Feed the right wolf

A friend once sent a really poignant picture with message to me some months back. I have seen the message several times over, written in different ways as I am sure many people have. It is said to be a native American Indian story but every time I read it, it has the same effect on me. This is what it said:

“One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

‘The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’”

The reason I think this story is really poignant is because it really is true. Of course life is not as easy as that, choosing to do good and living a pious life. Our backgrounds, environments and character conspire to make us who we are.

When you find yourself growing up in a home full of bitterness, where everyone is always blaming the other, rejoicing in the other’s failures and being disappointed when the other succeeds, it is hard to be positive.

If you have a workplace where there is cut-throat competition to get the best deal and make the biggest commission, where people are fighting to get promotions like it is the air they breathe, and where they will lie, cheat and blackmail just to move ahead, it is hard to want to do the right thing.

If you have friends who think that drinking themselves stupid every weekend, sleeping with as many people as possible, making money in anyway criminal or not, is the way to live life, it is hard to break away from the pack and choose a better and frankly healthier lifestyle.

If you are the kind of person who is quick to keep a grudge, see the negative more than the positive and judges everyone before they even say a word, it is hard to wake up and start looking at the other side of the coin.

These experiences tend to stamp themselves in our memories and hearts, making it hard for us to think and act differently. But it does not mean it is not possible to be positive. The human will is a powerful thing. And when the will decides that the person should act differently, many things are possible.

This last year has taught me that when I decide I shall not hold onto a negative thing, I can do it.

Sometimes it is a simple 10 second process. Other times I have to slog and work hard not to get angry, bitter or pity myself.

Either way, the payoff is rewarding. For me, it is still a long way to go, but some things are worth doing.




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