Ground Hog Day 2012: Mix of Optimism and Pessimism

Dr. Russ Buss teaches how Ground Hog Day is a symbol for optimistic action. Just as Bill Murray learned in the movie, optimists know that ever day is a chance to "do-over" what we did before on a path of lifelong self-improvement.
Feb. 2, 2012 - PRLog -- Today is Ground Hog Day.  On this day, we arouse a ground hog out of a deep sleep and bring it above ground to find out its prediction about whether we have 6 more weeks (pessimistic) or not (optimistic) of winter.

Optimistic groundhogs included New York’s Staten Island Chuck, Wisconsin’s Jimmy the Groundhog, Holtsville Hal of Long Island, Woody the Woodchuck in Michigan, and Georgia’s Gen. Beauregard Lee, who “predicted” an early spring Thursday morning.   None of thee hogs saw their shadow confirming that it will be an early Spring.

The most famous and trusted groundhog, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil SAW his shadow and did a mad dash down his hole for six more weeks of rest and relaxation.

Which groundhog is right?  Since weather tends to be regional and local, they might all be right.  In that case, Wisconsin, Michigan and New York will see an early Spring, while central Pennsylvania will have to tough out another six weeks of winter.

On the other hand, the Associated Press reports that Georgia’s Beau has a track record of being right 94% of the time.  In that case Phil might get an early awakening.

The other significance of Ground Hog Day has nothing to do with winter and a ground hog. The day is significant because of the movie by that title starring Bill Murray in role of T.V. weatherman, Phil Conners, reporting on the event.  Murray gets stuck in what appears to be a never ending repeat of the day February 2, until he figures out how to get life “right.”  

I refer to this phenomenon as a “do-over” day.  Every failure in life is an opportunity for a “do-over.”  What do we mean by a “do-over” day?  Can we haul that ground hog out of his hole and see if he sees his shadow again?  Not exactly.  To do that would be a little like flipping a coin until it came up heads; not much of a challenge. A “do-over” requires effort and risking one’s ego against the possibility of another failure. A “do over-er” is someone who strives to make progress, no matter what; someone who expects failure to be part of the process for growth and improvement.

At the beginning of the movie, Conners--played by Murray--is a superficial, self centered character with little regard for anything but satisfying his own needs.  He struggles with failure and disappointment until time stops on February 2.  Then he does the do-over Feb 2 after Feb 2 until he becomes a character of depth and compassion for others.  He even gets the girl in the end.

This morning, I saw two CNN reporters, Suzanne Malveaux and her co-host, get the meaning of the movie entirely wrong.  They interpreted the "do-over" as getting to repeat your best day ever.  One wanted to repeat her wedding day and the other day a “best” performance in a junior high talent show.

Their mistaken interpretation of Ground Hog Day, the movie, highlights two different perspectives on optimism.  One view is that optimism is always about living and reliving your peak performance versus the Dr. Russ Buss view which states that optimism is about finding the opportunity in every failure and working on a lifetime goal of self-improvement.

What do you think?

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Our mission is to teach "skilled optimism"- how let go of a negative in a moment; view life as one continuous learning curve with multiple "do-over" opportunities. Products include a daily blog, seminars, publications, speaking, radio show, & coaching.
Source:Dr. Russ Buss
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Tags:Optimism, Bill Murray, Ground Hog Day, Self-improvement, Suzanne Malveaux, Cnn, Motivation
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