The Elephant in Your Motive

The Elephant in Your Motive


What is your motive?

When you woke up this morning, posted a picture of your first coffee of the day, rode your bike to the office, and then gave the warmest ‘hi’ to your colleague. Why did you do that?

When a friend told you about her amazing vacation plan to Cebu, and then you try to suppress yourself from reminding her to be more attentive to her savings, because you’re afraid that she’s just going to borrow your money, in the end, to keep her ends meet. Why did you do that?

When you cried later that night, confided yourself to a friend-of-a-friend, didn’t say no when a hug becomes a kiss, and a kiss becomes a one-night-stand. And you woke up the next day, sent a text full of lies to your significant other, fixed your make up and started your day just like that. Why did you do that?

Compassion? Moral? Loyalty? Being true to your self?

But what if you get rid of the social media part of your life? Get rid of the moral part of your action, get rid of your job, your status, your fertility. Would you still do the same?

And if the resulting action isn’t exactly the same: you didn’t ride that bicycle the next day, you did not lie to your lover, but you still didn’t prevent your friend from spending her money carelessly. What does it say about you and your motives?


The book, The Elephant in The Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, presents this theory about us, humans: Most of us unconsciously know the reason behind our reason, but in order to lead a meaningful life, one needs to be oblivious about her real motives, and for this reason, our brain has evolved to trick us into a more ‘likable’ motives such as compassion and loyalty, when in fact, all of those intricate details, layered thinking, traumas, aspirations, and sadness, could be tracked down into 3 big names: sex, status, and power.

The case studies this book presented to prove its ground include education (do you really go to school to learn?), charity (do you really do it for the greater good?), loyalty (do you really do it because you believe in monogamy?), laughter (apparently, is more than just a funny bone), art (oh, sad soul, who art thou?), medicine (is health that important?), conversation (why we, selfish creatures, talk to each other?), consumption (you know why), politic (just why?), and of course, religion.

My best part of the book would be reading about the hidden motives theory behind laughter, charity, education, art, and religion. Although I did know other books that explore the said theory in much more details, I found that the book The Elephant in Your Brain quite fun to read. The two authors are quite poetic in their writings, and I kinda like that (my favorite: that bit about Neo and Morpheus in the introduction section!).

Screenshot 2019-05-29 12.03.58

This book also reminds me of my past, particularly in the year of 2009, the first time that I sniffed my hidden motives and I don’t really like the smell, and the long-time battle of accepting who I really am afterward.

So yes, in short, this book is personal to me.

The Elephant in The Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson is a great read. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know why social media is such an addiction, or someone who secretly asked themselves why the potential employer wants you to inform them of your organization experiences, and other similar whys and contemplations.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *