I really enjoy public speaking and have had the honor to give keynote speeches on the topics of positive psychology, motivation and habits, nutrition and even cycling-specific talks at business, leadership, tech, and nutrition conferences. One of my favorite stories to include is an old Cherokee parable. I wanted to share it with you because it embodies the power of our perspective. Perspective and choosing what stories to tell ourselves and how we interpret daily events and emotions is one of the most powerful practices you can have.
One evening an old Cherokee man 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.”
How many times has something happened that you found frustrating? Did you play the scenario over and over in your head? What happened when you continued to think about it, how you were maybe wronged or disrespected, or how you wish you could have said something or done something different to defend yourself? What about on the opposite side? What about interpreting something that happened and looking for all the positive things associated with it?
Choose your Explanatory Style.
Choosing what you focus on includes choosing the way you perceive what’s happening around you. The way we explain our world and daily events that happen to us deeply affect whether we have an optimistic or pessimistic view of the world. It affects whether we feel empowered or helpless. Learned helplessness is what makes you give up because you think that you don’t have any control over something- it’s the belief that your actions really won’t change the outcome. Your explanatory style ultimately determines how you view misfortunes and whether or not you’ll give up easily. I’ll go deeper in another podcast covering Martin Seligman, PhD’s research and elements of explanatory style as it relates to optimism and pessimism.
For now, I’ll challenge you to use mindfulness to simply start paying attention to which wolf you are feeding. Are you feeding your fears? Are you looking for ways people offend you? Are you looking for ways the world is against you? Or are you giving people the benefit of the doubt? Are you looking for opportunities in challenges? Are you choosing to turn something that could be construed as bad into something fun or exciting? If you can also realize that misfortunes are temporary and are not personalized to you, it’ll help you feed the good wolf.
So… which one will you feed today?
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