10 SEC READING: Frogs being boiled

Several biological studies have shown that a frog placed in a container along with water from his pond, he will remain alive while you heat the water. The toad does not react to the gradual increase of temperature (change of environment) and only dies when the water boils, swollen and happy.

On the other hand, if a toad is thrown into that same container when the water is already boiling, he will immediately jump out. He will be a little singed, but alive!

Sometimes we can be like the boiled toads. We do not notice changes.
We think everything is good, or that whatever is evil will pass, it’s just a matter of time.
We are about to die, but we are floating, stable and apathetic as the water warms up every minute.
We are dying, fat and happy, without having noticed the changes around us.

There are boiled toads who still believe that the key is obedience, not competence: might is right, and obey whoever is sensible. From all this, where is the real life? It is better to emerge from a situation, maybe a little singed from time to time, but alive and ready to act.


  1. Maria says:

    O sapo inteligente traz um termometro dentro no coração. Pula fora qdo queima.
    Ou como diz nosso qrido pe. Fabio: “Posso admirar o fogo sem precisar tocá-lo”.

  2. NSBA says:

    Thank you Paulo..

  3. Neale Daniel says:

    Hi Paulo, in the true spirit of blogging I have nominated your blog for the Versatile Blogger Award.
    To view all nominees and comments please go to http://nealedaniel.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy-school-of-enlightenment-nominated-the-versatile-blogger-award/

    Neale :)

  4. Andrej says:


    to correct things. The original study was conducted with a frogs were the bains were cut out. So this story applies to frogs without a brain ;)

  5. eleonora says:

    Quando non riesco a prendere una decisione, che porta ad un cambiamento per vari motivi..la paura si fa sentire..A quel punto cerco di pensare a quando si viene al mondo..quel cambiamento così drastico prevede che noi si reagisca ..si accetti ..si cambi..Quando siamo molto molto piccoli già mettiamo in atto una grande forza. Di quella forza dobbiamo serbare un gran ricordo e cercare di ritrovarla per attuare cambiamenti in positivo nel rispetto nostro e altrui.Buona giornata.

    1. marina says:

      Ringrazio te com ho ringraziato Maria perchè vedo che siamo in tante a lottare per la stessa ragione e questo ci dovrebbe dare la forza di cui parli nel tuo commento. Credo che per contribuire ai cambiamenti necessari a questa Terra dobbiamo dare la nostra positività in modo che questa incontri le altre energie positive. Grazie ancora

  6. Vandana says:

    Thank you Sir, You help me in bringing and understanding Myself.copied from another person but seems appropriate what i wish to convey

  7. Raheel says:

    Thank you Sir, You help me in bringing and understanding Myself

  8. kousar magsi says:

    Respectd Paulo Coelho,
    I really love u r writing n it has an eternal effect on me. Dnt knw bt there are only few ppl whose writng have such effct n em really obliged to say dat u r one of them . Every human has a depth insde n u help to search dat innrself in othr words our souls . U r writing has a charm of sprituality dat is really smethng lovd by evry readr . May Allah Almighty bless u.

  9. lucero says:

    es como la vida mal acostumbrada, a que no lo amen que lo griten a que lo maltraten a que no lo quieran, amen como se merece..esto hervirse cocinarse!

  10. Rafaella says:

    I’ve heard that so many times and I have always been the jumping frog but I am starting to think being the boiling frog is better since you’re always happy, no matter what. Hard times come to easy for me and I’m losing faith… =(

    1. jessie says:

      it is hard always beening aware but you are wired like that for a reason stay strong.x

  11. Anupam Karn says:

    “obedience, not competence: might is right, and obey whoever is sensible. From all this, where is the real life? It is better to emerge from a situation, maybe a little singed from time to time, but alive and ready to act.”

    Good lesson!

