Scientists in the 19th century discovered that if they put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it would immediately jump straight out (surprise, surprise). More importantly, they also found that if they put a frog into a pot of cold water and set it to boil slowly enough, the frog would stay in the pot and boil to death. Apparently the frog was able to adjust to each incremental change in temperature without realising that the situation had become so dire. Now, although that experiment is questionable on so many levels (and please don’t try it at home), it is a great metaphor for life. Often we do just keep adjusting to each small change in our environment, circumstances, or the expectations of others, without realising the collective impact of our actions.
Most of us are far too busy to take the time to genuinely look at our lives in a thoughtful way. We tend to just accept life as it comes; do what needs to be done and grasp the accidental joys along the way, as we ‘soldier on’ blindly doing the same things day in and day out.
Socrates claimed that ‘an unexamined life isn’t worth living’, but personally I find his philosophy a little morbid and believe all life is valuable. So even though there is a certain amount of truth to his stance, I’m more aligned with Sir Francis Bacon - "knowledge is power".
Unfortunately, amidst the distractions of daily life, contemplation and evaluation are often the first things to go; but when you stop to remember what brings you joy, or allows you to feel happy, satisfied, connected, smart, or loved, you are more likely to do more of it. When you are clear about what brings you down, makes you feel unimportant, not good enough, or alone, you can decide to do less of it.
Take a moment to consider your world. If somehow you were suddenly transported across time and space and dropped into your current life: this relationship; this job; this house; this body; with these friends; etc. would you quickly jump straight out? Are you genuinely happy and satisfied with your life, or are you like the frog in the pot - in danger of slowing boiling to death (metaphorically of course)?
DEBORAH FARRELL (MCounPsych)