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7 Essential Life Lessons We Can All Learn From Oprah's New Book

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I don't know about you, but English class was always wildly intriguing for me. Some people like Vodka, I get a rise out of good literature. But one day in particular, I remember being particularly frustrated with the poem that was introduced. Although "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is a widely known piece that is said to be insightful and awesome, my beliefs were quite the contrary. I thought it sucked because it left me more confused than I was before I read it.

Oprah is placing her own spin on this befuddling piece of prose in her new book, and unlike our late homie Robert Frost, she plans to make the path to success clear instead of daunting and confusing. In The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose, our favorite rich auntie gives us the blueprint to success and a roadmap to happiness by sharing her personal experiences with fear.

In the book, she also calls on her super-rich friends, like Jay-Z and Ellen Degeneres to share some of the secrets they wish they had on their journey. She wrote:

Flatiron Books

"There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It's why you were born. And how you become most truly alive."

The most unanswered question in the history of man is probably, "Why are we here?" Passion and purpose are not always mutually exclusive, but using both of these gifts will help you get a little closer to your desired end result. Oprah wants to help you solve this riddle, sis, and she'll do it by using a few life lessons that she's accumulated over the years.

7 Life Lessons Oprah Taught Me About Learning To Live My Best Life

1.To Live Your Best Life, You Must Become Your Best Self

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Sometimes we worry so much about everything we have to do and the timeframe in which we have to do it, that we forget who we are. Oprah reminds us that:

"There is no real doing without first being."

In this quest that we're all on called life, our only obligation is to become the highest, truest version of ourselves. You could have a dream to make a million dollars, but do you know yourself? Oprah's new book teaches us that happiness and wealth are easily available to us when we look for those things internally before we seek them out in the world.

2.Fail Forward, F*ck Fear

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In the book, Auntie O opened up about the time she was asked to give a Harvard commencement speech, but there was only one problem: she was shook. Although she was at the height of her career and had just launched her network, Oprah proved that even a mogul can struggle with impostor syndrome. While she felt she was making progress, headlines like "Oprah isn't holding her own" stifled her faith and made her doubt her journey. In her book, she explained:

"I had enjoyed a long stretch at the top and was proud to be known as a powerful businesswoman. So when Harvard reached out, all I could think was, 'What can I teach about success when I've stopped succeeding?' And to be frank, I was embarrassed."

Even though her nerves were in shambles, Oprah had to give herself the pep talk we all need every once in a while. Push thru, sis. She continued:

"I found my groove after I realized that you don't need to have gone to Harvard to speak to Harvard graduates."

3.There's No Luck, Only Preparation & Opportunity

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I always have to ask myself, "Have you prepared for what you prayed for?" The key to success isn't necessarily abundance. You can have all of the money in the world, but if you haven't put a plan in place, then what good is it? Oprah reminds us to stay ready so we don't have to get ready. After all, a vision without action is only a daydream.

"I don't believe in luck. For me, luck really means preparation meeting the moment of opportunity."

4.What You Focus On Will Grow

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What if I told you that you already had everything you need to be successful, would you believe me? Well believe it, sis. We often focus so much on what we don't have, that we forget that we have already been supplied with everything we need to make our dreams come true. Where is your head at, tho? If you only focus on the negative parts of your life, you'll miss out on a lot of the moments that can make you happy. What you focus on will manifest. So do yourself a favor, and kick that negative self-talk to the curb. Oprah explained:

"When you pay attention to what feeds your energy, you move in the direction of the life for which you were intended."

5.Wish It, Dream It, Do It

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"For every dream, there is automatically going to be resistance."

Vision without execution is a daydream. Strategy without execution is hallucination. Please know that I'm ministering to myself when I preach this, but sis! At some point, it's time to stop planning and do that sh*t! According to Oprah, for every dream you have, there will be an obstacle put in place to obstruct it. Whether that obstacle is your parents, who don't believe in living out your passion, or your friends, who discourage you due to their own fear. Feel the resistance and do it anyway.

6.The Best Way To Know Your Purpose Is To Serve Others

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I heard this in church once, and it touched my spirit. My pastor said, if you're having trouble discovering your purpose, serve. As hardworking women, we take pride in the fruits of our labor. But keep in mind that the fruit isn't meant to be eaten by the tree. Our gifts are symbolic of the very necessary harvest that we have to offer the world every single day. Don't be selfish and keep your God-given fruit all to yourself. In the words of Auntie O:

"Every single moment is an opportunity to be of service to another human being."

7.Secure The Bag. You, You're The Bag. Secure Yourself

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"All these years later, I am still keenly aware that I am not my salary."

It's easy for me to say that I am not the amount of money that I make because I am not a billionaire. On the other hand, if I was Oprah, I don't know if I'd feel the same sentiment. Like all of us, I have a tendency to place a value on myself based on how other people perceive my worth. I didn't get that job I applied for, I must be unworthy. I didn't get the raise that I thought I would, so I must not be that good at my job. Take a lesson from our rich auntie and remember that YOU are the bag. Secure yourself. Never get so caught up chasing money that you wind up losing yourself.

Featured image by Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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