Jenna Bush Hager, co-host of the hit morning show TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, is no stranger to the limelight, having grown up at the center of US politics. But that has not made her immune to everyday struggles, heartache, and loss. When both your father and grandfather have served as presidents of the United States and your mother and grandmother were culture-shaping icons, making your own mark on the world becomes important — and difficult. But not for Jenna Bush Hager, who has succeeded in creating her own lasting legacy.
The former teacher turned journalist is a bestselling author and calls her gig co-hosting NBC’s TODAY “a dream job.” “I get to sit next to somebody who exudes joy and positivity,” Jenna gushes. “It’s a privilege!”
The 40-year-old mother of three says her positive attitude was shaped by her parents, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, and her grandparents, former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.
“When I lost my grandparents within 13 months of each other, I wasn’t prepared for what public grieving would feel like,” Jenna shares. “The world knew my grandparents, so their funerals were broadcast on TV, and that was very difficult for me.”
Still, Jenna was quick to find the silver lining. “I realized it was this great gift too. People would come up and say, ‘I met your grandmother on a flight and she was so sweet’ or, ‘I once met your grandfather and he was lovely,’” she recalls. “They still do now. It’s a beautiful way of keeping their memory alive.”
Here, Jenna tells us how embracing grief and choosing joy helped her find purpose and peace, and she shares tips and tricks for lifting your spirit and nourishing your soul.
Discover the Blessing in Loss
“When you’re overcoming grief, it’s important to allow yourself those moments of breaking down and crying, while remembering those who came before,” Jenna shares. “Your heart is going to be broken for a while, but that is the price you pay for loving somebody, which is a gift. So allow yourself to feel the pain, but also think of it as a precious blessing to love somebody enough for it to hurt that much.”
Prioritize ‘Me Time’
“When things are stressful, I like to just take a minute,” Jenna says. “Sometimes women have a hard time taking a time-out because we put all of these people first. But if I’m stressed and I take some deep breaths or even just take a walk or try to give myself a moment, wherever that is, I find I can take on whatever it is I need to do. Taking that moment for myself to come back to me, take a deep breath, and sometimes meditate — that’s the key.”
Play a Little Every Day
“I am pretty joyful by nature, but I definitely choose to be,” Jenna admits. “You have to decide to look at the world as a beautiful place and to find the little things that make you happy. Putting my phone away is one good thing that I do. I put it totally away and I play with the kids. We also have dance parties, and we have family game nights, and we go swimming. I think play is a brilliant way to connect with those who you love and to just be in the moment and feel present.”
Failure is Not Fatal
“My parents taught Barbara and me to be curious and independent,” Jenna says of her twin sister. “They believed in us, and also allowed us to fail, which is a huge gift. Barbara and I were allowed to make mistakes, and I think that gives you confidence. If you’re allowed to fail and realize that you can get back up, you know that things will eventually be okay.”
Follow Life’s Lead
“I never would have predicted that I would work for the TODAY show!” Jenna says with a smile. “My first passion was education. I was a teacher and I loved every second of it. I always envisioned such a different path for myself, so my advice is to always take the meeting. Always take the phone call. If somebody says, ‘Maybe one day, you’ll do this,’ don’t always have ‘no’ as your first answer. Have an open heart. Teaching led me to where I am, and I’m so glad it did.”
Speak With Love
“If we all talked to ourselves the way we would talk to someone we love, the world would be a better place,” Jenna says. “I try to talk to myself the way I would to one of my friends or my children. I would never say to my kids, ‘That doesn’t look good on you,’ so I don’t say that to myself either. I think saying kind things to ourselves brings such peace!”
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