Motivational speaker and editorial director of Essence magazine Susan L. Taylor spoke about happiness, love and overlooked issues in the United States to a group of about 200 USF students and faculty members Monday night.
The crowd was mostly African-American, but Taylor’s message was universal. Unlike many who simply criticize and complain about the world’s problems, Taylor came to the table with spiritual advice on how to improve it all.
“I’m not here to point the finger,” said Taylor. “But our nation is off course. How is it that we are the wealthiest nation in the world and have 40 million people who don’t have health insurance? It’s irrational that we have 30 million people who go hungry every night. Poverty, hunger … these are the moral issues we should be attending to.
“And the majority of poor people in America are white,” Taylor added. “If white people ever saw themselves as poor on television, we’d have a revolution.”
But life is a struggle, Taylor said, and it is through our struggles that we find our power.
“There is no problem that you will have in life that you can’t figure out,” she said. “And until we know this, we will continue to have people throwing out food right down the street from those who are hungry.”
In speaking about the self and the power to overcome our struggles and stressors, Taylor said, “The most critical question you should ask every day is ‘How am I doing?’ Because the divine intelligence of the universe had given you all you need in this world. There’s nothing you can do to take the divinity out of you.”
And through our own inner divinity, Taylor said, “you have the power to create. Whatever you focus on, you amplify. The best thing you can do is to be your best self.”
Taylor also spoke of the importance of stillness and self-reflection.
“You have to give yourself to yourself before you give yourself to the world. Life is always giving us what we need in our lives to (overcome our struggles), but not with the world (pounding) at your door. Quiet time is the most important time we give ourselves.”
Taylor said that there is a simple ritual that anyone can do to change their lives. All one has to do is to take 10 minutes out of every day to think and reflect, which can be done during meditation or even while exercising.
In speaking about self-love and love for others, Taylor said, “We grow up believing it’s all output. We’re so worried about how others perceive us rather than how we perceive ourselves. Nobody’s going to love you because you’re wearing Louis Vuitton. It’s about you loving life.”
Taylor also talked about sex as being overrated.
“Anyone you lay with,” she said to the students in the crowd, “prepare to get them pregnant. When you’re in a relationship, there’s a universe between consummating and holding hands.”
Taylor shared an anecdote about an interview she had with her godson, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, in the November 1997 issue of Essence. She asked him if he was happy.
“He said, ‘Auntie, I made $60 million last year, I have all the women I could ever want, and I’m still not happy. I don’t know anyone who is famous, wealthy and happy.'”
So what makes one happy?
“What will make you happy,” Taylor said, “is the good you do in the world.”