The Frog and the Boiling Water

It was the winter of 2015, and I found myself in the midst of my master’s program at Harvard Law School. The days were filled with intensive exam preparations, numerous classes, and an array of networking events. Additionally, I was living (once again) abroad, far from my family, using a different language daily. It may all seem manageable until you actually experience it.

One day, a concerned friend noticed the stress etched on my face and offered a piece of advice: “Be careful, and remember the story of the frog and the boiling water.”

I asked, “What story?

She replied, “You don’t know?

Apparently, the tale goes like this: If you put a frog in boiling water, it will immediately jump out to escape the scalding heat. However, if you place the frog in tepid water and gradually raise the temperature, it will remain in the water until it eventually succumbs.

My natural inclination, driven by my inner geek, led me to hours of research about this story. To the best of our knowledge, the validity of the experiment is debatable. Nevertheless, I found the metaphor resonating with many professionals I know.

Could we be akin to the frog in the lukewarm water? Are our bodies becoming accustomed to poor posture, relentless schedules, thousands of working (have I said billable?) hours, sleepless nights, jet lag, and unhealthy lifestyles? Perhaps we’ve grown so accustomed to resisting the gradual changes that we don’t realize the water is heating up until it’s too late.

Whether the tale holds true or not, its relevance in the context is evident.

As a Qi Gong instructor once told me, our minds tend to forget, but our bodies remember everything and eventually repay us—with interest

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