For the next twenty days you can download a free eCopy of my new book, Feed the Good Wolf from Story Cartel. You can also submit a review for a chance to win a free print copy. Did I mention it’s free? Just click here.
It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been keeping busy publishing two books this past week. One is mine, one I’m ghostwriting for someone else. I moments ago finished formatting and submitting the electronic files for the interior and cover for Feed the Good Wolf so I should have a proof copy in my hands in just about a week. There is a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you are holding an actual physical copy of your book. Something cries out inside you, “I’ll bet you can’t wait to start on your next one!” Okay, maybe that’s just me. I will return to regularly scheduled blogging after this final excerpt from my soon to be released book.
A great man once said, “The solution to pollution is dilution.” Imagine that your mind is a reservoir of pure water, and that all the negative that the world offers is a black, disgusting fluid. Left to its own devices, the natural world will occasionally dump a load of negative into your pool. Once that negative is poured in, it can’t be separated from the water. Since you can’t remove the pollution from the reservoir that is your brain, your only option is to try to dilute its influence by pouring as much fresh, pure water into it as you can.
When you realize that your character, the sum total of the features and qualities that define you as an individual, is the result of the thoughts that you allow yourself to dwell on, you should become ferociously protective of what you allow into your mind.
Keep pouring good water into the reservoir through what you read and what you speak every day. Continue to purify your water by controlling who you listen to and who you associate with. And stop letting the world dump that smelly black stuff into your pool.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
~Philippians 4:8 (New Living Translation)
The purpose of feeding the good wolf is to build ourselves from the inside out. To establish a firm foundation of character within our lives, not through tricks or gimmicks, but by changing our daily thoughts. Not to conceal our faults but to eliminate them by starving the bad wolf. Not to exaggerate our strengths but to truly grow them through steadily feeding the good wolf with positive thoughts.
As you grow yourself, by continuing to feed the good wolf, you will become a greater person. Then you also will begin to attract other great people. There is a universal law as certain as the law of gravitation that says: You will not attract in your life that which you want, but that which you are. By developing yourself into a person of strong character, you will attract other people of strong character.
As you continue to feed the good wolf in your heart, you will also become an example for others to follow. Through your actions, through your integrity, through the continuing building of your character, you will help to feed the good wolf in others; and eventually, others will begin to see the value in feeding their own good wolf.
Soon you will not be a lone good wolf. You will have your own wolf pack.
Through synergy, you will increase your ability to positively impact other people. Encourage and share with others. Be a source of positive. Pass along your teachings.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
To change the world, first change your character
To change your character, first change your thoughts
To change your thoughts, feed the good wolf in your heart.
To develop strength of character we need to feed the good wolf. But to eliminate flaws in our character, we also need to starve the bad wolf. “Starve the Bad Wolf” is an equally important half of the wolf-feeding parable; but would have made the title of my book too long for a 6 x 9 inch cover.
Everyone has heard the comparison that the human brain is like a computer. A computer is only as valuable as the input it receives. While we are loading quality programs into our computers, we also need to keep the negative from corrupting our hard drive. We should be just as careful of what we put into our brains as we are of what goes into our computers. If you never install virus protection on your computer and you visit a bunch of sites with dubious reputations, then you deserve to have your computer be sluggish, not secure, and prone to viruses. And if you don’t protect your brain from negative influences, then you generate negative thoughts; and your brain becomes sluggish, insecure, and prone to sickness.
The video game industry brings in more revenue than movies, television and radio combined; and has been doing so for the last ten years or so. Unfortunately, like movies, television and radio, many games feel the need to push the envelope of the rating system as far as it can go.
If man is a product of both genetics and environment, then how can anyone possibly think that it’s a good idea to spend any length of time in a video game environment surrounded by graphic death and destruction? I would be willing to bet that in a few years there will be an epidemic of video-game-induced PTSD; although it will have a brand new name so that a psychologist can publish a paper and take credit for diagnosing this “new” mental disorder.
But there is another aspect of video games outside of graphic content that is feeding the bad wolf. The allure of video games is that they create the illusion of achievement. In most games, you play a character that develops skills, acquires wealth, unlocks secrets, gains power, defeats the enemy. As human beings we are designed to be goal-striving organisms. We are happiest when we have a sense of purpose. Except that all that skill, wealth, and power exists only as electronic data bits that can all be wiped out by forces outside your control. You are spending hours and dollars developing a game persona that is both fictional and temporary.
Some men die by shrapnel,
and some go down in flames,
but most men perish inch by inch,
playing at little games
Video game companies are not your friend. They are just farming you for dollars and giving you just enough of a feeling of self-satisfaction to keep you logged in.
