Boiled Frogs

Time-to-Leap

How can we account for this generation? To what shall we compare ourselves? Have we let our guards down so easily that we cannot even tell when something is going wrong around us? Isn’t it so obvious you aren’t making any progress in life because you’re content with the status quo? We live in a day and age where we’ve allowed ourselves to become victims to one of the most lethal ‘disease’ on this planet—The Boiling Frog Syndrome. For the sake of those who are unfamiliar with this terminology, please allow me to introduce you to what I call the ‘nasty cancer’ that eats up both the young and old slowly until there’s nothing left of them to fight against it. The analogy goes like this:

If you place a frog in a pan of boiling water, it immediately leaps out of the water. But if you place it in a pan of cold water and gradually increase the temperature of the water, it will remain in there until there’s no strength left in it to hop out. Within some few moments, the frog dies.

This is the danger associated with allowing small, seemingly harmless acts to go on unquestioned: little by little, they effortlessly permit huge objectionable activities to become ‘normal’ events, which later paralyze various aspects of our lives. It’s quite interesting to know that what you or I would have called a major change (and probably objected to its implementation) rather becomes very offensive when you decide to speak against it at the very last minute. Let’s have a short exercise for the sake of clarity. Are you ready?

Hands up if you do this.

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Oh boy! You’re boiling in hot water if this is your lifestyle. Your relationship will never grow if the digital world means so much more to you than spending quality time with the people you care about so much. Don’t expect your relationship to blossom out into a beautiful union if you’re constantly distracted by the merciless pings and push notifications from your cellphones, iPads or [name what you got] when you could have been capturing the present moment together with your friend/relative/loved one sitting just next to you. I’m not against technology totally; as a matter of fact, they make life very convenient and easy for us. What I’m trying to say though is gadgets can be serious barriers to communication among people too. It is said that intimacy is a very hard thing to develop which is why effective communication is key to nurturing and maintaining it. It requires a considerable amount of time, effort and energy to keep it going. Unfortunately, the social media requires a considerable amount of time, effort and energy to keep it going too! There’s a tight competition going on out there. You see, you can’t serve two masters at the same time. It’s just plain impossible. One will definitely take precedence over the other—the digital world taking the superior spot in this case. I find it interesting how we go on and on with our ‘Omg! It happened so fast’ anthem in an attempt to justify our actions as happening ‘all of a sudden’. If you’re wondering how it all started and how you got hooked up to whatever device you own, truth is it didn’t happen so fast; it was a gradual process. It all began the very day you permitted yourself to indulge in certain innocuous acts like texting during class or office hours. It was the very day you felt you weren’t hurting a fly if you carried your tablet to the dining table and shared your ‘dinner story’ on Snapchat (I do that a lot *face in palm*). It was the moment and season you felt carrying your gadgets around with you wherever you went wasn’t a big deal. If only you had looked a little bit closer and had been more cautious, you’d have realized that a major change was going on around you in an unnoticed manner. You were slowly developing an addiction to your gadgets. You had actually lifted your cage and made way for the little foxes to run around your vineyard. Now, they can’t be controlled. They’ve gone on a rampage and are on a mission to destroy your vine! You have become a ‘boiled frog’ for that matter.

Time surely won’t permit me to touch on other important things but I need you take a moment to review the other facets of your life in this context. Where have you allowed yourself to sink into a tranquil stupor? What are some of the things you have begun to perceive as the ‘new normal’? Note them down and begin to fight them head-on while you have time on your hands. Don’t give this syndrome the chance to destroy what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Remember, it was never the boiling water that killed the frog; it was the frog’s indecisiveness to leap out while it had the strength. Your (in)ability to say ‘enough is enough’ is what will determine your fate at any given moment in any given situation. Get decisive and make your move now. If we know that Life is what we make it, then the onus lies on us to make a conscious habit of paying close attention to the minutest details of things that happen around us. Let’s make it our business to keep our eyes on the ground and observe our surroundings ALWAYS. Act fast when the cold water begins to slowly embrace the heat—Jump out while you can before it’s too late to resist death by boiling!

