Tina Turner: “How I Found Joy Against All Odds”

Tina TurnerPhoto Credit: Vera Tammen
Tina Turner knows a thing or two about changing her life. The eight-time Grammy-winner seems to have lived a dozen lifetimes in her 81 years. And now, she’s documenting her path to happiness and self-acceptance, her road from Anna Mae Bullock of Brownsville, Tennessee, to Tina Turner, musical legend, in Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good, out today from Atria Books.

In this memoir, Tina, who has sold more concert tickets than any other solo music artist in history, shares how she overcame life’s obstacles, and how you can, too — which is especially impactful in the Covid-19 era. She also explains how we can realize our dreams, empowering us with spiritual tools and sage advice to enrich our unique paths.

Tina is uniquely qualified to share her wisdom. For decades, she has served as a shining example of someone who broke through all limitations to achieve enduring success. With Buddhism as her guiding force, she shares how her belief helped to elevate her from despair, adversity, and poverty — with well-publicized hardships that forced her to virtually disappear from the music scene — to joy, stability and prosperity, to the quiet and peaceful life she currently lives with her husband, Erwin Bach, in Zürich, Switzerland.

Haute Living was lucky enough to chat with Tina about her path to happiness, how she came back from the brink of despair, and even plays a little word association with us utilizing her greatest hits. Without further ado, take it away, Tina!

Tina TurnerPhoto Credit: Vera Tammen/Simon & Schuster

Why did you decide to release this book at this specific time? You reference the pandemic in your introduction.Was this release a direct result of that, because you thought the world could use a little happiness now, or has it been a long time in the making?

I’ve wanted to do this book for a few decades, but the timing was never quite right. Finally, when the moment came to bring it into the world, it just happened to align with the current state of affairs around the globe. This difficult period, when so many people need encouragement and an extra boost of positivity, is the perfect time for me to share the story of how I found joy against all odds.

“Happiness Becomes You” is a very helpful tool to guide others to their internal happy place, as you have done. But do you have a literal, physical, happy place as well?

Yes, my physical happy place is my home in Switzerland. I always feel embraced by Mother Nature here, like a warm blanket of love all around me.

When you attempted suicide in your twenties, you were disappointed upon waking, but your mantra became, “I’ll go on.” At the time, you hadn’t yet discovered your happy place. So how DID you manage to go on?

When I survived that episode, I sensed that I was still alive because I had a purpose, some sort of mission to fulfill. That kept me going until I found Buddhism, which literally saved my life.

You mention personal growth many times, and how you pushed yourself to grow. Is it possible, in your opinion, for one to ever fully evolve to the highest level of consciousness?

Yes, as I describe in the book, I believe we all have the highest state of consciousness within us. Some call it Buddha nature or Christ consciousness, others call it universal force. It’s that level of pure positivity that holds our deepest wisdom and life force. The way I tap into it is by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, studying Buddhist principles, and helping others to find happiness within themselves as well.

For skeptics, or those who are leery of trying something new (or trying Buddhist chanting), what would you recommend as the one place to start, the one thing to try?

You can start by simply being more aware of your thoughts, words, and deeds. These are the three types of action that create our karma, for better or worse. When you increase your awareness of your actions, and you focus on spreading kindness and positivity as much as possible, that good energy will come back to you. This approach is at the core of the natural law of cause and effect that is the foundation of Buddhist philosophy.

You’ve been many things in your life, from things you projected on stage (your sex symbol persona) to who you are in your heart. How would you describe yourself now, and where you’re at in life?

I was born as Anna Mae, and then later in life I became Tina Turner. During the course of my career, I became a good mix of both—yin and yang, so to speak. But I’ve always been me. Today, I’m mostly a happy retiree who loves being at home. And sleeping as late as I wish! [Laughs.] I wouldn’t change a thing.

Tina TurnerPhoto Credit: Hayk_Shalunts/Shutterstock.com

You reference your home in Switzerland in the book. What led you to move to Switzerland? Is there a correlation in the notion of “being Swiss” and the way you live your life?

I’ve always loved Switzerland and felt at home here from the first time I visited. Then, in the 1990s, my partner, now husband, and I moved here for his work. We both knew this was where we’d stay. To me, Switzerland is a very spiritual, accepting, and peaceful place. In that regard, it feels very natural for me to be Swiss. I also love that the pastures here in Switzerland remind me of my hometown.

You also have a new Swiss-made item for your fans, a lovely gold-plated replica of the thumb ring you always wear with your zodiac sign (Sagittarius) and a “T”engraved on the outside. What does it mean to you?

My beloved thumb ring is a favorite piece of jewelry that has been with me for decades, and it has become a symbol that reminds me of good fortune. Many people over the years have asked me about it and where they could get one. So, I decided to have my Swiss jeweler craft a replica so that it could be available to everyone. On the inside is also engraved “Love, Tina,” which I added to express my affection and my wish that this ring will be a symbol of good fortune for others too.

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

Time. We always think we have so much of it, but a lifetime flies by. Appreciate every moment.

You mention your mortality. What do you hope your spiritual legacy will be? What do you hope the world truly understands about you and your personal journey?

If my personal history of breaking down barriers and overcoming even seemingly impossible odds can inspire people to see themselves more clearly, motivate greater self-awareness, or in any other way help them become their happiest and truest selves, then I’ve fulfilled my life’s purpose. Who could ask for more?

Do you think that you can only find great love when you truly love yourself?

Yes. Emphatic yes.

What do you hope the key takeaway of your book will be for readers?

That you are more resilient and precious than you may realize, and you have limitless resources of wisdom, courage, and compassion within you. It’s simply a matter of tapping into these treasures of the heart. I hope that everyone who reads Happiness Becomes You will come away feeling empowered and elevated by it.

Let’s conclude with a word association and some of your greatest hits… what comes to mind when you hear these words or phrases.

i. What’s Love Got to Do with It?
Everything, when it’s real.

ii. The Best.
The power of authenticity.

iii. Help.
The power of vulnerability.

iv. Proud Mary.

v. Private Dancer.
Dreams come true.

vi. We Don’t Need Another Hero.

vii. River Deep—Mountain High.
Never give up.