101-year-old Holocaust survivor shares the secret to becoming the 'happiest man on Earth'
via TedxSydney / Flickr

It's a shame that many of us never truly appreciate what we have until it's gone. But this flaw seems to be hardwired into the human condition. We always long for what we don't have, instead of appreciating what we do.

Eddie Jaku, 101, has given himself the title of "happiest man on Earth" because, after living through the harrowing circumstances, he was able to appreciate what really matters in life.

On November 9, 1938, a night that would be forever known as Kristallnacht, or "the night of broken glass," Nazi forces burned synagogues and destroyed Jewish stores, homes, and property. So, Jaku, a Jewish teenager, living in Germany, returned home to an empty house.

The next day he was terrorized by Nazis, who shot his dog, and took him to Buchenwald concentration camp.


Eventually, he and his family would be taken to the most notorious Nazi camp. "I was finally transported to my hell on Earth, Auschwitz," Jaku said according to Today. "My parents and my sister were also transported to Auschwitz, and I was never to see my parents again."

In 1945, he was sent on a "death march" but escaped into the wilderness, surviving on snails and slugs until he was discovered by American forces.

The 'Happiest Man On Earth,' Shares His Wisdom www.youtube.com

After the war, Jaku got married but still had a hard time shedding his painful past. However, after having his first son, he went through a powerful transformation.

Becoming a father inspired him to make a pledge that he's kept to this day. "I made the promise that on that day, until the end of my life, I promised to be happy, smile, be polite, helpful, and kind. I also promised to never put my foot on German soil again," he said in a 2019 TED Talk. "Today, I stand in front of you, a man who has kept all of those promises."

Jaku also came to the realization that he will never truly be happy as long as there is hate in his heart. "Hate is a disease that may destroy your enemy, but will also destroy you in the process," Jaku said.

As someone who lost a lot of family in the Holocaust, he derives an incredible amount of joy from his marriage, children, and grandchildren. He wants everyone to know that happiness is all about living in the now and embracing what you have, instead of waiting for happiness to come around the corner.

The happiest man on earth: 99 year old Holocaust survivor shares his story | Eddie Jaku | TEDxSydney www.youtube.com

"Today I teach and share happiness with everyone I meet. Happiness does not fall from the sky, it's in your hands," he said.

"Tomorrow will come, but first enjoy today," he added.

"For me, when I wake up, I am happy because it is another day to enjoy," he said. "When I remember that I should have died a miserable death, but instead I'm alive, so I aim to help people who are down."

Jaku's wisdom is especially important as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us who haven't lived through traumatic events now know what it's like to be disconnected from the things that really matter.

Hopefully, the positive lesson we can all take from the pandemic is to appreciate the simple things we couldn't do such as hugging a parent or spending time with friends. It's also a reason to appreciate your health.

"If you are healthy, you're a multimillionaire," Jaku said.

Jaku wants to remind people that there's nothing better than being a friend.

"Remember these words," he concluded his TED Talk. "Please do not walk in front of me, I may not be able to follow. Please do not walk behind me, I may not be able to lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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