What Are We Actually Choosing When We Choose To Be Christians? 1

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I have seen and heard so many misrepresentations of the term ‘Christian’ or ‘Christianity’ to the extent that the one-line statement I could have used to answer this question proves a little futile. Therefore, instead of providing an immediate answer to the question, I humbly ask that you follow me closely as I put some bits and pieces of information together first.

This question interests me a lot. It’s got to do with the fact that it captures the word ‘choose’. Becoming a Christian was, is and will always be a matter of CHOICE and not COERCION. In addition, it isn’t genetic too; you don’t become one by inheriting some genes from your parents who are Christians. You don’t become one by associating yourself with people who have deep reverence for God. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a decision you make on your own after weighing all the options in life; no one else makes (or has to make) that decision for you. People can be of positive influence to you in helping you make that decision but it still boils down to you. It’s a personal choice. Please note that.

The best way to know and understand what we are actually choosing when we choose to be Christians is to first know and understand what it means to be a Christian. I prefer we make a very short journey into the past for the purpose. The reason? Simple. I believe strongly that the usage of the term has lost critical weight in this modern era because of how it’s been emptied of its true meaning. That’s rather unfortunate. A Christian must be a disciple of Christ. I’ve been looking for a better way to describe this term and thank goodness, I found one simple power-packed definition by the Methodist Minister, Rev John Farrar (1804-1884). He said a disciple of Christ is “one who believes His doctrine, rests upon His sacrifice, imbibes His spirit, and imitates His example”.

It’s not just about belonging to a Christian church or just practising some ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ recorded in an ancient manuscript. It’s much deeper than that. If you’re in to follow Christ’s lead, it means you’re ready to listen and accept the fact that the wisdom from His teaching works. Of course, you cannot do away with valuing what He values most. Wisdom. Integrity. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Honesty. Selflessness. All of these encapsulated in what He holds dear most—Love. Once you’ve established that, you’re ready to move onto the next step: Act. Stepping out to think, talk and act just like how Christ thought, talked and acted. For example, Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies. Love my enemies? You mean those seeking my downfall? Well, let’s look at the statistics. Does that kind of wisdom work at all? What happens when you genuinely love your enemies? Well, there are a lot of benefits: emotional, psychological, spiritual, even physical. Some people develop nasty heartaches not because of high salt or fat intake but because they’ve harbored some bitterness in their hearts for a long time. They could have avoided that unpleasant feeling if they chose to let go and let love lead. You won’t experience that kind of health benefit if you choose to sit and just believe. You have to act by forgiving the other party. That’s imitating His example. You’re out there to do a live presentation of how He lived. To represent. RE-PRESENT. Let that word sink in. ‘RE-PRESENTING’ Christ wherever you find yourself. If He was a person of influence, you have to be a person of influence. If He was down-to-earth, the same goes for you. Having this foreknowledge at hand, you quickly get an idea of what it is you’re choosing/about to choose.

Now, let’s tackle the crux of the matter briefly. Choosing to be a Christian means choosing to reshuffle priorities. You are in to exchange what you feel is more important to you with that which God knows is more important to you. That exchange doesn’t look pleasant at all in the beginning. Take the rich man who approached Jesus as an example. Jesus gave him the opportunity to reprioritize his life by exchanging his love for riches with something far more valuable, but he rejected that precious offer. I’m pretty sure he thought accepting it meant no association with money anymore. In other words, poverty and misery all the days of his life. And that’s how most of us feel sometimes.

There’s that feeling that once we become Christians, we will be quarantined from so many things like sex, beauty, money, power and so forth. That sounds funny considering the fact that God created all these for us to enjoy to the max (within proper limits). So what’s the problem? Our problem is that we allow these things to have us instead of us having them. These things easily possess us when we fail to prioritize rightly. Now, remember that ‘possession’ is a very strong word so we have no business playing around with it.

