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The elephant in the you.

I admit it. Ever since the election, I've been wondering -- wondering hard -- about how divided we are. I'm not the only one. Every news outlet and wannabe pundit from TV to radio to the internet has commented on it too, ad nauseam (and there's a lot of nauseam to go around!). But I don't want to talk to you about politics.

I was happy that it was a glorious day and I had completed all my chores so I could sit in my backyard and crack open Jonathan Haidt's latest book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. I have mentioned Jonathan Haidt to you before, dear reader. He wrote The Happiness Hypothesis, and in that book he introduced a fantastic metaphor about facilitating any change in your life: The elephant and the rider. (Yeah, click on that link. It's fun. Two minutes.)

Of course, it's pertinent to the new book and current politics and his research on what divides us so deeply. But that all brings me to this: I'd like to talk about his metaphor and how it may help you.

Think of your mind as having two parts: a rational part (that's the rider) and an emotional part (that's the elephant). Together you are navigating a path (the external environment) toward a goal (that's the change or new behavior you are trying to achieve). Clearly, when the rider and the elephant are in sync, you will be pretty much unstoppable. Yay! and watch out world. But! But. When the elephant is NOT in synch with the rider, it's extremely unlikely you'll get to your goal the way you, the rider, think you should.

So, it's very important for the rider to have a clear idea of the direction; for the elephant to be motivated to reach the goal; and for the path to be as clear of obstruction and diversion as possible.

So, here's something for you to think about this week: What emotions are undermining your progress? What obstacles do you see in your path? How are you being diverted by external or internal forces? Can you coordinate your rational mind with your emotional mind to navigate the external forces (that have nothing to do with you) that are impeding your progress?

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