A few years ago, I watched the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.
Inspired, I wrote the following thoughts originally posted in our online magazine, Mindful Matter.
I have never thought much about Groundhog Day until a few days ago. On February 2nd as it snowed outside my apartment window, I decided to watch the classic 90’s film Groundhog Day featuring the one-and-only Bill Murray.
It was a wake up call.
I remember catching clips of the movie as a kid while flipping through channels, but I never watched the movie in its entirety, and never with the sense of self-awareness or self-reflection that I have developed over the past few years.
For those like me who are new to the movie (though I can’t encourage you enough to gift yourself the opportunity to watch the film), I’ll give a short recap. SPOILER ALERT: this next paragraph outlines the movie.
The movie is about Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray), a curmudgeonly weather man who visits the town of Punxsutawney, PA to cover the Groundhog Day celebration (this is a real celebration!) that happens every year on February 2nd.
Filled with ego, judgement, and pessimism, Phil goes on to live a depressing and negative February 2nd, a day where he seems to be working against the universe and in return the universe seems to be working against him.
Then the next morning, starting right at 6:00AM, that same horrible day repeats itself. To Phil’s misery, the day continues to repeat itself each morning with no end in sight.
After realizing his situation, Phil decides to hack the system by using his knowledge of the day’s sequence of events.
He indulges in the cheap thrill of one night stands, material wealth, and other short-lived hedonistic pursuits only to find himself in the same state of misery. His self-pitying “Why me?” perspective turns into a deeper sense of loneliness and depression as he realizes he may never escape the infinite time loop in which he has found himself.
Triggered by the unpreventable death of an older man, something in Phil’s attitude changes. He spends his next repeated day and following days instead trying to help others. Saving a choking man, helping some older women with a flat tire, effectively contributing to all the people in the town he originally and without reason thought so little about.
In the process, he also uses this unique opportunity to improve himself. Taking piano lessons, learning the art of ice sculpture, and bringing a deeper sense of meaning and purpose to his own life.
The positivity he brought out of himself and put out into the world came back to him. Suddenly, February 2nd became the best day of his life. He found meaning, purpose, even love on the same day that had previously brought him so much anger and negativity.
The sequence of events themselves never changed, but how Phil reacted to them evolved over the course of the movie.
This nugget of insight is not just true in this film, but I realized could be applied to everyday life.
We can not control the events that happen in our everyday lives, but we can control how we react to them.
What we give to the universe, is ultimately what we will get back from it.
I went to bed this year on Groundhog Day and thought, “What would I do differently if tomorrow was today? How would I treat the people around me differently? What would I say or eat differently? How would I spend my time?”
These are the types of self-reflective questions that help us define who we are and who we decide to become.
There is never a bad time to ask them, but they are also the type of questions for which we don’t often make time to ask.
I decided to make every Groundhog Day my moment to ask these questions. As the groundhog looks back to see his shadow, I, too, will look back and reflect on the type of person I am and the one I wish to become.
Mark your calendars, you owe it to yourself to celebrate this holiday every year.
P.S. Groundhog Day has become a special day for personal reflection — but in my experience, an ongoing practice of introspection is where the real magic happens. That’s why we created a 12-month framework for the Holstee Membership to encourage a habit of questioning where you are and crafting where you want to be. Learn more →