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The Secret of Happiness

A merchant sent his son to learn the secret of happiness from the wisest of men.

The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” – asked the Sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

From “The Alchemist” by Paul Coelho

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Rona March 2, 2015, 4:56 am

    Your insightful stories have the capacity to touch hearts, reshape minds, and rebuild lives. Continue to be a blessing!

  • Madiha August 18, 2014, 7:43 pm

    I like this story so much. It so intersting and meaningful one.

  • Madhumitha July 18, 2014, 9:17 am

    I like this story very much….

  • Poonam June 30, 2014, 4:09 am

    Very, very nice story…

  • Itra May 30, 2014, 9:29 pm

    Real happiness can not come from the outside world. It is an inner experience that we can enjoy only if we balance between our spiritual level, needs and ambitions. The spoon here may refer to the obligations, and :”…the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls… gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers…” may refer to the things that we enjoy and may make us forget about important things in life like obligations to words whom we love and work,etc. So according to the short story, we should maintain certain balance between our obligations and fun time.
    It is so meaningful short story. I like it 🙂

  • Arun January 16, 2014, 6:45 am

    Great story

  • Vaibhavi January 15, 2014, 2:43 am

    The story is interesting.

  • Vaibhavi January 15, 2014, 2:42 am

    Very, very nice and wonderful story.

  • Collins Quaidoo December 16, 2013, 1:46 pm

    Wow!! This is really inspiring. Thank you.

  • Anshika Rathi December 15, 2013, 7:57 am

    Very good.

  • Sharath December 2, 2013, 2:17 am

    This is a true wise story to be known.

  • Kone sekou November 16, 2013, 3:03 pm

    Thant you. That is wise. I have come to understand that happiness is a state of mind. The more you look for it the further you are from it.

  • Amir Anvar November 15, 2013, 8:51 am

    Well done. Thanks so much….

  • Dennis October 29, 2013, 8:15 am

    Thanks Steve for this story. Even though I have seen it late, it has changed me in a very greater way.

  • Ashty Hassan October 21, 2013, 8:45 am

    So nice well done.

  • Richard October 20, 2013, 7:26 am

    Truly a thrilling one.

  • Arniel Viscara October 19, 2013, 10:12 pm

    Thank you for this very nice story. As I read this story, I felt a strange feeling which I didn’t feel before. The feeling of happiness.

  • Stephen October 17, 2013, 10:27 am

    #2 Ritaborg: Thank you Rita my best friend.

    #10 Hi Huls! The story refers to keeping a good balance between the small things around us and enjoying what the world has to offer.

    The small things can be our dear ones, our family, taking good care of our parents, growing good children,…

    It can be our health, at times we concentrate on working too much we forget to take care of our health or we are so afraid to spend the little bit of money to improve our health until it is too late.

    It can be anger or maybe the patience to hold on until a miracle arrives.

    Above all to me is our spirit. It is difficult to believe in this modern time where we think we know everything or we need proof and many have dropped their drop of oil.

    Just my opinion. Take care!

  • Himanshu October 17, 2013, 7:36 am

    Really, priceless learning…

  • Huls October 17, 2013, 6:44 am

    What do the two drops of oil represent?

  • Lynda October 16, 2013, 11:58 pm

    This is so true… It’s a good reminder…. I will share it with all my friends. Thanks.

  • Camilia October 15, 2013, 11:05 am

    Wonderful story, God bless.

  • Himanish October 15, 2013, 7:21 am

    It was, it was wonderful. I can’t say anything.

  • Ej October 14, 2013, 10:17 pm

    This is from The Alchemist…

  • Rozy October 14, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Wonderful. I feel it really.

  • Dharani October 14, 2013, 5:34 am

    Nice story Stephen…. now people have become greedy and is not satisfied with what we have….it’s also a reason for the happiness lost…

  • Leah October 14, 2013, 2:12 am

    Wow!!! Nice one.

  • Ritaborg October 14, 2013, 12:50 am

    Steve thanks for sending me this story. I do have a jolly personality and love life I want to live a long long life there are so many things in this world we are so lucky to have this GOD’S creation to enjoy. I do have my share of problems but I pray and I feel good ones again. I told my son I loved him and felt happiness yesterday. I show my love a lot to my children that is happiness. GOD BLESS YOU STEVE. You make me happy with your stories.

