Mehmet Oz, M.D., has spent the past decade teaching millions of Americans why they should value their health. Every weekday, he explores a different health-related topic on The Dr. Oz Show that can help people improve their lives in some way—be it a strategy for losing weight, a new super food they should add to their diet, or warning signs of depression they should be on the lookout for.
But how does Oz—our cover subject for the Winter Issue—prioritize his own well-being? For him, it’s a mixture of taking care of his physical, emotional and mental health. Oz’s life is guided by a handful of unique philosophies, including—but not limited to—the following.
1. Art is just as important as science.
Reading philosophy and studying the arts, Oz says, has been crucial to his understanding of science and medicine. “I’ve always felt that the arts predate science,” he says. “Look at the greatest advancements in medicine and science. They’re often predated by wisdom that derives from artists.”
He offers this example: The Impressionist art movement (think Monet and Renoir) featured tiny dots of paint that looked like small particles up close, but one large wave of color from a distance. This movement began in 1870. Einstein’s theory of relativity, which explored the relationship between particles and waves, came 35 years later.
2. A little yoga and meditation can go a long way.
Oz does yoga every single day. But instead of sitting in a studio for an hour each morning, he does a simple, 7-minute routine from his home that’s a mixture of stretching and calisthenics. His routine, sun salutation yoga flow, is designed to loosen up his muscles while also relaxing and priming him for the day ahead.
He also meditates as often as he can, an activity he believes is valuable for learning how to not just work hard, but work smart. “You can do both, but if you don’t work smart, then you’re just spinning your wheel a lot and you’ll eventually burn out,” he says. “Plus, you’re a better leader if you can process more incoming information.”
3. Take risks that scare you.
Before he launched The Dr. Oz Show, Oz hosted a show designed to educate people about their health called Second Opinion with Dr. Oz. It ran on the Discovery Channel for 13 episodes from 2003 to 2004.
His first guest? Oprah Winfrey.
“She had no business coming on, and I had no business asking her,” he says. “We still laugh about it. But she came. There was something about the phone call—the right time, at the right moment—that just caught her fancy.”
After she appeared as a guest on his show, Oprah asked Oz to be a guest on her show. Nearly 70 appearances later, Oprah approached Oz about partnering with him to host his own show produced by her, and The Dr. Oz Show was born.
4. Every day should include small steps toward growth.
Oz says that he tries to avoid making big, bold decisions too often, and instead takes very small steps toward growth each day.
“I don’t take dramatic steps,” he says. “I want to be a little bit better today than I was yesterday. As long as I am, I can live with myself.”
5. You have to identify your North Star.
Finding our purpose in life, the thing that drives us to be the best possible person each and every day, is crucial. “Looking for meaning, in terms of a broader life philosophy, is really important,” Oz says.
He says he’s seen countless patients who didn’t have that drive to succeed and find their North Star—the thing that gave their life meaning and purpose. They never fared quite as well in life as his patients who had a strong, clear sense of purpose.
“If you’re running hard and succeeding and knocking it out of the park, but you’re aiming in the wrong direction, then who cares?” he says. “And if you’re headed in the wrong direction, then going backwards is actually improvement. You have to understand your North Star, because it doesn’t happen by accident. You have to work at that, iterate that and re-examine it.”
6. A little competition is good for everyone.
It’s important to find people you admire, study what they’re doing, and try to emulate their positive qualities, Oz says. This includes people who might be considered competitors. Instead of seeing others in your path as hurdles, ponder what they’ve done right to become your competition.
“I don’t mind competition,” Oz says. “I always love that there’s someone better than me who’s getting involved in something I’m doing, because it validates that I’m on the right path. But I can also learn from that.”
7.A healthy marriage requires novelty and appreciation.
Oz and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 33 years. She says two crucial components of their marriage have been never taking each other for granted and always remembering to spice things up.
“You get into routines, and you just sort of assume that the relationship will be the same throughout the years,” Lisa says. “And it isn’t. And if you don’t keep evolving and keep growing—especially with someone like Mehmet, who gets bored very easily—that is the kiss of death with him, to let things get static. Not getting stuck in routine is really important for both of us.”
8. Create an effective morning routine and stick to it.
Oz has the same morning routine each day, which includes yoga, the same breakfast, and some light reading, if possible. His morning routine is essential for starting his day off right.
“I don’t have to reinvent the wheel first thing in the morning,” he says. “I want to set the agenda for the day with the most important things—not the most recent, crazy, wacky stuff that happens.”