Tina Turner is a superstar with a capital S. Dubbed the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll," Turner is a living legend and a true inspiration. Turner is also a practicing Buddhist—has been for decades—and guided by its principles, she's faced incredible challenges and come out happy and strong. In her book Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good, Turner uses her life experiences and her voice to guide us to creating a life of happiness, regardless of circumstance.
I love this book. My early, plain paper copy has more pages dog-eared than not. I have notes in the margins. I re-read the quotes Turner includes with each chapter—quotes from people ranging from Dolly Parton to Albert Einstein. I found some much needed peace and freedom by reading (and re-reading) Happiness Becomes You, and was thrilled that Turner was willing to answer some of my questions.
Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review: On the first page of Happiness Becomes You, you say each of us is born with a unique purpose only we can fulfill. What do you think is your purpose?
Tina Turner: My purpose, I believe, is to inspire people by using my voice, meaning both my singing voice and my voice in writing. I encourage everyone who sees these words to please believe in yourself. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. And remember, we are all connected by a shared responsibility to make the world a kinder, happier, and more hopeful place. When each of us does our part for that, even if your efforts are unseen, then your unique purpose becomes magnified by the power of love.
I really appreciate all the quotes you include in the book—do you have one you often return to during tough times?
Yes, I keep this quote from Buddhist author and philosopher Daisaku Ikeda close to my heart: “One thing is certain: The power of belief, the power of thought, will move reality in the direction of what we believe and conceive of it. If you really believe you can do something, you can. That is a fact. When you clearly envision the outcome of victory, engrave it upon your heart, and are firmly convinced that you will attain it, your brain makes every effort to realize the mental image you have created. And then, through your unceasing efforts, that victory is finally made a reality.”
“What’s Love Got to Do with It” was a huge global hit, but you didn’t like it at first. What did you change to make it a song you loved and wanted to sing?
I changed everything! [Laughs.] Not quite everything, but as I explained to my friend Terry Britten, who produced and co-wrote the song, the original version was lightweight and very pop. It just wasn't me, and it required a singing style that was out of my comfort zone. So I did the extra work to make it mine, expanded my comfort zone, and the rest is history.
In thinking about turning poison into medicine (a reference from the book), do you think the COVID-19 pandemic (the poison) gave you the inspiration to finally write Happiness Becomes You to help others (the medicine) during this difficult time?
That's a good question. Actually, I’ve wanted to create this kind of book since the 1980s, but the reality is that the timing simply wasn’t right before. Now, when so many people are facing adversity and looking for positive change, I’m so grateful to be able to share Happiness Becomes You with the world. I hope it uplifts people and helps them to create joy in everyday life, especially during these tough times. Changing poison into medicine is the optimistic theme of my life, and I’m delighted to show readers how to transform their own lives with this powerful principle.
In the book, you call 2020 “the year of clarity.” Can you tell me a little about that?
The year 2020 has been a time of superficial things falling away in order to reveal realities. Clearly, the pandemic and other situations that have caused suffering for a long time have become apparent to all. My heart is breaking for all the people around the world who have lost loved ones, and for the many more who have lost their livelihoods. There’s something that’s helped me get through hard times, and I’d like to share it with everyone who’s reading this: when we’re going through hard times, it can sometimes feel like we’re in a never-ending winter—it can feel like spring will never come. But I know from my own experience that as long as we choose hope over despair, we can feel peace no matter what is going on in our lives.
I hope this pandemic gives all of us a heightened appreciation for the value of everyday life, for the little things we maybe didn’t appreciate before but which now are so precious. I continue to pray each day for the good health of my family, friends, and fans, and I look forward to seeing everyone again when we come out of this pandemic.
This beloved music icon answers our questions about her inspirational new book, "Happiness Becomes You."