  12. Isa says:


    A Fat Man(myself)’s point of view

  13. Prinie says:

    Oh beautiful! Chicken soup for my soul :)

  14. annette says:

    It’s ok to get singed once in a while. Getting burnt reminds us that we have a responsibility to use our power for the good rather than being complacent.

  15. katie says:

    how much cruelty is actually behind the idea to test how a frog is doing when being put into hot , cooking water.

    but this experiment was done.

  16. Julian Julio says:

    Lots of comments on ‘fat and happy’ (that is Paulo’s fault;)
    But our cocoon can be fat and happy! Sometimes mine ‘looks’ a bit like this!

    I think we are like this. We need to accustom ourselves to the environment to feel secure; but maybe that environment is alien! Better to wake-up and get out while you’re still alive!

    Spirituality is hard work! So we care for ourselves in a good way to nurture us as well as it pushing us bravely towards change:)

  17. Alexandre says:

    Texto maravilho e de excelente qualidade.

  18. Maris says:

    This study is an allegory to how most of us tend to turn a blind eye to changes that gradually happen in our environment. Because we feel right at home, the increasing change hardly fazes us that we do not realize how this change is already endangering our existence. Think of it like a worsening air pollution. Since we have been living in the same place all our lives, we hardly take note of the worsening air quality is taking its toll on our health. We ignore the little cough and breathing problems we experience time and time again, and even if they become frequent we are hardly alerted of the dangerous consequences,. Then before we even realize it, we are already seriously sick. The same thing holds true to a mentally toxic environment, whereby we experience injustice yet ignore it because it occurs in a place we consider home. We just shrug matters off, thinking it is just a minor disturbance that would pass. Doing so we get immune to it that what should have been an atrocity becomes “normal” for us. In due time, the atrocity suffocates us, killing us and turning us into unfeeling zombies and we still are not aware of it. We have died on the inside and we are still smiling, thinking that life is just the way it should be.

    1. Mobbing says:

      @Maris, great explanation. This sounds like a story of my life, Thank you.

  19. JO WERONYKA says:

    Ás vezes em algumas circunstancias estamos ensapados!
    algo poderá estar ao nosso redor, mas permanecemos com aquele velho e costumeiro ”nó na garganta”, está esquentando!!! e apertando !!!
    mas……a preferencia é resistir…….
    mas……. se alguem vem e cai neste ambiente perrubador como para-quedas,
    dificilmente irá suportar, irá resistir a não reagir, porque suas experiencias de vida, o deixou esperto para não ficar preso em armadilhas……

    Belo texto , Paulo Coelho!


  20. Ruben says:

    Most human beings are perhaps afraid of leaping out of their boiling pot. And as a result we gradually suffer more and more. Thankfully when someone suffers enough, they leap!! This is why suffering is a great teacher.. One day it may be honored instead of avoided at all costs …

  21. Trina says:

    Such a simple parable and apropos for the times. This resonates with me. I teach 14-15 year old kids at a school where low income students are prevalent. Their apathy is palpable sometimes, but I’ll bet they’d understand this. Thank you.

  22. faty says:

    where is the real life? i’m asking too -_- if u find an answer ..a meaningful one…let me know

  23. clotile says:

    Wow, this is very thought provoking… health & wealth come into mind for me.

  24. Elliot Mercer says:

    So much of the time, people have the keys to unlock their doors. They just don’t *realize* it. This is a wonderful lesson in empowerment.
    For people who don’t have the keys, or who once did have the keys and can’t get to them for whatever reason, it can be an unfortunate situation. Sometimes, the lid is on the pot. There is only so much a little toad can do! Or…a fat and happy toad….which isn’t altogether bad, if that is the only thing he has going for him while he is drowning.

  25. Psalmbody says:

    Powerful pros’, you

  26. Annie says:

    frogs boiled….
    oh boy….
    -What’s happening are we boiled?
    -Nonsense.. it’s just hot, enjoy :)

    frogs stir-fried
    along with pie
    -What’s happening, we are being fried?
    -Nothing dear, we are fine :)

    frogs in the oven
    the door is shut
    -What’s happening all of a sudden?
    -Nothing darling, it’s just..

    and they were done
    frogs on the table,
    forks and knives and ladles
    and then… yum (??!)

