Remember Oprah? She had a show for 25 years, and I only ever watched one episode in its entirety: the last one. In it, Oprah spoke, from the heart, about herself and the lessons she's learned over the years.

Say what you want about Oprah, but after 4,560 episodes the woman has got to have some keen insights on people. And when presented with an opportunity to learn, I darn well pay attention.

Here, then, is my distillation of Oprah's lessons over a quarter of a century of interacting with people, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, gender, religion, ability, fame, fortune, political persuasion, childhood, wardrobe, you name it:

  1. Everyone has a purpose. Spend your time finding yours, and then live it out.
  2. You are responsible for your own life. Stuff that you can't control happens to you, good and bad, but how you choose to move forward from those experiences is totally up to you.
  3. Everyone - everyone - wants and needs to feel validated. Accepting and acknowledging that this desire is innate to every person with whom you come in contact will only help you.
  4. The world is bigger than you. You are not alone, for better or for worse.
  5. You don't get to where you want to be without a dream, a team, and a plan.

Though I'm not sure her methodology was particularly scientific, I can't help but feel like this is one of the greatest sociological breakthroughs of the twenty-first century. Oprah figured people out, and then had the audacity to share her findings with the rest of us.

I know I'm not the perfect example of the empathetic human, but I read those lessons, and I know I want to be better.

I hope you do, too.


This was originally posted on The Pastry Box Project at