I just watched Groundhog Day with my family. Do you know it? If not, it’s a great film, especially for the world we find ourselves in currently. In a nutshell, grumpy TV broadcaster, Phil, and his ego get stranded by a snowstorm whilst capturing the ‘excitement’ of the annual Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil soon realizes something is seriously amiss when he wakes up to the tedium of exactly the same day over and over. At first, he is confused, then frustrated and angry before eventually accepting the situation for what it is and shifting to make the absolute best of the day by learning from each mistake and taking ‘failures’ as data to inform the next attempt at the day with better understanding and gratitude.
As soon as Phil accepts this crazy, trapped situation for what it is, he begins to see everything as a gift of new data and learning. He learns to put himself into the shoes of others and, with this new way of looking at the world, learns in turn the value of caring about others. For Phil, this nightmare of being locked into the mundane became opportunity after opportunity.
They say a change is a good as a holiday but for, the majority of us, we can’t even change the same four walls we look at or the people we interact with, let alone take a holiday. So what can we do after we find ourselves in a year-long Groundhog Day loop?
If we can’t change our environment, we can still choose to perceive it and our situation differently. Almost a year into this pandemic and all it has brought with it, what are the positive gifts of learning and opportunity that have opened up for you even if they didn’t feel even vaguely positive at first? What were you grumpy about at first, that then turned into a gift or opportunity with hindsight and a different attitude? How did you manage to alter your perspective? What changed for you once your new perspective allowed you to see the possibilities?
Even if you need to take a moment to stop, reflect and find some personal positives in this pandemic, I am sure that just the process of looking for the positives helps some rise to the surface.
In the case of Groundhog Day, Phil started making friends with his current situation. He started looking for the learning in the inevitable and mundane and eventually became deeply grateful for each new lesson learnt. Once he accepted ‘now’ as nothing good or bad, but just as what was, he was able to let go of worrying about where he should be and what he could be doing differently and invite his full attention in the moment. He connected back with who he was and what was important to him, rather than who and what he was trying to become. This gave him the time and space to appreciate relationships, recognise the teachers around him, shift from a place of pride and fear to ease and flow and, ultimately, find love and appreciation in the situation he’d originally been so desperate to escape.
The humour of this classic script comes predominantly from Phil’s frustration and refusal to accept what is, his victim mindset and his desperate attempts at holding back reality (however unbelievable) before eventually letting go and deciding to have fun going with the flow of what is.
No one is saying for one moment that these times are easy, however the energy of ‘pushing against’ rather than ‘flowing with’ can make a considerable difference in all areas of our health and well-being.
Seeing the negative and feeling trapped is a very different energy than looking for the gifts of learning and opportunities, however small. Phil learns to find joy in the simple things that he was previously too distracted to notice. There is plenty of research to support the many benefits of daily gratitude to our mental well-being. These small appreciative moments have the power to change our perspective, attitude, energy levels and mood.
My daily dog walks have become a very special part of my day. I appreciate the sparkle of snow and the warmth of the house and teacup when I get home from the deep snow we are currently experiencing. I play with adding walking meditations, audiobooks and face-timing my family and friends that I haven’t seen in so long so that we can take a virtual walk together too. Walking coaching and supervision brings a whole new dimension to our reflections even when the client and I are walking in two separate environments and connected by phone. I wonder if I would have even considered something like that if it weren’t for my groundhog situation?
I am certainly making more of an effort to connect and feel a renewed sense of community from others too. I am thinking more often about who I haven’t spoken to in a while, who is on their own and reaching out to find out how people are doing. This is just one thing I really appreciate and want to actively take out of Groundhog Day with me.
How about you? What are you noticing that you previously missed? What new perspectives have you discovered? What are you grateful for? What have you learned? What are you doing, appreciating or learning in your Groundhog Day experience that you will actively take out of lockdown with you? What small things are you taking pleasure in and how are you spicing up the mundane?
Share your little lockdown wins, emapthise and acknowledge all that is difficult with each other, but then share your positives, your appreciation and learning and encourage others to share theirs too. Let’s not forget that the Groundhog Day film is a comedy. It might not necessarily feel as if there is much to laugh about right now, but look for the comedy moments, however small and share any smiles or giggles widely. I know I truly appreciate seeing the more lighthearted side of this situation, but more often than not, I need someone else to help me see it.
At some point our Groundhog Day will come to an end. What do you want to be able to say that you learned from yours?