It’s safe to say it, we all have goals in life.
The question is, how do we achieve them?
In a world of curiosity and mischief, how do we know who to listen to? Who to trust?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a great book about understanding this internal struggle, and learning how to win the battle within.
The story is about a young shepherd named Santiago who learns what worldly treasure really is and how it can be attained. He travels low and high, soul searching, and finding his purpose in life. For him, it seems that all questions we ask of the world can been answered.
Using those answers I’ve come up with four concepts to keep in mind as we journey through our walk of life.
#1, Everything fits a purpose.
The question is how to find yours. Looking within is huge step in realizing who you are and what you want to be in life or what you enjoy doing. We may be surprised what ideas pop into our heads when to take a second to reflect on who we are.
An example of this knowledge of self is given right in the opening pages of this book. It reads,
“He arose and, taking up his crook, began to awaken the sheep that still slept. He had noticed that, as soon as he awoke, most of his animals also began to stir. It was as if some mysterious energy bound his life to that of the sheep, with whom he had spent the two past years, leading them through the countryside in search of food and water. “They are so used to me that they know my schedule,” he muttered. Thinking about that for a moment, he realized that it could be the other way around: that it was he who had become accustomed to their schedule.”
Santiago’s relationship with the sheep is certainly an interesting one, bound by the deep connection between him and his passion. Being a shepherd is surely not a common job, but knowing your role in the world and playing your part is essential to following your dreams and becoming the person you want to be – perhaps the change you want to see.
Mindfulness and meditation are strong themes in this book and are great ways of achieving this and cracking the door to your higher self.
#2, Nothing in life is free.
In order to get something out of life, you must give. You have to invest in yourself and invest in others.
Perhaps the most valuable assets we have on earth right now are time and money. Investing time in the people around you is not only vital to your success but to your relationships and friendships as well. It builds trust and stability to know you have a friend to lean on when times get tough. But it doesn’t always have to be that grim. Maybe you just want somebody to hang out with next Friday! Whatever the case may be, time is the only thing we have, how we use it is completely up to us so be smart and use it to your advantage.
Money can be just as important as time though, and you’ve gotta know the trick of the trade to get more out of what you put in.
For example, try donating to charity. Not only will you get something back in the long run, you’ll feel good doing it. I’ve been doing things for people in the past few weeks, and I’ve already seen the opportunity to grow inch more and more toward my finger tips. Learning to give is a key to life.
How would you want to be treated in your time of need? Selfless giving can be the best giving, and that’s a lesson this book is sure to teach you.
Learning to balance time and money is an early lesson in The Alchemist. Santiago has his experience in this field of knowledge when it reads,
“The boy had been working for the crystal merchant for almost a month, and he could see that it wasn’t exactly the kind of job that would make him happy.
But he stayed with the job because the merchant, although he was an old grouch, treated him fairly; the boy received a good commission for each piece he sold, and had already been able to put some money aside. That morning he had done some calculating: if he continued to work every day as he had been, he would need a whole year to able to buy some sheep.”
Obviously the boy was working to accomplish his dreams, and he had good enough judgement to stay in employment that treated him fairly and offered him good money. One of the worst things you can do is stay in a job that is getting you no closer to success than if you were unemployed. You’d be better off working in the field you want to build on for free, rather than spending all your time doing something that isn’t going to get you very far in the long run.
Learn to balance and your wildest dreams will come true.
#3, Find meaning in the world around you.
You can extrapolate meaning out of any and everything you see in the world around you. A tree could be a symbol for a divergent universe, bending and breaking and stretching out its individual limbs. A body of water could represent the world, forever in motion, constantly forming a new wave. The rocks on the ground modelling that firm stillness we all seek when our day has just been too much.
The shepherd boy learns to pull meaning out of two stones he got from an old man. This passage reads,
“Take these,” said the old man, holding out a white stone and a black stone that had been embedded at the center of the breastplate. “They are called Urim and Thummim. The black signifies ‘yes,’ and the white ‘no.’ When you are unable to read the omens, they will help you to do so. Always ask an objective question.
But, if you can, try to make your own decisions.”
Just like Santiago, you must must read the world and see what things look like to you in order to conquer your dreams. Shape the world you live in and make it the best it could possibly be.
#4, Follow your dreams.
Follow your dreams, follow your dreams, follow your dreams. Be who you want to be, who you see yourself as in the future. Carry yourself as if you are that person right now. Good things will come to you.
The final passage I will share with you is my personal favorite. Santiago’s new mission is to tun himself into the wind. ‘How is he supposed to do that?’ you may ask. Well after asking only to receive failed advice, the young alchemist looks within…
“The boy returned to the hand that write all. As he did so, he sensed that the universe had fallen silent, and he decided not to speak.
A current of love rushed from his heart, and the boy began to pray. In the silence, the boy understood that the desert, the wind and the sun were also trying to understand the signs written by the hand, and were seeking to follow their paths, and to understand what had been written on a single emerald. He saw that omens were scattered throughout the earth and in space, and that there was no reason or significance attached to their appearance; he could see that not the deserts, nor the winds, nor the sun, nor people knew why they had been created. But that the hand had a reason for all of this, and that only the hand could perform miracles, or transform the sea into a desert . . . or a man into the wind.
The boy reached through the Soul of the World, and saw that it was part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.”
The Alchemist is a truly earth shattering novel for anyone to enjoy.