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What I Know For Sure Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of What I Know For Sure.
This section contains 861 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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What I Know For Sure Summary & Study Guide Description

What I Know For Sure Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey.

The following version of the book was used to create this study guide: Winfrey, Oprah. What I Know For Sure. Flatiron Books, 2014. Amazon Kindle Ebook Edition.

Oprah Winfrey introduces this book as a collection of lessons, stories, experiences, and truths that she has learned over the years. They all reflect some kind of truth that she knows with certainty and which helps to frame and guide her life. These truths are organized by their thematic categories with a chapter devoted to each of the following: joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power.

In the first chapter on joy, Oprah encourages readers to embrace the small everyday opportunities for joy that surround them. Often this involves becoming more aware of one's surroundings, as well as letting go and embracing the moment. Dancing becomes a metaphor for joy as Oprah encourages readers, when they have the choice between metaphorically sitting out or dancing, to choose to dance. Examples of everyday joys include friendship, good food, a good book, giving to others, and living in the present moment.

Having been born out of wedlock, Oprah's birth was surrounded by regret and shame. She internalized these feelings as a child and often felt lonely and unwanted. However, she discovered that we are each responsible for our own lives. Healing the wounds of the past and overcoming challenges is one of the most important things we can do because it builds strength and resilience. She encourages readers to look at challenges and struggles as opportunities to learn, grow, and become more resilient.

Everyone in life wants to feel valued, which is part of why we all need and crave connection with others. However, we have to balance our desire to connect with the reality that no one and no relationship can compensate for internal validation and self-worth. Oprah encourages intimacy with the self as well as with others; communication is key and life is better when it is shared. Connection comes in many forms and romantic love should not be valued over other kinds of love. Unconditional and reciprocal caring, whether that be for a best friend or a beloved pet, is the most important thing.

Gratitude is essential to living a more joyful life. Oprah has kept a gratitude journal on and off throughout her life and encourages readers to do the same. Gratitude begets happiness, positive energy, and increased bounty in one's life. In addition to a gratitude journal, an active gratitude practice can include saying thank you even in difficult moments, giving to others, appreciating little things, and learning to be loving and grateful for one's body or one's age.

In the chapter on possibility, Oprah writes about how readers can reach their full potentials. This includes facing one's fears and learning to recognize when opportunities for growth in a given situation have ended and it is time to move on. In order to reach one's full potential, one has to stop caring too much about what others think, and one also has to prioritize one's desires, accomplishments, dreams, and passions. Intention is directly related to cause and effect, so Oprah encourages readers to begin to think more clearly about their intentions and how they impact their lives. Letting go of one's inhibitions and taking a few risks, in addition to facing one's fears, is also essential.

Awe is connected to the spiritual elements of Oprah's life. Like joy, there are many opportunities to see and experience awe all around us every day if we merely stop, pay attention, and find the stillness necessary to recognize it. Oprah encourages readers to recognize everyday miracles and believes that it is a gift to be alive. Spirituality can be as simple as living in the present moment or making the effort to do something good for someone else. Stillness and meditation are also important parts of Oprah's spiritual practice.

In the chapter on clarity, Oprah writes about how getting clear about her intentions in life has helped to clarify the direction she wants to take. It is also important to find clarity about who you are as a person. Self-care, conscious breathing, meditation, and designated time for stillness and reflection can help one achieve clarity. It is important to tune in to your inner GPS and to listen to what it is telling you. Clarity through intention can be applied to all aspects of life including one's exercise routine and one's attitude toward material possessions.

For Oprah, power is about having the freedom to choose. This includes everything from choosing one's own path in life to being able to vote in an election. She encourages readers not to waste this power but to use it, particularly since many people have been or are currently denying this power, either historically or in other parts of the world. Power can also be found in words and actions which build people up instead of tearing them down. Oprah encourages readers to be the change they want to see. Authentic power is when "purpose aligns with personality to serve the greater good" (217). She encourages readers to do well and be well with everyone they encounter.

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