Tina Turner on ‘Happiness Becomes You’
World Tribune: Your new book, Happiness Becomes You, is an inspiring mix of life stories and spiritual teachings. You’ve said for a long time that you planned to write a book like this. Why 2020?
Tina Turner: I’ve wanted to create this kind of book since the 1980s, but I never imagined it would take until I was 80 to do it! The reality is that the timing simply wasn’t right before. Now, when so many people are facing adversity and looking for change, it’s the perfect time to share this book with the world. I hope it lifts people up and helps them find joy in everyday life, especially during tough times.
WT: You haven’t talked a lot in public about your spiritual journey. Why is it important to share this story now?
Tina: Yes, until now only close friends and family have heard the details I share in Happiness Becomes You. But I’ve always tried to encourage people through my actions, both onstage and off, to be a good role model, share positive thoughts and offer kindness to all. That’s how I live my spirituality in daily life. As for what motivates me to share my spiritual journey now, it’s the current state of society. The world is overflowing with more uncertainty and hopelessness than we’ve seen in many years. This has inspired me to tell how I made my own journey from adversity and despair to stability and joy. I want to share the ways I increased my positivity and overcame every obstacle, even during the most impossible circumstances I faced. I know if I could do it, everyone who reads Happiness Becomes You can do it, too.
WT: You’ve practiced Nichiren Buddhism for more than 40 years now, although you grew up in a Baptist community. How did you encounter Buddhism, and how did it change your life?
Tina: In my late 20s, I was depressed and despondent about my life. Eventually, I became so hopeless that I couldn’t think clearly and attempted suicide by taking a bottle full of sleeping pills. Fortunately, people found me and took me to the hospital, where I was revived. When I first woke up in my hospital bed and realized I was still alive, I was disappointed. At that time, I thought death was my only escape from painful circumstances. Not long after that, however, a number of people, one after another, suggested I try chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and learn from the wisdom of Buddhist principles. At first, I ignored these invitations to explore Buddhist philosophy, but they continued to appear in my life. Finally, I decided to look into it.
The more I learned, the more I found that Buddhist teachings made perfect sense to me. Soon after I started practicing with my neighborhood SGI chanting group, I realized that I had within me everything I needed to change my life for the better. I became hopeful and confident, and the inner transformations I achieved through my spiritual practice helped me become joyful and successful.
WT: Despite some severe obstacles, you have achieved monumental success in your life and your career. What would you say were the essential experiences that made you so resilient and victorious?
Tina: There have been a number of key experiences that could have destroyed me but instead became steppingstones in my journey, propelling me upward. After my suicide attempt, I sensed that I had survived because I must have a purpose in life, some sort of mission to accomplish. And after having lived through years of abuse, I realized I had an inner strength that I could tap into.
If I could amplify it, I could make my dreams come true. Learning Buddhist principles gave me the tools to do exactly that, to increase my inner strength and clarity. That’s how I developed myself on the deepest levels and was finally able to see my life clearly. That is what allowed me to find a way around every obstacle. As I developed this ability, my confidence and hope grew. Little by little, my belief in myself became rock-solid. This spiritual development plus good old-fashioned hard work are what empowered me to transform my challenges and achieve my dreams, both professionally and personally.
WT: What message would you like to give to youth who are just beginning their path in today’s world?
Tina: Recognize your own worth and understand that you have a purpose for being here on Earth. We all have positive and negative sides, but it is within our power to make decisions and take actions that elevate and strengthen our positive side. Every day, we express who we are, and who we wish to become, through our thoughts, words and deeds. Choose the positive path in everything you do. Never give up on yourself or your dreams. Each of us has the potential to become truly happy, as long as we do our best to spread positivity and kindness. I am optimistic, and I have high hopes for today’s youth to help heal the world.
—Interview conducted by Taro Gold