The Elephant and the Rider

6 years ago my life was changed by a simple idea. That I, Brandon Corbin, am two selves. Not in a schizophrenic way (at least I don't think), but in a old brain vs new brain way. Best visualized as a rider on the back of an elephant.

The Elephant and the Rider metaphor comes from Jonathan Haidt's book The Happiness Hypothesis, where Jonathan describes the division of the old brain (fight, fuck, food, flee) and the new brain (logic, reason), as a rider on the back of an elephant. The rider is unable to control the elephant by sheer force, instead, in order to improve, we must learn to train, work with, and ultimately master our elephant.

Jonathan's metaphor is based on the Buddha's proclamation that the uncontrolled mind is like an elephant who, at any moment, can run wild and destroy everything and anything in its path. Thus the Buddha referred to meditation as "caging the elephant".

I personally believe the first step to self transformation is the acceptance of your elephant. Once you accept that you're working with multiple divisions of self, an amazing thing happens: you have a new "person" to blame for all of your misery.

Unlike any other type of blame you might place, this new source of blame is incredibly positive. Blaming your elephant takes the blame away from an external source and brings it internally without the self judgement of "I screwed up again, I'm a failure". Instead, now it's that god damn elephants fault, and its time to explore new methods to trick your elephant from repeating the same behaviors.

My elephant is passionate, insatiable, a risk taker, LAZY, hates to be wrong, has an insanely high sex drive, and loves a good blast of dopamine - I call him Nomie.

What's your Elephant?