What I Know For Sure summary
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What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey Summary and Review

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On her way to building a media empire and becoming the first African-American female billionaire, Oprah Winfrey had to overcome a lot of hardships. A student of life, and a dedicated philanthropist, she went on to share with the world the wisdom she had gathered along the way. The book, what I know for sure is a collection of Oprah’s essays from her popular column in the Oprah Magazine where she has been pouring her heart and soul in confiding with readers her experiences of life lessons for 14 years.

In this summary, we have compiled some of the most inspiring and powerful insights that this remarkable woman has shared with us. Stay until the end to see which revelation had the greatest impact on us.

Organized by theme as in the book, here are the reflections of Oprah presented in her own words.

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Every challenge we take on has the power to knock us to our knees. The only way to endure a quake is to adjust your stance. You can’t avoid the daily tremors that come with being alive but I believe these experiences are gifts, the forces to step to the right or to the left in search of a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Let them help you adjust your footing.

Become the change you want to see, these words I live by. Instead of belittling, uplift. Instead of demolishing, rebuild. Instead of misleading, light the way so that all of us can stand on higher ground.


Love is all around. It’s possible to love and to be loved no matter where you are. Love exists in all forms. Sometimes I walk in my front yard and I can feel all of my trees just vibrating love. It’s always available for the asking.

To me, miracles are confirmation that something larger than us is at work, I believe they happen not just sometimes but every single day. If we are open to seeing them, I know that the big miracles we are waiting on are happening right in front of us at every moment with every breath. Open your eyes and heart and you’ll begin to see them.


I take my pleasure seriously. I work hard and play well. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy because I feel satisfaction in so much of what I do. Being aware of and creating four and five-star experiences makes you feel blessed. A strong cup of coffee with perfect hazelnut creamer, four stars. Going for a walk through the woods with the dogs unleashed, five stars. Sitting under my oaks reading a great book, five stars. Your level of pleasure is determined by how you view your whole life.


I make gratitude a daily priority. I went through the day looking for things to be grateful for and something always showed up. I kept a gratitude journal for a full decade without fail, writing down five things I was grateful for every day. I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your whole world. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.

I became more aware of time than I had ever been. It made me more conscious and appreciative of every experience, every awakening, “Gee, I’m still here, I have another chance today to get it right.” I still try to take in all experiences, even the negative ones.

I take the time even if it’s only one minute in the morning to breathe slowly and let myself feel the connection to all other breathing and vibrating energies in this world and beyond. I have found that recognizing your relationship to infinity makes the finite more palatable.

What I know for sure is that giving yourself time to beat is essential to fulfilling your mission as a human being. So I give myself Sundays, most times I just do nothing and that my brain and body decompress. Whenever I’ve slipped up and missed a Sunday, I’ve noticed a definite change in my disposition for the rest of the week.

Replenish the well of yourself for yourself. “Getting older is the best thing that ever happened to me. I awakened to a morning prayer of thanks posted on my bathroom wall.” Whatever age I’m at, I think of all the people who never made it that far. I think about the people who are called before they realized the beauty and majesty of life on earth.


I try to get myself a healthy dose of quiet time at least once or twice a day, 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the evening. It helps me sleep better and focus deeper, it boosts my productivity and fuels my creativity. What I know for sure is that your breath is your anchor, the gift you’ve been given, that we’ve all been given to center ourselves in this very moment. Whenever I have an encounter that involves even the slightest tension, I stop, draw in a deep breath and release.

Ever notice how often you unconsciously hold your breath? Once you start paying attention, it might surprise you to see how much tension you’ve been carrying around inside. Nothing is more effective than a deep, slow inhale and release for surrendering what you can’t control and focusing on what’s right in front of you.

Always do your best, I know for sure that this is the most fulfilling path to personal freedom. Your best varies from day to day depending on how you’re feeling. No matter, give your best in every circumstance so that you have no reason to judge yourself and create guilt and shame. Live so that at the end of each day you can say, “I did my very best.” That’s what it means to excel at the great work of living your best life.


When you choose to see the world as a classroom, you understand that all experiences are here to teach you something about yourself and that your life’s journey is about becoming more of who you are. The hardest experiences are often the ones that teach us the most. Whenever troubles come my way, I try to ask myself, “What is this really about and what am I supposed to learn from it?”

Only when I perceive what the real lesson is can I make the best decision and grow from the experience. To own the abundant life that’s waiting for you, you’ve got to be willing to do the real work, not your job nor your career profile, but heating your spirit which is whispering its greatest desires to you. You’ve got to get silent sometimes to hear it and check in regularly. You must feed your mind with thoughts and ideas that open you to new possibilities.

When you stop learning, you cease to grow and subconsciously tell the universe you’ve done it all, nothing new for you, so why are you here? Whatever you fear most has no power, it is your fear that has the power. The thing itself cannot touch you, but your fear can rob you of your life. Each time you give in to it, you lose strength while your fear gains it. That’s why you must decide that no matter how difficult the path ahead seems, you will push past your anxiety and keep on stepping.


Whatever your situation is right now, you have played a major role in creating it. With every experience, you build your life, thought by thought, choice by choice, and beneath each of those thoughts and choices lie your deepest intention. That’s why before I make any decision, I ask myself one critical question, “What is my real intention?”

When you don’t know what to do, my best advice is to do nothing until clarity comes. Getting still, being able to hear your own voice and not the voices of the world quickens clarity.

Once you decide what you want, make a commitment to that decision. When I’m wired in uncertainty about what the next step should be. When I’m asked to do something for which I feel a little enthusiasm, that’s my sign to just stop, to get still until my instincts give me the go-ahead.

I believe that uncertainty is my spirit’s way of whispering, “I’m in flux. I can’t decide for you, something is off-balance here.” I take that as a cue to recenter myself before making a decision. When the universe compels me toward the best path to take, it never leaves me with maybe, should I, or even perhaps. I always know for sure when it’s telling me to proceed because everything inside me rises up to reverberate, yes.

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