A few years ago, one of my clients gave me this old Cherokee story. It still hangs on my office wall today…..
A Cherokee man was teaching his grandson about life. He said, “A fight is going on inside me…it is a terrible fight between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and superiority.
The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside YOU, and inside EVERY OTHER PERSON, too.”
The grandson thought for a minute and then asked his Grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old man simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Many of you have probably read this story. And for those of you who have just read it for the first time…it seems pretty easy right? This story does a great job of simplifying the way we should live our lives. Separate the bad from the good…feed the good…and you never have to worry about the bad wolf right? The problem is…Life isn’t so easy to navigate. I’m not saying it’s hard to LIVE life…I’m just saying it can be hard to make your way through…some days…some weeks…some months…some years. Reading this story over and over…one question keeps popping into my head – Why is it hard to figure life out?
“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”
I think we make life hard because we expect to know EVERYTHING. When we don’t have the things we think we need…or the solutions we desire…or the clear path to follow ahead of us…guess what?….We start feeding the hungry hungry bad wolf. Take a look above at all the things the bad wolf represents…It is such an ugly list. I suggest taking each one and thinking about how powerful the bad wolf becomes if you feed it even a little. For example: Fear…we all know how feeding fear can make us crazy…like a snowball rolling down a mountain…becoming bigger and bigger and bigger until we are paralyzed…afraid to do anything in life. Anger…regret…arrogance..etc.. I could go through them all, but I want you to do it for yourself…because everyone is different…YOU know YOU…What is making YOUR bad wolf so powerful and strong?
I think a life changing point to remember is this : We aren’t supposed to know everything.
Can you imagine being one of the twelve disciples? Can you imagine being approached by a guy…dropping what you are doing on the spot…and following him? Do you think they knew exactly what was coming? It’s easy for us to say yes because we KNOW the story…but they WERE the story. They didn’t have it figured out…but what did they do?…They fed that good wolf…look at the list of things the good wolf represents. Jesus and the disciples were the ultimate feeders of the good wolf.
Now can you imagine being a prisoner of war? If you haven’t read the book “Unbroken” by : Laura Hillenbrand, I highly recommend it. It is an amazing story of survival, resilience, redemption, forgiveness, and faith. Louie Zamperini survived a bomber crash in World War II, the ocean and sharks, and a Japanese POW camp(s). The story will leave you inspired…and extremely extremely extremely…grateful. When I think about the Cherokee wolf story and Louie, I can’t believe his good wolf survived. How in the world do you feed your good wolf through terrible times?
Ultimately…It boils down to Faith. We may have faith in God and his guidance, but we start to feed the wrong wolf when we simply rely on our own plans, reasoning, and expectations. The wrong wolf gets stronger when we sit worrying…or feel sorry for ourselves…or let our pasts prevent us from moving forward…or let our failures define us…he eats and eats and grows and grows. So what is the answer?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5
Look your bad wolf in the face when times are tough…but do not feed him…starve him…leave the bad people…do not give them your time…and show others how to do the same.
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”
Hang out with good people. Have faith. Pray. Feed your good wolf…make him strong and powerful…and show others how to do the same. 🙂