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3 powerful metaphors to help you see the world more clearly

In John F. Kennedy’s speech about the Space Race, he announced that “America has tossed its cap over the wall of space.” JFK used this metaphor as a declaration for taking charge of the race. It’s a beautiful turn of phrase that epitomizes the power of metaphors.

Metaphors, however, can have many purposes. They can be used to enhance writing, make persuasive arguments, motivate people, serve as symbols, and explain abstract concepts such as love, life, and success.

Here are 3 of my favourites:


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Use challenges as fuel and focus on growth

I’m not rich. I didn’t win the genetic lottery. And I lost most of my life to addiction. So why the hell am I so happy? Simple. Because I use challenges as fuel and I focus on growth.

Every situation is an opportunity to grow, especially difficult ones. Here are several examples from my own journey:

I lost 15 years of my life to heroin addiction, but today it is my greatest ally. The lessons I’ve learned have helped me to write my memoir, secure a PhD scholarship, and become a neuroscience lecturer. …


If you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right.

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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

When our minds hold onto negative beliefs, “I can’t cope, I’m a failure,” it looks for ways to sustain these beliefs. Thankfully, when we hold onto positive beliefs, “I can do anything I put my mind to,” the same rules apply.

In his exceptional book, The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz wrote about this phenomena. He describes disbelief as negative power: “When the mind disbelieves or doubts, the mind attracts reasons to support the disbelief.” Whereas, belief, he suggests, strong belief, “triggers the mind to figure out ways and means how to.”

Many great thinkers share the same view. In one of my favourites quotes, Eleanor Roosevelt tells us that: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Best selling author Napolean Hill, who believed that deep expectations are essential to improving one’s life, also agrees: “For whatever the mind can conceive or believe, the mind can achieve.”


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Plus 7 of the best that will help you to make sense of reality

Two young fish are swimming along when they happen to meet an older, wiser fish swimming the other way. The older fish nods and says, “Good morning boys. How’s the water?” The two young fish smile, nod, and continue on their way. As they glide through the water in silence, eventually, one of them turns around to the other and says, “What the hell is water?”

The point of this parable — first told by David Foster Wallace — is that the most obvious and important realities are often the most difficult to see.

Making sense of reality

Mental models are psychological explanations of how things work. They provide us with a new way to see the world, and as a result, help us to make sense of reality. Mental models also improve how we think, helping us to simplify complexity and better understand life. …


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And how to say no to this unhealthy behaviour

Whitney Cummings is a highly successful comedian from Los Angeles. From 2011 to 2013, she produced and starred in her own comedy show called Whitney. During this time, however, she nearly destroyed her show because she was plagued by the toxic habit of people-pleasing.

“I was so afraid of people not liking me… people would pitch jokes, and I would say ‘yes’ to all of them, because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. …


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Powerful scientific evidence from an addict turned brain scientist.

I spent most of my life mindlessly obsessing about the past and the future. I was consumed by anxiety and tormented by my mind, but completely unaware of the source of my suffering.

To escape my pain, I used drugs, resulting in 15 years of chronic heroin addiction. Heroin brought me to the very edge, but I was lucky. Pounded into submission by the most painful night of my life, I was forced to look at the world from a completely new perspective.

That was in October 2013, when I was first introduced to mindfulness. Since then, I’ve become a PhD student, an author, a life change strategist, and a lecturer at the top two universities in Ireland, all in the area of the neuroscience of mindfulness. …


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Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

How to reframe negative beliefs, stress-test false assumptions, and conquer your inner-critic

For the past seven years, I’ve been obsessed with language and self-talk, and how they relate to emotion. This obsession grew out of the realization that self-talk and anxiety drove me toward a life of heroin addiction.

Driven by childhood trauma, I was tormented by the voices in my head, and the stories that I told myself. As I got older, my anxiety got worse, and so did my urge to escape it.

I began using drugs when I was 14 years old, and by the time I was 20, I was a full-blown heroin addict. I spent the next 15 years destroying my body and mind. But I was lucky. Pummelled into submission by the most painful night of my life, life gave me a second chance, and I devoured every second of it. …


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#1 Are my actions guided by love or fear?

I’ve been looking for answers my entire life. Whether I was seeking to improve my emotional health, my spiritual world, my relationships, or my career, I was always looking for answers.

I read hundreds of books, thousands of blogs, and completed many courses. I’m also in the final year of a PhD in psychology and I teach neuroscience at the top two universities in Ireland. I’ve found lots of valuable information on my journey, but I never found what I was looking for, especially when I tried to apply it to my own daily life.

It wasn’t until I began exploring the power of questions that I realised my mistake. To get the right answers, I first had to ask the right questions. With that, I flipped my search on its head and began looking for the best questions I could find. …


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Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

A guide to dealing with difficult thoughts and emotions

Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now, widely regarded as one of the most influential spiritual books of our time. At the age of 29, he experienced a profound inner transformation that radically changed the course of his life.

One night, not long after his 29th birthday, he woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. He had previously battled with anxiety and suicidal depression, but it was more intense than ever before, and he began to question his reason for living. …


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Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Because the best things in life are often on the other side of fear

Someone once told me the definition of hell: “On your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.”

When I first heard this line, it sent shivers down my spine. Why? Because by the time I was 35, I had lost my entire adult life through fear: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of risk, fear of change, and most of all, fear of anxiety, which I medicated with heroin for 15 years.

This might sound like a sad story, but I was lucky. Pummelled into submission by the most painful night of my life, I received a gift. Call it what you will — a perspective shift, an awakening, or simply dumb luck — it doesn’t matter. …

About

Brian Pennie

Change is possible. I write to show that. Author | Recovered addict | Speaker | PhD candidate. www.brianpennie.com

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