Most life purpose books are about why life purpose is important. They leave out the most important part: how to actually find and/or create life purpose.
The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose mostly addresses the why and what from a vast variety of celebrity perspectives. Oprah’s introduction to the book is spot-on—I just wish the rest of the book delivered more of the how. In short, it’s 80% perspectives / 20% Oprah’s insights.
I think The Path Made Clear would have been amazing if that ratio was flipped: 80% Oprah’s insights / 20% perspectives. Oprah has had decades of access to—and experiences with—many of the world’s most interesting, spiritual, purposeful, peaceful, enlightened, and fulfilled humans. I believe people like spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle owe a lot of their mainstream success to the “Oprah effect.”
It’s no secret that Oprah is a billionaire. She can buy anything she wants in this life, but she understands that money doesn’t buy those things mentioned above: spiritual growth, purpose, enlightenment, fulfillment. That makes her perspective, insights, and wisdom on this topic very unique (dare I say…priceless?).
Oprah is no stranger to life meaning and purpose—she’s even delivered multiple commencement speeches with words of wisdom like:
I don’t have any new lessons. But I often think that it’s not the new lessons as much as it is, really, learning the old ones again and again.
The question is: What are you willing to stand for? That question is going to follow you throughout your life…Pick a problem. Any problem. And do something about it. Because to somebody who is hurting, something is everything.
Here’s an outline of this summary (click a link to jump to that section below):
Here’s a quick synopsis of the book. I’ve added emphasis to quotes in bold throughout the post.
- “Within these pages, you will find a guide to activating every layer of the miracle that makes you uniquely you—and applying it to the life you envision.”
- “My hope with The Path Made Clear is to offer the wisdom of experience from the visionaries, artists, teachers, and trailblazers who have walked this road before you, and who have shared their inspiration and lessons with me.”
How will you know when you find it? Pay attention to these feelings and emotions.
Oprah describes the feeling of finding your purpose like this:
- “Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest good.”
- “Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected, and stimulated. Follow your intuition, do what you love, and you will do more than succeed. You will soar.”
- “I felt lit up from the inside, like I had come home to myself.”
- “A sense of knowing resonating within my heart.”
- “My entire body told me this was what I was supposed to do.”
- “I was energized in a way that fueled every cell of my being.”
- “I trusted my instinct.”
- “For me, the great reward is the feeling of lasting contentment and self-respect that comes when you are living out the truth of who you are.”
- “Nourish what makes you feel confident, connected, contented. Opportunity will rise to meet you.”
I also like how Cheryl Strayed described the feeling:
- “The best way for me to describe it is that something bloomed in my chest. I felt some sense of opening or wonder. I knew instinctively that the wilderness was the place that I felt most gathered.”
As well as Gloria Steinem:
- “Gloria (Steinem) told me she lives in what she calls a constant ‘on the road’ state of mind…This way of thinking, she says, reminds her to stay open to learning, because travel ‘brings people out of their heads and into their hearts’ and offers the promise of expanding the truth. Spiritually, the ‘on the road’ philosophy keeps Gloria in the moment, feeling ‘boundaryless, spontaneous, and at one with everything.’“
- “I believe every one of us is born with a purpose. No matter who you are, what you do, or how far you think you have to go, you have been tapped by a force greater than yourself to step into your God-given calling. This goes far beyond what you do to earn your living. I’m talking about a supreme moment of destiny, the reason you are here on earth.”
- “Each one of us has an essential role in the whole of humanity.”
- “Whatever your calling, it’s already rooted within you, and those roots can be trampled or tugged at but never removed. They grow stronger only when tended, nurtured—and, most important, shared with others.”
- “No matter how far away from yourself you may have strayed, there is always a path back. You already know who you are and how to fulfill your destiny.”
- “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.”
- “What an unbelievable world we would live in if everyone were doing exactly what they were created to do.”
- “Your purpose doesn’t have to be tied to your career. I have many friends who told me they knew they were meant to have children before they even understood what it was to conceive. I’ve always believed that accepting the call to be a mother is the choice to become the ultimate spiritual teacher. Because mothers live in service and sacrifice to their children.”
- “There is really just one being who holds the keys to unlock the answers to all that you were meant to become. That miraculous soul has been speaking your entire life. Of course I’m talking about you!”
- “All you have to do is follow your path to answer the call.”
- “I was raised knowing the value of a hard day’s work. And from an early age, I have always known I was responsible for myself.”
- “Usually in times of uncertainty, my mantra is, When you don’t know what to do, do nothing and the answer will come.“
- “I have learned that creating your own purpose-filled momentum is possible only when you give yourself the space, moment to moment, to focus on the next right choice.”
- “Over the years, I have taken every opportunity I could to share one of my most cherished spiritual principles: Your life is always speaking to you. It speaks in whispers, guiding you to your next right step.”
