Last week, Elaine Stritch died at 89. The New York Times obituary called her a “living emblem of show business durability.” Her anthem was Sondeim’s song of survival, “I’m Still Here.” In many ways, Stritch led a life worth imitating–and one you’d want to model for your children:
She wasn’t afraid to be who she was. Charles Isherwood called her “nakedly honest.” Stritch certainly had her demons and her self-doubt but never tried to hid them. She knew her own mind, spoke her truth, and wasn’t easily swayed by what others believed. In short, she was was “authentic“– a quality researchers linked to overall well-being.
She lived in the present. She left the past and tried not to worry about the future. “I’ll tell you one thing that I’ve accomplished,” Stritch explained to a reporter, “and it’s tough – but I suddenly one day got it: the idea of what it is to live in the moment. Psychologists and spiritual teachers call it “mindfulness“–a practice that’s also associated with well being and good health.
She had passion. Sadly, not many of us can say that. A recent Gallup Poll about job satisfaction found that unhappy workers outnumber happy ones by two to one. It’s not just about the job. You need passion to push through hard days and bounce back after missed opportunities, just as Stritch did.
She was independent.– She called herself “a do-it-yourself kind of broad.” While we all need support, it’s also important to feel that you can go it alone. Even with a beloved partner, you’re never “in the same boat.” You’ve just decided to travel down the same river, each in your separate boats.
She loved a good time. Stritch played as hard as she worked. She could joke with the best of them and had impeccable timing. Humor helps us keep going. When the excesses (late nights, booze, and cigarettes) and age eventually caught up with her, she continued to embrace adventure and welcome change with wisdom and grace. Of her move from her beloved New York City to Birmingham, Michigan at 88, she told a reporter:
I think the change of lifestyle can hit you as boring unless you give it a fair shot. It means putting your best outfit on, hit the streets, go to dinner..meet all the famous people that live in this town. And that’s exciting…I’m going to be happy here. And the common folk are even better than the famous folk. I’m gonna get along fine.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn