‘There’s an old Native American tale about an elder who felt like he had two dogs living inside his head, one mean-spirited and the other one sweet, who often fought with one another. Someone once asked him, “Which dog usually wins?” He replied, “It depends on which one I feed.” (Living With Your Hear Wide Open – S. Flowers & B. Stahl)
When we feed the mean-spirited dog we in turn will become mean-spirited as it will always win the fight being the stronger, which is not something we want to feel. However if we feed the sweet dog we are more likely to be sweet too, as it would win the fight instead. We need to learn to live in the world in such a way that it fosters happiness within ourselves, as the world will continue to teach us that happiness can only be gained through outside influences or indeed ‘stuff’.
Life is not always easy and things do not always go our way, but that does not mean that we need to suffer or make others suffer by feeding the mean-spirited dog. We can take another road, that of wisdom and integrity. When we have wise understanding we begin to see the reasons how what we are doing is making us suffer unnecessarily. We begin to recognise that our thoughts create our own version of heaven or hell. When we use wisdom to inspire our thinking then we are more able to walk the path to grace and peace. However, it is important that we do not allow the old negative feelings of worthlessness back into our lives. Wisdom invites you to feed the sweet-dog and act with love and compassion for yourself and others, it begins with our thoughts, which in turn lead to right words and right actions. It begins with ourselves.
Next is to live by integrity. Integrity is to live by what we believe and by those things that are worthy and uplifting to body and soul. It is to live by long held positive values, such as honesty, truthfulness and compassion for others and for ourselves. We cannot treat others with integrity until we first treat ourselves that way. Each day we should practice integrity in our thoughts, speech and actions as it is all too easy to yet again fall into the trap of negativity.
While the world would have us believe that we need to continue to want and to suffer, there is a better way. A way in which we can let go of those feelings and be ourselves. By finding ourselves we can live with wisdom and integrity and in doing so we can feed the sweet-dog, allowing it to win over the mean-spirited dog time and time again. ‘We each have a birthright to live with more peace and connectedness, free from the grip of feeling unworthy, inadequate and disconnected. Despite how you’ve suffered in the past, the gifts conferred by this birthright may not be so foreign. Many of us have felt moments of grace when we have felt at one with the world.’
If you have felt this way just once, no matter how briefly, you can feel that way again. Don’t waste your time and energy with negative thoughts, words or actions and find the peace that is your birthright.
- When have you felt at peace?
- What can you do now to feel that way again?
- Which dog are you feeding?
- What one thing can you change in your life that will bring you greater happiness?