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Who Gets Fed?

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Old parables and stories that get passed down through generation-to-generation are often like a game of telephone. They get retold, revamped, and remixed until we’re not sure what the original story was, or where it came from. One of my favorites, and one that is quite popular, is the story of the two wolves. When I first heard it, it was an old Native American Chief that told the story to his grandson. The next time, it was a Japanese Samurai talking to his son. It’s just got to be any other culture besides ours, I guess. Anyway, for those of you who haven’t heard it, is goes (something) like this:


An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:


“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.


“It is a constant fight between two wolves. One is evil – he represents anger, doubt, greed, arrogance, and ego.”


“The other is good – he is happiness, love, belief, kindness, empathy. The same fight is going on inside you and every other person you know.”


The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”


The old Cherokee simply replied,

“The one you feed.”


So for those of you that have heard this, you’re probably like, “Yeah, ok, whatever, heard it before.” But the first time I heard this? I was FIRED UP. It was one of those book-dropping moments when someone says something so simply yet so applicable.


The two I want to focus on, as it pertains to strength and happiness, are belief and doubt. Belief and doubt are, more or less, polar opposites, so it’s easy to envision the internal battle of wolves with these two.


Doubt is a sneaky little devil. He likes to creep in, for me, in the early hours of the morning, just when I wake up. The first place I go when I get up is to the gym to train. If doubt starts in, all these weird thoughts start going through my head: What are you training for? The goals you set are too high. The plan you are following will not get you there. You could have been sleeping. This won’t even matter, anyway. Who cares if you’re strong?


If I let it, these can be crippling. If I let those thoughts manifest into more than just thoughts, my behavior changes. I won’t be as energized when I train, which leads to more doubt, which leads to less effectiveness at my job, which leads to more doubt…


It’s a vicious cycle. So how do you beat it? Luckily, over the past few years, I’ve learned one major strategy to feed the wolf of belief. I’ve often started writing in a journal in the morning. I wasn’t like, super into journaling, because I thought that it was something 12-year-old girls did to talk about their crushes. I would suggest giving it a try, though. This allows me to get those negative, doubtful thoughts onto a page and my brain recognizes them in a different way. Now they’re trapped on the page. Now, I get to be in charge of them, instead of vice versa. Now, belief gets to be the wolf that wins.


Belief starts to take over, once I’ve written in a journal a little bit. Those negative thoughts turn into: I know what I’m training for. Setting high goals is the only way to achieve greatness. I can trust the process. I’ve slept enough. This DOES matter. Who cares? I CARE.


In the same way that doubt is a vicious cycle, belief also builds upon itself. My training session was good. I have more energy going into work, allowing me to do my job better. Now I’m more confident in those things, so if a wrinkle gets thrown my way, I can handle it.

And so on, and so on. Which of those wolves leads me to a happier life? The pursuit of strength has just become a vehicle to take me to a level of happiness that I didn’t think I could achieve.


When all experience both of these emotions. We also get to choose the type of people that we are. It’s both incredible freedom and overwhelming responsibility. Maybe journaling isn’t the strategy you want to use, but I promise you: There are ways to make yourself happier and stronger starting right now. You just have to choose to seek them out. Try one out.


Feed the wolf that you want to win.

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