What a frog can teach you about happiness

There is an anecdote about boiling a frog that I kind of like. It’s from the 1800’s when experiments of this type were much in vogue. The premise is that if you put a frog in pan of cold water and then heat it up very, very, veeeeeeeeeeery slowly the frog won’t notice the incremental change in temperature and, instead of simply leaping out to save it’s own life, will in fact sit there until it boils to death.

There is much scientific dispute about the veracity of this principle, however I don’t care because I love the analogy. This is because for many years I was that frog. I was getting more and more ill with Adrenal Fatigue in a corporate job that I hated but amazingly I just kept on rocking up, going in each day even though it was literally killing me. I couldn’t see it because it had got worse so incrementally; little by little my body was packing up and my soul was being crushed. If it had been a big thing, like I had been hit by a car, or the company had been in an acquisition with new management I would have noticed and made the obvious decision to get the hell out. But the descent into illness and misery was so gradual I literally couldn’t see it.

I see so many clients who have a job/ health situation/ relationship/ living arrangement/whatever/ which, on the face of it, looks completely and obviously untenable. It is remarkable that they are still in what it is that they are in. They are exhausted beyond measure or bullied at work beyond sufferance, or in a marriage of together alone. And yet they will say “it’s fine, really”, and it is, because it’s only 0.005% worse than it was yesterday, so it’s really not that bad.

Sometimes a reality check is in order. If someone had to come in fresh and be in that relationship, that job or that health situation, would they trade places with you? If “quite obviously not “ is the answer something is obviously and objectively not right. Consider you may be living a “Boiled Frog” existence in part of your life. If someone else would come fresh in and say “this is MADNESS!” and change it straight away they are frog who can feel the heat. That’s someone coming in from the cold: accurately assessing the temperature of the environment and taking evasive action.

Have a look at what you are putting up with. No-one likes to be a boiled frog but it’s so easy to do. Take a temperature check on the key areas of your life. Step back and look with perspective. What’s the real temperature? What’s the temperature difference from cold, not the difference from what it was yesterday? Is it a comfortable temperature for you? Is it a temperature that you can happily stay in long term or does it need to change?

There is a famous Thoreau quote Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”. I think it’s the saddest quote ever. I used to look at it and think “who the hell would live a life of quiet desperation? That’s pathetic when we have so much choice.” but now I know it can creep up on us all if the conditions change gradually enough.

Take a temperature check. Don’t be that frog.


Have you ever been that frog, what helped you?  Share your thoughts in the comment box below … I LOVE to hear your comments!   If you liked this share it, my greatest wish is that by writing these blogs and sharing my experiences, someone out there reading this will realise, “Hey, I’m not alone… I can jump out of this pan!”

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