You may be thinking why is a blog about athletics doing a book review on a book by Oprah Winfrey. As I mentioned in a previous post greatness leaves clues and that studying and modeling mentors is essential to reaching your full potential. Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful people in the history of humankind. I am defining success not by how much money one accumulates, nor how big their empire is but by the positive impact they have on others lives. Although Oprah has done great on all those fronts as well.
You may be mulling what does this have to do with sports? It has everything to do with sports. As I mentioned in a previous post you need to take a holistic approach to anything in life if you want it to be sustainable. Also, the point of competitive athletics is NOT to win games or championships but to become the best you can be. This book beautifully discusses the wisdom which not only will help you to live a happier life but to become the best person and therefore athlete you can be.
This book was motivated by a powerful question a reporter asked Oprah in an interview. “What do you know for sure?” This question may seem trivial. However, upon introspection one realizes how profound of a question it is. We take so much for granted. What is it that we truly know? What is just irrelevant background noise that is mostly societal conditioning? Oprah’s answered it perfectly:
“I know for sure: Your journey beings with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.”
She expands on this in her book by detailing the eight key emotions to foster in your life to become the strongest version of yourself. However, the main principle that underlies everything in the book is being present and seeking the stillness. (The tools mentioned in the book are discussed in the Neuroscience of Achievement Series)
Living a life filled with joy and happiness is a choice not a result of external circumstance! No matter how bad one’s life situation is, it could always be worse. The key to living a joy filled life is not to accumulate massive amounts of wealth but to learn to enjoy less.
Life is always going to throw curve balls, but the negative events or circumstances we experience are NOT the problem. The problem is our reaction to them, which is primarily mediated by fear. Theodore Rooselvot said it best: “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Fear causes us to retreat, to NOT follow our heart and choose the “safe” path. Whenever I have made a poor decision it was motivated by fear. Cultivating courage is one of the most important practices. However, it is vital to understand that courage does NOT mean the lessening of fear, but rather action in the face of fear.
As I elaborated on in a previous post we live in an interdependent world. Nothing occurs in a vacuum. In the 75 year Harvard’s Men’s Study the only factor that was correlated with improved happiness, success, and wealth across all co-variates was social connections. Humans are social creatures, and crave for meaning in a social context. It is vital that you realize your interconnectedness and make time for those who are most important to you.
This is something I struggle with a lot as I am such an insanely competitive person. I am always comparing myself to others and putting myself down for not achieving as much as my peers. However, it is such a self-defeating habbit. This segment from a new J Cole song (Love Yourz) perfectly summarizes what Oprah tries to get across in this segment of her book.
Always gon’ be a bigger house somewhere, but n**ga feel me
Long as the people in that motherfucker love you dearly
Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the the one you got
Always gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock
Always gon’ be a bitch that’s badder out there on the tours
But you ain’t never gon’ be happy till you love yours
Physical objects will never bring you long lasting happiness, you will always be “inferior” in certain respects. The key to happiness is owning and cherishing this present moment, because it is the only thing you have for sure.
Possibility and Awe
I have tied the summary of these two sections because they are intricately linked. A lot of times in the slew of deadlines, expectations and pressure it is easy to lose sight of all the ordinary miracles, and the amazing possibilities we all have been blessed. It is vital that we give ourselves the space and time to realize all the wonder surrounding us.
We are all going to die. No one gets out alive. It could be viewed as a depressing thought. However, mortality is what makes life special. Everything we have the opportunity to experience is a ephemeral. Therefore is is essential that we instil a sense of urgency since we are all going to die soon enough.
We all have extraordinary power inside of ourselves. However, many of us have been brainwashed that we no control over our life. This is absolutely false. As I mentioned in a previous post you must focus on what you can control and NOT on what you don’t control. Every morning we wake up you choose how you spend your time. Just remember how much of a privilege that is. Oprah recalls her experience acting in the movie Beloved and the scene after the protagonist (a former slave) wakes up and realizes that wow I get to decide what to do. Her whole life she could only imagine, if I got to decide. This is a privilege that we take for granted. We all have infinite power available to us if we wake up and become conscious of our power to decide.
Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,
PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.