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norman lear 100, norman lear instagram, norman lear abc special

Lear knows a thing or two about looking on the bright side.

Norman Lear, creator of beloved sitcoms such as “The Jeffersons,” “All in the Family” and “Good Times,” turned 100 on July 27. It might have been his birthday, but we’re the ones receiving a gift, because the legendary television writer celebrated by sharing some words of wisdom with all of us.

A video posted to Instagram showed Lear recalling his “breakfast thoughts” as his daughter, Kate Lear LaPook, held the camera. He started off by singing “That’s Amore,” a tune by Dean Martin, who Lear once worked with and seemed to remember fondly.

It set the theme nicely for Lear’s message, which was all about taking in the simple joys of “living in the moment.”

"I guess my breakfast thought at the moment... is the moment," Lear noted. "The moment between past and present, present and past, the moment between after and next. The hammock in the middle of after and next."


Authentic gratitude rang through his voice at the thought of turning another year older, not to mention a distinctly endearing sense of humor. "I mean, my God, the miracle of being alive with everything that's available to us, and me turning 100 tomorrow. Do you hear me? Tomorrow I turn 100. That's as believable to me as 'Today I'm 99,’” he chuckled.

His video ended with a simple piece of advice. “The moment: treasure it, use it with love.”

Not taking any of life’s moments for granted and instead looking at what’s right with the picture seems to be a well-known recipe for living a long, happy life, especially to those who have succeeded at it.

Fellow comedy icon Betty White echoed this sentiment in her 2018 interview with Parade, saying “accentuate the positive, not the negative. It sounds so trite, but a lot of people will pick out something to complain about, rather than say, 'Hey, that was great!' It's not hard to find great stuff if you look." The "Golden Girls" star passed away just before her 100th birthday on Dec 31, 2021, but was still the epitome of good cheer and optimism.

Or, thanks to a mainstream increase in mindfulness, perhaps this is a skill one can cultivate over time. After all, we have more tools than ever before—entire books have been written on the subject, like Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow,” there are numerous meditation apps available, journals with prompts geared toward gaining awareness, and more access to a wide range of therapeutic modalities. The hustle and bustle of modern living might make being present a challenge, but with it comes numerous strategies for overcoming those challenges.

And, of course, when all else fails, we can take a page from Lear’s book, and simply choose to cherish what’s in front of us.

Happy Birthday, Norman. You always manage to give us something to smile about.

Photo by Stormseeker on Unsplash

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