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Sunday Morning Story & The Automatic Nervous System

A native American father tells his son

"There are 2 wolves battling in my heart.

One is violent and dangerous.

The other is full of warmth and compassion."

The son ask "Which wolf will win?"

The answer "The one I feed."

Extracted from Daniel Goleman latest book, A Force for Good.


I would really love to share a more in-depth explanation of this and share with you some of scientific reasoning on how it works. From my experience, across 70 countries, traveling with priests, living with Monks, to living a an amazing life in Shanghai, I've been touched countless times by metaphors like the two wolves and pondered on them for hours.

Currently I work in the Lifestyle/Executive Coaching fields. Often I find myself talking to clients using the spiritual like language and metaphors. Sometimes I find myself using science.

It's like Ying and Yang or Spiritual and Scientific.

I first learned about Neuro Scinece through Daniel Goleman. After reading just one book I got hooked on developing Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence. Later studying further with Richard Boyatzis on a Emotional Intelligence in Leadership course. Loving working with my coach and developing skills here and I really wanted to share this as i know this explanation will excite you.

So looking at the wolves, they both form part of larger system. And that system is the autonomic nervous system. It functions to regulate the body's unconscious actions.

This nervous system is broken up into two further systems:

The Sympathetic Nervous System.

It's primary process is to stimulate the body's fight-or-flight response. When we undergo stress or anger, this sympathetic nervous system fires up accelerating the heart rate, and constricting blood vessels which increases blood pressure along with a couple of other changes to body. You see with more blood racing out to our arms and legs we are able to run faster or fight more efficiently.

As a consequence, we have less blood in our brain. Our ability to think logically goes down. When fighting with someone or running from an animal you don't need logic. Run! Fight!

In fact when fighting an instinct takes over not logic.

Another example is when you're running late, and can't find your keys. You start stressing, look frantically and then relies there in your back pocket.


The Parasympathetic Nervous System.
The parasympathetic system kicks in through mindfulness, faith, hope, compassion, seeing kids laugh, patting a dog, experiencing joy with friends, having intimate moments with a lover.

When we do these things the parasympathetic system lowers the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, allows more blood to flow into the head. This results further in boosting the immune system. It not only works again but the body goes into recovery mode, rejuvenating, rebuilding the body.

It's with this system that you're at your cognitive best. And on every measure done, your in a better state.


Sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions typically function in opposition to each other. This natural opposition is better understood as complementary in nature rather than antagonistic. Hence the Ying and the Yang.

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In our modern lives we really need to ensure we have our parasympathetic systems kicking in as much as we can. The stress will come, that's for sure. But don't put off getting back in balance. If you're going to be out of balance, consider being out of balance with laughter and compassion rather than anger and stress.

Have a great day, thanks for reading and sharing this with your friends. Much love and warmth.

Kind Regards,

Adrian Cahill

To follow my personal wechat: Adriannqld

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