Frog in a pot

In the first experiment, they threw a frog into a pot of cold water and raised the temperature quickly. The frog jumped out.

In the second experiment they put the frog into a pot of cold water, and then very slowly began to raise the temperature. The frog showed stayed in the pot. After two hours, the frog never moved and died a horrible death.

Are you suffering from Frog Psychology?

Are you (or someone you love) in a situation that is progressively getting worse, and yet is doing nothing about it? Lousy situations are sneaky because they usually don’t get that way overnight; instead, the process can be a slow and steady decline. And like the frog, before you know it, you’re dead.

Frog wants to get out of the pot

For instance, it’s not a big deal if you have a bad day at work every couple weeks, but if you’ve been miserable at your job almost everyday for more than six months, you need change. Yes, you need the income because you have bills to pay, but don’t succumb to Frog Psychology. Instead, create an Inflection Point.

How? First, look around your company to see if there are any other jobs you would prefer to do. Talk with your boss or human resources to see what you can do to transition into the new position. Perhaps you will need more training, but many companies will provide it. They have already invested in you, so they would rather keep you happy because happy employees are more effective than disgruntled ones. Just ask Homer Simpson. If nothing works, then immediately start looking for a job elsewhere as I discuss in Chapter 3 of Hike Your Own Hike.

One of the most challenging long term situations is a declining relationship. Frog Psychology easily sets in when you’ve been with someone for a long time. After the initial honeymoon period, couples revert to their normal behavior patterns. In many cases, couples’ patterns are not compatible over the long haul. Nevertheless, couples have a tendency to become complacent with the moribund situation. Instead, they should either:

a) Create an Inflection Point and repair or radically improve the relationship.

b) Break up.

Yea! The frog escaped! Frog on top of the pot
Those are your only two intelligent options. Most don’t take either action because they, like the frog in the steadily warming pot, suffer from inertia. Isaac Newton described inertia: matter stays at rest or continues going in the direction it was traveling unless another force is applied. Although Newton’s principle on inertia focused on the physical realm, the same is true for the spiritual realm. Your relationship will continue going the way it’s going unless you exert a force against it.

Inflection Points happen because a force is applied; they don’t happen on their own. The effort to make a change may seem monumental—for who likes rocking the boat? However, you must realize that unless something changes, you will find it difficult to enjoy the relationship. And remember, unless you’re Hugh Hefner, the dating scene only gets worse with age.

This is a modified excerpt from Chapter 1 of Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. You can read the whole first chapter for free. Or you can buy the book at my shop, Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, and Google Books. (The best deal is at my shop). It’s also available as an audiobook.

Although I haven't found a modern reproduction of these 19th-century experiments, 21st-century scientists say that this frog psychology story is a myth and that frogs will jump out of slowly boiling water. I'd like to see hard evidence, but even if it were not true, it's clear that humans suffer from "frog psychology."

The great photos were taken by James Lee. (No frog was hurt for the photos.)

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