Playing with Metaphors
Playing around with metaphors expands your thinking, and
so increases your brainpower.
A question: Is a belief a "truth" or a "tool?"
Your answer can totally alter your perspective, and using many
different metaphors can give you new insights. A belief, for
example, when seen as a "truth," is something that
you want to hang onto, since you wouldn't want to base your thinking,
your decisions, or your actions on non-truths, or "lies."
However, a "tool" is something you use for a given
purpose. When the job at hand calls for a different tool, you
drop the one you have and pick up another that works better.
This is a radically different view of beliefs, isn't it?
How many metaphors could you use to understand belief? Beliefs
could be seen as "programs," like those in computers.
That would be similar to "tools," due to their disposability
- you replace programs when better ones come along. Of course
this also might suggest other things, like the "corruptibility"
Beliefs could be seen as theories, certainties, bridges, or
cages. You could even see beliefs as components of identity:
"I am the one who believes this." Each and every metaphor
you apply gives you a different perspective, and potentially
You can of course test metaphors intellectually, to see where
they might lead. But you can also test them in reality, to see
which are more useful. This is how to play with metaphors in
order to expand your thinking and improve your life.
An example: Many people see being an employee as being a "slave."
This certainly isn't a very motivating or encouraging metaphor,
since slaves have few options, and are forced to do things. What
other metaphors could we use? A "partner" commands
or demands more respect as an integral part of the business.
An "actor" is temporarily playing a role, and knows
that it will come to an end.
As for myself, I always saw being an employee as being a businessman.
My business? Selling my labor. My choices were wide open. I could
always look for better "customers" - and I did. Neither
I nor my "customer" (employer) owed anything to the
other except what was agreed upon. As a result, I never felt
bitter or taken advantage of. Operating from this metaphor also
lead me to start this internet business, so I haven't had to
sell any labor for years now.
Metaphors Gone Wild
Choose the best metaphor for the Earth: A garden needing tending,
or a self-sustaining organism living for its own sake? Is religion
(or a philosophy) a social construct, or a personal recipe for
happiness? Is the market a battle ground, or a symbiotic relationship
between customers and businesses? How about a good idea? A gift
from above or hard-earned gold to be hoarded?
One's brainpower can be measured in part by how many ways
one can look at things - more ways equals more creative possibilities.
Using new metaphors means more ways, so look far and wide to
find different metaphors for everything around you. It's not
only good brain exercise, but also a way to discover better ways