- “Life is about growth and change, and when you are no longer doing either, you’ve received your first whisper.”
- “My deepest desire is for people to get still enough to identify what makes them unique and connect to hope, possibility, and fulfillment in all areas of their life.”
- “Your life is not static. Every decision, setback, or triumph is an opportunity to identify the seeds of truth that make you the wondrous human being that you are. I’m not talking just about what you do for a living. When you pay attention to what feeds your energy, you move in the direction of the life for which you were intended.”
- “The space around you reflects your inner spiritual space.”
- “As you begin to identify the seeds of knowing along your own path, the first question to ask yourself is, What do I believe?“
- “What I know for sure is you become what you believe.”
- “If you’re at a crossroads in your career or relationship, if you’re struggling with finances, with addiction, or to take control of your health, the journey to lasting change begins with defining what matters most to you. All of us have a limited number of years here on earth. What do you want to do with yours? How do you want to spend your precious, ever-unfolding future?”
- “Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is as valuable as knowing what you do.”
- “I don’t believe in coincidence. I know there is a divine order to the magnificent mystery of our lives.”
- “I believe deeply in what Paulo Coelho so famously wrote in his seminal book, The Alchemist: When you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.“
- “Trust that the Universe has a bigger, wider, deeper dream for you than you could ever imagine for yourself.”
- “I am emboldened by the belief that all I need is a mustard seed of faith and no matter what, I am going to be all right.”
- “All dreams start from the core. Unless you are in total alignment with whatever you envision, the dream will get derailed. Your intention has to be pure.
- “First ask yourself, Why? What is the real intention? And then ask, How will I execute the action?
- “‘Don’t bet against me. You cannot defeat someone who knows who they truly are. I know who I am and why I am doing this, so I would not bet against me.’ The moment you know with certainty that your intention is fully aligned with what you believe, all bets are off. You’ve already won!“
- “Ask yourself today, in the middle of your complicated, demanding, chaotic life: What do I want my legacy to be? And then start living from that intention.”
- “This is a universal truth. We fall off course the minute our intention shifts from following our heart to responding to what we think others believe. All of a sudden, life feels complicated.”
- “As author and spiritual trailblazer Gary Zukav so brilliantly taught me, when you align your personality with your purpose, no one can touch you.“
- “Every single moment is an opportunity to be of service to another human being.”
- “In my conversations with men and women from many walks of life, I have felt a growing shift, a mutual yearning on all sides for a different way of envisioning the world. There is an eagerness rising within all of us to bridge our divides, to bring an end to vicious attacks on those whose viewpoints differ from ours, and to focus on elevating humanity.”
- “Millions of us are ready to seek out and stand up for what’s good, right, and just in our world.”
- “When it comes down to it, life can be measured in exchanges of energy. Positive or negative: What is the energy you choose to bring to the world? Positive exchanges multiply and grow. That’s why giving on any level feels so great. You are creating an actual force for good.“
- “My hope at the start of every conversation is to expand hearts and to create an open space for learning. This is because I have always known that teaching is my true calling. It is the taproot from which all of my other skills and talents grow.”
- “I firmly believe it is no coincidence that I ended up sharing wisdom with millions in what became the world’s largest classroom: The Oprah Winfrey Show. It wasn’t kismet, serendipity, or even plain old luck. I don’t believe in luck. For me, luck really means preparation meeting the moment of opportunity. I was born to teach. My only job was to listen, trust, and obey the call. The same is true for you.”
- “All humans have value and a voice. And I consider it my purpose here on earth to celebrate and validate both.”
- “My life’s goal is to be of service to a greater good. Wherever that true calling takes me, I’ve always been willing to go.”
- “Wealth is a tool that gives you choices, but it can’t compensate for a life not fully lived.”
- “I know that everyone needs a source of income in order to survive. But I have come to believe that one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed financial success is because my focus has never been on money.”
- “The way people handle money reflects the way they see themselves.”
- “They wind up spending on possessions to create an idea of self-worth. When you’ve become blinded by the status symbols, it’s easy to lose sight of the unique gifts only you can offer the world.”
- “Discovering your purpose begins with committing to your course.”
- “Find your lane. Make space for the flow to show itself. Follow the natural rhythm of your life, and you will discover a force far greater than your own.”
- “You too have the power to seek the highest, truest expression of yourself. The critical word is true. Not just speaking the truth. Being your truth.“
- “Know the joy of doing what you love and never stop pursuing it.”
- “Your life isn’t about a big break. It’s about taking one significant life-transforming step at a time.”
There are likely hundreds of perspectives shared throughout the book, but these are the top twenty life purpose perspectives that I thought were worth keeping and sharing.
