The following parable may be one you’ve heard before but it bears repeating. It goes like this: One evening an old Cherokee 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 you feed.”
Barbara Fredrickson, PhD and Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a leading scholar in the field of positive psychology. In her book, Positivity, she describes how there are two basic human responses to hardship, something we all experience from time to time. One is despair, the other is hope. “In despair,” she explains, “you multiply your negativity. Your fear and uncertainty can turn into stress. Your stress can morph into hopeless sadness, which in turn can breed shame. . . Despair opens the gate to a downward spiral that may well lead you to rock bottom. Hope is different,” as she says contrasting the two. “It’s not the mirror reflection of despair. Your hope, in fact, acknowledges negativity with clear eyes. More importantly, though, your hope kindles further positivity within you. Even the most subtle shades of hope can be a springboard for you to feel love, gratitude, inspiration, and more. And these warm and tender feelings open your mind and your heart and allow you to connect with others.”
In other words there is another battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Despair and the other is Hope. And which wolf wins? It is the one we feed.