    Love and Gratitude

    1. Gerardo Handal says:

      Love it Annie!

  27. Yilmaz says:

    This is a very meaningful story to me. The change itself and death is not the problem.

    I think its “salvation” is mainly dependant on 3 variables, namely whether a) the change is caused by us or by someone else, b) we become aware of it c) it reflects our inner truth.

    Aşk olsun (Let it be love),

    1. Rupa says:

      Yilmaz i think all of us found a little bit of “US” in it story.
      I like the way you recoginzed and put down the three variables.
      Paulo you are one of my favourite. Adore the way you say things with deeper meaning so simply.
      Thankyou Paulo and Regards Yilmaz

    2. Finyapol says:

      What an amazing reflection you have.

    3. Hi Yilmaz

      WOW!! I really enjoyed the way you put this!!! I totally agree:)

  28. marina says:

    La consapevolezza del senso della vita spesso viene da bruciature che lasciano un piccolo segno se si salta in tempo. Anzi ogni esperienza serve a crescere e a compiere il nostro cammino completati dei tasselli mancanti. E’ l’amore per noi stessi e per la vita che ci porta ogni giorno ad essere messaggeri nel mondo e a donare senza pretendere nulla in cambio. Auguro a tutti di sorridere oltre che con la bocca anche con gli occhi.

  29. Jennifer says:

    Dear Mr. Coelho,

    You have made me pause and think. Also, smile and laugh!
    Thank you, Mr. Coelho, you are my guru.
    I simply adore you.

    Love, light and blessings to all,

  30. Simulacrum says:

    Great point! First brought to my attention in “The Story of B”, by Daniel Quinn

  31. Ezgi says:

    Just wanted to let you know that that, a Turkish girl in LA is thinking about how much you inspired her right now..
    Love you Paulo, just because..

  32. Kealan says:

    Renato Pacca is a wise man.

    The obedience of life, can also be forced on us by the boiled toads. For example my life at the moment. I moved into the city six months ago, because if I stayed in the boiling water, I would surly have died there and then! Now living in the city, boiled toads who work for the government in welfare do not believe that I should be living in the city, and want me to go back into the boiling water – although in the past six months I found suitable accommodation, found a part-time job and applied for University. Of course, those who know me understand the direction I am taking, is far more reasonable for me to follow – then to just give in, give up, and go back. & I will not go back! I would rather beg on the streets to pay my rent, because I am entitled to, as a human being, to live where I want to live.

    I will survive, with my scars. Better to be alive, to wake up alive and move forward…. alive.

  33. aide mercado says:

    Mientras mas leo sus posts mas me enamoro de ti paulo, me ensenas cada dia a tratar lo mas de srmejor muchas gracias y que tu vida este llena de bendiciones.

  34. Tara Hamdi (Abu Dhabi & Denmark) says:

    I always teach my 2 daughters the meaning of life, there might be ups and downs, there might be times we would be tested to the extreme, but whenever we pass the test, its just and experience to learn of.

    Beautiful words thanks for sharing.

    Tara Hamdi

  35. toñi says:

