A legend: An old grandfather is trying to teach his grandson about life. His grandson has come to him with anger at a friend who he feels has done him wrong. The grandfather sympathizes, telling him that he too has felt a great hate for those who have taken much with no sorrow for what they have done. A grandfather continues, “Remember this: hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking a poison, and wish your enemy would die. This is a struggle every man must go through in his life. It is as thought there are two wolves fighting inside us. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, guilt, disgust, inferiority, false pride, self-pity, arrogance, and ego. This wolf if full of anger, and the littlest thing sets him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, and for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
The other wolf is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with others around him, an does not take offense when no offense is intended. He is good emotions: love, acceptance, kindness, hope, acceptance, serenity, humility, benevolence, generosity, compassion, truth and faith. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.”
The grandson is quiet for a moment and then asks, “Which wolf will win?” And the grandfather answers, “The one you feed.”
Part of my focus as a parent coach is to encourage parents to focus on what their kids SHOULD do, rather than what they SHOULD NOT. So in light of that: How do you feed your good wolf?
Play with your kids.
Read with your kids.
Make a list of 5 things you like, and carry it with you. When you feel anger or sadness, pull out your list and look at it to remind yourself why things are better than they seem. Refresh your list regularly.
Smile at least once an hour.
Show and embrace joy. Sing, hum, dance, be spontaneous.
Do something someone else will enjoy.
If you tend to see the glass as half-empty, actively practice optimistic thoughts. Write them down if you have to. Do this every time you catch yourself saying or thinking something negative.
If you do a wrong to another person, apologize sincerely.
Become involved with a charitable organization. Give because it feels good, not because you want the write-off.
Be kind to all animals.
Turn off the television. Go outside and spend time in nature. Be in awe of what is around you. Show your kids that there is room in this world for wonder and magic. A flower will open with as little as a few drops of water and sunlight.
Take the time to listen to another. Don’t just wait for them to stop talking so you can have your say. Instead, really tune in to what they have to say.
Sometimes a friend needs an ear, and sometimes a hand. Offer both without expecting anything in return.
Live by example. Your children are always watching. Know that what you do, they will likely repeat. By feeding your good wolf, you can be showing your kids how to feed their own.