Choosing gratitude

| Kate Soucheray | November 6, 2018 | 0 Comments


It’s so easy to see the things that are imperfect, drive us crazy or are disappointing in our lives. We know that allowing ourselves to focus on these aspects of life is not uplifting or energizing, and yet, if that’s what we’ve been doing, that’s where we so often go. Allowing ourselves to change our focus is often easier said than done. But it is possible, and, for lasting happiness, necessary.

This idea is illustrated in “Two Wolves,” a legend attributed to a Cherokee chief. The chief is teaching his grandson and tells him that there is a fight within himself — “a terrible fight between two wolves.”

One wolf embodies anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

“Which one will win?” the grandson asks.

The chief simply replies, “The one you feed.”

Every person feels this internal fight. He or she is constantly faced with a path: one is negative and dismissive, difficult and unappreciative. The other is generous and kind, loving and supportive.

If we allow ourselves to move in the direction of negativity and disapproval, we will create more of that in our lives.

If we allow ourselves to move in the direction of positivity and happiness, we will also create more of that in our lives.

The question for the legend’s hearer is which perspective he or she will choose.

As we anticipate Thanksgiving and reflect on gratitude, we have the opportunity to ask ourselves if we are feeding a positive or negative perspective of life.

ACTION CHALLENGESpend time alone or with a loved one to think about what has been good in your life this year. Take time to focus on the positive and then extend gratitude.

As with most things, our attitude influences our perspective, which often determines our approach to life. If we hope to be people with a more positive outlook, this begins with what we say and do to ourselves and others, as well as to the choices we make each day. If we are surrounded by negative or difficult people, we have a choice about how to respond — with more negativity, or with love and kindness. Truly, with God’s grace, our approach to the situation can make a difference in the response we give, as well as the response we receive.

“Two Wolves” can serve as a reminder throughout this month and throughout our lives. We must each ask ourselves what kind of attitude and perspective we want to assume, for it is this attitude that will influence our thoughts and determine the kinds of interactions we have with others, as well as the degree of happiness we expect and enjoy each day. If we entertain a negative attitude, we shouldn’t be surprised if we experience the world and our lives as hostile and difficult. However, if we strive for a positive attitude, looking for the good in what happens to us, we will likely find ourselves more contented.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, take time to think about the people, experiences and events in your life and identify what has nourished and supported you. Then show that gratitude. Reach out to people whose involvement in your life has been meaningful. Send an e-mail to a group whose cause has touched your heart. Make a donation in memory of a loved one to an organization that held an inspiring event.

Look for the good in your life and take time to be grateful this month.

Feed the good wolf.

Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of Guardian Angels in Oakdale. She holds a master’s degree in theology from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

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Category: Simple Holiness