Groundhog Day almost went unnoticed. It wasn’t until after six o’clock this past Saturday that I remembered. My husband and I were in the kitchen fixing dinner and heard on NPR the groundhog had predicted an early spring. (The radio announcer ruined the fun noting that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asserts the groundhog has no predictive qualities.)
When I was kid, I would not have forgotten Groundhog Day, April Fool’s Day, or to wear green to avoid getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day. These holidays were simple pleasures – something novel, something to be excited about. I suppose that’s why I don’t remember them anymore. Groundhog Day is no longer novel.
Happiness research tells us that we benefit from novel experiences – not always easy to find in the average day of an adult life. We go to work, we come home, and we try to carve out some time to detangle our minds from the day. Often we even make our down time routine. As adults, novel is a homemade gift, our lifetime of experiences making those like Groundhog Day lose their distinctive qualities.
The good news is that we can choose. We can choose to go to work a different route. We can choose to go someplace new for lunch. We can choose to engage in random acts of kindness (also proven to make us happier) with the co-worker we never talk to. We can choose the optimistic view that there is something new we can experience every day. We can be like the groundhog. In failing to see our shadow, we create our own images of ourselves predicting every bounty of Spring.