The toad and the hot water

By Paulo Coelho

Various biological studies have shown that if a toad is placed in a container along with water from his own pond, he will remain there, utterly still, while the water is heated, even when the water reaches boiling point. The toad does not react to the gradual increase in temperature and dies when the water boils.
 
Fat and happy.
 
On the other hand, if a toad is thrown into that container when the water is already boiling, he will jump straight out again, scalded, but alive!
 
Sometimes we behave like the boiled toads. We do not notice changes. We think that everything is fine and that anything bad in our lives will simply go away – that it’s just a matter of time. We are close to death, but still we sit, unchanging and apathetic, while the water around us gets hotter by the minute. We end up dying, fat and happy, without having noticed the changes going on around us.
 
Boiled toads do not understand that, as well as being efficient (doing things right), they need to be effective (doing the right things). And for this to happen, there must be continual growth, with room for dialogue and clear communication, room to share and to plan and to build an adult relationship. The biggest challenge lies in having the humility to respect someone else’s views.
 
There are, however, boiled toads who still believe that the most important thing is obedience, not competence: those who can, lead, but those with any sense, obey. And where does this leave real life? It is far better to emerge from a situation slightly scalded, but still alive and ready to act.

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Comments

  1. Xia says:

    I have been reading the posts and the comments from some people here, and I feel I MUST write something.

    Change is necessary, sometimes, when you wait enough and the water gets too hot and some other frog enters the pond and jumps back out crying that the water is hot, then you realize that something is not right, and then, probably you’ll try to jump out, but, the water is so hot, that you just jump without looking around to ensure you land on safe land and you just fall on another heating pond.

    Too many jumps and ponds and hot water….

    Let me explain. Sometimes, if you just sit on your comfortable life, even if it does not make you entirely happy, but you are attached to it or you are scared to make any kind of move or change, and you are in that situation long enough, what you do with your own is to fall deeper and deeper into this lazyness and desperation.

    When the conditions around you suddenly (not suddenly as this has been an acumulative process) get too hard, then you get desperate and try to change things in a blink of an eye. The most usual result is that, driven by desperation, you make the wrong move and fall into another dangerous situation.

    If, on thecontrary, you accept and realize that change is necessary, you will look around you, finding all signs that something is wrong just in time to make the change. This does not mean that from one day to another you will have to leave all your life behind, this applies for little things in life also.

    For seven years I was in a pond that was heating, I was not happy, but I was afraid of making changes. One day I got to the boiling point and it hurted. And I decided to jump, leaving all undesirable and bad things behind at the pond. Now I am in another city, another job, another house, fighting my way through and most important of all, fighting with myself to leave the fat frog behind and open my eyes to new oportunities for pursuing my dreams and reah happiness.

    It is not easy, but once you are out in the fresh wind you feel different, you feel free.

  2. Leaf,

    Thanks for the wonderfully decorated dish, and as I would love your thoughts to expand, I know once they grew and stretched beyond comfort, they will come to agree with Paolo’s… I see you are a deep thinker with a gourmet taste for life… I love that!!

    Agnieszka,

    Dreams are just like a wish risky business because by definition it remains in the immaterial. Once your dream becomes what I call a “vision”, you become the creator of your reality. As such, yes, you should be a dreamer but if you want to live, make your dream your vision, and add purpose. Dreaming alone is what might set you up for disappointment… That’s why I love when Paolo writes: Follow your dreams. That statement is full of ACTION!

    Love and light!!

    Lydia

  3. Karen says:

    I’d definately rather be the toad that jumped out of the water. The toad that stayed in the water?? Sure you’re not getting that confused with the chicken story?;) lol
    That toad must have gotten REAL fat, for lack of finding other alternatives in life:) “A FOOLISH consistancy is the hobgoblin of SMALL minds.”