    Fíjate que hoy me he acordado de algo importante a lo que no le dí la importancia que se merecía en su momento. Te lo explico ¿vale?:
    leí un libro de “inteligencia emocional”, un libro bastante enciclopédico la verdad y muy duro de masticar. Bueno, en el libro unos científicos hacen un experimento con una persona para poder valorar una tesis. La tesis es la siguiente: demostrar que si una persona está convencida de algo, aunque ese algo no sea real, esa persona es capaz de llegar a creer que lo que es falso pueda ser real, pero absolutamente real. Ya verás: cogen a un preso que está condenado a morir en la silla eléctrica y le proponen poder salvar su vida a cambio de participar en el experimento. Este es el trato: le pincharán una aguja en un brazo y con un tubito dejarán gotear la sangre de su cuerpo durante un tiempo determinado (x minutos ¿vale?). El preso accede al trato con la ilusión de salvar su vida, porque pasado el período de tiempo si no muere desangrado…será libre y no irá a la silla eléctrica. Entonces lo colocan en una cama con la aguja y el tubito y el preso ve como su sangre gotea dentro de un cubo, (por otro lado colocan cinco litros de agua de una botella debajo de la cama con un sistema igual y gotea el agua dentro de un cubo igual, pero el preso no lo sabe y no lo ha visto).Pasados unos minutos el preso dice que se encuentra bien y que va conseguir pasar la prueba, pasados otros minutos el preso empieza a tener síntomas de estar muy débil y se siente mareado, siguen pasando minutos, el preso sigue escuchando el goteo de lo que se supone que es su sangre y empieza a sentirse muy mal, empieza a tener miedo…y finalmente muere. El preso muere con los síntomas de haber muerto desangrado, con el rostro completamente pálido. Los síntomas de su muerte son “ha muerto desangrado” , pero en realidad no ha muerto desangrado porque al tubito de su brazo le habían puesto una pinza y no goteaba sangre, es decir, lo que el preso escuchaba gotear era el agua. Sin embargo él mismo creyó que moría desangrado y su cuerpo reaccionó a sus pensamientos obedeciendo a la idea que él había instalado en su mente, por eso murió. ¿qué te parece? Esto es impresionante, quiero decir que si pensamos algo y nos convencemos de ello, nuestro pensamiento se transforma en nuestra realidad. Por eso hay personas que viven más de cien años, por eso hay personas que se curan de sus enfermedades, porque esas personas mantienen la fé de que se van a salvar. Esas personas creen en los milagros y esos pensamientos de milagros se transforman en realidades. Ya sé que ésto no tiene nada que ver con las ranas y los sapos pero me hacía ilusión explicártelo. Saludos. Toñi.

    1. Empié says:

      La verdad es que aunque la cabeza afecta a la salud pudiendo empeorarla, la esperanza también puede salvarnos la vida porque en medio de lo malo nos da un motivo para seguir luchando, y mañana puede que la situación que hacía que estuvieses un mal momento, cambie, o cambies tú y puedas cambiar la situación, o cambies tu y la situación. Y nuca hay que tirar la toalla, porque no sabes lo que te espera detrás de la próxima esquina.

      Estoy contigo, y hasta a veces las ranas se convierten en príncipes, eso sí, solo si dan con una princesa de verdad.

      Saludos, Toñi.

    2. toñi says:

      Hola Empié, gracias.
      Quizás la historia del preso es triste pero tengo otra historia de otro caso real, de un señor que se llama Morris Goodman y lo apodan “El hombre Milagro”. Este señor en el año 1981 se estrelló con su avioneta. El resultado de este accidente fue: la médula espinal completamente aplastada, rotura de las dos primeras vértebras cervicales, pérdida del reflejo de tragar y diafragma destrozado (no podía respirar). Solo podía comunicarse con el mundo exterior moviendo los ojos y parpadeando. Los médicos le dijeron que si sobrevivía toda su vida sería un vegetal. Lo mantenían vivo con respiración asistida. Sus únicas herramientas eran su mente y una meta “salir del hospital por su propio pie”. Y lo consiguió. Los médicos no encontraban explicación lógica, no entendían, decían que no era posible. ¿un milagro?.Este señor transformó el mayor reto de su vida en el mayor regalo de su vida. Salió en todas las portadas de los periódicos y, dice “El hombre Milagro” lo siguiente:
      “Si mi experiencia puede servir de algo a las personas que en estos momentos están sufriendo, si quisiera resumir mi vida y decirles lo que pueden hacer, usaría esta breve frase **El hombre se convierte en lo que piensa** “. En la actualidad el señor Morris viaja por el mundo inspirando a miles de personas con su asombrosa historia.
      También hay una medicina estupenda para cualquier enfermedad: la sonrisa. Y por eso te voy escribir un chiste de matemáticas, para que sonrías:
      “Pregunta la profesora:
      -¿Cuántas moscas volando son tres medias moscas más mosca y media?
      Y responde Juanito:
      -Una sola mosca, por que las medias moscas no vuelan. ”
      Gracias por escribir, espero haberte animado con este chiste tan antiguo.
      Saludos, Toñi.

