The story of the two wolves


By Pat Larsen
For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a female named Pat LarsenThis is a very ancient Cherokee tale told long ago and carried forward to be retold over and over again.

Its message is one of courage, faith, trust, strength and love in the face of many challenges. It is a story of the influences that “mindset” can have on us.

The metaphors contained within the story are timeless messengers for all of us to apply to our own lives in our own experiences. It is a very special tale that perhaps you will find inspiring enough to share with family and friends, especially the younger people who face so much adversity as they grow up these days.

It is my Thanksgiving wish for all of you to enjoy as we surround ourselves with gratitude at this time of year.

I am paraphrasing this story as it was told to me.


The story of the two wolves features two characters: a grandfather and his grandson. The grandfather explains to his grandson that there are two wolves fighting within him, which is a metaphor for his inner sense of conflict. The conversation between two goes like this:

“I have a fight going on in me,” the old man said. “It’s taking place between two wolves. One is evil — these qualities are anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

“The other wolf embodies positive emotions — joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

“Both wolves are fighting to the death,” the grandfather said. “The same fight is going on in every one of us.”

The grandson took a moment to reflect on what his grandfather had said about the two wolves.

He then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee gave a simple reply: “The one you feed!”

This parable serves as a powerful reminder of the fight inside that every human being must face. Regardless of the life you lead or the person you are, you will find yourself battling two conflicting emotions at some point in your life.

It’s then important to learn the lessons contained within this story so that you will make the rightful choice of which one to feed.

The final message is to feed the values and choices that matter most.

One of the most important lessons contained within this Native American story is the fact that you have more power over your happiness than you think you do. In this world, it’s easy to get beaten down by your circumstances. The more we focus on nourishing those positive emotions, the less room there will be for the negative feelings.

Your mindset has a very powerful influence on the outcome of the situations that present themselves during your life.

Feeding the positive thoughts in your mind will help you to filter out unpleasant emotions and lift up your spirits and those around you.

The grandfather’s wise words remind everyone that change is possible and it can be achieved by focusing one’s thoughts in the right direction.

“Healthy and Fit” is a mindset as well and can be achieved at any age, regardless of when you choose to feed that aspect of yourself with the thoughts of possibility. It doesn’t matter when you begin.

My fondest wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving to all.

May this coming holiday season bring you the blessings of renewal and faith that together we can do anything.

Pat Larsen is a licensed fitness instructor certified in hypnotherapy. For more information call 518-275-8686 or email

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