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  • Writer's pictureCraig Amrine L.Ac.

The Choice of Living with Joy

Updated: Feb 8

The story of the two wolves. This (from what I understand) is a Cherokee story. It goes something like this:


One day an old Cherokee man sits down with his grandson to teach him about life.

“A fight is going on inside of me,” he says to the boy. “It’s a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is full of rage, jealousy, arrogance, greed, sorrow, regret, lies, laziness, and self-pity.”


He continues, “The other is good – he is filled with love, joy, peace, generosity, truth, empathy, courage, humility, and faith. This same fight is going on inside the hearts of everyone, including you.”


The grandson thinks about this for a few minutes, and then asks his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”


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


This is story is wonderful because it’s lesson is timeless. In modern times, with our endless stream of news from around the world, we can often become addicted to the atrocities and suffering that we see happening around the world. Since this is all what we choose to focus on, our hearts become filled with sorrow, anger, cynicism, and pain. We complain all the time. We focus on all the negative aspects of all situations. We are essentially feeding the “BAD WOLF”.


At the end of the day, the story reflects the message that regardless of the stuff you are going through, YOU HAVE A CHOICE, on what you focus on and how you express it.


Digging deeper, interestingly, there is another version of this story. This other version answers the questions of “burying our head in the sand” and completely shutting out anything that we think is unpleasant. It goes something like this:


The grandson thinks about this for a few minutes, and then asks his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”


The old Cherokee simply replies, “They both win if you feed them right.”


“You see, if I starve one wolf, the other will become imbalanced with power. If I choose to feed only the light wolf, the shadow one will become ravenous and resentful. He will hide around every corner and wait for my defenses to lower, then attack. He will be filled with hatred and jealousy and will fight the light wolf endlessly.“


“But if I feed both, in the right way, at the right time, they will live side-by-side in harmony. There will be no more inner battle. Instead, there will be inner peace. And when there’s peace, there is wisdom. The goal of life, my son, is to respect this balance of life, for when you live in balance, you can serve the Great Spirit within. When you put an end to the battle inside, you are free.”


I love these stories. They are a reminder that we always have a choice. The second version suggest that we will always be exposed to negative situations and they will always challenge us. Simply ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, but finding the right time and place to feed the “bad wolf” allows for more balance that ultimately can lead to a more peaceful existence.


Wolf & Cherokee

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