Photo by Thomas Roche

I was at a yoga class recently and heard this great story.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

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.”

I love the idea of this legend. What you expose yourself to, what you read, watch, choose to think about and choose to react to will shape your perspective and life. Surround yourself with positive people and things that bring you peace and joy and you will exude positivity, peace and joy. If you focus on the negative that bombards us daily in the papers, news and tv programing, if you choose to dwell on what you don’t have, haven’t done, could have been, then gloom and cynicism will begin to taint your experience and life journey.

I decided to try something new in my house. I had been feeling a bit disheartened by my children’s relationship with each other. The sibling rivalry seemed to be escalating and my tactics were failing. I recently read a great parenting book called “How To Behave So Your Children Will Too” by Sal Severe Ph.D. The book suggests what many books advise which is to reward the type of behavior that you want to see. What I liked in this book is that Dr. Severe lists incentives to use for children of different ages.

My husband was traveling on business last week and I really wanted a peaceful house while doing the solo parenting gig. I bought two cheap gumball machines from Rite Aid and took out all the gum. I told the kids that whenever I see them treating each other kindly or doing a random act of kindness for someone that I would put a gumball in their dispenser. At the end of the week, if they had 15 gumballs, I would let them pick from a grab bag of little incentive coupons. The incentive coupons were for staying up a little later, playing a board game, picking a restaurant out for the family to go to over the weekend or picking a family movie to watch over the weekend. I kept the incentives family based and non-food based. I have to say that we had a GREAT week. The kids did not make it to 15 and if they still don’t this week, I will rethink my target. But the relationship between my son and daughter is changing.

While I am feeding their caring, nurturing, empathizing and loving wolf, they are happily chomping away at their bubblegum. The flavor of the gum may only last 20 minutes, but I’m hoping that the taste for family peace, harmony and love takes hold and lasts their whole lives…