Life always presents us with opportunities and pitfalls. How one processes these moments determines the quality of their existence. We are constantly presented crossroad-decisions and at times we might not even be clear which path is right and which one is wrong. However, we all can improve our ability to recognize the right path for us by getting off our autopilot, going with the proverbial flow, raise our awareness of the present moment and what is really happening; and consciously exercising our willpower.
The legendary Native American (Cherokee) story of the two wolves gives an excellent example of this. In the story, an older Cherokee man was describing to his grandson the battle that rages inside all human beings. The old man states, “A fight is going on inside me almost constantly – it is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil, angry, envious, sorrowful, regretful, greedy, arrogant, resentful, inferior, liar, false pride, sense of superiority, and inflated ego.”
He continued, “The other is good. “He is joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is happening inside you, and inside every person too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old man replied, “The one you feed.”
While my article named “Take Control of Your Mind – Don’t Let it Control You!” contains similar criteria as feeding the good wolf, this story encapsulates a slight difference. While the concept of Take Control of Your Mind reinforces an understanding, feeding the good wolf goes more toward practice; which means that trying to move away from repetitive unhelpful thoughts and redirect to healthier ways of thinking will require conscious effort. It is something one will often have to do daily for the rest of the days they live.
All of the emotions expressed in the “Two wolves” story reside in each of us, even if some might not want to admit that truth. People who deny that reality for themselves are as hazardous – if not even more hazardous – than the individuals who readily admit this truth. If one is unaware of the negative things, they are capable of doing, they “unknowingly” can cause significant pain. Acknowledging that we do experience negative thoughts, such as anger, greed, jealousy, and other toxic thoughts can make us more aware when they arise. At the point of realization, we can change our focus to something else – something positive.
When we develop this type of self-awareness, it will lead to feeding the positive elements within us, remembering the healthy traits within us and fueling those areas even if they are not present at every moment. Through this repeated practice, we feed the positive parts of our minds – or the “good wolf,” if we want to stick with the analogy of our story – and will make these positive emotions more readily available.
There will be times in our lives where happiness will not come to us immediately or might not be appropriate at certain moments (when someone around you goes through a hard time or sickness, for example). The issue becomes not staying in those states of mind for an extended period. To let the bad times come and go without clinging to pain becomes the method we must continue to practice. The mental exercise of feeding positive emotions of our mind, regardless of whether they are present or absent will lead to positive consciousness. It is impossible to have a completely healthy mindset 100% of the time, 24/7, but even if we can make a 1% improvement every day, the compound effects of that will change our behavior significantly over time.
One feeds their mind the right thoughts to elevate themselves to their best self. If we can achieve this mindset more consistently in our lives, our quality of life and relationships will improve. Ask yourself, how much better would your life be if you were feeding efficient attention – or the good wolf – 5% to 10% more on a daily basis? How would your life change after doing that for 1 year… 5… 10?
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services! Click HERE to Request a Complimentary Habit Coaching Session!