The Secret of Happiness

The below parable from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho explains how important it is to balance hard work and dedication, with beauty, joy and the wonders of the world to get the most out of life.

The wise man handed the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil and said, “As you wander around my palace, carry this spoon around with you without allowing the oil to spill.” The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours he returned to the room where the wise man was. “Well”, asked the wise man, “Did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?” The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him. “Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,” said the wise man. Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen. “But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?” asked the wise man. “Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone. “Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you. The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

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