart. I will not attend a meeting, make a phone call, write a letter, sponsor or participate in any activity in which every fiber of my being does not resound yes. I will act with the intent to be true to myself.
It’s time you started doing this yourself.
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“What I Know for Sure Quotes”What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing. Click To Tweet If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough. (Via Meister Eckhart) Click To Tweet You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life and live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly by the wall, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt. Click To Tweet What I know for sure is that pleasure is energy reciprocated: What you put out comes back. Your base level of pleasure is determined by how you view your whole life. Click To Tweet Balance lives in the present. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
If you like Oprah, you’ll certainly like What I Know for Sure as well.
All of her trademarks are here: the confessional tone, the honesty, the clarity, the warmth, the wisdom gained through experience.
The perfect gift book for hurt women.