3 Taoist Lessons from Groundhog Day

Natalia Costa
4 min readNov 11, 2020

Does your life feel like the same day over and over again? Keep reading!

One of the scenes of the movie where Phil kidnaps the Groundhog.

Groundhog Day is a classic! It is amongst one of my favourite films. The joyful way it shows us how our perspective towards life is the changing point for the way we experience it, is a delight! It’s like the metaphor of the glass of water: is it half full or half empty? When you are forced to choose your brain gets stuck. It needs some expansion to be able to see other possibilities that are not there when you are confronted with the problem from that point of view.

First of all, Groundhog Day is incredibly funny and it hooks the viewer from the first scene. It’s kind of like Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life reversed. Whether in this one the main character played by James Stewart is confronted with what the world would be like if he had never been born; in Groundhog Day, Phil, played by Bill Murray, faces the same day over and over again ad infinitum. It really makes you wonder what would you do if you got stuck in a cold Winter day in a place you didn’t want to be. And how many of us go about life feeling just like that?

As the days progress in an endless repetition, we get more and more empathetic towards the grumpy main character, who couldn’t be any other than Bill Murray, as if the actor had been born to play this role! His arrogance is almost delightful. We really get attuned with his desperation as the grumpiness melts away and gives room to a “f*ck it, I’ll just enjoy this day the best possible way I can!” attitude. He grows on us as the day repeats as he grows on Rita, played by Andie McDowell, for the movie also shows how love makes us want to be better people. Not just the romantic Hollywood type of love (although any good comedy needs a bit of that), but the love towards life itself, what the French call joie de vivre. As Phil progressively becomes better, he feels better, he gets imbued with a joy of living. He basically becomes better because he is enjoying more. Like the Taoist perspective of life where you are it when you stop thinking about it.

Original movie poster for Groundhog Day (1993).

There is great wisdom in this movie very much aligned with Taoism. In fact, the whole…

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Natalia Costa

Human being 🐒 Engineer by day, Poet by night ☯️ Writing about emotional intelligence A.K.A. applied quantum physics. www.bynataliacosta.com