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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