This quote from “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens has many applications but recently came to mind after reading the following quote by Rick Warren, author of “A Purpose Driven Life”.
“I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life..
You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems: if you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.”
Like Pastor Warren, I used to superficially look at my life as having good times and bad times. After Warren’s comment I took another, deeper look and realized that he was right. Even in the good times, there were bad things happening. Likewise, even in the bad times, there were good things happening.
With this new bit of wisdom, my mind began to race and thoughts about Yin and Yang burst into my consciousness and Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson came to mind. All tie into this new understanding of the two tracks running in our lives, but it also reminded me of the old indian story about Two Wolves.
“An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.
I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.”
He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.
Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.””
Another piece of our common thinking that comes to mind is “The Law of Attraction” where we attract what we think about. Each of these stories by themselves are great stories, but when combined with the idea of having both good and bad going on in our lives at the same time, maybe we should pay attention to these truths.
Maybe Johnny Mercer had it right when he wrote:
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
Let me ask you, are you going to look at today as the best of times or as the worst of times???
Bob Cannon is the Pragmatic Business Advisor. He helps organizations lower costs and reduce time to implement their critical initiatives. For more information, visit www.cannonadvantage.com .