photo: slgckgc on flickr

photo: slgckgc on flickr

Does the following scenario sound familiar?

You’ve achieved something really awesome. And you know you’re supposed to feel good about it. And you do. For a little while.

But then something else kicks in. Something squirrely.

photo: Tomi Tapio K on flickr

photo: Tomi Tapio K on flickr

Like a squirrel, this feeling is jittery and in constant motion. It prevents you from truly enjoying your accomplishment. Even worse, it drives you to try and achieve even more, hoping maybe that will make you feel better.

Anyone with me here? Or am I the only squirrel in the room?

photo: Sheila Rosamond on flickr

photo: Sheila Rosamond on flickr

My most recent encounter with my inner squirrel went like this:

Every week day, I have a morning routine that I love. First I wake up. (Yay!)

Then I go for a walk and do my affirmative prayer practice. (Again, yay!)

Then I come home, take a shower, get some food, and head into my office. (Yay yay yay!)

Once in my office, I sit at my computer and write for two hours. (Yay times infinity!)

infinity done

Writing is one of my favorite things in the world. When I’m writing, time disappears. I feel like I’m floating in a vast space of creativity and awesome-ness. I’m totally free and alive. It’s amazing.

What’s not amazing is what was happening after my writing practice.

When I was finished for the day, I’d get up from my desk and take care of things around the house. Things like cleaning the kitchen and taking out the garbage.

In spite of what some of you may be thinking, the problem was not the dishes or the garbage.

The problem was what was happening in my head.

Up until the end of my writing practice, every part of the day had been filled with Yay! Not a worry in sight.

But every day, after I wrote, I would find myself reviewing what I achieved that day. What the outcome of my writing time had been.

As I did this, I found that I didn’t feel satisfied. Maybe for a second I did. But then something else entered the scene.

Something with a bushy tail and a penchant for nuts.

photo: Ian Sane on flickr

photo: Ian Sane on flickr

I kept trying to review what I’d accomplished in an attempt to feel satisfied, but it didn’t work. My mind started scurrying around, faster and faster. Chasing its tail and spazzing out all over the place.

And then, in the middle of my squirrel frenzy, a thought popped in my head.

Why don’t you list what you appreciate about the day so far?

My little squirrel mind stopped in its tracks.

photo: andrew wales on flickr

photo: andrew wales on flickr

Just like that, I ceased my scurrying and started focusing on appreciation instead.

One by one, I listed all the things I appreciated about my day. Interestingly enough, this list included things I had accomplished during my writing practice. But now, instead of merely trotting out my achievements and expecting myself to be satisfied by them, I was basking in appreciation.

Not only that, I wasn’t only focusing on my accomplishments. My achievements were part of a long list of all kinds of things to appreciate.

It was a small shift. But it was a profound one.

Moving to appreciation allowed me to feel satisfaction with everything, including what I’d accomplished during my writing time.

When I was in squirrel mode, I was operating under the assumption that my accomplishments, in and of themselves, were supposed to make me happy. When that didn’t work, I tried milking them, reviewing them in my head again and again, sure that one of these days I’d feel fulfilled.

But my squirrely behavior didn’t work. Yes, it did leave me with a big, bushy tail and stash of nuts.

photo: Alan Cleaver on flickr

photo: Alan Cleaver on flickr

But it also left me feeling exhausted and unsatisfied.

Now, whenever I find myself retreating into Squirrel Mode, I take a breath and ask myself: What is there to appreciate?

I like to list as many things as I can. And I like to say them out loud.

So now, instead of jumping around like a crazed squirrel, I’m cruising around with a big grin on my face, talking to myself.

I may not be a squirrel anymore, but I’m still nuts!

photo: Dawn Huczek on flickr

photo: Dawn Huczek on flickr

How do you tame your inner squirrel? Share your comments below!

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