On Doing What We KNOW is Good for Us – Constructive Psychology Information

Yashi Srivastava, MAPP ’16 is a coach, trainer, and author captivated with serving to individuals domesticate inside peace. Whereas Yashi started her profession instructing pc programming, her life-long fascination with the human thoughts led her to turn out to be a individuals growth skilled. You may study extra about Yashi on her website and on LinkedIn.

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Have you ever ever repeatedly snoozed your alarm within the morning though you had been the one who set it to rise up early and train? Have you ever ever tried to construct a meditation behavior and failed? Have you ever ever mentioned one thing harsh within the warmth of the second and later wished you had behaved in another way?

On the one hand, it could appear that we’re all in-charge of ourselves. If somebody asks me to boost my proper hand and contact my nostril, I can accomplish that at will. Most individuals can. However, we’ve frustratingly little management over a few of our actions, because the questions above reveal. What’s going on? What holds us again from doing what we all know is nice for us? Is there one thing we will do about it?

The Rider and the Elephants

Jonathan Haidt means that our minds are divided into two varieties of psychological processing techniques. There’s the automated system that he calls the elephant. It contains our intestine reactions, feelings, and habits. Then there may be the managed system, which he calls the rider. It’s answerable for rational pondering, acutely aware ideas, and future planning.

Having advanced over thousands and thousands of years, the elephant is extraordinarily highly effective and drives most of our habits. The rider has advanced extra not too long ago and is not any match for the elephant’s energy. Each these techniques have an intelligence of their very own. When they need the identical issues, we will make miracles occur.

Nonetheless, a battle between these two techniques inside us ends in failures of self-control and a way of powerlessness over our personal lives. Simply as within the case of an precise human rider on an elephant, issues go properly so long as the elephant has been educated and is following orders. If the elephant decides to go its personal manner, there may be little the rider can do.

In truth, our brains have many modules that work independently and outdoors of acutely aware consciousness. If we prolong the metaphor to think about these varied modules, we’re basically speaking a couple of rider who making an attempt to manage a whole herd of elephants. The phantasm of management lasts so long as everybody’s needs align. But when the totally different elephants inside us wish to do various things, the rider is in main bother and will have a lot issue in restoring order.

It’s the rider who chooses to set an alarm at night time, and the elephant that decides to sleep in and forgo train within the morning. The rider is aware of about the advantages of meditation and units objectives to meditate usually, whereas the elephant compels us to do something however sit right down to meditate. These ongoing battles between the elephant and the rider are the rationale why we appear to be in battle with our personal selves, resulting in consternation.

Path to Peace Framework

To assist teaching purchasers succeed at what they know is nice for them, I usually use a 3-step course of that helps align the elephant and the rider. I name this the Path to Peace framework.

  1. Consciousness: Step one in the direction of any change we wish to create in our life is consciousness. An vital first step towards change is to attain an consciousness of the strain between our rider and our elephant and an consciousness of what really drives and motivates us.

    Let’s take the instance of eager to rise up early and train. Repeatedly snoozing an alarm we set at night time is a sign that our rider and our elephant need various things. Maybe the rider values well being whereas the elephant values consolation. If you’re caught in a state of affairs like this, ask your self: have there been instances whenever you had been capable of train regularly? What made it potential?

    One in all my teaching purchasers was going via this dilemma, and once I requested him to have a look at his previous successes, he realized that each time he might go for a run with a pal, he had no bother getting up early within the morning. He discovered that his elephant discovered it far more enjoyable to run with a pal. The consolation of staying in mattress turned much less vital as compared. To train extra usually, then, he didn’t have to power himself to rise up early. He wanted a operating buddy. As soon as he might make that occur, snoozing his alarm was not an enormous downside.

    Take into consideration this in your individual life: what does your elephant really worth? How will you align the values of your rider and your elephant?

  2. Acceptance: When you’ve turn out to be conscious of what your rider and elephant need, you could be tempted to leap into motion. In my expertise, acceptance is a vital step that comes earlier than motion. Even after we turn out to be conscious of our pure human tendency to hunt immediate gratification and luxury over what we all know is nice for us, we could discover ourselves persevering with to withstand/struggle it. We don’t like not being in management. Nonetheless, preventing biology is an uphill battle.

    Acceptance offers us the facility to cease losing our vitality on what we will’t management and as a substitute search for a more practical manner to make use of our time.

    My teaching shopper who wished to train extra usually wanted to simply accept that his elephant cared extra about having enjoyable than exercising for good well being. As soon as he accepted this about himself, as a substitute of making an attempt to power himself to care about exercising, he began asking how he might make train enjoyable. The reply, for him, got here within the type of having a operating buddy.

    For another person, listening to music whereas exercising could also be vital. For one more particular person, discovering an satisfying type of train equivalent to dance courses may be the answer.

    It’s troublesome to proceed with out first accepting that one just isn’t motivated to train for the sake of 1’s well being. Acceptance can deliver an incredible quantity of peace to the change course of.

  1. Motion: As soon as we all know what’s driving us on and settle for what’s, we will devise methods to make progress on our objectives.

    One vital side of taking motion when creating adjustments in our lives is to start out small, as beneficial by habits scientist B. J. Fogg. Large, drastic adjustments may be overwhelming for the elephant. So, if you happen to at the moment rise up at 7 am, don’t set a aim to start out waking up at 4 am and going for a run. Intention for six:30 or 6:45 am at first. Equally, you don’t need to run 5 miles every day of the week beginning tomorrow. Possibly start with a brisk stroll for 20 minutes if you happen to haven’t exercised shortly. As soon as you’ll be able to meet these smaller objectives regularly, you possibly can hold rising them in small increments till you get to the place you wish to be.


The conflicts we expertise inside ourselves come from our evolution. Whereas we can not change our biology, we will nonetheless make progress towards our objectives by creating a deeper consciousness of what drives us, accepting what can and can’t be modified, and taking motion to alter what we will. This may be iterative course of that strikes us towards truly doing what we all know is nice for us.

For those who loved this publish and wish to obtain extra recommendations on residing a happier, extra fulfilling life, I invite you to affix my neighborhood here.


Haidt, J. (2006). The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. New York: Fundamental Books.

Fogg, B. J. (2021). Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. Harvest.

Picture Credit
Mother and Baby Elephant Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash
Rider on Elephant Photo by Godwin Angeline Benjo on Unsplash
Meditator Photo by Le Minh Phuong on Unsplash
Running Buddies Photo by Tomasz Wo?niak on Unsplash