Arnold Schwarzenegger never expected to be a self-help guy.
But in the “fourth act” of his life, he’s been moved to distill some of his greatest life lessons into his new motivational book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, out Oct. 10.
When it comes to his legacy, “everyone will have their own take on it,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “All I’m trying to do is just try to use my talents and help other people. It’s the simple stuff that I do that really helped me get where I am today.”
At 76, is he content? Over breakfast in Los Angeles, the sentiment doesn’t quite register with the Terminator actor, who this year alone released the Netflix series FUBAR, the streamer’s documentary about his life called Arnold, a fitness-infused newsletter and a podcast called Arnold’s Pump Club.
“I don’t know what you mean by contentment,” he says. “I’m always content, but, I mean, I’m always hungry for more. I slept with my first trophy. No one could take it away. But at the same time, the other foot is already out of bed going for the second Mr. Universe title.” (He went on to win three more, followed by seven Mr. Olympia titles.)
Schwarzenegger continues: “So today I feel good where I am. I feel I’m much wiser. I’m much smarter. I’m not as crazy. I think more about people. I think more about people’s feelings. In your 20s, you don’t do any of that. It’s me, me, me, me. As time goes on, you learn from your mistakes.”
“Be useful” was Schwarzenegger’s mercurial father’s edict while he was growing up in the remote Austrian town of Thal, and the record-shattering bodybuilder-turned-global action star-turned ”Governator” of California co-opted it for the title of his new book, which recounts an austere childhood plagued by episodes in which his father would occasionally come home drunk and hit him.
Schwarzenegger still wakes up at dawn with his father’s phrase prompting him out of bed. “It was the very phrase that motivated me,” he says. But he wouldn’t define his new book as closure.
“I was never looking for closure. I’m not into all this stuff, because I never really blamed my father for anything,” Schwarzenegger says. “I never ran around and said, ‘It’s my father’s fault.’ It’s nobody’s fault.”
“I have fond memories of my dad, and I don’t blame him for anything, simply because he did not know any better. He was beaten when he was a kid. It was just a tradition. And then he was forced into [World War II], and was misled. He was growing up in an area where life was the way it was.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals How He’s Changed at 76. Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals How He’s Changed at 76