he "frog in hot water" is a useful metaphor for our times: a frog dropped into a pan of hot water will hop out right away, but a frog placed in cool water that is very slowly heated, will adapt to the imperceptible change in the environment and eventually boil to death. This metaphor can be applied to unhealthy workplace environments. An outside visitor would immediately notice the bad conditions, but an employee who has always been part of the environment simply adapts to the increasing and varied stresses, and barely notices that anything is wrong. Industrial psychologists have come up with various "markers" for unhealthy workplaces, using such measures as absenteeism, tardiness, frequent illnesses, breakdown in communication, et cetera. This analysis can also be applied to dysfunctional families, whose members can long cleave to the conviction that their household is perfectly normal and happy.
But what about the opposite phenomenon, in which the work or family environment enhances healthy, harmonious functioning? This, too, could transpire without the participants' awareness, if they had "grown up with it". Just as industrial psychologists have developed markers for the pathological environment, there can be markers for the "eu-logical" counterpart. These ten, I believe, are a good start:
(1)You tend to arrive to work early, and with a sense of relishing the challenges and vicissitudes of the day to come.
(2)Old friends say, "Gee, I didn't know that you...", and go on to refer to some talent, or interest, or accomplishment.
(3)Your winter colds, which usually hang on for four or five days, now seem to go away after 24 hours.
(4)Some mornings, you wake up laughing.
(5)You have a distinct feeling of a romantic glow between yourself and several of your colleagues, even though no sexual attraction exists.
(6)The prospect of a pay raise, though welcome, simply isn't among your top priorities at work.
(7)I slept, and dreamt that life was duty
(8)While commuting to work, you spend a lot of time musing about little things you can do to make your colleagues happy-- snacks, a bouquet of flowers, humorous gifts, et cetera.
(9)When asked to describe your life or your world, you actually are tempted to express yourself in poetry or song-- forms of expression which would amaze the people you went to school with.
(10)In reading or viewing characterizations of people, you find that you consistently identify with the "winners".
As for the "eu-functional" family, one characterization comes to mind that sums it up nicely: "Gee, we never knew that we were poor-- there was so much love, and we had such fun together!"(printer friendly version)