Metaphors of Life are not some sort of panacea to a malady but they are something that at the face of it makes it feel meaningless but carries great weight and motivates life to reach its zenith.
Many a time it may make you feel that a metaphor is an ornament of the English language but it’s not an ornament. It’s a necessary lens of perception that allows us to experience and think about ourselves and the world more clearly. Metaphors have a way of relating to us in the most profound way, by clarifying immense truths and intricate lessons in fairly minimal space.
Metaphors make sense of our lives. They’re a reminder that we’re not alone in our feelings. You’ve likely heard several metaphors in your daily life or in life-changing books. Below, you’ll find the best metaphors about life, meaning, and change to inspire you through any moment.
I am providing you with the following metaphor and the lesson attached with each of them. Apply it in your life and find yourself growing in ecstasy.
4 metaphor that can motivate and change your life.
1. Tasting a life like a tangerine.
In this life metaphor, you have to imagine you had a ripe, juicy tangerine sitting on the table in front of you. You pick it up eagerly, take a bite and begin to taste it.
You already know how a ripe, juicy tangerine should taste, and so when this one is a bit tarter than expected, you make a face, feel a sense of disappointment and swallow it, feeling cheated out of the experience you expected.
Or perhaps the tangerine tastes completely normal—nothing special at all. So, you swallow it without even pausing to appreciate its flavor, as you move on to the next unworthy bite and the next.
In the first scenario, the tangerine let you down because it didn’t meet your expectations. In the second, it was too plain because it met your expectations to a T.
Do you see the irony here?
It’s either not good, or not good enough.
This is how many of us live our lives… unhappily.
It’s why so many of us feel let down, disappointed, and unexcited about almost everything.
Because nothing really meets our expectations.
Now, imagine you try this instead: remove your expectations of how the tangerine “should” taste. You don’t know, and you don’t expect to know, because you haven’t even tried it yet. Instead, you’re genuinely curious, impartial and open to a variety of possible flavors.
You taste it, and you truly pay attention. You notice the juiciness, the texture of the pulp, the simultaneously tangy, tart and sweet flavors swirling around on your tongue, and all the other complex sensations that arise in your awareness as you chew. You didn’t know how this tangerine would taste, but now you realize it’s different than the rest, and it’s remarkable in its own way. It’s a totally new experience—a worthwhile experience—because you’ve never tasted THIS tangerine before.
Mindfulness experts often refer to this as “beginner’s mind,” but really, it’s just the result of a mindset free of needless, stifling expectation.
The tangerine, of course, can be substituted for almost anything in your life: any event, any situation, any relationship, any person, any thought at all that enters your mind. If you approach any of these with expectations of “how it should be” or “how it has to be” in order to be good enough for you, they will almost always disappoint you in some way… or be too plain and unexciting to even remember. And you’ll just move on to the next disappointment or unworthy life experience, and the next, and the next, and so on and so forth…
Until you’ve lived the vast majority of your life stuck in an endless cycle of experiences you barely like or barely even notice.
2. Being an Elephant
In this metaphor, life is compared with an elephant. Mahouts (ancient elephant trainers) typically strap a thin metal chain to a grown elephant’s leg and then attach the other end to a small wooden peg that’s hammered into the ground. The ten-foot-tall, ten-thousand-pound elephant could easily snap the chain, uproot the wooden peg, and escape to freedom with minimal effort. But it doesn’t. In fact, the elephant never even tries. The world’s most powerful land animal, which can uproot a big tree as easily as you could break a toothpick, remains defeated by a small wooden peg and a flimsy chain.
Why? Because when the elephant was a baby, its trainers used the same methods to domesticate it. At the time, the chain and peg were strong enough to restrain the baby elephant. When it tried to break away, the metal chain would pull it back. Soon the baby elephant realized that trying to escape was impossible. So it stopped trying.
And now that the elephant is fully grown, it sees the chain and the peg and it remembers what it learned as a baby—that the chain and peg are impossible to escape. Of course this is no longer true, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that the two-hundred-pound baby is now a ten-thousand-pound powerhouse. The elephant’s self-limiting thoughts and beliefs prevail.
If you think about it, we are all like elephants. We all have incredible power inside us. And we have our own chains and pegs—the self-limiting thoughts and beliefs that hold us back. Sometimes it’s a childhood experience or an old failure. Sometimes it’s something we were told when we were younger. The key thing to realize is this: we need to learn from the past, but also to be willing to change our perception—our perspective—about the way things are now. Life is not static. You can break free.
3. Life is a Game of Chess.
The metaphor of life is like a game of chess, almost no one wins a game of chess by only moving forward.
Sometimes you have to move backward to put yourself in a position to win.
The same is true of life.
Because sometimes, when it feels like you’re running into one dead end after another, it’s actually a sign that you’re not on the right path. Maybe you were meant to hang a left back when you took a right, and that’s perfectly fine. Life gradually teaches us that U-turns are allowed. So turn around when you must! There’s a big difference between giving up and getting yourself moving in the right direction again.
4. The Mind is a Muscle.
Think about the most common problems we deal with in our lives—from lack of presence to lack of exercise to unhealthy diets to procrastination, and so forth. In most cases, problems like these are not caused not by a physical ailment, but by a weakness of the mind.
Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time. If you haven’t pushed yourself in hundreds of little ways over time, of course, you’ll crumble on the one day that things get slightly challenging.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have a choice…
You can choose to pay attention when it would be easier to pick up your phone. You can choose to go to the gym when it would be more comfortable to sleep in. You can choose to create something special when it would be quicker to consume something mediocre. You can choose to raise your hand and ask that question when it would take less nerve to stay silent. You can prove to yourself, in hundreds of little ways, that you have the guts to get in the ring and wrestle with life.
Mental strength is built through lots of small, daily victories. It’s the individual choices we make day-to-day that builds our “mental strength” muscles. We all want this kind of strength, but we can’t wish our way to it. If you want it, you have to create positive daily rituals in your life that reinforce what you desire.