Picture this: America, 2021. It’s New Year’s Eve. The clock strikes 12 a.m., and a new year begins.
Fireworks sparkle, lovers kiss, and drinks are poured—for Betty.
Without a doubt, she was the most celebrated woman of all time that day.
Years ago, out of curiosity, I did some research about Betty. I wanted to know her secret.
How does a woman survive so much and stay beautiful and happy? What is her secret to living through so many decades of change? Through the spotlight—both as an actress and a writer, three marriages, volunteering in World War II—how was she still standing with a smile on her face?
I read something that surprised me: toward the end of her life, she stated that she preferred the company of animals over people, in the peace and relaxation of her own home.
But she was so famous and all over TV, still!
In her autobiography, which is a true pleasure to read, if you ask me (and of course you won’t), Betty talked about how she embraced aging naturally and made jokes of it. She looked in the mirror with genuine and unconditional love for herself. She talked about her gratitude toward the positive influence of her mother and how she got her good genes from her dad—which my uncle jokes is good peasant stock. She also spoke to her parents a bit; I think that is just so precious and such a healthy way to honor their lessons!
When it comes to those days “when the misgivings get in” and you can’t distract yourself through it, she said that sometimes you just have to accept that “it might take a while to shake the doldrums.” That was so humbling to read.
She moved on to talk about her admiration of animals, how they don’t lie or criticize, and said that the next time she gets overwhelmed she’s “going to have to channel her dog, Ponti.”
Betty also mentioned that despite her doctor (at the time) having said it wouldn’t do anything, she took vitamin C every day and went without a cold for 20 years. She joked about her unhealthy diet preference, but Betty took good care of herself and there is so much to learn from her! I, for one, am grateful that she wrote about her life from her own perspective. And I love that she enjoyed doing so, with her feet up on the couch next to her dog, despite pressuring deadlines.
I think I could write all day about this, so here are eight (of many) lessons she shared with us via various interviews.
I chose eight intentionally, to represent the symbol of infinity, in hopes that Betty White’s life continues to inspire us for generations to come.
I hope they inspire the golden within you, too.
1. “A sense of humor [keeps me young]. Don’t take yourself too seriously.” -to PEOPLE, in 2020
2. “First of all, keep busy and don’t focus everything on you. That wears out pretty fast. It’s not hard to find things you’re interested in, but enjoy them and indulge them. And I think that keeps you on your toes.” -to Katie Couric, in 2017
3. “You can lie to others—not that I would—but you cannot lie to yourself.” -to PEOPLE, in 2020
4. “Accentuate the positive, not the negative. It sounds so trite, but a lot of people will pick out something to complain about, rather than say, ‘Hey, that was great!’ It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look.” -to Parade in 2018
5. “You better realize how good life is while it’s happening, because before you know it, it will all be gone.” -to PEOPLE, in 1999
6. “I never thought about age much. I learned that at my mother’s knee. Age was not important. It was where your head was.” -to AARP, in 2011
7. During set breaks she enjoyed Crossword puzzles “Crossword puzzles!” she told Couric. “I’m addicted. An admitted addict. I just can’t put ’em down.” -to USA TODAY, in 2021
8. “You just keep plugging away…you don’t give up,” to Parade
To summarize why the end of Betty’s life impacted so many, her positive attitude inspired, her humor kept us light, her beauty stunned us, her talent enchanted us, and her ability to survive a century of life astounded us.
The ultimate lesson I’ve been left with is that mindfulness and energy, steered in the right direction, will serve well.
Do what you enjoy, be grateful for the little things, and allow yourself to be human.
There is so much to learn from this woman, that without a doubt, makes Betty White an epic role model for navigating this human experience!