Photo: Harpo Inc/George Burns
For years I've been advocating the power and pleasure of being grateful. I kept a gratitude journal for a full decade without fail—and urged you all to do the same. Then life got busy. My schedule overwhelmed me. I still opened my journal some nights, but my ritual of writing down five things I was grateful for every day started slipping away.
Here's what I was grateful for on October 12, 1996:
1. A run around Florida's Fisher Island with a slight breeze that kept me cool.
2. Eating cold melon on a bench in the sun.
3 . A long and hilarious chat with Gayle about her blind date with Mr. Potato Head.
4. Sorbet in a cone, so sweet that I literally licked my finger.
5. Maya Angelou calling to read me a new poem.
A few years ago, when I came across that journal entry, I wondered why I no longer felt the joy of simple moments. Since 1996 I had accumulated more wealth, more responsibility, more possessions; everything, it seemed, had grown exponentially—except my happiness. How had I, with all my options and opportunities, become one of those people who never have time to feel delight? I was stretched in so many directions, I wasn't feeling much of anything. Too busy doing.
But the truth is, I was busy in 1996, too. I just made gratitude a daily priority. I went through the day looking for things to be grateful for, and something always showed up. '
Recently, in the process of building a television network, I got so focused on the difficulty of the climb that I lost sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb. Only when I began feeling gratitude for the opportunity to serve a new audience in a new way did a shift happen. Viewers started saying the most amazing things—things that aligned exactly with my vision of what OWN can be.
My life is still crazy busy. Today, though, I'm continuously grateful for having the stamina to keep going at this pace. Nothing I do can be "phoned in"; when I show up, I have to bring 100 percent all the time. The week I did this month's interviews with the Obamas and Romneys, I was in eight cities in seven days (from Santa Barbara to Chicago, with Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, and Sun Valley, Idaho, in between).
The difference is, I'm back to journaling—electronically—and whenever there's a grateful moment, I note it. I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you're aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.
In the next few weeks, we'll all be getting ready to cast a vote for the candidate of our choice. But I've learned from experience that if you pull the lever of gratitude every day, you'll be amazed at the results.
More Reflections from Oprah
From the November 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!