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In Two Minds: The Elephant and Rider
Transcript of In Two Minds: The Elephant and Rider
'Why do we occasionally do things we know we shouldn't do?
Particularly when we know they carry negative consequences.' You will be given an outline of an elephant with a rider atop its back. Dedicated to Jonathan Haidt, who created the
'Elephant & Rider' metaphor. Learning Objectives: Today we are learning to: devise strategies to help make responsible choices understand why we experience 'internal conflict' What do you think is meant by 'internal conflict'? Internal conflict is a mental or emotional struggle that occurs within a character. It is traditionally represented with an angel and demon competing for a person's attention. In fact, it can be helpful to think of humans as having two brains... ...two brains that don't necessarily
agree all the time. Should Tommy steal cookies from the cookie jar? NO! YES! He will be caught and punished. There may not be enough for other people if he eats them. He may end up feeling guilty afterwards. But they look, and smell, so delicious. I'll only take a couple. Of course, he could always just ask permission first. But what if they say no? Then he DEFINITELY won't get any cookies! Conscience Temptation When people are unable to make a decision, they might say they are 'in two minds about it'. Have you ever heard somebody say,
'Think with your head, not with your heart'? It can often feel as though we are being pulled in two completely opposite directions. Nobody will notice anyway. Mmmm... Chocolate chip cookies...! That way, everybody knows what is going on and nobody needs to feel guilty or keep secrets. 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' 'I am dragged along by a strange new force. Desire and reason are pulling in different directions. I see the right way and approve it, but follow the wrong.'
- Medea, Metamorphoses, Ovid 'I am the rider on the back of an elephant. I'm holding the reins in my hands... I can direct things... ...and by pulling one way or the other I can tell the elephant to turn,
to stop, or to go. When the elephant really wants to do something... ...I'm no match for him.' - Jonathan Haidt,
The Happiness Hypothesis It can be helpful to think of our mind as being separated into two parts. The Elephant The Rider which represents instinct and desire who represents conscious thought and decision-making but only when the elephant doesn't have desires of his own. Stealing Lying Killing Jealousy Cheating Matthew 26:36-46 How to change your mind Practice Hypnosis Meditation Exercise Hypnosis is a way of placing a suggestion directly into the mind of the elephant, bypassing the rider entirely. Many religious traditions encourage believers to practise self-denial (not giving yourself what you want) or, 'How to Tame Your Elephant' through fasting (Ramadan - Islam) or abstaining
for Lent (Christianity). Meditation sounds easy: sit quietly, focus on your breathing and let no thoughts arise in your mind. However, trying not to think of a pink elepant (for example) only makes your mind check in continually to make sure you aren't thinking of a pink elephant... ...thereby making you think of a pink elephant! Meditation requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline, but rewards practitioners with self-control and an extraordinary sense of personal wellbeing. Identify which impulses belong to the elephant or the rider. Anger Hunger Conscience Jealousy Desire Self-control Addiction Fear Peer-pressure Love Decision-making Hatred Scientists found that the children who delayed gratification were, as teenagers, better able to: Their strategy? To be able to look away from temptation, or distract themselves by thinking of other enjoyable activities. Note: The choices made by the elephant are not necessarily always 'bad'. In fact, the elephant is able to perceive danger and decide whether to stay and fight or to run away, long before the rider has had time to even notice the threat. The wise elephant's natural instinct has helped our ancestors survive against predators for thousands of years. Without emotion or instinct to guide our intuition, the rider would find the task of making even the simplest decisions (such as whether to eat, to get out of bed or whether to trust anybody) exceedingly difficult. It is only when the elephant decides it 'wants' something that is bad for us that problems arise. resist temptation focus on their studies control themselves when things didn't go as they wanted This is also known as 'emotional intelligence'. Discuss: Can you think of any instances where somebody might be faced with temptation? Problem-solving Predicting consequences Further reading for teachers: 'The Happiness Hypothesis'
by Jonathan Haidt 'Emotional Intelligence'
by Daniel Goleman 'Learning to Ride Elephants:
Teaching Happiness and Well-Being in Schools'
by Ian Morris Willpower is like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Hypnosis can be effective in reducing stress and anxiety, and helping people recover from addiction. Maintaining a healthy body through exercise and a good diet promotes good mental health. The practice of regular exercise also improves motivation, self-discipline and self-esteem. In addition... Whereas the elephant might decide it wants something (and wants it now!) the rider's greatest gift is his ability to predict the future consequences of their actions. If the rider is able to persuade the elephant that the consequences will be unpleasant, the elephant may realise that its desire is not so attractive after all. If you are experiencing difficulties with making a decision, what can be done to help? share your problem with a responsible person sit down and make a list of pro's and con's for example, a parent, a teacher or a trusted friend. This can help you get a bird's-eye-view of the problem and help you reach a good decision. wait Sometimes we make bad decisions in the heat of the moment. It is often wise to wait and do nothing, or 'sleep on it' before taking action. Before we begin: Humans and animals share a number of common features and behaviours. There are also things that humans can do, which animals can't... ...and things that animals can do, which humans don't. Group 1: Make a list of features that humans and animals share (that they can both do). Group 2: Make a list of things that humans can do, but animals can't. Group 3: Make a list of things that animals can do, but humans don't. Activity: