Last Friday, Bill Murray sat in for a Reddit AMA, and it was apparent in his answers that Murray is relaxed, carefree, and adventurous in his life, and with the kind of money and success he’s made, he’s allowed to be. Indeed, according to actor, director, comedian, and Hollywood God, “the more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything: the better you are with your loved ones, the better you are with your enemies, the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself.”
Murray lives a very Zen kind of life, and he feels that, if you give something to someone else, he’ll give it back to you. “When I feel like I’m stuck, I do something,” Bill Murray once said. “There’s someone that’s forgotten about in your life, all the time. Someone that could use an ‘Attaboy’ or a ‘How you doin’ out there.” It’s a very Buddhist philosophy. “It’s just thinking about making someone else feel comfortable,” he says. “You don’t worry about yourself, because we’re vibrating together. If I can make yours just a little bit groovier, it’ll affect me. It comes back, somehow.”
That’s Bill Murray for you. Help yourself by helping others. If you also want to live the happy, zen lifestyle of Bill Murray, there are countless Bill Murray stories from which you can glean the know-how. Below, I’ve taken 20 Bill Murray stories, and distilled their essential lessons so that, by following these 20 simple steps, you can also be as happy and zen as Murray.
1. If you are ever feeling down, watch a great comedy. For example, you can watch the 2004 Stephen Chow film, Kung Fu Hustle, which Bill Murray thinks is the “supreme achievement in modern comedy.”
2. If you’re going to be petty with your co-workers, at least be funny about it. For example, during filming of Groundhog Day, Murray was going through a divorce and experiencing some profound emotional problems, which blew up on the set and ultimately cost him his friendship with lifelong friend Harold Ramis. In fact, even during filming, the relationship was so strained that, in order to make communication between him and Ramis and the studio even more difficult, he hired a deaf assistant, who only spoke using sign language. (Not for nothing, but Richard Dreyfus also dislikes Murray due to their working relationship on Groundhog Day. (He has since had a falling out with his deaf assistant, which he recounted in the AMA).
3. Pay a spontaneous compliment to a former lover. This is what Bill Murray did during a benefit at New York’s Museum Of Modern Art for Sofia Coppola. After six cans of sparkling wine, Bill Murray blurted out in front of the entire gala that Kathleen Turner was “a great f*ck.”
4. Life-threatening drinking competitions can make you appreciate life even more. So true, so true! In fact, during a drunken competition with Hunter S. Thompson to see who could out Houdini who, Thompson nearly killed Murray when he tied him to a chair and threw him into a pool. Murray almost drowned before Thompson could pull him out, but you can bet that Murray had a better appreciation for life after the near-death experience.
5. Offer advice to others. One thing that Bill Murray is most famous for is wandering around NYC and crashing parties, where he often offers fatherly advice to the other party goers. He might even sing karaoke with you, as he’s been known to do from time to time.
6. Go out and get lost every once in a while For example, Bill Murray once got lost riding a motorcycle in the jungles of Bali, and instead of panicking, he was eventually found by Harold Ramis in at a village store, putting on an impromptu performance with cheering locals, despite the fact he didn’t know a damn word of Balinese. Related: Try a New Food, as Murray did in eating a live eel.
7. Always Honor Your Friends. Bill Murray agreed to play Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters, only if he could play the role as originally written for the late John Belushi, as a tribute to his fellow SNL cast member.
8. When asked simple favors, go above and beyond to really impress. For example, instead of simply signing an autograph, Bill Murray once granted a guy’s wish to allow him to film him walking slo-mo down a hall, with which he created this short film.
9. Never answer to anyone you don’t want to answer to. During the Oscars one year, Bill Murray publicly fired his agent. Now he simply has a 1-800 number that filmmakers call and pitch him ideas on voice mail. If he’s in the mood and feels like working, he’ll listen to the voice mails, and if something sounds good, he might accept (unfortunately, it cost him his relationship with an agent who was instrumental in connecting him with Wes Anderson and landing him the role in Lost in Translation, which provided him with a career resurgence).
10. Pour drinks for strangers. It’s good for the soul. One year, during SXSW, Bill Murray went into a bar with RZA and GZA, walked behind the bar and began bartending. No matter what the customers asked for, however, he gave them shots of tequila, because he’s Bill effing Murray.