Reading Time: 4 minutes

Betty White’s advice? “Slow down”: Lessons from a 99-year-old legend

Betty White is all smiles.
Betty White attends The American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 6, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

Birthdays and other milestone events during COVID have been challenging, to say the least. For legendary comedy actress Betty White, it was no different. This Sunday, she plans to spend her ninety-ninth birthday with a couple of ducks who visit her each day, but with few people. The quarantine curtailed any other plans.  

The Golden Girls star says she is blessed with incredibly good health, something she says “you appreciate a lot.” Especially during a pandemic. 

On how she has stayed so healthy, she says, “I’m a health nut. My favorite food is hot dogs with French fries. And my exercise: I have a two-story house and a very bad memory, so I’m up and down those stairs.” 

As for being called “legendary,” she said in a 2010 interview that “I just laugh. Have I got them fooled!”  

White says humor has helped during these difficult times. “Don’t take yourself too seriously. You can lie to others — not that I would — but you cannot lie to yourself.”  

Her Super Bowl commercial for Snickers was ranked one of the all-time favorites. After doing the commercial, she told Ellen DeGeneres, “I love Snickers and I thought, sure that’d be fun, why not? So I got over there early one morning and didn’t know I was going to be in the . . . ice cold muddy water, but all I had to do was just lie down in it. This poor stunt woman took the dive, she went in. And it was a great stunt that she did, and I got the laugh. Now, really, that’s unfair when that happens. She’s probably sticking pins in a little Betty White doll.” 

Staying busy while under quarantine has also helped. White works crossword puzzles to keep her mind active and reads the Los Angeles Times from cover to cover. She is also working to get one of her old shows, The Pet Set, rereleased. The show was White’s animal-positive series that focused on a plethora of animals, both domesticated and wild, using celebrity guests. 

Like most of us, the pandemic has reshaped White’s view on life. Her advice to the world? “Slow down and enjoy what you have: family, friends, your pets.” She said that the pandemic is serious, but “we have come through worse. It’s Mother Nature’s way of telling us all to slow down.”  

“Be still and know”

I agree with White’s advice. 

The pandemic has caused so many of us to refocus on and reframe what is important in our lives. One verse I have focused on almost daily is Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 

I am finding it easier to “be still” these days, but I am still working on “know that I am God.” I am still learning how to listen, to trust, while being still. I’m learning to reframe the news through God’s eyes and heart and trust that the God who calms the seas can calm my thoughts and heart.  

Nothing that happens, or is happening, is beyond God’s control. There is no pandemic, no riot, no election—nothing—that will change the second part of that verse: “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 

Psalm 46 begins with hope, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (vv. 1–2). The chapter is anchored in hope: “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (v. 7). And it ends in hope with a repeat of that assurance in verse 11. 

I am learning while being still to know God as my refuge, my safe place, to trust him for strength during the difficult days. I’m learning not to fear the waves of turmoil all around me. I am learning that being still doesn’t mean to be inactive, or to “play dead” like an opossum when it faces danger (although there are times it’s tempting). But to rest, knowing that God’s got this.  

One day, Jesus will be proclaimed as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16) and God will be “exalted among the nations.” 

In the meantime, I want to take Betty White’s advice and slow down, hold close all that matters, and enjoy life. I think that’s good advice for all of us.