  4. aditya says:

    Problem lies not with the decision of staying put or jumping out ! that should be a consious decision. what Paulo is trying to indicate is that some people ( we ? me ??? ) ignore changes, don’t factor it in. depending upon what we are made of, what we want to acheive, staying put and fighting it out or moving on shouls be a consious choice, of course its implications will follow.

  5. Jo says:

    I am confused now…..i thought it if we believe destiny was to happen ….why not just wait in the hot boiling water? Who knows…. the same fate was awaiting me even if i decided to change.

    If we believe in destiny…. why take to chg. Shepard was destined for the gold…he took the journey to the pyramids…. the robber wasn’t destined to get the gold…he continued his life as is. Hey “frogy” u did the right thing :)))

    Fact is …I am toooooooo lazy for change…enjoy my comfort zone….it needs someone to slap me hard, for me to wake up from my slumber.

  6. Yza says:

    Sometimes it’s better to stay where you are even when the situation gets difficult with the hope that it would get better sooner or later. Just like the frog in the pond with hot water. What will happen if we kept on jumping to other location if we felt that it’s getting hotter or difficult? But, of course, we should be attentive and aware of the whole situation to know if it’s really time to move. Patience and right timing is essential and we should master both…

  7. the living dead says:

    but what if we are not strong enough?

    what if we have always been that person you talk about, the person who DOES stand up for themselves and their beleiefs constantly. known as frank and honest and will not be walked over

    but all it does is get me in trouble, people cant take difference and cant take someone not conforming

    so i stand here listening and nodding my head but sadly have learnt not to say anything cause all it does is create uneccesary stress. and those emotions i feel can sit as long as its not external and just helping me drown

    as i am doing

    drowning

  8. rainer says:

    The story is well presented and gets to the point. Thank u very much.

  9. Leaf says:

    Hi Lydia…..it was my not fully agreeing with Paulo which I was speaking about.

    I’ll add a universal sprig of holly to your dish, with a tough of icing snow for decorative purposes only…xx

  10. Lydia of Light Serendipitous Adventures says:

    Dear aditya,

    Death is not the scariest part of life.

    Life not lived is by far scarier. A life lived in fear be it fear of loosing life or fear of not making it a life that you find worth living. Ignorance is what scares me most because from it much evil has come and continues to perpetuate horror happening on the face of this earth.

    Peace to you, in light and love! Lydia

    Leaf,

    Thank you;

    I don’t have any disagreement with Paulo.

    It’s just that I have kissed a few toads that wanted to get boiled alive and thought they would turn into princes if I just kept kissing them. Sure enough, when the water got too hot, I jumped. Then when I thought that I was comfortable in situation I showed resistance if I was required to change because I had a fear of this change, not knowing the future and what it would hold, having little faith that what was on the other side of cha

    My views come from understanding that the frog in that pond is a person who, much like a cynic would, doesn’t feel that change is necessary. I agree with him and all I want him to feel is my love and appreciation for what he writes. I know plenty of cynics who would never change and say that all this psycho-bable is nonesense and won’t help in the least. Their minds are closed and don’t allow change for the better. What does happen is that change for the worst does occur, whether they believe it or not, they brought it about themselves because they let it happen to them because they didn’t move out from their own comfort zone. That’s what the parable is talking about. However, I took it to the level of understanding us human beings. Sometimes, much like the toad who gets boiled in his own pond, we don’t want to change. And at other times, we just jump because we see that the water is hot….and that’s what saves our skin. In each one of us both toads are present, more or less and in varying circumstances!

    Much love and light to you. Let me sprinkle some light weekend thought-sparkles on your British mince pie experience and greet you with a chocolate powder fluff on your coffee.

    Love, light and a sparkling weekend!!

    Lydia aka Serendipity Jane

  11. Lydia of Light Serendipitous Adventures says:

    Leaf,

    Thank you and no, I don’t have any disagreement with Paulo.

