Oprah Winfrey and Arthur C. Brooks are out with a new book, “Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier.”
The book offers a step-by-step approach to happiness, grounded in science and enriched with real-life stories, including those of Oprah and Brooks themselves.
Brooks, a Harvard professor renowned for his expertise in the science of happiness, said he wasn’t always a naturally happy person and has had moments of gloom and anxiety, even prompting his wife to suggest he follow some of his own research.
“I became a social scientist to learn about myself. It’s me-search rather than research and that was a really important thing. Then over the past 30 years I’ve, I haven’t cracked the code entirely,” he told “CBS Mornings.”
Winfrey’s interest in the subject of happiness began during her long-running talk show, where she would ask her audience what they truly wanted in life. Time and again, people responded with a simple desire: to be happy. Yet, when pressed further, many struggled to define what happiness meant for them.
“Then I would say, ‘What does that look like? Take it one step further,’ and most people cannot answer it,” Winfrey said Tuesday on “CBS Mornings.”
Her perspective on happiness has evolved. Winfrey said she now values contentment, peace of mind and satisfaction derived from a sense of purpose and meaning in her life.
“It used to be doing, doing, doing, doing. It used to be a schedule, that if there was a space in the day, it would be filled,” she said.
Her wisdom from working on the new book has helped her navigate recent backlash she and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson faced online after the two created the People’s Fund of Maui, a relief initiative aimed at helping those affected by the recent devastating wildfires on the Hawaiian island.
The fund included an initial contribution of $10 million from Winfrey and Johnson, and some people questioned why they weren’t donating more money.
“We thought starting the fund with $10 million would be a great idea because any of us who have ever been to any benefit, you know, you go to a benefit and somebody gives $10 million — that’s called a good night,” Winfrey said.
Winfrey said the online attacks diverted attention from the fund’s primary goal: aiding victims of the destroyed, historic town of Lahaina and other areas in Maui. The fires left at least115 people deadand thousands homeless.
Winfrey, a longtime resident of Maui, said the idea for the fund arose from herinteractionswith people who were affected.
“I was on the ground talking to lots of people trying to figure out how do I best help, and in the beginning, it was just, you know, material things, dropping off generators and towels. And then I started talking to people. People really wanted their own agency,” she said.
Inspired by Dolly Parton’s model during the Gatlinburg wildfires in 2017, Winfrey and Johnson initiated the fund with the intention of providing direct financial assistance to those in need, mirroring Parton’s approach of giving $1,000 a month to the affected residents.
Winfrey said as of Tuesday the fund has cleared and verified 2,200 beneficiaries who will soon receive financial assistance directly into their bank accounts.
“I still think it’s a really strong idea,” she said. “Putting money directly into the hands of the people is a significant thing.”
Brooks related the initiative back to the concept of happiness.
“If you take your time, your money, your resources, your life and you give the love that other people need, especially in their times of need, that is the secret to happiness. And happiness is love,” Brooks said.