    3. Empié says:

      Ya no me hace falta que me animen¡¡¡

      La verdad es que si no te rindes siempre llega un mañana que a veces ni siquiera entraba en tus previsiones, y la vida te cambia…

      Por cierto, no todo se conoce, hace unos días estuve con el profe de mi profe de tai chi. Trabaja chi kung, nos dijo que ya habían conseguido fotografiar los meridianos que pasan por el cuerpo, los circuitos de chi, ya sabes, donde se ponen las agujas en la acupuntura y todo eso. No dijo como se originaba el chi pero con una explicación muy científica, no está divulgado del todo, pero está estudiándose desde el punto de vista de la ciencia, decía que el chi además de tener un componente eléctrico, es algo más y que es capar de sanar. Al parecer todas estas leyendas esotéricas tienen una base científica, lo que pasa es que un tiempo atrás entraban en conflicto con otro tipo de poderes más terrenales y tenían que estar ocultas, sino ya se sabe, la hoguera. Estuvo muy curioso, nunca había estado con una persona con un tipo de capacidades que excedían lo comprensible, al menos de momento.
      Muchas gracias por tu chiste, y por estar por aquí, de repente tengo alegría, se me ha olvidado la crisis y todo eso, y mañana, ¿quién sabe?, quizá haya un tesoro escondido en alguna parte de mi futuro, alguno o más de uno, al menos para mi.


  36. Marie-Christine says:

    ‘Si tous les hommes mettaient en commun leur lot de souffrance pour le partager, la plupart d;entre eux seraient heureux de repartir avec le leur plutot que de prendre une part du lot commun’

    1. Marie-Christine says:

      Il y a toujours quelqu’un dans une situation pire que la votre . Cela aide a voir le probleme sous un angle different.

  37. Viola Onisro says:

    I prefer to kiss that frog!!!
    From eyeball to eyeball – in the aleph ;-)
    And YES let us JUMP!
    Love and Kisses

  38. khushboo says:

    paulo has changed the way I used to think, feel and live… His book Veronika Decides to Die gave me a ray of hope during the time when I seriously wanted to die… so I believe that the key is HOPE… The boiling toad is hopeful till his last breath that he will survive…similary we should not shy away from harsh situations and should feel the heat and come out as a winner… Hope always wins… and never dies… :) :)

  39. I love this story!!!! I heard it a while back, I used it many times as example with the individuals I was working with. Being in a fast pace society, where the only thing that does not change is change itself, they would sit there, hoping that by some chance or luck, things around them would just work in their favor. Some of them would end up being in a situation where the changes around them led to losing their job…meanwhile, before this happened, the water was getting warmer and warmer, never realizing that it would boil with them in it.

    Instead of waiting that maybe luck would get them out of the boiling water, they missed the opportunities of the changes around them and take responsibility to get themselves out before it boiled.

    The ones who did, stayed alive, moved on to bigger and better things.

  40. Elisa says:

    The last think was….geographical cures change nothing, neither does complacency. I do not see the two options as binary, but rather a continual line with infinite points, that are rarely static.

    I noticed that fear and pain are still instant motivators, at least with the frog. When I choose a point on that line, do I settle? do I accept? do I actively choose not to choose something other? If, in trying to notice all of my options, so as not to be the slowly but contently boiled frog, do I spin into ungrounded space? if so, how do I know, and what do I do about it?