“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” Booker T. Washington
“You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” Charles Jones
As a parent… actually I’m not a parent so let me start again. As a child, my parents did their best to keep me away from certain kids. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve done the same thing. Kids that are disrespectful, kids that swear a lot, kids that are bullies, that have violent tendencies, that mistreat puppies. You don’t want your child hanging around with them; you don’t want your own children to start adopting the behaviors and values of their undesirable peers. We want to insulate our children for as long as possible from bad influences, until they are old enough and wise enough to be able to discern right behavior from wrong. So our parents encouraged us to make friends with the polite, studious, well-behaved kids; rather than the foul-mouthed, car-jacking, drug-peddling crew. And frankly, they didn’t care which ones were the cool kids.
As adults, we think that we are immune to the effects of peer pressure, but that is because we are just better at lying to ourselves. If you were to give me half an hour to interview the five people that you spend the most amount of time with on a weekly basis, I could paint a pretty accurate picture of the kind of person you are—without ever talking about you. Your behavior, your beliefs, the music you like, your physical and leisure activities, the kinds of movies and television shows that you watch, are all things that are probably the same as your immediate peer group.
We will become like the people we associate with the most.
You could argue “of course I spend time with people like me. I choose to spend time with them because we have similar values.” That may be the case in some instances, but most of the people that we say are our friends are our friends because we were thrown together and forced to spend time together. Most of our long time friends are from our school years. Or people who live near us. Or people we work with. A lot of our friends became friends because of geography rather than values. Think of certain mannerisms or phrases that you use with one friend and not another, then ask yourself “Did I get that from him or did he get that from me?” Even if you think that you are immune to the effects of social imprinting by your friends, then they could have just as easily got their behaviors, beliefs, likes and dislikes from you.
Since we are social creatures, and since we are susceptible to peer pressure, we should try to use peer pressure to our advantage. As responsible adults, it’s up to us to make sure we are associating with the good kids.
It costs nothing to be kind, but a simple act of kindness can impact someone for the rest of their life. A compassionate smile from a loved one, a word of admiration from a stranger, a nod of acknowledgment from a superior can bolster the fearful and weary.
You never know when someone is on the verge of quitting, on the edge of despair, or are moments away from suicide. Sometimes a single kind word or a heartfelt compliment will pull them back from the darkness. Acts of random kindness are all it takes to make our world as close to heaven as it can get.
When you love someone, you treat them kindly. But also recognize that by being kind to someone, you expand your capacity to love. The two go together, but one doesn’t always precede the other.
Have you ever performed a good deed, a favor, a random act of kindness to some stranger for no particular reason? Didn’t you feel good about that later? That’s because at the core of human nature is the desire to do good. To be men and women of character. To serve others rather than to be served. As the law of sowing and reaping takes over, all your kindness will be returned to you multiplied many times over. Routinely performing kind acts, turns into a habit of kindness, which in turn develops into a kind soul.
Anytime you can give another person’s spirits a lift, or imbue him with more life and energy, you are performing a small miracle.
“Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.” Dale Carnegie.
Generously dispense words of kindness. People treasure them more than physical wealth. By being kind to others not only do we feed our own good wolf, we also provide food for the good wolf within those others.
Discipline is not about denying the self for the sake of denying pleasure. It is about denying those activities that cause long-term harm to the self. It is about having a body and mind that operate properly. It is about improving rather than diminishing the self. Discipline is willingness to deny the lesser for the sake of the greater. It is seeking happiness rather than just pleasure.
A disciplined man is not a glutton. He recognizes that moderation in his diet will prevent a stomach ache minutes from now and possibly an extra inch of fat for the rest of his life. Be disciplined enough to recognize that you cannot eat anything you want whenever you want. Eat healthy foods in healthy portions. There is a saying about the people in Hawaii, “we don’t eat until we’re full, we eat until we’re tired.” That is not discipline. Man eats. Beasts feed.
A disciplined man is not a spendthrift. He recognizes that his long-term financial health can be damaged by irresponsible spending. He recognizes that emotional purchasing decisions are rarely good ones. He knows that pennies saved are not only pennies earned, but that those saved pennies will actually work for him and multiply through sound investments. The disciplined man will save first before he spends; and never ever pay interest on depreciating assets. Earn interest, do not pay interest.
A disciplined man is not wasteful with his time. Don’t tick away the moments that make up a dull day. Don’t fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way; kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown, waiting for something or someone to show you the way. (Okay, I admit that was a paraphrase of the first verse of Time by Pink Floyd, but the message is still valid—and the tune is cool).
Invest your money, but also invest your time. Money investments return more money. Time investments return timeless values if you invest into your own character or that of your children. The disciplined man will do the important things first, the selfish things when he has free time.
