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  1. Blog
  3. January 3, 2024

22 Oprah Winfrey Quotes About Building the Life You Want

Plus, how the media maven rose to fame and changed her industry forever

Oprah Winfrey
Photo courtesy of Bill Ebbesen/Wikimedia Commons

As one of the most prominent figures in media, Oprah Winfrey is multifaceted.  

Depending on how you’ve experienced her work, you may know her best as an actor, producer, philanthropist, author—or all of the above. However, Winfrey was first introduced to the world as a news reporter and television host.  

In September 1986, Winfrey launched The Oprah Winfrey Show, a daytime talk show that ran for 25 seasons. The award-winning program covered everything from engaging celebrity interviews to hard-hitting—and often polarizing—social issues, such as politics, religion, racism, and mental illness. Winfrey quickly demonstrated a knack for making her audience think and reflect but also brought joy and excitement to her viewers, notably through her annual holiday segment Oprah’s Favorite Things. The segment featured the star’s most beloved products and soon became one of the most highly awaited segments on television. For small and large companies alike, gaining a spot on the favorite things list meant increased visibility and soaring sales, all due to “The Oprah Effect”: Winfrey’s unique way of influencing the public and generating star power with her stamp of approval. 

Winfrey’s eponymous daytime show was a game changer: as one of the longest-running talk shows ever, The Oprah Winfrey Show earned more than 40 Emmy Awards, garnered an estimated 48 million viewers in the U.S. each week, and influenced countless viral moments before going viral was really a thing. Through her show, Winfrey was influential in launching the careers of Dr. Phil, Iyanla Vanzant, Rachael Ray, Nate Berkus, and others. But long before running one of the most successful shows in the history of daytime television, Winfrey came from humble beginnings.

Read more: 32 Powerful & Empowering Michelle Obama Quotes

Born in rural Mississippi in 1954, Winfrey overcame poverty, sexual abuse, and an unplanned teenage pregnancy (which resulted in her child’s death shortly after birth) to excel in multiple contests and pageants during her high school and college years. Afterward, she launched her media career as the first Black female news anchor for WLAC-TV, a news station based in Nashville. From 1978 to 1983, Winfrey joined Baltimore newscaster Richard Sher as the cohost of People Are Talking, where Winfrey reportedly felt she had found her calling. “It wasn’t until I was unceremoniously demoted to cohost of People Are Talking that I experienced the first spark of what it means to become fully alive,” Winfrey wrote in The Path Made Clear, her 2019 book about finding purpose. 

It was in 1984 when Winfrey began hosting AM Chicago that her reign truly began to take shape. Winfrey elevated the show with sluggish ratings to a hit that outpaced The Phil Donahue Show, which had been one of the most popular shows nationwide. Eventually, the morning program was rebranded into The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became a hub for cultural and social commentary and is still hailed as the prototype for daytime talk shows.  

Since she ended the show in 2011, Winfrey has established the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), published multiple books, and conducted many high-profile interviews with a level of intimacy that she was often criticized for early in her career. Along her path, Winfrey has also accrued several film credits, having graced the big screen in The Color Purple, Beloved, The Women of Brewster Place, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. In addition, she has backed multiple film and television projects as a producer for Greenleaf, Queen Sugar, When They See Us, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and SuperSoul Sunday

Highly in tune with her purpose, the media maven has become known for sharing the wisdom of her own lived experiences through punchy quotes around self-improvement, empowerment, and creating the life you want.

Oprah Winfrey quotes about living your best life

1. “Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own.”

2. “The answers keep unfolding as your life expands if you’re willing to see things for what they are—and what they can be.”

3. Live so that at the end of each day, you can say, 'I did my very best.'

4. “Good riddance to decisions that don’t support self-worth.”

5. The work of your life is to discover your purpose and get on with the business of living it out.

6. I've learned not to worry about what might come next.

7. It makes no difference how many peaks you reach if there was no pleasure in the climb.

8. Trust in this: You'll handle whatever shake-up the next moment brings when you get to it.

9. Surround yourself with someone who is as happy for your happiness as you are for your happiness.

Read more: 40 Motivational Quotes from Successful Women We Admire

Oprah Winfrey quotes about focusing on career and self-development

10. Reading gives you the ability to reach higher ground.

11. “When you know who you are and what you stand for, you stand in wisdom.” 

12. “That’s what great books do, especially when shared. They shine a light on the unfolding of our own stories.”

13. If you don't know what your passion is, realize that one reason for your existence on earth is to find it.

14. “Look inward—the loving begins with you.

15. Once you decide what you want, you make a commitment to that decision.

16. Getting older is the best thing that ever happened to me. I wake up every morning rejoicing that I'm still here with an opportunity to begin again and be better.

17. “When you’re open to receiving them, the possibilities just keep on coming.

Oprah Winfrey quotes about putting good out into the world

18. “The future of life as we know it is being determined by everything we’re doing—and not doing. Now.”

19. “As long as I’ve got a voice and a vote, I can use them to help lift up humankind and human consciousness.”

20. “Our goal must be decency and respect for every human we encounter.”

21. “Life is reciprocal: The energy you expand always comes back.”

22. “We have to make the choice—every single day—to exemplify the truth, the respect, and the grace that we wish for this world.”

This photo in this article is licensed via Wikimedia Commons. You can find that information here.

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