How The Elephant and the Monkey can make you happy

Graham Allcott is the owner / director of Think Productive UK, a UK productivity training and email training company






In his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt presents a compelling thesis that one of the only things proven to make you happier is regular practice of meditation.

Meditation comes in many forms and is also often wrapped up with mysticism, religions and cults, which many of us can find unsettling or unpalatable.

It’s the practice of being present, focussed only on yourself and your connection to the world around you.

The Happiness Hypothesis also presents a brilliant analogy that allowed me to understand meditation in a much deeper way.


Speak No Evil
Speak No Evil by robertpaulyoung, on Flickr


Your mind is like a monkey riding an elephant.

The monkey represents your conscious mind. It chatters away, has a million ideas a second and is constantly in a state of agitation.

The elephant, meanwhile, represents your subconscious mind. It carries all the things going on beneath the surface.

The monkey is of course too small to control the direction of the elephant, whereas the elephant isn’t often able communicate the journey it wants to take.

During meditation, you’re trying to silence the monkey or at least ignore it and let its chatter pass you by. You’re trying to find out what that elephant is saying and then have the elephant and monkey work in harmony.


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