Paul Hannam, a British entrepreneur turned author, has published a book The Wisdom of Groundhog Day based on lessons he has learnt from the film.
“I believe that this wonderful film contains remarkable wisdom that can help you be happier and more fulfilled,” he said in an article in the Guardian recently, published to coincide with the opening of the first musical version of Groundhog Day, supported by Bruno Wang Productions.
Hannam came to the film after losing his business and marriage following the credit crash of 2008/9. “I’d been chasing a way of living based on my own needs, status and power,” he said. And it was making me unhappy. I had to replace it with something else.”
A lonely Saturday night re-watching the classic film Groundhog Day gave him cause to reflect: “I saw it as a story of personal transformation, a metaphor for the struggle that we all have to find meaning and fulfilment.”
Hannam believes there are three principles in the film which make it so powerful. Firstly, practice makes perfect. “Groundhog Day is a sustained, ingenious experiment in how to make the most of every day and live your life to the full.
“Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, learns how to be incredibly resourceful as he turns a miserable day into a great day through consistent practice – until he masters the art of living his one day to the full. I try to improve every day, too, experimenting with new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving so that I can remain spontaneous, agile and open to change.”
Secondly, improve the quality of our inner life. “Phil does not transform his character through attaining more power, wealth or status. He cannot change his place or time, so he has to change himself. He simplifies his life to the essence, to what is most significant – like being aware and caring for others.”
Thirdly, appreciate that you have everything you need to be happy now. “I used to be restless all the time, moving house every year or so, distracting myself with new businesses and even emigrating to California. Now I focus on appreciating what I have in the knowledge that I need nothing more to feel happy now.”
Hannam says Groundhog Day is a masterclass in how to live. “You can make today better than yesterday; you can improve your life one day at a time.”