A grandfather had a habit of narrating an interesting superhero story every day to his grandson before bed. One day, he decided to narrate a story that offered a life lesson instead.
“Today, I’ll tell you a story of two wolves”, the old man said as he sat next to the kid in bed who watched him with eager eyes.
“I have a fight going on within myself,” he began. “I have two strong wolves inside me who are fighting an intense battle against each other,” he said.
“The first one is evil. He is full of jealously, hatred, arrogance, ego, greed, resentment, pride, inferiority, self-pity, and all the other negative attributes,” he said.
“The other is good. He is full of joy, humility, kindness, love, truth, honesty, compassion, peace, generosity, hope and all the other positive attributes,” he continued. “Such a fight goes on within you too. In fact, every person has two such wolves fighting within them,” he added.
The grandson remained still listening to every word his grandfather had to say. He thought for a minute and asked, “Ok, if both these wolves are strong, who wins?”
The old man replied, “It’s simple. The one you feed is the one who wins.”
Moral Lessons from the story of the two wolves:
The story though short and simple has useful moral lessons you and I can apply to our daily life.
1. Your reality is based on your perception:
As the story suggests, you will face a constant internal battle between your emotions. Your good thoughts go loggerheads against the bad ones all the time. You face a constant dilemma on choosing one among them.
Here are two example scenarios. In each of these cases, the wolves within you will have different reasons to explain why the event occurred.
- Scenario 1: You send an email asking your coworker for a favor, but you do not receive a response
- Evil wolf – He did not reply because he’s jealous of my performance. He does not want to see me grow.
- Good wolf – He must have missed the email or maybe his work kept him occupied. Let me check with him again
- Scenario 2: You and an old friend whom you have not met in years decide to catch up on a Saturday evening. You arrive at the coffee store and wait for an hour, but she does not show up.
- Evil wolf – She hasn’t forgotten our fight which occurred 5 years ago. To make me suffer, she agreed to meet me and then did not show up on purpose.
- Good wolf – She must have got stuck with some urgent work and her phone must have run out of charge.
If you trust the evil wolf, you’ll ruin your mood and damage your relationship in both these scenarios. What’s interesting is, you do not have enough proof to know what really happened. If you trust the good wolf and presume good intentions you neither harm your emotions nor the rapport between the two of you.
What happens around you isn’t within your control, but how you react to a situation is. Your circumstances will influence your emotions, but your reaction is what you finally choose to do.
2. You’re accountable for what happens to you
How do you react when things go wrong? Do you hold yourself accountable or do you blame the circumstances? Quite often, you point the finger elsewhere and fail to notice what you did wrong.
- Blaming the traffic for arriving late
- Considering corporate politics was the reason why somebody else was promoted instead of you
- Cursing the teachers for poor grades
In such situations, circumstances are not the only factor that determine the outcome. Even if they do, they play a smaller role compared to what you failed to do. If you cultivate the humility to identify what you could have done better, you’ll not only feel less miserable but also avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Next time you make a mistake, face failure, or disappointment, don’t blame the situation. Instead, evaluate what you could have done better.
3. You have the freedom of choice
Every second of your life, you have the choice to believe and do whatever you want(unless you’re breaking the law). Two different people in the same situation can have opposite opinions based on their thought process.
- Believing you’re capable of achieving great things or only the mediocre
- Choosing laziness over motivation
- Picking negative thoughts over the positive ones
- Deciding between optimism and pessimism
- Having good intent or bad
The thoughts in your head affect the decisions you make in your day to day life. For example:
- Sticking to a job you hate instead of achieving your dreams
- Snoozing and sleeping for another hour instead of getting up
- Initiating an unnecessary fight
- Giving in to the temptation of unhealthy food
- Choosing to forgive vs going for revenge
You have the choice to control your thoughts and decide the actions they lead to.
Who wrote the two wolves story?
The story first came to light in a book “The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life,” written by Billy Graham in 1978. He mentioned that he came up with the idea for a sermon many years ago.
The story of the two wolves is short, yet a powerful lesson on mindfulness of your thoughts. In only a few lines, it passes a message which you can implement every day of your life starting right now. No matter who you are or what you do, the two wolves will fight within you.
Which one will you feed?
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.