Highlights from a past class

The Cockroach Theory


In class this week we have been speaking about the difference between a reaction and a response…

There is a beautiful story by Sundar Pichai titled The Cockroach Theory. In the story, a lady and some friends are enjoying themselves at a restaurant when a cockroach flies out of nowhere and lands on the lady. She starts screaming out of fear and starts jumping around trying to get the cockroach off her. She manages to push the cockroach away but… it lands on one of her friends who also starts screaming and jumping about. That lady too tries to get rid of the cockroach and flicks it on a waiter standing nearby. The waiter stands firm, composes himself and observes the behaviour of the cockroach on his shirt. He then grabs the cockroach and flicks it outside.

This story is such a beautiful illustration of the difference between an instinctive reaction and a thoughtful, conscious response. It is not the cockroach (or any uncomfortable /difficult situation) that causes the hysteric response, but the inability of the person to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach.

Mindfulness is a too that can help us shift from the instinctive reaction to the conscious response.

Thank you @sundarpichai for this beautiful analogy.