Robin Roberts is no stranger to an early morning. On weekdays, while most of the country is still asleep, she wakes up at 4 a.m. and relies on one thing to help start her day right: gratitude.
“I’m so grateful to open my eyes and begin a new day!” she tells Woman’s World. And for Roberts, every new day is like a box of chocolates — it may bring the chance to interview a celebrity, politician or survivor of a tragedy from her Good Morning America desk, and it could be filled with joy or tears.
But come what may, Roberts knows every experience, good or bad, is both a lesson a blessing. “I am so inspired by the poem “I Walked a Mile With Pleasure“ by Robert Browning — my mother used to quote it to me when I was having a bad day,” she recalls with a smile. “The poem’s message of walking with your sorrow and learning from it and seeing it as a gift is so powerful.”
Despite the upbeat attitude that she shares with millions of viewers each day, Robert’s trials have been numerous. From the loss of her parents to the devastation of her hometown of Pass Christian, Mississippi, in Hurricane Katrina, to a diagnosis of breast cancer and five years later, a rare blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome, Roberts has faced many kinds of pain and fear.Yet gratitude has also been her key to surviving and thriving, both personally and professionally.
“I’m so grateful that from a young age, my parents taught me ‘this too shall pass,’” says Roberts. “That helped me become the thriver I am today!”
Driven to help and inspire others to overcome challenges and heartache too, Robin started a “Thriver Thursday” series on GMA in the hopes of providing comfort to those facing health or personal crises. “When you’re in the trenches of your struggle, you don’t want to feel like you’re alone,” she says. “If someone told me I’d go through all I have and still find joy, I’d never have believed them. But here I am, joy-filled and loving life.”
Here, Robin shares how she stays optimistic and fills each day with hope — no matter what!
1. Hit the Pause Button
“A few years ago, I started meditating every morning,” Roberts shares. “I wasn’t sure about it at first, because they say that you have to ‘clear your mind’ and not think. But that’s a myth. For me, it’s about quieting my mind and body, which is great for easing stress, but is also calming and invigorating at the same time. Feeling my heartbeat slow and listening to my breath is very energizing for me. I’m trying to incorporate a second short meditation break later in my day because of the wonderful effects— it really does bring me so much energy and peace!”
2. Have a Little Fun
“One of my favorite ways to boost my mood or chill out a little bit is playing Angry Birds on my phone,” Roberts admits. “Indulging in some fun, even if it’s just for a few minutes, is a great way to give yourself some much-needed self-care. My dear pal Sam Champion introduced me to the game many moons ago, and it’s a great way to lose myself for a while. And when I come back, I have all the energy I need to do whatever’s next!”
3. Take Each Day As an Opportunity
“When I’m not feeling well or had a really lousy day, I always refer to something my mom would say when I used to call her and tell her my day was crummy,” Roberts reminisces. “She’d say, very simply, ‘Robin —go to bed!’
Her solution was to not stay up and fret if you’re having a bad day, but to sleep on it and tackle the problem in the morning. There’s something about creating that clean slate when you’re feeling down — the dawn of a new day has endless possibilities and happiness to come. Everything gets easier!”
4. Gain Strength From Struggle
“I don’t shy away from difficult times,” Roberts shares. “I certainly don’t welcome them, but I understand they’ve been put in my path for a purpose. Of course, I’m not happy that I had cancer, but going through that showed me there’s so much in life to appreciate. That’s what struggle does: It helps us learn about ourselves, find purpose we never knew we had and share those lessons with others.”
5. Seek Smiles in the Small Things
“One of the things that brings me such happiness is a little umbrella in a drink!” Roberts says with a grin. “I love being on the beach and having a cool beverage with an umbrella, but it’s just as terrific to have a glass of water and pop an umbrella in it. It instantly puts a smile on my face because it reminds me there is joy to be found in the smallest and most unexpected of places.”
6. Embrace Your Surroundings
“I’m drawn to water and love that I’m able to look out over the Hudson River from my home,” Roberts says. “No matter the time of day, weather, or circumstance, water is soothing and uplifting to both look at and be in. It brings instant peace and reminds you that you’re constantly surrounded by goodness and so many beautiful parts of life — you just have to look for them!”
7. Stay Busy
Roberts recently produced the dramatic new film, Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story, which premiered on Lifetime on January 18. The latest from her company, Rock’n Robin Productions, the film tells the true story of a young woman who discovers that her mother kidnapped her as an infant. Also, keep an eye out for Robin’s upcoming documentary that will delve further into Kamiyah’s life and how she’s doing today.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.