When Betty White passed away just short of her 100th birthday, I thought – like many people did – that she was gone too soon. This is because she lived such an amazing exemplary life. So I’ve been thinking about what we can learn from Betty White and adapt in our own lives.
So here goes:
- Treat people the way you want to be treated. You didn’t see Betty in the news or on social media criticizing or mocking people. She treated others with kindness. After her death, her assistant said that Betty received hundreds of letters every week and always answered as many as she could. At work and in life, you can’t control how other people behave or act; you can only control your words and actions. Trying to change others – particularly when they aren’t motivated to change – is a waste of time and energy. Putting your efforts into your own words and actions and living your best life is most likely to bring your joy and satisfaction.
- Support causes you are passionate about. Betty loved animals and put her time and celebrity behind animal advocacy organizations. These efforts brought her great joy and made a huge contribution. You don’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference. A small gesture, such as donating some old clothes, volunteering one afternoon a month at a shelter, or sharing some groceries with a neighbor who can’t get out to shop, can make a powerful difference.
- Live your life by your own standards. Betty married the love of her life when she was 41, and she chose not to have children. This was at a time when women were expected to marry young, stay married, and have kids. She was comfortable in her own skin and lived by her own rules. No wonder she seemed so happy! Don’t let yourself be pressured by others to follow a path that doesn’t feel right for you, whether it involves work, marriage, parenthood, or other important life decisions.
- Celebrate aging. Getting old is a badge of honor because many people don’t get the luxury of aging. Wrinkles and gray hair aren’t attributes to be ashamed of, regardless of what advertisements, movies, and TV shows suggest. With age comes experience and wisdom. At the same time, you don’t always have to “act your age.” Betty was happy to take roles that defied stereotypes. She relished being bawdy, outrageous, silly, and shocking at times. That’s part of the reason we love her.
- Play games. Betty was on dozens of game shows over the years and clearly loved a little competition and challenge. As busy and stressful as life gets, it’s important to take some time to play. Whether that means a board game with the kids, a night of bowling or billiards, a backyard volleyball game, or something else, find something that’s fun for you and make time for it when you can.
- Cherish the people around you. Betty played several popular TV characters – including Sue Ann Nivens and Rose Nyland – who were part of a family of friends and co-workers. These characters didn’t always have perfect relationships, but they respected and cared for each other, supported each other, and sometimes had to be brutally honest with each other. In the end, they lifted each other up, celebrated the good times together, and made the bad times tolerable. Make sure the special people in your life know what they mean and make time for a phone call or cup of coffee.
I could probably go on for a couple of pages, but I’ll stop here. Betty White was a very special person, and we all have so much to learn from her. We can pay tribute to her amazing life to following her example.
I would love your feedback. What did you learn from Betty White?