LIFE LESSONS

WHAT’S REALLY IM­POR­TANT IS THE QUAL­ITY OF LIFE RATHER THAN YEARS LIVED, SAYS HOLLYWOOD A-LISTER SUSAN SARANDON

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents -

From A-lister Susan Sarandon

Hap­pi­ness is about per­spec­tive and not tak­ing things per­son­ally

As Bette Davis would say, age­ing is not for sissies. I’m work­ing as much, if not more, as I did in my 50s. We can all ex­pect to live a longer life – my mother is 94. What’s really im­por­tant is the qual­ity, not the quan­tity of it. I’m grate­ful to be as healthy as I am but it’s not easy. You have to put your­self in an in­ter­est­ing place to ac­cept your body as it be­comes less strong and your beauty as it changes.

What’s on the in­side really in­forms the way you look. I think Vanessa Red­grave has al­ways been so beau­ti­ful and she’s en­gaged and is a very ac­tive per­son. I like faces of peo­ple that ra­di­ate so much light. When I look back at my­self at 20, when I started, I’m pret­tier than I re­mem­ber, but I’m blank. So I don’t mind where I am now.

Hap­pi­ness is a process and not a des­ti­na­tion. It’s all about per­spec­tive and not tak­ing things per­son­ally, mean­ing what you say, try­ing to breathe be­fore you re­spond when some­thing hurts. It’s about be­ing vul­ner­a­ble, it’s about lis­ten­ing, for­give­ness, try­ing to get to your au­then­tic self. And treat­ing ev­ery­one know­ing that they all are di­vine, that every per­son has a di­vin­ity in them some­where.

I wouldn’t call my­self sporty but I’ve al­ways done some­thing. If you live in Man­hat­tan, you walk ev­ery­where. I tell my kids, when they start to get over­whelmed, to play bas­ket­ball or do some­thing, and it makes a huge dif­fer­ence. If I’m really stressed, I go to the path down the West Side High­way, where you can walk or run. I find that’s the best way to really let go of anx­i­ety. When I’m up­set or de­pressed, it’s good to be phys­i­cally ac­tive, too.

I en­joy the good times as a grand­mother. When you have grand­chil­dren, you re­alise how much anx­i­ety is at­tached to be­ing a par­ent – even when your kids are grown up. My daugh­ter is a fun, hands-on mum. She’s got ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol, so I can just watch in a way that I couldn’t when I was the one car­ry­ing the worry and the day-to-day minu­tiae that drives you crazy. My grand­kids are so funny – they call me Honey.

Love is like a mus­cle – the more you use it, the stronger it is. There’s never a rea­son to stop be­ing in love. I love be­ing in love. It may not be ro­man­tic love, it may not be sex­ual, but you can’t de­cide to cut peo­ple off. Bette Davis – who I play in Feud – said she did her best work when she was in love. That’s true, be­cause it opens you. When you break up with some­one, you want to stop hurt­ing, but clos­ing your­self off from love is not the way to do it.

I’m lucky that my job is some­thing I love to do. It en­cour­ages em­pa­thy and imag­i­na­tion, which leads to ac­tivism, so it bleeds over into my life. I love that it’s al­most like en­forced com­pas­sion be­cause you have to put on an­other per­son’s shoes. You have so much more in com­mon with peo­ple than you thought. I think that’s the won­der­ful by-prod­uct of my job.

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