On Feeding the Gray Wolf


Somewhere between black and white, there is gray.

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

We like to think there's a vent for releasing all of our pent-up frustrations—to reset back to zero. That'd be nice, but in the real world, releasing misery tends to feed more misery.

What are we paying attention to? We feed what we put our energy into, and in putting our energy into suffering, we only remind ourselves of the things we wish to forget. Captured in a vicious feedback loop. This is what neuroscientists say.

But there's an old Chinese proverb that says it even better: “The fire you kindle for your enemy often burns you more than him.”

This proverb summarizes around ten hours of reading I had just done. I recorded and deleted several versions of this show, trying to figure out how best to express all the science I had collected on good mental health. But I was overcomplicating things.

Facts and figures are impressive for a day but fleeting. After a while, no one remembers. But stories are built into our DNA. We can recall most fables and parables that we've heard, even if they're from our early youth.

History, actual events, they're quickly forgotten. But legends last for thousands of years.

Why are religions so powerful? More so than the factors that led to World War I? More so than recent history? Because religions are shared through stories.

I remember very few factoids and graphs from high school, but mythology, I remember. Better than any expository essay I could write on mental health is an old Cherokee parable called The Two Wolves. Like many classical stories, its clarity and timelessness come from the use of animal symbology.

However, like it's namesake, there are two versions of this story. And, I'll be telling you both...

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Things Discussed

  • Mythology and fables

  • Native philosophy

  • Western moralism and religions

  • Mental health and neuroscience

  • Social media

  • Pixar's Inside Out

  • Black-and-white thinking vs. gray thinking

  • Obsession, compulsion, and captured attention

  • Manufactured consent

  • Independent thinking

Books I Recommend:


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