What can be said about Betty White that hasn’t been said already? She’s a national treasure. From her start in the early days of television to her iconic turns as Sue Ann Nivens and Rose Nylund to her presence in our current pop culture landscape, White’s career is a testament to the power of a good work ethic.
So many of her admirers — and there are so, so many — will say that they want to be like Betty White “when [they’re] old.” But that shouldn’t be. We should be like White now.
Here are just a few lessons we can learn from Betty White in honor of her 93rd birthday today (Jan. 17). Don’t miss the collection of fabulous vintage photos at the end!
Animals have more to teach us than we realize.
White’s been advocating for the health and welfare of animals for decades, working with places like the Morris Animal Foundation, the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association and other organizations. She recognizes that animals are more like people than we realize and that we could learn a thing or two from them. In her book, If You Ask Me, White writes: “Animals don’t lie. Animals don’t criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do.”
Life’s too short to not enjoy a dirty joke.
There’s often an assumption that the older you get, the more prim you have to be. Not so. White’s biggest laughs come from when she says something racy, yet it never comes off as rote. You get the sense that she’s not only in on the joke, but enjoying it. “I think the randiness is always done with a sense of humor. I mean, a joke, sure, it can be a naughty joke, but it has to be pretty funny,” she told CBS News.
Being a good friend takes effort.
Yes, we’ve learned this through watching Golden Girls reruns, but White spoke to the effort of keeping real-life connections intact If You Ask Me. “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. Friendship can be so comfortable, but nurture it — don’t take it for granted.”
Reach out to those who need you.
In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, she revealed the reason why she responds to letters from complete strangers who lost a pet or loved one. “If they write to me about that loss, I can’t not respond, to give them a little word of comfort or sympathy or let them know I certainly understand,” she said.
White exudes warmth, which seems to be a rare quality in the world of show business (or perhaps business as a whole). She’s spoken out on how kindness, in general, is in short supply. In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, White said: “We need to learn a little more kindness. Kindness is getting lost in the shuffle. I get appalled at what people are doing to people, the violence in our own communities. I’m worried about that — and it has to change.”