The Wooden Elephant: A Simple (But Not So Easy) Recipe For Happiness.


A man passes by a small wood workshop in Thailand.

The shop is full of beautiful and intricate wood carvings. Outside of the shop, an old Thai man covered in sawdust is carving out the contours of an elephant out of a big, solid piece of wood.

When the passer-by asks the old man how he does it, the old man replies:

‘Just remove everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.’

You are the wood worker.

The block of solid wood is your life.

The wooden elephant represents your happiness.

Want to be happy? Remove everything that doesn’t make you happy in the long run.

  • Worries, regrets, what other people think of you…
  • Toxic friends, a work environment that makes it impossible for you to flourish…
  • Self-doubt, addictions, bad habits…

It’s up to you, the woodworker, to obliterate it and turn it into sawdust.

Happiness is already inside of you, just like the elephant is already in the solid block of wood. Get rid of the excess layer of wood that’s preventing it from taking the spotlight.

  • Replace worries with hope, forgive yourself for past missteps, be unapologetically yourself…
  • Surround yourself with people who give you energy, create a source of income that doesn’t need the sacrifice of your well-being…
  • Build your self-confidence, fight your addictions, replace a bad habit with a great one…

It’s simple, but not easy. Any woodworker will tell you it takes time, focus and consistent effort to create a wood carving that turns the head of an unexpecting passer-by. But it’s well worth it.

Free the elephant. Create a life that makes you happy.

You owe it to yourself and those around you.

About the author

Wesley van der Hoop

Dutchman living in The Bahamas. I get excited about digital marketing, writing, traveling, surfing and learning new things.

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