    I have kissed a few toads that wanted to get boiled alive and thought they would turn into princes if I just kept kissing them. Sure enough, when the water got too hot, I jumped.

    My views come from understanding that the frog in that pond is a person who, much like a cynic would, doesn’t feel that change is necessary. I agree with him and all I want him to feel is my love and appreciation for what he writes. I know plenty of cynics who would never change and say that all this psycho-bable is nonesense and won’t help in the least. Their minds are closed and don’t allow change for the better. What does happen is that change for the worst does occur, whether they believe it or not, they brought it about themselves because they let it happen to them because they didn’t move out from their own comfort zone. That’s what the parable is talking about. However, I took it to the level of understanding us human beings. Sometimes, much like the toad who gets boiled in his own pond, we don’t want to change. And at other times, we just jump because we see that the water is hot….and that’s what saves our skin. In each one of us both toads are present, more or less and in varying circumstances!

    Much love and light to you. Let me sprinkle some light weekend thought-sparkles on your British mince pie experience and greet you with a chocolate powder fluff on your coffee.

    Love, light and a sparkling weekend!!

    Lydia aka Serendipity Jane

  12. agnieszka says:

    Dear Lydia
    Why do we have to “die in order to get better, to be alive again”? – why it has to be the hardest way of all?
    Isn’t it easier to do something before and maybe even help somebody else think?
    I know that some of us has to reach the bottom in order to realize what is missing, what is wrong, and how empty we became, but….. if we try harder, look deeper, open sooner and trust the ONE /the ONLY – the worst case scenario would never happened.?????
    Maybe I am dreaming as I (to be honest) like to do,
    but shouldn’t we be dreamers in the first place?
    love
    Agnieszka

  13. nikamarie says:

    just like agnieszka said, I can’t believe you posted this!!! The same thoughts feelings have been going on in my mind, due to things that are going on in my life at the moment.

    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you

    Lots of hugs
    marie

  14. Calvin Mann says:

    THAT MY FRIEND IS THE TRUTH!
    That was me when god lifted me to another level with what the people need. So prayer and just listening to my many blessings (talent) that was given to me. EMIY QUOTE: “In order to succeed you must be willing to Fail”
    Thank you Calvin Mann EMIY INC./Clothing

  15. Leaf says:

    Lydia, I like your response, thank you.

    I think I can see now, a slight disagreement with Paulo, in line with my own life maybe….that we can be boiled and come back and say, go on boil me again, I can take it….this toad will not die if not happy….and if the water gets too hot, it will not abandon the ship of dreams, the pond water.

    But still, I can test the water with an outside of myself view…and if things start warming up too much, I’ll add some cold water.

    Blah blah blah…very metaphorical…not really me today.
    Thanks Paulo.
    Love to all.

    British Mincemeat Pie and coffee flavoured greetings to you, too
    xxxx

  16. Tania Chilby says:

    Without any reaction there is no action taken, but better to come out a bit scalded and still live to tell the tale I guess* but when we are scared ,it means we have a choice to heal,but it also says we are all human and can sit in the water some times in denial about the very scare witch made us react in the first place .I wonder what would happen if you kissed the toad would it become healed … or would it turn into a fat and happy princess….

  17. Reez says:

    “The biggest challenge lies in having the humility to respect someone else’s views.”

    When I think aloud and speak my thoughts, sad to say, I end up feeling bitter. At some point, silence is the shortest way of respect.

    Cheers! :)

  18. aditya says:

    that was awsome Lydia !

  19. aditya says:

    hey ! Paulo !

    stop scaring me !! close to death and all…

    I don’t notice the changes and die right !! but as u have said I don’t notice it, am happy and gay ( let me pull back this word, in olden days being happy and gay did not have anything to do with being gay, but nowadys this word has become a dirty word ), I die in that happiness !!

    whereas “It is far better to emerge from a situation slightly scalded, but still alive and ready to act” who says so, why is it so damn important to remain alive, specially with scales and all !! but then I have not yet known the happiness u speak of, so probably u r right !! maybe being comfortable does not lead to happiness, maybe it leads only to boredom !

    leaf u ask “but – who on earth decided to boil a poor toad??” I am surprised, u should see the kind of atrocities animals ( and sometimes humans too ) are subjected to in the name of research !

    aditya

  20. Chris says:

    Alas! I realize that I am getting fat and that terrible smell that has been bothering me for some time now is the smell of my own cooking flesh.

    I however, am keeping still though fully aware of the urgency to leap out of the scalding waters I have known since to be home.

    Given the two options, one of getting out and the other of staying put, where the former would result to the suffering of many others, leaves less to be desired than the latter choice where it is only I who would endure the pain and ultimately perish.

  21. Mihaï says:

    I would like to see also an example, of effectiveness without efficiency.

  22. Nancy says:

    A great message-we must stand up for what we believe in at some points in our life. Responding and communicating builds strong relationships. What I always have difficulty in is knowing when I should be a monk in a monastery with a difficult guest and when I should be an active boiled toad.
    I guess figuring this out and deciding which to do is all part of it, eh.

  23. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,
    SO TRUE!!!!!!!
    I can’t believe that You posted this story today???
    It’s like a sign!!!

    Some things happen at work today and I was a little upset afterwards, because I don’t like saying things even if they true to others especially if you like somebody who’s involved and you know they might be hurt somehow,
    but something told me to do it,
    to follow the truth and not to sit still and..
    I did it.
    It always costs a lot, it makes me shake inside but I couldn’t just not react.
    I came back home,I look at your blog and what I see??????
    ?????????
    this message –
    “IT IS FAR BETTER TO EMERGE FROM A SITUATION SLIGHTLY SCALDED, BUT STILL ALIVE AND READY TO ACT.”

    HOW?????WHAT A COINCIDENCE!!!!!!
    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
    lots of love
    Agnieszka

  24. Lydia of Light Serendipitous Adventures says:

    Fat and happy frogs who get boiled in their own pond water don’t live to tell the tale… and the one who got scalded doesn’t stay in the water long enough to die for him to say “Look, I died but I came back.”

    Some people just have to die, perhaps not in the literal but in a figurative sense, for them to realize that they actually have a choice and free will to make them to become makers and shakers of their reality, and not to remain takers who feel like all they have to do is consume, or fakers who think that living a lie is ok as long as they don’t hurt anyone else, meanwhile hurting inside and slowly dying a self-imposed death that would easily be avoided if they would live according to the truth and the honesty they owe themselves, taking full responsibility for their actions and rise in a Cinderella-like story, only equaled by the myth of the firebird called Phoenix, who’s legacy is still part of our expressions, since he had come up from the ashes, with vibrant gold and red plumage.

    Too many people shy away from being refined and taking a step outside their comfort zones. It is a trend to get out of relationships when it get difficult to handle. Truth is, only with time a relationship can grow so strong that it will be the match that everyone mistakenly takes for the first stages of “being in love”, which of course is nothing less than temporary insanity, or something similar to this. Relationships change and so does the world around us all the time. Change is the only constant in life and if we can make it a priority to appreciate change, we won’t ever again be fat and happy, thinking that’s the “good life”…meanwhile getting boiled alive in our own pond water.

    If I would want to loosely quote my buddy Buddha again, I would say “Be the change, and change your pond water from time to time.”

    Sending you warm winter speculoos flavored greetings with a dash of Belgian chocolate to dip!

    Love and light,

    Lydia aka Serendipity Jane

  25. Cristina says:

    Esto me suena como que necesitasemos tener la s cosas insoportables de una para reaccionar y me recuerda de un libro que lei del cual no recuerdo el titulo pero habla del abogado del diablo.

  26. Leaf says:

    Potent message, as ever – but – who on earth decided to boil a poor toad??
    x