Self-Help Through Solitude
Black storm clouds, flashbulb pops of white lightning, and the soul-shaking booms of thunder, all simultaneously wrapped within a torrential burst of icy rain are no match for Robin Roberts.
“You don’t know what’s coming and that can be scary,” writes Roberts, “but Brighter by the Day: Waking Up to New Hopes and Dreams will be your fresh start, a little light after a mighty tough season in the world.” Robin Roberts, through personal experience, grit, and school-of-hard-knock wisdom, suggests how you can create a welcoming life of sunshine and warmth.
Brighter by the Day: Waking Up to New Hopes and Dreams
By Robin Roberts (with Michelle Burford)
Grand Central Publishing
Roberts is a morning presence in millions of homes. She is the anchor of Good Morning America, author of the best-selling Everybody’s Got Something,and the president of her own production company, Rock’n Robin Productions. Previously, Roberts was an anchor and contributor to ESPN. The youngest child of military parents, she grew up around the globe before finally settling for her high school years in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
“Brighter by the day, that’s our goal. Our journey there winds through the land of consciousness,” advises Roberts. In a tone that is both conversational and thought-provoking, she recounts personal experiences and those of others she has met to underscore her premise that a mindset of persistent positivity is your best friend when facing the headwinds of adversity.
But wait. As readers, we are awash in self-help bromides, overflowing our bookshelves, if we permit, like muddy stormwater rushing into a street drain, platitudes pulled into the murky flow, monosyllabic sentences of bloated phrases meant to salvage our souls from the swilling stinking sewers of negativity and bad situations. “Buy my book” the covers shout so you can be a happy person, popular at parties, reduce body odor, all while eating goat cheese on the path to a happy gut. I’ll tell you what: sell your snake oil to someone else.
After a few chapters, my less than desirable attitude faded as I read Brighter by the Day. “Counterintuitive as it may seem, scary as it may feel, when we lower our guard, we clear the way for closeness,” advises Roberts. I did and opened my mind to the effect that a few positive words may have on my end-of-day pulse rate.
One theme throughout the book is of the value of solitude, quietude, and scheduled meditative reflection. Roberts outlines how she discovered and began practicing transcendental meditation every morning after she finishes her broadcast and often again in the evening. “The confinement and isolation of the pandemic have made many, myself included, reevaluate what matters most—to pause long enough for a breath and a fresh look,” Roberts notes.
It is difficult not to be pulled along with the current of a day’s events. The sweep of a day of hopelessness and inevitably, week after week, flows into a lifetime lake of regret if we don’t stop and take stock. Roberts personifies the value of a measured, mindful approach. She has had more obstacles than many of us blocking the path to the life she dreamed of. A black, gay, female from Mississippi, toss in two monstruous battles with cancer along the way, and yet Roberts genuinely greets America every morning with a smile and a positive outlook. “Show me someone who seems unflappable amid calamity,” she writes, “and I’ll show you a person who likely practices some kind of solitude, who sits alone for stretches.”
The conversational, storytelling approach of Brighter by the Day is calming. Rather than adopting the tone of one speaking from a podium and lecturing, Roberts shares examples from her own life as if she were sitting on the sofa beside you. She does not claim to be anywhere near perfect, sharing tense situations and difficult life decisions from her work, medical treatment, home life with her partner Amber, and how often the homegrown wisdom of her mother was exactly right.
There is much to learn in this gentle book about overcoming obstacles, determination, and self-respect. Brighter by the Day is a perfect nightstand book and can be read non-sequentially a few pages at a time as either an early morning aperitif or a nightcap to calm reverberating nerves.
Inner peace, if we are able to locate some measure of it, is not always the result of achieving a milestone, “… because we derive our greatest satisfaction while en route to a pinnacle, not once we surmount it.” For me, the value of Brighter by the Day was the reminder that attitude and focus are not one and done, but a daily application that we must intentionally apply to our challenges. It is lagniappe that the author is smiling at us every morning at 6 a.m. with a cheery “Good morning, America.”