The Two Wolves and The Choice for Happiness

One evening an elder Cherokee chief shared an important lesson with his grandson. “Inside of everyone is two wolves,” the old chief began. “One of them is Fear. He carries with him anger, envy, regret, resentment, worry, inferiority, false pride, and judgment.”

“The other wolf is Love. He represents compassion, joy, serenity, kindness, and hope.”

The man continued, “There is an ongoing battle between these two wolves. Each one is vying for your attention, but only one of them can win.”

The young boy thought about this predicament and timidly asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It is so tempting to believe that the outside world shapes our beliefs and feelings. That our state of peace, or lack thereof, is dependent on what is going on in the world, our lives, and our bodies.

The parable of the two wolves helps us understand that it all starts with our thoughts. We choose fear or love in our mind, and the effects of that choice shape our experiences in the world.

It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.”

A Course in Miracles

This concept is both liberating and extremely challenging.

Challenging because it is far easier to shirk responsibility and see that the source of our suffering is “out there” and certainly not my fault.

On the other hand, it is incredibly freeing as we recognize that peace, happiness, and joy are well within our grasp – requiring just a choice in the mind.

Yet how often do we choose the wolf of fear?

Bronnie Ware is an author and songwriter who spent quite a bit of time working in palliative care. Her patients were those who had gone home to die, and she helped care for them during the last weeks of their lives.

And as she worked with her patients, a common theme kept emerging as they contemplated their remaining days. Bronnie compiled these thoughts into an incredibly powerful essay called Regrets of the Dying.

The number one regret:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Think about that with regard to our own lives.

When we feed the wolf of fear we not only live a life of regret, but we aren’t even living our own life. We are at the mercy of others and the whims of circumstance.

But it is never too late to make a different choice.

When we choose to feed the gentle, compassionate, nonjudgmental wolf of love, our lives are instantly transformed from regret to a perpetual state of gratitude. From fear to freedom. From pain to joy.

The choice is ours to make.

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Anthony Gold presenting the commencement address at
Penn State University - School of Graduate Studies.

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