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12 Life Changing Lessons from The Alchemist

Updated: May 14, 2021

Years back I came across this book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Back then I couldn't read the book past 2 pages and found the book very boring and moved on with my usual life. Recently, I don't know why but this book kept calling me. I saw the signs everywhere to read this book and finally decided to listen to its audiobook. I cannot stop believing how amazing this book is and why didn't I read it back then. Like people, houses, places, things, a book also calls you and it reaches you when you are ready for it. I believe now I was ready for it and that's why I came across this book. The book is a fiction story about a boy who is a Shepherd & has a recurring dream. He travels places in order to fulfill that dream. The entire book is filled with metaphors and motivates you to fulfill your inner calling no matter what the obstacles are. If you are someone who has a constant calling for a particular thing but are not motivated enough to go for it, you should definitely read this book! Here are top 10 lessons that I learnt from this amazing book:

Paulo Coelho talks about everyone having a personal legend. Personal legend is your purpose, your calling, your inner knowing, why you are here. It is your dream that you see in the daylight and you know you have to fulfill it. According to Paulo everyone is obligated to fulfill their personal legend but not everyone chooses to do so. Life becomes interesting when you see the possibility of a dream coming true. "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure", says Paulo in the book. The Alchemist feels that the heart is more important and trustworthy than the mind because “Wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.” Your inner calling need not be a big grandiose thing. It could be simple things like travelling, gardening , meeting your dream person etc.

2. What is true will always remain-

Paulo talks about true love being like pure matter; no matter what happens, it always remains but if it's a vague inclination or infatuation it will be like the explosion of the star. It will shine momentarily and then vanish. When you’re searching for the “right” decision, it will be the one that withstands the tests of time and the weight of scrutiny. Love never keeps a man from pursuing his personal legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it's because it wasn't true love. That means if you are on your mission of living your personal legend, true love will never come in it's way. Some of the very famous quotes in the book is, “Ever since time began, people have recognized their true love by the light in their eyes.” – The Alchemist. “The dunes are changed by the wind, but the desert never changes. That's the way it will be with our love for each other.” — The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

3. Take Action

"There is one way to learn, it's through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey", says Paulo in the book. The best way to realise your personal legend is through taking action and making mistakes. Most of us don't take any action for the fear of failure or waiting for the perfect time. But there is no such thing as the perfect timing. The moment you take the first step in living your personal legend, that becomes the perfect time.

4. Universe will Test You

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

There was a moment in the story where, just before reaching his destination, the boy was tested to the extreme. The Alchemist had warned him that this was the Universe's way of testing hin. “Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up.” – The Alchemist. The “language” or “Soul of the World” is mentioned several times in this book.

5. Universe will conspire to give you what you truly desire

A term which comes up repeatedly in the text, the Soul of the World is sometimes equated with God. It is a spiritual force that binds all of us together and governs all things and that speaks with us in the language of signs or omens. The language of the world refers to the oneness of all things: that everything in the universe is tied together. And believers of this truth feel that the language of the universe links people to the world and to each other. When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream. Whoever you are, or whatever is it that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. As the famous saying goes, “The darkest hour of midnight comes just before dawn.”

6. Treasure is within you

In the book, the King of Salem (Melchizedek) tells Santiago the story of a boy who is told by the "wisest of wisemen" that he must carry oil on a spoon while he sees the world, and yet not spill the oil. Meaning he should experience everything in his journey but should not forget about his personal legend. The boy takes the journey across countries only to know that treasure was always with him (spoiler alert). It may mean metaphorically that in order to reconnect with our soul, we must live our personal legend and experience everything.

7. Gratitude for breaking monotony

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” – The Alchemist

In the book, the boy observes many people who have become miserable & bored of their daily monotonous life. At that time, the king reminds him that when people fail to appreciate the things in life, they become miserable. When you live with gratitude, you have awe and appreciation for what you have & you live everyday as if a miracle.

8. Present Moment

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.” – The Alchemist. The camel rider tells the boy that all we have is the present moment and the key to happiness is not worrying about the future or regretting the past. Life is in the Now!

9. Maktub, It's Written

The phrase means, “It is written,” and it is used by these characters to express their conviction that some things are “meant to be.” When one is not on that course, however, one’s life is not fulfilled. One’s destiny exists (in the sense that it is written and meant to be), but it is not always realized.

10. Your Evolution has a ripple effect

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”– The Alchemist. When you strive to become the best version of yourself, everything around you also improves and evolves. You become inspiration for others to be their best selves.

11. Language of the World

The “language” or “Soul of the World” is mentioned several times in this book. The author uses this phrase as a central tool to explain how the protagonist is able to intuitively avoid conflict and seek out the opportunities before him. I believe that the language is a reference to our own intuition. Certain things cannot be learned by reading books, only life experience can teach us the most important lessons in life.

12. World's Greatest Lie

Urim and Thummim are fortune-telling stones that Melchizedek gives to Santiago. The stones are black and white, with their colors representing “yes” and “no” answers to questions—so Melchizedek tells Santiago that he must only ask objective questions of the stones. Because of this, Urim and Thummim symbolize certainty and objective knowledge. This type of certainty, however, is ultimately presented as less valuable than the opportunity to learn from the world and to make one’s own choices. Santiago carries the stones with him throughout the novel, but never uses them, having promised to “make his own decisions.” The constant presence of Urim and Thummim thus also represents the human desire to give up control and decision-making ability. The greatest lie in the world, as stated by Melchizedek, is that humans don’t control their fates. Although Melchizedek is the one who offers the stones to Santiago, they also symbolize the very thing that he says Santiago should avoid: trusting in anything other than himself to make a decision.

This book has so much wisdom in it that every creator, entrepreneur or a dreamer should read this book. It will motivate you to keep pursuing your calling by listening to your intuition & overcoming fear of failure which leads to realising your full potential! Have you read the book? If yes, then comment below about your learnings from the book!

Buy the Book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


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