I noticed spending time with family this Christmas, that my mind seemed to operate in two modes. One mode was the comparing, judgmental mind. The one that was talking to me, saying "you should not be disagreeing with your kids at the dinner table, this is terrible" or "I wish I had a beautiful home like my sisters". Then, sometimes, my mind would go into what I now call "living mode", where I just was. Where I would watch my relatives with appreciation and gratitude and not overthink everything, in the conventional sense of thinking. That space got quite creative and fun and was able to ride the "less agreeable" aspects of family time without undue drama.
My judging brain, however, never seems to get enough of itself. Left to its own devices, it could still be sitting here judging my sister's house or my son's comments.
Turns out this two brain model has some validity in both science and philosophy. The left brain interpreter is always looking to parse life out, make up a story about our experience, judge it, compare to other (also made up) stories. In this space, I neurotically analyze everything everyone says or does, mainly myself. I then project all this drama onto others. A delightful Christmas guest! No wonder we don't like visiting family during the holidays.
And we are noticing that the mind can also be another place, some call it "right brain" where it just is. operating seemingly effortlessly, relying on intuition and a sense of knowing. Some call that brain "flow" or "why" brain. I know I am in that space when the stress goes away. Where I am present and don't feel responsible for how dinner is going, I don't feel envious of what other people have.
Perhaps these are the two metaphorical wolfs in the grandmother's tale.
While New Year's resolutions really triggers my "it isn't good enough" left brain interpreter, I do notice an intention to feed the wolf of being and not thinking. Of seeing how it is to move in the world knowing I don't have to overthink everything, in the conventional sense of overthinking.
Switching mindsets is what "The Work" does. It allows me to see that these thoughts that I think I rely on to live my life are inaccurate and untrue and only cause me stress. It then helps me find the truth. Living out of that space is so much easier. A return to the beautiful flow of life.
More more about left brain thinking please read this delightful book: The Neurotics Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment.