Don’t be a boiled frog

The parable of the boiling frog goes something like this: A frog suddenly thrown into a pot of boiling water will jump out but, if the frog is put in room temperature water, which is then brought to a boil slowly, he will sit back and relax. Maybe swim a little.

Because the heat is turned up slowly, the frog does not perceive the danger thus, he will be boiled to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for our inability or unwillingness to recognize stress, anxiety, or threats that arise gradually over time. The heat, or stress starts to feel normal to us and we don’t realize it’s time to jump out until it’s too late.

Story of boil of frog

I just finished listening to an eye-opening audiobook entitled “How to be Happy at Work” by Annie McKee. It’s about handling stress and anxiety at work—something I know all too well.

A stressful work environment can be a lot like the parable of the boiling frog.

At first, when the heat (pressure/stress/conflict) in the office is turned up, we think it’s not so bad, and we think we can handle it. When the pressure/stress/conflict gradually gets more demanding, we start to sweat but, still think we can handle it. 

Because the stressors are gradual, we don’t notice them as easily—we’re not wired that way. These daily stressors can often feel like just another day at the office. And, the longer this stress goes on, the harder it is to recognize. It becomes the norm.

Like the frog, we don’t realize we are gradually being boiled to death.

Eventually, the heat of stress gets to a boiling point and all of a sudden we explode. 

Frog guts everywhere.

Don’t be a boiling frog.

If you are living in a stressful work environment, learn to deal with the stressors (whether it’s job pressure or dealing with difficult co-workers/boss). Be happy at work. Life is too short to be unhappy at a place we spend 1/3 of our time!

Living a life of unhappiness at work is not a life to live.

Read or listen to this book: How to be at Work by Annie McKee. It will change your work life, or at the very least, your mind at work.

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