I absolutely love the movie Groundhog’s Day. It’s one of those movies that spark the age old philosophical debate in my mind….”Is art an imitation of life or life an imitation of art?” I’m convinced both are correct and it can go either way. However, with this movie I believe it is art is an imitation of life.
Mark Twain nailed it …”If you do what you’ve always done then you get what you’ve always gotten.” The main character Phil readily recognized this during the first few renditions of February 2nd.
It’s interesting to note that when Phil first discovers that none of his choices have any long-lasting consequences that he errs on the side of deviant choices like preying on women, robbing the bank, kidnapping the ground hog, etc.
However, he quickly comes to the realization that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day. Ironically, staying the same and the freedom to be an arrogant egotistical jerk on steroids without long-lasting consequences was not an appealing way to live out his life on replay.
After several failed attempts to prey on his optimistic, positive, attractive co-worker Rita, he develops and attraction to her and makes it his quest to have her.
During his quest, Phil offers us the following life lessons:
- DELIBERATE PURPOSE SHAPES OUR DESTINY
Once Phil has a deliberate purpose, to get closer to Rita, his life became more and more ordered. Phil teaches us that often times our deliberate purposes are created in the midst of unwanted circumstances that causes us to feel frustrated, reluctant, tired, overwhelmed, despondent, hopeless, angry, or destitute.
He demonstrated that having a deliberate purpose can transform our life circumstances from a nightmare to a fantasy. Through Phil’s experience we also learn that it sets us on a path to enhance our own human understanding which garners more love and appreciation for ourselves and others.
In our quest of our deliberate purpose or personal legend, we transform our character too. Phil changed from an arrogant, egotistical, selfish, close-minded weatherman with a disdain for those he worked for as well as his viewers to an open-hearted, courteous, benevolent, loving townsman and hero.
- PERSISTENCE PAYS
Phil didn’t take no for an answer. He didn’t succumb to the obstacles presented by each day. Instead and in spite of the myriad of highs and lows, he stayed the course to achieve his deliberate purpose.
He recognized he could not change himself or his circumstances in a single day or influence others to help him get what he want. However, he understood that he could achieve self improvement by educating himself on a daily basis and experimenting with his choices.
Ultimately, Phil teaches us we don’t fail until we quit trying.
- POWER IN CHOICES
Phil finally understood the power of choices and how they directly impacted his results. Each day he experimented with new choices. At first, as already mentioned, his choices were fueled by selfish motivations yielding less than fulfilling and satisfying results for himself and others.
However, once Phil has a deliberate purpose he takes advantage of the opportunity after opportunity to get the day “right”. In the process of doing so, his new choices led him to new skills such as playing the piano, speaking French, and sculpting ice.
Simply put Phil learned the choices you make in life have the power to change your life.
- LEARN FROM MISTAKES
Interestingly, Phil made a LOT of mistakes on his way to getting his day “right” and achieving his deliberate purpose but he never interpreted them to be a reflection of who he was or let it determine his outcome. In other words, Phil understood just because he made a mistake didn’t mean he was a mistake.
He separated his mistakes from his identity. And, he didn’t blame others. Phil fully embraced his responsibility to keep adjusting his choices and acquiring new information until he got his day “right”.
His nightly practice to ensure he minimized any repeated mistakes was to review his day and devise a new plan of action for whatever choices did not move him closer to his purpose. He did not see failure in mistakes but as lessons to try again in a new way.
- HELPING OTHERS HELPS US
Zig Ziglar would have been proud of Phil for embodying his mantra “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” And, sure enough the more Phil’s attention shifted to helping others the more he got what he wanted in life.
He cultivated the practice of befriending everyone he met during the day. And, used his life experiences to save lives and help townspeople. By the time Phil got his day “right”, he was herald the town’s appreciated and beloved hero and he achieved his deliberate purpose…..Rita.