8 Life Lessons To Take Away From 'Groundhog Day'

February can be a rough month. It’s just about the dead middle of winter, with cold temperatures and gray days clouding moods, and it feels like it just about lasts forever. The holidays are long over, with not much to look forward to until spring turns up. Even worse, just two days into this relatively grim time of year you get Groundhog Day, the bizarre rodent ritual that attempts to predict just how much longer we'll all have to slug through the season.

But a definite plus side to the day is the existence of the Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day, a hilarious movie that not only helps you recognize the ridiculousness of the event, but also helps viewers get through this most rough time of year. For those unfamiliar, Groundhog Day tells the story of misanthropic Pittsburgh meteorologist Phil Connors who finds himself trapped in a time loop after reporting on the groundhog events in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He repeats the same day over and over again, experiencing the same people, town, and events on repeat, doing things slightly differently every time until he learns a few lessons and is finally allowed to move on.

Phil’s situation is simultaneously funny and tragic, but as one watches the film and learns more about the various ways that a person might handle such a bizarre situation, some pretty helpful life lessons pop up throughout. By following these pieces of advice shared by the movie, you, too, might be able to live every day like it's Groundhog Day.

1. Wake Up Bright And Early

The early bird catches the worm isn’t just a saying, as studies have shown that there is scientific evidence of the health benefits of being a “morning person.” While stuck in his time loop, Phil wakes every morning at 6 a.m. to the sweet sounds of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” Maybe there’s a song out that that will get your motor rolling in the morning as well, and with an early rise, you might just get more done and have more time for the things you enjoy.

2. Help Others In Need

The first time that Phil passes the old homeless man on the street in Punxsutawney, he pats his pockets pretending not to have any money. But over the course of the movie, Phil becomes more and more empathetic to the old man’s tragic situation. Phil buys him meals on numerous occasions, and tries to save the guy’s life when he’s stuck out in the cold. Phil also repeatedly catches a kid who falls out of a tree, helps some women with a flat tire, and performs the Heimlich maneuver on a restaurant goer. As his actions show, helping others doesn't just only make them feel good — it can make you feel great, too.

3. Chill Out With The Sarcasm

This is one problem I personally have to curb every now and then. Having a sarcastic sense of humor is one thing, but sometimes that sarcasm transforms into a jaded outlook that leaves me overly cynical. Phil’s sarcasm is a defense mechanism as a way of dealing with his unhappiness. Once he begins speaking with genuine feelings and listening to others without giving snappy comebacks, he begins his transformation.

4. Learn New Things

Phil eventually ends up taking advantage of his time trapped in Punxsutawney and puts his imposed repetition to good use. He learns how to play the piano in multiple styles, he becomes an expert ice sculptor, he learns French, he studies poetry, and he discovers how to toss cards into a hat like a pro. While it’s not likely that we can all become experts in multiple fields, it never hurts to try new things, expand our minds, or take a stab at learning a new skill.

5. Be Nice To People Even If You Don’t Like Them

This is actually one thing that Phil does right even on his first day in Punxsutawney. He doesn’t remember Ned Reyerson, and he really doesn’t seem to like him either, as Ned comes across pretty annoying. Yet Phil is nothing but respectful to him, despite his frustrations. Now, I’m not saying be nice to people who have legitimately wronged you or who have earned your distrust, but being nasty to those who you just don’t like always ends up being a waste of energy. Besides, being nice apparently makes you more attractive!

6. Don’t Get So Hung Up On Food

Look, by no means do I recommend throwing caution to the wind and eating every meal like Phil does during his diner indulgence, but with society’s ever-growing obsession with what we eat, how much we eat, how much we weigh, and what size we fit into, it’s generally a healthier choice to not obsess over every single calorie. Women are especially vulnerable to the judgements that come along with food choices, but with the body positive movement in full swing, it’s high time we indulge in treats without feeling wracked with guilt.

7. Try to Connect With More People And Make More Friends

By the time Phil has come to the end of his time in Punxsatawny, he’s met and interacted with an entire town full of people, making friends and helping them along the way. It's easy to get stuck in our cliques and become complacent in hanging out with the same people over and over again, even though those people might not be the best influences, but it's not the best thing to do. Getting out and meeting new people isn’t just a great way to make new friends, but it also helps you learn about places you might never have thought to visit or take part in activities you never considered.

8. Don’t Be A Jerk

Basically the whole point of Phil’s purgatory in Punxsutawney is for him to figure out that he must set aside his selfish, misanthropic ways and learn to be a better person. But hopefully we shouldn’t need to spend the same amount of time as Phil (what some folks have estimated is about 33 years) trapped in a time loop in order to learn such a lesson. Perhaps the ultimate takeaway from Groundhog Day is the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated.

That's some pretty great advice from a pretty great movie.

Images: Columbia Pictures (4), Giphy (5)