Riding the Elephant

I recently came across an excellent metaphor for the interaction of logic and emotion, presented by Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis.

Imagine that logic is a person, riding the elephant of emotion. Sometimes the elephant is quiet and logic steers the way. Sometimes it’s not, and nothing that the rider does can alter the course. The harder the rider tries, the less likely they are to have any impact at all, it may just get worse.

In these cases, you have to let emotion take its course, ride with it rather than fight it and hold off on trying to set direction.

Doing this successfully requires great self-awareness, and you won’t always manage to get it right. If you can start to recognise when the elephant is making its presence felt, then you can start to understand what’s going on in your mind and how it’s impacting your life. If you can’t, then you are doomed to be dragged around whilst flailing inconsequentially on the elephant’s back.

Logic doesn’t always win. Recognise this and you’ll ride the elephant to a much better place!

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