Once there was an elephant. He was a very happy elephant, vibrant and joyous. He loved to go into the water and spray it around with his trunk. He loved to shower himself with it. He loved to move heavy stuff around. He loved to eat his favourite plants. He loved to make a loud trumpeting sound with his trunk. He loved his life and it really showed.
Other animals began to notice the elephant. They could not help noticing his infectious exuberance. The lion, the hyena, the giraffe, the warthog, the monkey and the zebra all began to watch him.
They began to talk amongst each other. This elephant obviously knew something. He was so happy, he obviously knew the right way to live. So the other animals began to copy him. They all started going into the water and sucking water into their noses then blowing it out again. They all tried to make loud noises with their noses. They all started to eat the same plants that the elephant ate. They all started trying to move heavy stuff around.
Deep down the other animals were not enjoying their new lifestyles. But they did not want to look stupid in front of the others. So they put on false smiles. They laughed false laughter. They imitated the exuberance of the elephant. They did this for so long that they forgot what real joy felt like. They managed to persuade themselves that this was it, that they were really loving life like the elephant. Of course, each looked at the others and could see that they were clearly faking it. But not them. Oh, no. They had got it. They were really loving life just like the elephant.
One day a cheetah came to the watering hole. Just like the elephant, the cheetah seemed to exude joy and happiness. It was as though he had an aura about him. The other animals started to watch the cheetah. The cheetah didn't do anything that the elephant did. He liked to run like the wind. He liked to bask in the sun. He kept away from the water. He certainly didn't eat plants!
"What are you doing?" asked the hyena. "You are doing all the wrong things. How can you be happy? How can you be joyous? don't you know that you are doing all the wrong things?"
"What does ‘wrong’ mean?" asked the cheetah.
"Look at the elephant," answered the giraffe. "Look how happy he is. He knows the right way to live. To be happy, one must live like the elephant. Everyone knows that."
"But I am not an elephant," the cheetah responded further. "I am a cheetah."
The others looked at the cheetah and then at each other. But still they didn't get it. They decided not to speak to the cheetah any more.
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