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3 Lessons I learned from Betty White

By Deborah Voll March 06, 2022 Lifestyle

Back in January, I had the opportunity to see the movie Betty White, A Celebration, with my family. We, like others, were eagerly awaiting a 100th birthday celebration of Betty on January 17th but instead, we came together with others in a theater for a celebration of life! And what an amazing life she lead.

Betty White David Shankbone 2010 NYC” by david_shankbone is marked with CC PDM 1.0.

In the theater were many generations of fans who adored Betty and loved her work. Here I was, at 60, looking over her life and thinking that Betty still had so much to teach me!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Betty had an amazing career, was not afraid of a challenge, and reinvented herself so that she could be more accessible to the younger generations! One of the times she stretched herself was the hosting of Saturday Night Live.

Can you imagine, at 88 years young, stepping into strenuous rehearsals and the memorization of the multiple pages of script? She looked at her agent during the rehearsals and said, “never again.” But then turned around and picked up in the rehearsal where she left off.

Her debut on SNL was amazing and showed us that she never lost her quick wit and her timing on stage! Two years later, at age 90, she went on to her role in Hot in Cleveland which was a tremendous success.

When I hear women say that it’s “too late” to try something new or go back to school, I share with them all the other clients I’ve worked with who have tackled their dreams, faced the discomfort, and stretched their abilities to do something new!

It’s never too late! You are going to turn 99 regardless. Why not turn 99 and be doing something you love that brings you joy and fulfillment?

Betty’s work ethic was amazing, but I feel that’s what kept her young and in touch with other people and kept her active as she reinvented herself so many times!

I Wish I Hadn’t Waited So Long

Betty White was married to the love of her life Allen Ludden for 18 years before he passed away from stomach cancer in 1981. Betty met Allen on the game show Password in 1961 and immediately felt a connection.

Betty had a hesitation of marrying again and the logistics of them being separated by east and west coast careers. Allen had to propose to Betty two times before she finally accepted in 1963. She shares that the time she had with Allen was too short. “I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time. Think of all that time lost that we could have been together.”

We need to remember that life is finite, and we never know how much time we have here on earth. What a great lesson for us to be mindful of our relationships and carve out the time to spend with those we love. Don’t look back to regret the time that you could have had doing something you love or being with someone else.

What Legacy Am I Leaving?

When I watched the movie and saw all the wonderful tributes to Betty, it was a bit overwhelming! We heard from all her peers and the animal community that she impacted. People were remembering her with fun stories and laughing with a hint of sadness.

I stopped to consider my movie, who would show up to speak and how would they remember me and what would they say? What would I think about the stories they share? Makes you stop and go, “Hmm…,” doesn’t it?

Betty was also a passionate animal welfare rights activist. She served on the board of multiple animal welfare organizations, and you would often see her in photos holding a snake or sitting with a gorilla. I’m not that brave myself, but Betty had no hesitation to jump right in!

There is still time for us to create the legacy that we want to leave for others. It doesn’t need to be as grand as Betty’s! It just needs to be our own!

Laughter Can Make You Live Longer

I have no doubt that Betty’s ability to make people laugh, and for her to be able to laugh at herself, helped her to live to be 99 years young!

There is research that substantiates that laughter can make you live longer! There are physical effects of laughter, including increased breathing, more oxygen use, and a higher heart rate. Some research suggests that laughter can boost the immune system. And who needs research to see other comedians who have lived a long life as well!

Just look at Bob Hope who lived to 100, Phyllis Diller to 95, and George Burns to 100! It wouldn’t hurt to learn a few jokes and start making people laugh! Who doesn’t want to raise endorphins and relieve stress!

There is no doubt that Betty led by example in her life! She reminds us to stay engaged, be involved, stay present, and not miss the experience.

Thank you, Betty, for your wonderful life lessons!

Perhaps you also viewed the movie: Betty White, A Celebration? Please share in the comments below what lessons you learned and the moments you enjoyed on the silver screen!

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The Author

Deborah Voll, Certified Life and Career Coach helps women who feel stuck. “Helping you identify your passion and how to get it is my calling.” Reentering the workplace, changing careers, or retired and wondering what’s next. Get a free call at www.deborahvoll.com and listen to her weekly podcast, “Calm the Chaos.”

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