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Benefits of Meditation
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Lateral Thinking

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" of programs.

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 new insights.

Test Metaphors

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 to live.


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