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