You know what they say: If you need a job done, give it to the busiest person you know. Eva Haller is living proof of the adage.
A philanthropist and social activist at 83, Eva is always in motion, her calendar packed with commitments – international conferences, awards ceremonies, board meetings, galas. She and her husband, retired physician Yoel Haller, make a point of taking time out from their frenetic schedule every few months for a rejuvenating respite at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. “For me, there is no other way of relaxing,” Eva says. “I look forward to our quarterly visits to the beautiful Berkshires.” Her favorite thing about the Ranch? “The lovely surroundings, the spa treatments, the performances at Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow. And the incredible staff at Canyon Ranch. They take such good care of us.”
Her next sojourn in Lenox will be well earned, because the last few months of 2013 were quite a whirlwind for Eva.
A Nonstop Schedule
Last year Eva was among more than 300 of the world’s most influential women who gathered at the Forbes’ Power Redefined Women’s Summit in New York City, where AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins honored Eva with the inaugural Award for Excellence in Mentoring. In making the presentation, Jenkins introduced Eva as “a model of courage, compassion and staying power on behalf of a better world.”
When we caught up with her last fall, Eva had just been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the United Nations Population Fund, the Lifetime Award at the World Summit for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and a lifetime appointment as Professor Honoris Causa at Scotland’s Glasgow Caledonian University.
Eva rarely slows down. Inspiring people, exciting global travels and amazing events are her world. She penciled in this interview while playing host in her Manhattan home to international human rights activists Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle (Susan Sarandon portrayed Sunny in the film adaptation of the documentary play The Exonerated). Eva was looking forward to a few precious commitment-free days before her next round of engagements.
Gratitude: The Natural Stress Reliever
Eva is a Holocaust survivor (at age 12 she joined her older brother, John, in the Hungarian resistance) who developed an early taste for cerebral pursuits. “As a child I never had the chance to play tennis or ski, or pursue recreational passions other than classical music. But now I love my relaxation time at Canyon Ranch.” In addition to Lenox, the Hallers enjoy visiting Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach – especially in December during Art Basel, the international contemporary art show.
Eva greets every day with gratitude for her good fortune and the chance to share it with the world. She concedes her schedule can be demanding, but she’s philosophical about it. “Stress?” She pauses, then notes with wry humor: “No, I don’t have that problem. I find it is easy to be kind and generous. People say, ‘Oh, she does all that because she is giving back to the world,’ but that’s bull. I do it because it feels good!
“Kindness, empathy, giving and sharing abundance – they create endorphins, which are important things to have when you get old. So, if for no other reason than to make yourself feel good, be generous! You’re creating endorphins and it all comes right back to you.”