Stop Living Your Life Like It’s Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day!

For my non-American readers, Groundhog Day is a holiday where a groundhog (a medium-sized rodent) is said to be able to predict whether it will be a long winter or an early spring. If the groundhog comes out of its hole and see his shadow, we can expect 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then spring is just around the corner.

It’s one of my favorite holidays because it’s so ridiculous and because of an old ‘90s movie starring Bill Murray called Groundhog Day.

In the movie, Bill Murray plays a disgruntled weatherman who is forced to cover the national Groundhog Day festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He’s mean to everyone, especially the sweet people in the town.

The next day, he expects to drive home with his crew, but magically, it’s February 2 all over again. Everyone is celebrating Groundhog Day as if the previous day never happened. And then the next day is Groundhog Day…and the next…and the next…. This miserable little man is stuck in a loop he can’t escape from—and no one knows it but him!

Sounds freaky, right?

But what could have been a depressing movie is actually very spiritual. At first, the weatherman continues to be mean and selfish, but as the days drag on, his whole attitude changes, and he becomes the most loved man in town.

It’s only then, after he learns to love and appreciate people and be grateful for every moment, does time move forward to February 3.

You can probably see many different religious philosophies in this movie, but I feel like it parallels the Buddhist idea of achieving enlightenment. You can only achieve true spiritual happiness after you let go of your selfish desires.

You could call it nirvana, heaven, peace, your happy place, ultimate contentment, but how do we get there?

What can we do to stop living our own versions of Groundhog Day where every day is full of the same selfish thoughts and actions?

Here are my tips for breaking the cycle and moving forward to your version of happiness:

Aim to be happy 51% of the time.

Struggling to be happy 100% of the time is unnecessary. We all have bad days, but if we can tip the balance and be more happy than sad during a given day, it will lead to more and more happy experiences. Think of your happiness as a snowball rolling down a hill and collecting more snow so when it finally reaches the bottom, it’s a much larger ball. Get the happiness ball rolling and the rest will take care of itself. This is another instance where “good enough” is enough.

Act like this is the only day you’ve got.

We’ve all heard about “living in the now.” What if, instead of today being your last day on Earth, it were your only day, as was the case in the movie? If this present moment is all you’ve got, make the most of it! Be content with your current circumstances: smile at your grumpy coworkers, really enjoy every bite of your lunch, stop and smell the roses. Happiness is right here, right now, in this very day.

Do something kind for 1 person.

If you make a monetary donation to a cause you believe in, you might feel happy for 5 minutes. To take yourself to the next level of happiness, try helping just 1 single person. By connecting one-on-one with another person, you’ll get to experience firsthand what your kindness means to them: make dinner for someone who could really use a break, talk to the homeless man who’s always outside your building, volunteer at the local nursing home or library. Connecting with someone on a human level will make both of you happy. (And make sure to end on a a bright!)

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  1. Cara on February 3, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I really love the 51% rule for happiness, that’s such an obtainable goal and I’ve never thought about a day that way. I really try to leave anything annoying about a day at the train station, so I can put on a happy song while I walk home. By the time I enter my apartment, I’m back to my happy place. I use the same technique in the morning to make sure I get off to a good start.

  2. Anna on February 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Here’s a slightly unrelated story (but it’s still about groundhogs): A couple of years ago a particularly beat up and skinny groundhog made a nest under my doorstep. My mom, who loves anything furry with a heartbeat, bought HUGE boxes of second-pick apples from our local farmer’s market and fed them ALL to the small beast residing under our house. In no time he fattened up, his sheen returned, and we could sit next to him as he ate his food. Adorable? I think so! Some time later he either died or left (hopefully left) but at least I’ll have a video of him as he dives for the apples 🙂

    Telling you this story made me at least 51% happy today. Thanks Sage!

    P.S – I’m going to watch Groundhog Day now 🙂

  3. xvavaveganx on February 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Great post! I love your positivity and I always appreciate your tips for remaining positive and happy. It can get difficult for me sometimes and I think about your posts and I always work to think more positively. I love your tips for today. I try to do kind things for others but would definitely like to do more.

    Great advice as always!

    • Sage on February 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks, Sarah. I’m glad you get something out of my posts. I struggle with staying positive the most when I’m feeling sick or tired. When my basic needs aren’t being met, then I’m really bitchy! That’s why I just try to stay more positive than negative, but I don’t beat myself up if I have a bad day.

  4. Shybiker on February 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    When I first saw that movie over a decade ago, I was expecting little and was surprised at how deep the film got. Some very important lessons in it.

    I recently re-viewed it when showing it to a friend. It holds up.

    Your advice is good. I try to follow it but can always use improvement.

    • Sage on February 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      I know! You think it’s going to be some cheesy comedy, but then it makes you think. I still watch it every year.

      Thanks for saying my advice is good. That means so much to me. I may be an advice giver, but I follow my readers’ advice a lot too (shh! don’t tell!).

  5. Molly on February 2, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Such a great post, Sage! Having a mostly positive outlook and disposition is so important to being happy. It’s a shame that so many people fail to recognize that.

    • Sage on February 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks, Molly! I try to be happy at least most of the time.