1. Elizabeth Gilbert on the Question/Call that Starts the Quest:
Here’s the question. What have I come here to do with my life? That’s the question that begins every single quest. What have I come here to do with my life? There’s no one who hasn’t had that question come to them. That’s the call. Now, you can choose to ignore that question or you can pursue it. And the pursuit is the beginning of the journey.
2. Caroline Myss on Intuition:
We have an intuitive voice in us. We are born intuitive. We are so intuitive that for most people, it’s the source of their greatest suffering. Because people hear when they’ve betrayed themselves. People are very much aware when they are not honest with themselves.
3. Bishop T. D. Jakes on Pretending:
Have you ever seen so many tired people in all of your life? I mean, everybody’s tired. Thirty years old and exhausted, twenty-five-year-olds who can’t get out of bed in the morning. You know why we’re tired? Because we’re pretending. It takes so much work to pretend. When you can really be who you are and find out where you fit and function from a place of comfort, then you stop working. You stop wrestling.
4. Jane Fonda on Wholeness:
I have thought very deliberately and intentionally about my life, and why certain things happen and what they mean. I learned that the goal is to be whole. To reside inside your skin.
5. Jack Canfield on Authentic Self:
I think the greatest wound we’ve all experienced is somehow being rejected for being our authentic self. And as a result of that, we then try to be what we’re not to get approval, love, protection, safety, money, whatever. And the real need for all of us is to reconnect with the essence of who we really are and reown all the disowned parts of ourselves, whether it’s our emotions, our spirituality, whatever. We all go around hiding parts of ourselves.
6. Adyashanti on the Truth of our Being:
We’re always living a life where we’re chasing a sense of self which feels, underneath it, inauthentic. And then life becomes a compensation for not knowing who we are. It is almost like a wound within us when we get disconnected from the truth of our being. We do feel that. And then we’re trying to fill it with love or approval or success or the million ways that we seek fulfillment from outside of ourselves. But no matter how much fulfillment we get, there’s that place inside that until we’ve realized the truth of our being, we will feel estranged from our own being. And from each other.
7. Gary Zukav on Personality & Soul Alignment:
Your job and my job while here is to align our personalities with our souls. And we do that by becoming the personality that has the same intentions of the soul: harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life.
8. Thomas Moore on the Individuality of the Soul:
The ultimate care of the soul is being identified with the life that wants to live through you…Your individuality comes from your soul. Not from your head. It comes from allowing life to live through you.
9. Deepak Chopra on Oneness:
There’s a body, there’s a mind, and there’s also a soul consciousness. When you get in touch with the soul consciousness, you become aware that other people also have a soul, and you communicate with that. Then you realize that you’re both part of a more divine realm, and that’s called ‘divine consciousness.’ You can go even deeper into what is then called ‘unity consciousness,’ where you realize that we are all inseparably one. All the separation is totally artificial.
10. Father Richard Rohr on the Discovery of God & Yourself:
All spiritual knowledge is not cognition. It’s recognition. You’re reknowing what you deeply already knew. What you deeply intuited, suspected, desired, hoped for, that’s the soul. The discovery of yourself and the discovery of God will eventually be parallel movements. You fall deeper into yourself. You fall deeper into God. You fall deeper into God, you have permission to fall deeper into yourself.
11. Nate Berkus on the Universal Desire to Live Better:
And I think it’s universal. I think no matter who we are or what we have or we don’t have, everybody wants to live better.
12. RuPaul Charles on Lightness:
I like the lighter things in life. I tend to go toward the light.
13. Tim Storey on Choosing Wisdom:
14. Eckhart Tolle on Crisis & Evolution:
We need the crisis. There are two levels of truth. One is to see the craziness of what’s happening now. And another is to see, from a higher perspective, that what’s happening now is part of our evolution.
15. Steven Pressfield on Resistance for Evolution:
The more important an activity is to your soul’s evolution, the more resistance you will feel to it.
16. Sue Monk Kidd on the Evolution of Consciousness:
I think life is a process. You wake up. Then you wake up some more. One self dies. Another is born. It’s an evolution of consciousness.
17. Tim Storey on Recovery & Discovery:
You should be in recovery and discovery at the same time.
18. Pastor A. R. Bernard on Changing Purpose:
Purpose is dynamic. Purpose continues to be applied throughout your life. Because your gifts, your talents, and your abilities that are given to you by God remain consistent throughout your life. But how you apply that changes as you live life from one level to another and you go through stages of life.
19. Cheryl Strayed on Rewriting Your Story:
It’s okay to rewrite my story from time to time. And not only okay, but necessary.
20. Pema Chödrön on Moving Forward:
My whole life I’ve had that instinct of what’s forward…Somehow there’s always forward.
Which of these perspectives resonates with you? Do you have thoughts on your own life purpose? If so, please share in the comments.
You can read all of my book summaries here.
Also published on Medium.