    One of the first things I noticed was the adaptability of the frog, its ability to remain still and to adapt. To humans, the avoidance of the topic of death, is a fear that can drive many. Does the frog sitting and adapting until death really mean that idiocy has occurred in the frog? Are ‘we’ trying to demonstrate delusion in the frog?

    1. Elisa says:

      “I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves.”
      – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

      And then, there is this, though again providing human attributes to frogs.

  41. nina ramirez says:

    Es importante estar atentos a los cambios de nuestras vidas por más imperceptibles que éstos sean, es la forma más saludable de evolucionar.

    Muchas gracias señor coelho por compartir,!un beso muy grande!
    Att: Nina Ramirez,

  42. Cynthia Pugh says:

    Well, boiling toads for the sake of biological experiments no surprise.
    Yes I agree that as human beings we too can become used to anything if subject to something long enough. The fact that we are not shocked by the idea of boiling toads is just another example of how we except things so readily. Getting singed by life is a small price to pay than the alternative of our soul shrinking to nothing. Xxx

  43. Savita Vega says:

    This brings back visions of my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a child – memories of how horrified I was, watching her fry frog legs and seeing how they struggled, kicked and jumped in the pan. Of course it was too late for those legs to escape and one could scarcely claim that their seeming effort to do so was sentient. The legs had no mind of their own, only reflexes triggered by the heat. Still, the thought of being a frog, either boiled or fried, dismembered or cooked alive, is enough to send chills down my spine even now.

    Fitting, too, this advice, for I feel in these days that I am very much a frog floating in increasingly warm water. It’s either jump now, or be lulled into certain death.

  44. Heimo Kruschinski says:

    I say this in all modesty. I know a lot about frogs. A kind of hobby. I hide them from time to time. Since I hid a frog, I’ve learned a lot of things. But that is another story. I know your story. Well, the frog itself, does not come up with the idea to go into the pot. The frog also produces no pots. And no stove. The question is who does the frog in the pot? Who’s the frog? The whole example is a system. A wonderful example for the world. Maybe people should recognize in the kitchen, they are just frogs. The water begins to boil, but that’s just an opinion. You can frogs, by the way also bloat. The frogs on the ground behind them look full of admiration, until they reach the stratosphere. All comes down. Is just a thought. My personal frog sitting in his pond, with his wife and tadpole. He has recently written me a card. He began to yodel. But it is otherwise doing well, as far as I know.

    I wish you all a wonderful Friday the 13th

  45. ais says:

    the last two paragraphs are too deep for me to understand T_T Thinking harder

  46. Susan says:

    Yes !! we must change our enviroment when it begins to be unhealthy and work our way out whenever we feel discomfort

  47. Shine says:

    Wonderful interpretation and what a strange fact! Love Avantika

  48. katie says:

    Thanks <3

  49. Paulina Rodríguez says:

    I totally agree with you, Mr. Coelho. Sometimes it is very hard to realize that our environment is changing, and we only notice when it is too late. But life is full of changes and we need to be aware of them, so we can react on time.

    Paulina from Mexico.

  50. haiku says:

    Nothing wrong in dying fat AND happy! ;-)

    1. Achab says:

      @haiku: so, since all newborn are fat and happy (but without experiences) for you it is good if they all die immediately. ;)

    2. Olta Canka says:

      If you are lucky to get out of that boiling water before you die, believe me you will find out there is so much wrong in dying that way.
      Very much!

    3. Yilmaz says:

      @achab: I once heard that in Buddhism there is a one word which means both “enlightened” and “newborn infant”. ;)

      Still, I am absolutely pro-experience. In whatever form it may come.

      Aşk olsun,

    4. Haiku says:

      “Don’t waste your time with explanations, people only hear what they want to hear” ~ Paulo Coelho (In response to those who chose to comment about my comment)