Paul Hannam confesses to having his life changed by the “silly comedy” Groundhog Day (Bill Murray, 1993), suggesting that the film celebrates the extraordinary gift of ordinary life.
If you haven’t seen it, try to watch it, for it is indeed a film to be seen, and enjoyed. And in The Wisdom of Groundhog Day – How to improve your life one day at a time, Mr Hannam proposes that what on the face of it is a story about someone being trapped in a recurring day is at a deeper level a tale of how to live your life in the real world, while dealing with a plethora of challenges: setback, rejection, loss, uncertainty, boredom, disappointment, coping with change, power and intimacy.
Mr Hannam proposes that the story has 3 transformative principles that we can use to transform our lives:
- That practice makes perfect – through mastering the art of living, we can live life to the full and experiment with new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving
- Improve the quality of your inner life – if you can’t change your place or time, then change yourself, and work on feeling a sense of wellbeing regardless of what’s happening in your outside world
- Understand that you have everything you can to be happy now; be grateful and appreciative, and the happier you will be; change yourself before looking to change your circumstances.
If this all sounds a little unexpected – you might, like me, remember Groundhog Day simply as a joyous comedy – maybe we’ll have to think again. Paul Hannam considers it a masterclass in how to live, delivering one of life’s greatest lessons: that we can create our own reality and can make our own choices.
So I’m off to find a copy of Groundhog Day, and will try to look at it this time through an existentialist’s eyes, for I like what Mr Hannam says:
“You can make today better than yesterday; you can improve your life one day at a time.”