A disciplined man does not indulge his bestial nature. A disciplined man is capable of controlling his sex drive. He isn’t compelled to pursue every woman he sees like a dog. Sex is a beautiful act of love between you and your spouse. Man loves. Animals breed.
A disciplined man is slow to anger. A moment of rage can damage a relationship permanently. It’s the small man that raises his fists in anger. Resorting to violence is the last resort of the disciplined man, but an early option for the weak-willed. Yelling at a child or loved one can wound as deeply as a physical assault. Words spoken in anger can cause irreparable damage to a relationship or permanently afflict someone’s self image. There is a reason that profanity is called a curse. Be disciplined enough to control your tongue.
The long-term harm of a lack of discipline is exponentially greater than the immediate cost of discipline. The disciplined man feeds the good wolf and starves the bad wolf.
“True humility–the basis of the Christian system–is the low but deep and firm foundation of all virtues.” Edmund Burke
Humility insulates us from pride. CS Lewis calls pride the greatest of sins because it leads to all others. The greater the person, the greater their vulnerability and the greater their fall from pride. The sin of pride caused Lucifer to rebel against God and be cast out of heaven.
To be humble is to be honest with yourself. To be humble is to admit your own shortcomings, your mistakes, your weaknesses. Only by being honest can you recognize your own faults and only by admitting them can you address and correct the problem. That’s why humility is considered the foundational virtue.
“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Saint Augustine
Without humility we run the risk of an inflated ego. Ever notice how someone with a long history of being a loser that gains some small success becomes insufferable? Have you seen someone that is awarded great success at a young age without having to strive or sacrifice to attain it? It is why child stars and heirs to great fortunes have a tendency to self destruct. The ones that don’t are those that are firmly grounded with a sense of humility.
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself either. I am no better than anyone else. I have certain gifts and talents but they only make me more or less suited to certain situations. I do not view myself in a negative light. After all, I am important. I am a child of God. I am inherently valuable and priceless. I have a soul. But so does that homeless person. When you have a perspective of humility, you see the value in all people. It’s why humility leads to compassion and compassion to charisma.
By placing value on others we position ourselves to greatly impact them in a positive way. Only once did Jesus say that he was setting an example for his disciples. It was when he was washing their feet. If I were walking on water, curing disease, casting out demons, and raising the dead; I could see myself having trouble remaining humble.
Without humility, any other values you instill in your children will eventually be lost to pride. With a false sense of one’s own greatness, they will feel entitled to the kindness of others without the obligation to be kind to them. Same with discipline, same with perseverance. How many people put into a position of power and prominence feel that they no longer need to be honest or take responsibility for their actions?
Humility is not just food for the good wolf. It’s also antitoxin that prevents the poison of pride from killing or corrupting it.
“To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.” Ben Franklin
Wise men say that within our hearts are two wolves. One is the bad wolf. It is full of greed, laziness, fear, hatred, jealousy, rage, sorrow. All the negative emotions. The other is the good wolf. It is full of joy, love, kindness, forgiveness, peace of mind. All the positive emotions. Both wolves war against each other continuously in our hearts.
When asked which wolf is stronger, the wise men answer, “Whichever wolf you have been feeding.”
This is an adaptation of a Native American story and like most stories that survive through the ages, it is full of ancient wisdom.
Every day we make decisions. Most of these are small, inconsequential decisions, like what to eat for lunch. But on occasion, we are required to make a moral decision; a choice between right and wrong. Selfishness or selflessness. Cruelty or kindness. Jealousy or generosity. Deceit or honesty. And while we may think of ourselves as people of good character most of the time, that can change when we are put to the test. What is really within us is revealed under stress or duress. And whether or not we make the right decision in that split second, is based on which wolf is currently winning the fight in your heart.
And that is dependent on which wolf you have been feeding.
That’s from the opening chapter of my upcoming book, Feed The Good Wolf. Each chapter is about specific activities that you can incorporate into your daily life in order to build your character from the inside out.
Most people are overly concerned with their reputation rather than character. Spending time defending your reputation is like putting a fresh coat of paint on a house that you know is infested with termites. It might look pretty on the outside, but it is rotting and ready to fall down.
“A lot of people try to improve their lives by dealing with the external fruit. They are attempting to rectify their bad habits, bad attitudes, bad tempers, or negative and sour personalities. They’re dealing with the fruit of their lives, trying to change those things, and that is noble. But the truth is, unless they get to the root, they will never be able to change the fruit.” Joel Osteen.
You are not a victim of your character. You are not trapped with a certain personality or mindset. These are things that you can change. You can make a conscious choice to change the person you are at your very core.
And you do that by feeding the good wolf.
When your character is pure, you don’t need to expend effort to police your behavior.