Knowing the danger it carries, isn’t it rather safe to trust the Creator of the universe when He says that we should look out for Him first in everything we do so that every other thing on the priority list falls in its pleasant place? I believe it is! We get to enjoy all that He has created fully with no limits – signed from above! You find true fulfillment in them too! When we fail to see through heaven’s eye, we begin to get greedy, lustful, corrupt and materialistic. We fail to set the balance between fun and fulfillment and we miss the beauty of everything. When Jesus said ‘REPENT’ (change your mind for the better), it was because He saw misplaced priorities among His audience. You and I also mean a lot to Him that’s why He still speaks to us. Repent! Change your mind for the better. It’s for this reason that when you make the choice, you’ve actually chosen to revamp the entire show of your life.

Having said all this, I proceed to answer the question: What we are actually choosing when we choose to be Christians is choosing to live the Christ-like life.

WILL = POWER

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All of life’s greatest battles take place in the mind. It’s very important we win every single one of them since our actions are by-products of whatever happens at the thought level. As humans, various thoughts will come to us unbidden and unwanted. We can never escape that truth. We’re not entirely in control of ourselves all the time. That’s why each one of us needs to put in place some sort of control mechanism—willpower—to guide how we think.

In philosophy, we learn that a person’s will is one of the most distinct parts of their mind, along with reason and understanding. If that’s the case, then it makes a lot of sense to easily give in to short-term pleasures, discouragement, doubt or fear when we set poorly defined goals. Eat healthily; Exercise regularly; Sleep and wake-up on time; Avoid impulse buying; Read avidly; It’s our desire to do so many things to improve ourselves but truth is if they aren’t assigned to proper reasons, our willpower wouldn’t be enough to make them happen.

Most of the successful men and women we know are just ordinary people who overcame huge obstacles by winning their mental battles. Bill Gates for example didn’t become the world’s richest person by default. For your information, Bill Gates’ first business (Traf-O-data) failed miserably. Traf-O-Data was a partnership between Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Paul Gilbert. Their main objective was to make devices that would read traffic tapes and eliminate any tedious manual work associated with it. I know this may sound rather funny but I was actually excited to know that the world’s richest guy once made a big fool out of himself when his first demo failed (things like this motivate me roff!). But this never made him succumb to the pressures of failure. Today, Bill Gates owns the world’s largest PC software company—Microsoft—and is making it in life big time!

Nelson Mandela grew up in a family where no one had attended school before. He became a cattle-boy at a very young age. His parents were illiterates and at the age of nine, Mandela’s father died of what was suspected to be a lung disease. Massa, nothing about him looked or even smelled like ‘success’ oo. Yet you and I celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day today in honor of his works to promote peace and freedom.

I can go on and on with the list of successful people just to drive my point home:

Oprah Winfrey gave birth at the age of 14 and lost her child two weeks later.

Jim Carey had to live in a van because he was homeless.

Albert Einstein never spoke for the first 3years of his life.

Thomas Edison failed about 1,000 times trying to invent the light bulb.

These are stories that will inspire me anytime any day. All of these people started out just like most of us; a total failure at many attempts. It’s amazing how these people got back up whenever life’s circumstances tried to pin them down permanently. This is why I find it rather interesting that it’s mostly the underprivileged people who live lives that can spur many of us on to greatness. I remember telling my mum that I wish I were underprivileged like them too. Maybe I would have given myself a much better reason to eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep and  wake-up on time, avoid impulse buying or achieve some noble cause. Sometimes I ask myself: while great men developed their willpower by tying their ambitions to clear, relevant goals, what have we tied ours to?  #ThinkingDeeply

The capacity to say Yes or No to life’s challenges is a mental battle we will fight everyday. If we can win the mind’s struggles, we can definitely win life’s battles. It is true that we’re not naturally born with a strong willpower. But one’s willpower is like a muscle. The more you work it out, the stronger it becomes. And the stronger it becomes, the better your chances of repressing negative influences to accomplish long-term goals. If you want proof, the evidence is spread across the pages of history books.