Saturday, 17 September 2011

At least the frog tries to jump out

There's an anecdote that says if you place a frog in a pot of cold water and gently heat the pot to boiling point, the frog will not sense the danger as the heat gradually increases and it will actually allow itself to boil to its destruction.  It turns out that this is a myth as modern experiments show the frog does try to jump out well before boiling point is reached.  Most people believe this myth to be true in any case and their belief effectively insinuates how stupid frogs are.

Assuming for a second that the experiment was true, we the smart humans aren't much different to the frog anyway.  In our lives we will continue in that stagnant relationship or hell-hole of a job because we keep hoping things will get better.  People will rationalise living in a crime-infested area by saying "crime is everywhere."  When we experience unrelenting stress at work we stick out chests out and say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  This is a good learning experience." (Learning to do what?  Live with more stress?)  We let things simmer and even when it reaches boiling point we do not make a change.

Our awareness of our own lives is not much better than the frog that allegedly allows itself to boil.  Take a typical job where you have an overlord (manager) giving you orders every day.  On the first month your manager is lenient.  Your mistakes are met with an understanding smile.  Come the third month and the noose tightens.  Mistakes are questioned as you are asked if you were not shown how to do the task in question (when it's obvious that you were); you are told in an impatient tone that you must ask for assistance if "you don't know what you're doing"; you are told to prioritise better when you struggle to meet ridiculous deadlines.  The daily humiliation an employee can face is de-humanizing, yet employees will sell their dignity because they feel they need the job and that there's no other way out (there always is).  Even if you cannot immediately find an alternative to your current situation, you need to ask if your dignity and happiness can be traded off for a very ordinary paycheque and if it isn't worth the effort every day after work to create alternate forms of income.  

Then another reason we continue with things that we hate is the gung-ho society we live in.  They refer to it as "throwing in the towel" when you want to leave anything and make a change.  And nobody wants to be known as a limp-wristed quitter so they stick it out and persist as they wait for the rainbow to appear.

Most people around you will stick things out: it's what adults do. An individual risks looking weak if they mention the thought of quitting, much less doing it.  I had the same dilemna while mulling if I should quit articles at Ernst & Young.  My fellow clerks were doing the tough thing and stuck it out.  (I assure you one thing: they all hated it without exception.)  I was the sore thumb for wanting to jump out of what was a boiling pot for me.  Yet it turned out to be the best career decision of my life as it freed me up to do much more fruitful things.  If you're suffering and you do not like something, change it.  Nothing good can come out of suffering.  Only someone with an enslaved mind thinks that endless suffering is a pre-requisite to satisfaction.  Any horrid situation will not change if you just stick with it.  Even the frog knows that.

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