Michelle Obama Gives America the Pep Talk We All Need

In a time characterized by uncertainty and political divide—both at home and abroad—it can be difficult to stay positive, Ellen DeGeneres recently admitted in an interview with Michelle Obama. "I feel like the world is a very scary place right now. And I do a show every single day where I'm supposed to make people happy and forget about what's going on in the world," she said. Then, turning to Obama, she asked, "What is your take on what's happening?"

True to form, the former first lady gave the pep talk we all need to hear right now and reminded DeGeneres that Americans need to focus on hope, not fear. "I would just encourage your viewers, the country, to do the things we do every day," she said in her first post–White House interview. "To love each other, to take care of each other, to show empathy—and you can't do that only when people make you feel good or safe. We've got to do it all across the board. We have to be an open-hearted nation, and that's who we are."

Obama didn't reference President Trump once, focusing instead on positivity and hope. Here's exactly what she told DeGeneres, in her words:

video: Ellen/YouTube

"Oh yeah, people are afraid, but then there are people who feel good about the direction of the country, so I mean, that's what makes this country complicated because it's made up of so many different people from different backgrounds. I mean, we are this mosh pit of society and sometimes there's a rub, but the thing that we have to remember, the thing I learned in the eight years I was in the White House was that what we do every day in our lives, the good things that we do every day, and we know we do it. We show empathy, we care for each other, you know, we do have a lot in common. That's what it means to lead with hope and not fear. And that's all we have is hope.

"So I would just encourage your viewers, the country, to do the things we do every day. To love each other, to take care of each other, to show empathy—and you can't do that only when people make you feel good or safe. We've got to do it all across the board. We have to be an open-hearted nation, and that's who we are. And that’s the truth of who we are. We can't lose sight of that.

"So let's just keep living our lives like that every single day and forget what they're saying in Washington. That's not necessarily who we are. We know who we are, and I know who this country is 'cause I went out to towns and cities all over the place and even if people didn't agree with me or my husband, they were kind, they were hardworking, they were trying to do the right things every day, and that's what we have to remember about each other. That's who we are, so I'm grateful to all of you for the work you've done."

Visit Elle to read more from Michelle Obama's interview.