Our world got a little darker on New Year’s Eve in 2021 with the passing of Betty White. Even if you have never watched Golden Girls, The Proposal, or the famous SNL episode she hosted, along with many of her other television and movie appearances, she has undoubtedly touched your life in some way. Although I wasn’t an avid follower of hers, I, along with the rest of the world, felt a pang of sadness when I saw the news of her death.
To reflect on her life and legacy, here are three things that Betty White taught me.
1. Always thank your friends.
Cliche, I know.
We’ve all heard the popular phrase “Thank you for being a friend.” I bet you sang that in your head, right? It’s a catchy theme song to a TV show that brings nostalgia for so many of us: Golden Girls. However, this jingle is so much more than just giving us a song to sing. It’s about thanking those in your life that provide you solace and joy. Our friends are the ones that get us through some of the darkest moments in our life, sometimes in ways that our families and partners cannot.
After all, a good friend will last you a lifetime. For the past decade almost, I have been fortunate to have two best friends that have saved my life in more ways than one. Between late-night conversations about heartbreak, disappointment, and sadness and celebrating life accomplishments, my friends have been there for me through it all. Saying “thank you” only scrapes the surface of what my friends deserve.
Friendship takes time and energy if it’s going to work. You can luck into something great, but it doesn’t last if you don’t give it proper appreciation.Betty White
2. Pour your energy and time into your passions.
For decades, Betty White had a passion for helping animals in need. In her death, many companies are running campaigns to donate to animal shelters across the country in honor of her dedication to them. White’s love for animals came from her parents and family, who even during the Great Depression cared for animals that had been abandoned by their owners. Her passion for animals was so great that she was even awarded an honorary zookeeper title by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers.
From her passions, Betty teaches us to never stop pouring our energy and time into our passions. Although we live in a society that pushes us to constantly strive towards a better career, education, and status, ignoring our passions can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. If there’s one thing I learned in the past two years, it’s to not give up doing the things that I enjoyed for the sake of making an hourly wage. Make time for your passions, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day.
“Everybody needs a passion. That’s what keeps life interesting. If you live without passion, you can go through life without leaving any footprints.”From Betty White’s book, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) (2011)
3. Stay in touch with your youthful, childlike side.
Besides her fabulous acting skills, Betty White is also famous for her funny, youthful livelihood that she brought into everything she did. Living to almost 100 years old, she had plenty of time to share her wisdom about how to stay positive and cheerful through challenging times. She encouraged people to continually not take themselves too seriously, to laugh when possbile, and to always attempt to have an uplifting attitude.
Learning to stay in touch with my inner child and youthful side has helped me make immense changes in the way I view happiness. Finding joy in the little things, like we did when we were younger, is the key to changing our pessimistic habits into uplifting ones. Incorporate humor into the way you think about the world, always trying to keep a smile on your face.
“It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”Betty White to the Chicago Trubine, 2011
As you go about the rest of your day, be sure to remember the ways that Betty White taught us to bring more joy into our lives. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from White about getting older:
“However, if one is lucky enough to be blessed with good health, growing older shouldn’t be something to complain about. It’s not a surprise, we knew it was coming—make the most of it. So you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain, gratitude should be the name of the game.”Betty White, from her memoir If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) (2011)