Photo: George Burns/Harpo
I take my pleasures seriously. I work hard and pleasure well; I believe in the yin and yang of life. It doesn't take a lot to make me happy because I take pleasure from everything I do. Some pleasures are higher rated than others, of course. And because I try to practice what I preach—living in the moment—I am consciously attuned most of the time to how much pleasure I am receiving.
Just last night, I was laughing so hard on the phone with my friend Gayle that my head started to hurt. She was confronting me about a bad hair day and wanted to make sure I was aware that the "do" wasn't doing it for me. Mid-howl I thought, Isn't this a gift—after 20-odd years of nightly phone calls, to have someone who tells me the truth and to laugh this loudly about it? I call that five-star pleasure.
Being aware of and creating four- and five-star experiences makes you blessed. For me just waking up "clothed in my right mind," being able to put my feet on the floor, walk to the bathroom, and do what needs to be done there is a five-starrer. I think of all the stories I've done about people who aren't healthy enough to do that.
Then I move on to the little pleasures. A strong cup of coffee with the perfect hazelnut creamer: four stars. Going for a walk through the woods with all five dogs unleashed: five stars. (Picking up their poop: a half star for solid; no stars for diarrhea!) Working out: one star, still. Sitting under my oaks, reading the Sunday papers: four stars. A great book: five. Hanging out at Quincy Jones's kitchen table, talking about everything and nuthin': five stars. Being able to do good things for other people: five plus. The enjoyment comes from knowing the receiver understands the spirit of the gift. I make an effort to do something good for somebody every day, whether I know that person or not.
What I know for sure is that pleasure is energy reciprocated: What you put out comes back. Your base level of pleasure is determined by how you view your whole life.
More important than 20/20 eyesight is your internal vision, your own sweet spirit whispering through your life with guidance and grace—now, that's pleasure.
What Oprah Knows for Sure
From the December 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!