  • Stephen October 13, 2013, 1:50 pm

    There was young man who set out on a quest because he wanted to find the secret to happiness. He went to different places hoping someone out there could give him the secret to find that elusive happiness that he longs for.

    It was while passing a small village that he learned about an old hermit that lives by the mountain who knows the secret to happiness. Excited, he asks how he can go to this man. He arrived there by nightfall and the old man was eating alone in his humble home. He motioned for the young man to enter and shared with him the food on his table.

    After eating, the young man asked the hermit about the answer to his quest, “I have come from afar searching for the key to finding this happiness. I want to know how can I achieve this.”

    The old hermit looked beyond the window and into the darkness beyond. Taking off his pipe, he spoke slowly to the young man. “Tomorrow, at the first streak of light in the horizon, go to the top of the mountain and look at the ground that you will be standing. There, you will discover the key to what you are looking for.”

    Excitedly, the young man went to sleep and woke up the next day. His thoughts were filled with so many beautiful things that he expects to find at the ground at the top of the mountain.

    The sun is already shining its brilliance when the young man reached the top of the mountain. Too excited to take a rest, he started checking the grounds that he is standing. Thoughts of gold and buried treasures make his heart started to pound with anticipation.

    After hours of searching and digging, he eventually gave up. Feeling cheated and fooled, he went back to the old hermit and confronted him.

    “I did what you exactly told me. I checked the ground that I stood upon and dig till my hands hurt, yet I haven’t seen the key to happiness that you have been telling me I will find there.“

    “The old hermit lighted his pipe, then after taking a few sip, looked at the young man in the eye and asked. “You haven’t seen anything?”

    The young man replied irritatedly.

    “No! I haven’t seen anything except that damned shadow of mine.”

    “My son, you have been searching for something far too long, that little by little you are starting to get blind. Happiness is an elusive thing to those who search for it. Mainly because as they continue their search, they started to create a certain condition that has to be achieved in order for their own happiness to be found.”

    “I knew a young man very much like you. He left his family because he too wanted to find happiness. While trying to decipher how he could find the key to happiness, he saw a group of traveler passed by. And that moment on he decided that he would be happy if only he would have the freedom just like those travelers. So he packed his clothes and left his family to join those travelers. Still he could not find in his heart the happiness he thought he found.

    On their journey he saw a wealthy man and decided that he would be happy if only he become rich. So he worked for years and years till he was able to have all the money that he thought would make him happy. Still, happiness was nowhere to be found.

    Feeling lost, he walked and walked, the days became months until he found himself back into the village that he left years before. Suddenly, he felt alive at the thought of seeing his wife and son. He hurriedly went to their old hut and was stunned to learn that his wife died months before and that his only son left with his new wife.

    Feeling his world starting to crush above him, he sat under the shade of an old sycamore tree. Staring ahead, he saw a young woman collecting dried clothes from a clothesline and he noticed the movements of her shadow as she moves. And suddenly, tears welled up in his eyes, for the answer to his quest was right there all along.“

    The young man was pierced with a gaze so direct he was unable to look away from those eyes. Old eyes that held so much wisdom that he felt his heart started to beat with anticipation for what he was about to learn.

    “Happiness is like a shadow. The more you try to hold it within your grasp, the more it will escape you. But if you turn your back and forget about it, it will follow you wherever you go.“

    The eyes that a few moments before pierced him with its gaze, suddenly became tired and misty.

    “I was that young man. I was too busy searching for my own happiness that I failed to notice that it’s already within my grasp. And when I was able to realize that, It’s already too late for me.“

    An old gnarled hand touched the young man’s shoulder. “You are young my friend. You have plenty of time for you to be able to hold it within your grasp. Do not be like me, you go on your way now that there is still light because once that light started to fade, your shadow of happiness will soon be engulfed by the darkness to be lost forever.”

    The young man felt misty with tears that he could only look at this old and lonely man.

    “Thank you”, he said brokenly. The old man smiled, for the first time in many years. “No my son, I thank you. Because just by making you realize the answer to your quest, I know that the young man I was before, was able to finally see a hint of a shadow starting to form behind him.“

    Author Unknown
    Submitted by Lorelie Serrano

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