Oprah Winfrey got candid about her mindset in a new interview. While speaking with PEOPLE for this week’s cover story, the 69-year-old media mogul opened up about her career, her life and her age, noting what would have led to an “early death” had she chosen a different path.
“I would have been trapped inside my own body, my own weight, my own pain,” the former Milwaukee resident explained, referring to her adolescence that was plagued by poverty and abuse within her family. Oprah added that if she had stayed home and didn’t pursue her career, “I would have had an early death.”
After moving to Nashville with her father as a young teen, Oprah landed a job at a local radio show while she was still in high school. She went on to attend Tennessee State University and eventually landed a job as a news co-anchor. This ultimately catapulted her to land her daytime talk show career.
Now that the Color Purple actress is turning 70 next month, she stressed the importance of gratitude, noting that it became her “religion” and “changed everything” for her. “It was a spiritual opening for me to see my life in a different way,” Oprah added.
“If you train yourself to do that, you walk through life feeling the abundance instead of the scarcity,” she elaborated. “Obviously, people will say, ‘Yeah, well, that’s easy for you to say, Oprah.’ But I’ve been doing that forever.”
After dedicating more than two decades on her former talk show on top of maintaining an entertainment career, Oprah emphasized that her focus is to help others.
“I still continue to rise, and I’m in a space now where my offering is to help other people to rise,” the Queen of All Media noted. “The principle that is the underbelly, the cornerstone for how I operate in the world … Life is better when you share it. Maya Angelou wrote a poem for me called ‘Continue,’ which y’all can just Google. But one of the most important lines is, ‘My wish for you is that you continue to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.’ And that is what I intend to do.”
While reflecting on her desire to uplift others, Oprah noted that she “will never be done until my last breath is done,” and concluded, “And whenever that happens, it will be a peaceful breath.”
This story originally appeared on Hollywood Life