There’s An Elephant In Your Brain

Why We Do What We Do

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” ― Wayne W. Dyer

Food For Thought

Why We Do What We Do

Do you REALLY know why you do what you do?

We are constantly telling ourselves stories about who we are and what we do. On the surface, these stories check out, but if you dig a little deeper, they may not hold as much truth as we like to pretend they do.

One common example of this is in people’s explanations for why they go to college:

You are going to college to learn, right? 🤔

Yet you are happy when classes are canceled, and 99 times out of 100, you wouldn’t go to college if there was no official credential given at the end.

So are you really there to learn… or just there to get the degree?

These type of false stories we wear as truths are what Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler call “the elephants in the brain.” They are the hidden motivations that exist behind everything we do in life but that we hardly ever address.

Why are we modest? Why do we refrain from expressing unconventional views? Why do we talk about this thing or that thing in this way or that way when we think something else entirely?

According to Robin Hanson, who joined us on Mission Daily:

“This the nature of human hypocrisy. We are all supposed to say certain kinds of things in certain contexts, and we all know [they’re] not true, but we don’t want to be caught on record denying the things we are supposed to say.”

In fact, not only is the explanation we give others not often our true motivation, but there’s never just one motivation anyway. Every decision we make operates under a mix of motivations pushing and pulling us in different directions. There is never a single reason for an action, but several reasons that we assess and assign weight to.

So why does any of this matter?

For a couple reasons:

  • Being aware of what’s really motivating you can help you make better decisions about what you should do and how you should delegate your time, money, and energy.
  • Understanding what is really motivating you can help you see past the mask that others wear and understand their true motivations.
  • And finally, the sooner we all start to recognize one another’s false stories, the sooner we can start to shed these stories and replace them with the uncensored truths.

For a deeper dive into this topic and more, listen to today’s Mission Daily episode with Robin Hanson. 👇👇

Mission Daily

There’s An Elephant In Your Brain

Why did you choose to listen to this episode? Why are you listening to it in one app versus another? Why are we asking you all these questions? Robin Hanson, our guest today, is here to shed some light on these questions and more.

As the author of The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, Robin has turned his focus on what makes humans tick and what motivates us to act and behave as we do. In this interview, Robin and Chad discuss behavior patterns, the mixed motivations that influence people, and how we can become more aware of these “elephants” in our brains.

🎧 Listen to the episode. 🎧

Further Reading

The Elephant In The Brain

“Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. The less we know about our own ugly motives, the better — and thus we don’t like to talk or even think about the extent of our selfishness. This is ‘the elephant in the brain.’”

Read: The Elephant in the Brain by Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler


Weekend Recharge

The past few weeks, we’ve been knee-deep in thought-provoking literature, podcast episodes, and documentaries. While it’s all been insightful content, it’s also been very exhausting. This weekend, we plan to do a recharge by relaxing and doing some mild, light-hearted activities. Here’s what’s on the agenda:

What about you? What are some of your favorite ways to recharge over the weekend? Share them with us by tweeting @TheMissionHQ.

Sign Off 👋

Happy Friday!

We hope your week was AWESOME. Know what would make it better?

Entering in our Ultimate Book Bundle Giveaway! 😏

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See you next week!

This was originally published on April 26, 2019 as the Mission’s daily newsletter. To subscribe, go here.

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