The secret of happiness from “The Alchemist”by Paulo Coelho

This first week back at school and the VCE students are busy revising for exams in 5 weeks. We revisited “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and revised the lessons learnt by Santiago the shepherd in this deceptively simple but delightful fable about following your dreams. The main points being:

  • Follow your dreams/Pursue your personal legend.
  • Listen to your heart.
  • When you want something badly the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it.
  • Don’t give up.

Today was the day of the text response analytical essay written under test conditions. The question was:

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

What has Santiago learned about happiness by the end of the book?

We ( my Year 11 ESL class @ RDSC and I) discussed the meaning of this little summary of a parable told by the wise King of Salem to Santiago and decided that it meant it’s important to be focused on what you are doing, what your goals are, as well as what is happening around you. In other words, ‘Keep your eyes on the prize as well as the big picture.’ Or as Santiago put it, ‘A shepherd may like to travel, but he should never forget about his sheep.’

We summarised that ¬†what he had learnt about the secret of happiness by the end of the novel was mainly to follow your personal legend, ¬†appreciate & be grateful for what you have, make every moment count, listen to your heart and don’t give up.

After discounting materialistic definitions of happiness we agreed that after basic human needs were met more money did not necessarily make us happier. We came up with this collective summary of our class’s wisdom:

“All you need to be happy is a roof over your head, food in your stomach, love in your heart, a smile on your face, music in your ear, a twinkle in your eye and faith in your soul.” (1)

What do you think the secret of happiness is?

(1) Melpomene Selemidis, Mohammed Al Zahrani of Saudia Arabia, Assunta Akot of Sudan, Danni Vo of Vietnam, Iza Veraldy of Indonesia, Meng Tao Han of China, Tim Pham of Vietnam, Rebika Afath of Sudan, Rich Tran of Vietnam and Rebecca Haris-Peter of Sudan.

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About Melpomuse

Reader, Writer, Poet, Teacher
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4 Responses to The secret of happiness from “The Alchemist”by Paulo Coelho

  1. Ernur Anik says:

    It’s been many years since I’ve read the Alchemist, I’d forgotten how powerful the simple tale is. It’s great that a new generation is able to enjoy it. I hope your year 11′s do well.

  2. Sarah says:

    Over the past ten years I have visited and re-visited ‘The Alchemist’, an amazing, life-changing story. I have concluded after every reading that happiness is a feeling, not a doing, not a value, not something owned, or bought. Happiness isn’t always constant, becasue if it was, it would not be so longed for, so uplifting, so embracing. But if everyday you fill your heart with little moments, reminders, thoughts with the goodness it deserves, the secret of happiness will always find you, because it hides deep inside ready for the showing!

  3. Melpomene says:

    Yes, it definitely is a series of moments. Moments that must be lived in the present. Moments that make up a lifetime. You were the first student I ever gave it to. I’m glad you got something out of it, again and again.

  4. Melpomene says:

    Thanks Ernur. It’s a classic, one that will endure. It’s the simple stories that tell the most truth sometimes. That’s why I love fables.

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