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Rebecca Walker's Five Tools to Fan the Flames of Everything Enlightening and Regenerative (Plus, a Writing Prompt!)
Written by
Inspiration HQ
January 2011
Written by
Inspiration HQ
January 2011

Rebecca Walker shares five ways out of the muck for all those not immediately feeling the happy new year vibe.


Writing Prompt: What Inspires You to Focus on the GOOD?


The dawn of 2011 has been mixed. Healthy family, busy writing life, and beautiful Hawaiian rain. Watched Inception and I Am Love, two brilliant films that inspired me no end. Patti Smith’s Just Kids is bringing me back to the magical vortex of New York--the mecca where so many of us began on this perilous road of love, life and art. I’m having one hell of a literary visit.


But honestly, I’ve also been feeling melancholy. I’m working on a book in its one-millionth draft, missing friends six thousand miles away, and shielding my eyes and soul from the news on more iGadgets than I can shake a stick
at--Twitter and FB on iPhone, The New Yorker and The Guardian on iPad, cnn.com on my iMac. The world is looking bleak, people. Folks losing homes and jobs. America not living up to its ideals. Legos selling Prisoner Transport Vehicles as toys. Our lovely President looking exhausted and defeated.


Sometimes it’s so easy to be mesmerized by all that’s wrong. My husband says negativity is like a bully on the playground, and he’s right. The bully is the same size as all the other kids, but seems so much bigger. Just
thinking about that mean kid makes the heart pound with fear. Everything else falls away--your best friend and good grades, the leftover pizza from Chez Panisse your mom tucked into your lunchbox...


So how to keep our eyes on the prize? How to acknowledge the truly awful, but rob it of oxygen? How to banish that bully and magnetize the coolest bunch of friends a girl could ever want?


Here are my tools to fan the hot flames of everything enlightening and regenerative. These are the ideas that bring me back from the ledge:


1.  GRATITUDE. Remember what your grandma who lived through the depression always said: “I was upset because I had no shoes, then I met someone with no feet?” Car stuck in mud? Thank you! I have a car. It’s not being carried away by a tsunami. I even have Triple A. Thank you!


2.  EQUANIMITY. Look up at sky and breathe. Sky was my son’s first word so there’s all those yummy feelings, but also the sky reminds me that my mind is big, vast and indestructible. No matter how many clouds pass or tornadoes roar, the sky remains and observes without judgment. It whispers to my frustration: Nothing
is permanent. Everything will pass.


3.  OPENNESS. Sometimes when we get hung up on how truly terrible we think things are, the mind becomes tight, like a steel trap; nothing can get in or out. That’s the time to remember that openness is a very good option. If we can just get back that simple notion, openness, as in, hey, wait a minute, I can actually be open
to another opinion of reality, the hinges start to release, and we can be free again. The good stuff can come rolling back in. Ahhh.


4.  HUMILITY. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get VERY jealous. As in, wait, why didn’t MY book sell ten million copies? That’s where humility comes in. I am who I am. I do what I do. I don’t need to be any more or any less. Then, bingo! I’m thinking of all of the appreciative letters I’ve received from readers and
the lawyers I meet who say my lecture ten years ago changed their lives. And...I’m back on track. I’m just where I should be.


Finally, the most important element to this focusing on the Good is, drum roll please:


5.  WILL. Because you can’t do any of the above unless you acknowledge how hard it is to change your mind. It’s not easy to look at what seems like a hopeless situation and, as Stevie Wonder sang, “find the joy inside your tears.” You must engage your will. It’s kind of like will power, but without the “no pain, no gain” part, because even though it’s hard to do, exercising this psychic will doesn’t hurt because it’s connected to your best self, the one committed to personal evolution and global transformation. It’s the energetic will connected to your deep sense of knowing. You know that if you don’t give the positive the love and attention it needs, it will vanish from this earth, and the rest of us along with it. This will is an essential human muscle. Exercise it and you will be rewarded with a happier you, a richer life, and a healthier world. I promise.


Focus on the good. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution?





WHAT ABOUT YOU, SHE WRITERS? What inspires you to focus on the GOOD? Tell us in comments or blog it out at your SW blog (tag: #swinspires).


Rebecca Walker is the author of the memoirs Black, White and Jewish and Baby Love; and editor of the anthologies To Be Real, What Makes a Man, and One Big Happy Family. Her writing has appeared in Bookforum, Newsweek, Glamour,Marie Claire, The Washington Post, Vibe, and Interview, among many other publications, and she blogs regularly for The Huffington Post and The Root. Visit www.rebeccawalker.com, follow her on Twitter @rebeccawalker, and take her master class, The Art of Memoir in Maui this February or June. 



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  • Love Babz

    I love the reference to a bully being the same size as the other kids on the playground LOL! I have come to realize it is our own minds that make things larger than life! Ha ha ha!  This is very inspiring Rebecca. Thank you. I needed this message today.

  • Virginia Williams

    Oh, how I needed to read this today. Feeling overwhelmed and cold (I do not like winter!). My family is planning a move from NE Ohio to England this summer--my husband is English and we have planned this move for some time--but despite the plan, now that I am faced with moving this year, I am panicking. And scared.


    I'm going to hold on to this post and refer to it often. Thank you!

  • Karyn

    Happy New Year! Thanks for this post- it is honest and brave (no surprise!). The humility point especially hit home for me. I will revisit this whenever I fall off track.

  • Suzy Turner

    This was exactly what I needed to read at the moment. The past few days I've been feeling down in the dumps. I can't say why as I have much to be thankful for... I have a loving husband who supports me, a lovely home, my own car and I'm off to visit family in England before jetting off to Canada for a holiday soon. How could I possibly be miserable in light of all this? Thank you, Rebecca, for helping me out of my rut.

  • Kelly O\'Connor McNees

    I LOVE this. And I am so glad to be reminded that I really wanted to read BABY LOVE. Thank you, Rebecca!

  • Chelsea Tjin-Kon-Koen

    Wonderful article. Thanks for the suggested new year's resolutions. I hadn't made any of my own, but these are great!

  • Sharon D. Dillon

    Valuable suggestions. Thank you. This morning I started to break through the holiday/SAD fog and return to writing. Maybe it was the new moon. Whatever, it was it feels good. Gratitude is the only attitude to have.

  • Kate Defrise

    Yes! This sings in my heart. Thank you.

  • Roxanne

    Great post, Rebecca! My inner critic and self-doubt can be paralyzing at times. These are wonderful suggestions for getting back on track.

  • Lesley-Anne Evans

    Just another manic Monday… where I share my thoughts on breaking through the darkness into the light. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas, Rebecca. Very thought provoking stuff, isn't it?

    Out with the old,


  • Atiya

    Thank you Rebecca for posting! Very Refreshing.