Life Lessons and Messages of Hope

Truth be told, I’ve never been one to care much about sitting in a class and being lectured to by somebody who’s never experienced anything outside of a classroom.

But for the last few weeks, I’ve been enamored by Oprah Winfrey’s “LifeClass” program on her self-titled television network, OWN.

Five nights a week, Oprah shares with her more than 1 million “students” powerful thoughts to realizing what is most valuable in life. From the comfort of an arm chair on a small television studio stage, Oprah shares with viewers clips from some of the more than 4,000 shows she recorded over the last 25 years. Each episode is themed around a certain idea and there are many “Aha!” moments.

Before I continue, I must say that I never really was a fan of Oprah’s talk show. As a media enthusiast, I appreciated the dynamic changes she brought to TV over the course of her show, but I never was compelled enough to be a faithful viewer.

So why am I so devoted to her new “LifeClass” show? It’s because  “LifeClass” is a stripped down version of what she has tried to teach people over time. Gone are the glitz and glamour of celebrity guests and people-making news. Instead, it’s this very wise, successful human being sharing what she’s learned through life with me. And it really does feel as though Oprah’s
 speaking individually to each of her viewers.

She talks candidly about her on-again, off-again weight issues, and how her ego got the best of her the day she pranced on stage in a tight-fitting pair of jeans. She talks about how various guests opened her eyes to the struggles others face daily.

Look, I know Oprah is no “average” person. She doesn’t sit there like many of us do looking at our online banking page debating between which bill to pay first. She probably never grocery shops or even has a clue of how to use a self-checkout machine.

But behind all of the glitz and celebrity appeal Oprah has, she is simply a human being. She’s somebody with a great story to tell and somebody who — like all of us — has faced highs and lows in life. Just because she’s wealthy and on television does not mean Oprah’s life is worry-free. She’s human just like us and struggles with so many of life’s obstacles.

So the messages she shares on her nightly program really are inspiring. They’re from the heart. She’s not giving away cars or trips or interviewing celebrities. Instead, she’s talking to people from the heart about how to appreciate the gifts we have in life.

In this crazy world where it sometimes seems as though we’re all too stressed out, we all want and need to feel loved. For the average person, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking life is awful because you’re living paycheck to paycheck or because you can’t afford a new car or your own house.

But we’ve all got to realize what’s most important in life. Having money or a dream career or a fancy car mean absolutely nothing in life if we are not surrounded by those we love and who love us in return.

One quote struck me during a “LifeClass” episode. Oprah said, "You are not defined by your possessions, titles or positions in life."

That’s an important life lesson.

I keep thinking about that quote and thinking about what I want to remember about my life when I’m nearing death. Do I want to lay there dying thinking about how I once had a powerful career and a job that made people stop and look at me? Or do I want to lay on my deathbed reflecting on the time I spent with family and friends while still making a difference in the world?

Fashion designer Tom Ford was the focus of another OWN program called “Visionaries.” In it, he said that as a fashion designer, his work only is relevant for a period of time in life. So while Ford is helping to set fashion trends today, nobody will be talking about his designs after he’s gone.

Sure, we want (and need) to earn money. Sure, we want a job that we like. But those things don’t give us an overall sense of lifetime happiness. They’re more like a temporary relief.

When I look at my life now, I’m happy for the career I have and the difference I make volunteering. But what makes me most happy in life is being surrounded by people who I love and whom I know love me. And I never want to let a position define my life to the point where I look back on life regretting not spending more time with those who are most important to me.


twoday magazine wants to know: What is it that you appreciate about your life?

Can’t get enough of Bobby Cherry? Catch up with him at his website: GoBobbo!

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