By Wendy Rice, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist
As a newly-confessed Oprah fan, I want to share with you some of the life lessons I learned from my October weekend with Oprah and her Trailblazers in Miami. The weekend was entitled Oprah’s “The Life You Want” Weekend.
The program included Friday evening with Oprah alone on stage to set the proverbial stage, and then Oprah back on Saturday along with Deepak Chopra (pioneer of mind-body medicine), Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Love, Pray fame), Rob Bell (Author and Pastor) and Iyanla Vanzant (star of Iyanla: Fix My Life on OWN Network).
While onstage, Oprah encouraged us to consider what we enjoy doing and what gives us pleasure and a sense of purpose. She explained that if you can combine your passion and purpose with your job that is great, but if not, that’s okay too. Just be certain to find some time in your life to partake in the activities that give you pleasure and make you feel fulfilled.
Along these lines, she offered some wonderful tips and insights:
“Your legacy is every life you’ve ever touched”
“Your purpose doesn’t have to be some grand thing”
“You can be a better you than you can be a pretend anyone else”
“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great”
“Every action has a reaction and if you are part of the cause you are part of the effect”
Oprah also shared an observation with us: Every single person she has interviewed, including the most famous and wealthy celebrities, ask her a similar question at the end of the interview…
“Was that okay?” “Did I do okay?”
What they seem to be asking is whether what they said in their interview held meaning and whether they were really heard and understood. They were looking for validation.
This fascinates me because one of the exercises therapists often use in couples and family therapy is to have the participants take turns speaking and listening where the listener paraphrases what he or she heard the speaker say before getting to their own response.
It can be slow going and tedious, but the outcome is that the speaker actually feels heard at a deeper level than usual which instantly provides relief and mutual understanding.
So, the next time you are having an argument or discussion, let the other person know that you hear them. You can always say something like, “I hear you saying….” and then add “Did I get that right?” Let the person clarify and correct if you didn’t quite get it all. We all want to be heard, understood, and know that we matter and that what we say matters.
Whether we have tons of self-esteem (or are even the leader of an entire country) or very little, this will come in handy, especially when a situation gets out of hand or needs to be diffused.
Now, I’d like to share with you one of my big personal take aways from the “Life You Want” weekend.
I was finally able to really crystallize my vision for my professional life and I want to share it with as many people as possible because it is important, both to myself and to those my experience and expertise will help for many years to come…
My vision is to use my personal experiences of struggle (of which I have a very wide range and depth) along with humor and my professional expertise to demystify mental illness and learning disabilities for those who suffer. I want to build understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, and realistic coping. My goal is to reach those who struggle, their families, and the professionals with whom they work through consultation and therapy at my office as well as through public venues such as speaking engagements and social media.
Now, the best part is, you don’t need Oprah or even me to tell you that you control your own path in life and can choose both your vision and reality.
I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to think about what you are truly passionate about and invite you to share it in the comments below.
What is it that you do that makes you feel fulfilled and that you are achieving your purpose in life?
Whatever it is, create a plan to do as much of that thing as possible whether through your work or play. You have a gift and it is time to open up and let it shine.
Ready, Set, Go!