“But as for me, I will always have hope . . .” – Psalm 71:14
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.” (Author Unknown, but possibly a Cherokee parable.)
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.”
No doubt that same battle between the two wolves rages within all of us from time to time – between evil and good, despair and hope. And which one wins? The one we feed, of course. “But as for me,” the Psalmist answers, “I will always have hope.” So, guess which wolf he feeds!