The Elephant or Your Elephant, as used in SolSeed Book of Days entries, is a metaphor for your subconscious mind. Jonathan Haight is the author of this metaphor. In his book, the Happiness Hypothesis, he describes how the best metaphor for how the conscious and subconscious minds interact is the metaphor of a Rider and an Elephant. The Rider represents our conscious minds. The Rider instinctively believes she is in control of her actions and her body. But although she may hold the reins, the Elephant is huge and powerful and her ability to control it is very limited. If the Elephant decides to eat some chocolate then the Rider can pull and tug on the reins all she wants but the Elephant will end up eating the chocolate. The Rider may delay the Elephant, may distract it but in the end the Elephant will win. At that point, the Rider will immediately jump into her true role and rationalize and explain why eating the chocolate was what she intended to do from the beginning to other Riders around her.
Our hope is that by learning to work with our Elephants rather than to fight them, we can cultivate sound instincts. We believe that the when we fight with our Elephants we will always lose. It is critical to remember that our Elephants are us and we are our Elephants. If we punish and berate ourselves for failing to act in the way our conscious minds have planned, our Elephants, driven by shame and frustration, just delve deeper into the very behaviours we are trying to avoid. Instead, by encouraging ourselves, focusing on feeling pride at having avoided even a minor instance of the behaviours we are trying to avoid or focusing on pride in having achieved even the smallest instance of the behaviours we are trying to do more of, then we can train our Elephants to behave in the way we want to and at the same time achieve higher levels of happiness.