We Can Learn A lot From Squirrels!

Over the past few months I have been hearing quite a few stories about squirrels and their escapades.  Most of them are funny.  Some of them are not.  But one thing keeps going through my mind over and over again.  Wow, we can learn a lot about life from watching a squirrel!

First of all, we can learn the true meaning of the word persistence.  When a squirrel is looking for food and has found a possible source that promises to pay dividends, he will stop at almost nothing to get at that food.  Many people have squirrel proof feeders in their backyards to feed birds.  Squirrels will hang from the tops of them, try to pry off the lids, try to pull out the feeding stations, and gnaw at the plastic.  They will bang it and swing it in the hopes that the seed inside will spill out.  They will run up the nearest vertical post or tree and try to jump onto it or reach over to it and feed that way.  And, if all else fails, they will try to knock the feeder off the pole or tree and then run away with it in the hopes they can crack the code later!  These squirrels don’t give up at the first rejection or the first sign of trouble.  With each defeated effort they will sit back, reassess the situation and try something else.  And, when all else fails, they will put the problem on the back burner to think about later!  How many times do we walk away from something we want at the first signs of a problem?   Lately I have been reading the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  One of the determinants of success, according to Mr. Hill, is the level of commitment you have to the dream or vision you hold.  If you are truly committed, he states, you will not walk away at the first defeat, but will stay the course and keep trying until you have reached success.  Just like a squirrel. 

The second thing I have learned by watching squirrels is not to be embarrassed if you make a mistake in front of others.  Watching a squirrel swing around and be defeated time and time again can be truly comical.  Some feeders even have ways that toss squirrels off, either by twirling or by having perches that collapse.  But does that squirrel slink away in embarrasment?  Nope.  He just keeps on keeping on until he reaches his goal.  Why does pleasing people and having people see our mistakes trouble us so much?  I have yet to meet one person who is perfect.  All of us make mistakes every single day, and all of us do things that may not necessarily be wise but seem like a good idea at the time.  We often slink away in embarrassment instead of laughing it off and trying again.  I’ve made a promise to myself that the next time I make a mistake that could be embarrassing, I’m just going to laugh with everyone and move on.  I’m the first to admit that I’m not perfect…thank goodness!

Finally, the last thing I’ve learned from squirrels is the value of play.  I spent an hour on my deck last summer watching three squirrels chase eachother around my yard and the yard next door.  They would run after one anther, up trees and across the lawns, then all of a sudden, they would reverse and another squirrel would take the lead…and off  they would go again!  They took time out from their work of survival, to have some fun.  Now I know they might not have been playing…it might have been some squirrel ritual they were performing.  But I prefer to think of them as just letting loose and having the time of their lives!  It makes me wonder why I don’t do the same thing more often.  Why does life have to be all about work?  Play is just as important to our physical and emotional well-being as work is to our financial well-being.  A healthly life includes a good mix of both.  So I’ve made a resolution to include more play in my life.  What can you do for fun today?

I’ve heard it said that “it is a jungle out there”.  But after observing squirrels and hearing lots of stories, I’m beginning to think that we are looking at this phrase the wrong way.  Why does life being a jungle have to be a bad thing?  Maybe we can learn a lot from the animals that are part of our lives.  I’ve learned more about persistence, commitment to my goals, and having fun from a squirrel than I ever have listening to other human beings.  So my challenge for you this week is to spend some time watching the animals in your life, whether they be squirrels, your dog or your cat.  What can you learn from them that you can apply to your own life to make it better?  Then, once you have thought of it, take action to apply them.  And have fun!