The three symptoms of killing our dreams

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A repost from Paulo Coehlo’s blog, it’s a piece from one of my favorite books, The Pilgrimage.

The first symptom of the process of killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the Good Fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are fighting the Good Fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams – we have refused to fight the Good Fight.

When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being.
We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychoses arise. What we sought to avoid in combat – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.

And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoon.

[Photo from this year’s best collection, taken at Sai Kung, Hong Kong]

What is Success?

For many years, I have struggled to come up with a perfect answer to this question. The following piece from Paulo Coelho’s “Manuscripts Found in Accra” is the best answer I’ve ever read. I hope it inspires you too:

Manuscript found in Accra

Success does not come from having one’s work recognised by others. It is the fruit of the seed that you lovingly planted. When harvest time arrives, you can say to yourself: ‘I succeeded.’

You succeeded in gaining respect for your work because you did not work only to survive, but to demonstrate your love for others.

You managed to finish what you began, even though you did not foresee all the traps along the way. And when your enthusiasm waned because of the difficulties you encountered, you reached for discipline. And when discipline seemed about to disappear because you were tired, you used your moments of repose to think about what steps you needed to take in the future.

You were not paralyzed by the defeats that are inevitable in the lives of those who take risks. You didn’t sit agonising over what you lost when you had an idea that didn’t work.

You didn’t stop when you experienced moments of glory, because you had not yet reached your goal. And when you had to ask for help, you did not feel humiliated. And when you learned that someone needed help, you showed them all that you had learned, without fearing that you might be revealing secrets or being used by others. 

 

Book Recommendation: Manuscript Found in Accra

IMG_2337I just finished reading this wonderful book by Paulo Coelho, and recommend to anyone looking for inspiration. Some excerpts:

“Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness. But when those moments pass, we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self-respect. We will look around and say to ourselves: ‘I survived.’ And we will be cheered by our words. Only those who fail to recognise that inner strength will say: ‘I lost’, and be sad.”

“Defeat ends when we launch into another battle. Failure has no end; it is a lifetime choice.”

“Stay close to those who sing, tell stories, and enjoy life, and whose eyes sparkle with happiness. Because happiness is contagious and will always manage to find a solution, whereas logic can find only an explanation for the mistake made.”

“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it – just as we have learned to live with storms. For those who cannot learn to do so, life will be a nightmare.”

What’s your favorite Paulo Coelho’s book? Or any inspiration book. Please share through comments.

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Inspiring quotes by Paulo Coelho

Three years ago on this blog (re-post from September 2009)
  • No one can avoid defeat. That is why it is better to lose a few battles in the fight for your dreams than to be defeated without even knowing why you are fighting.
  • We are allowed to make a lot of mistakes in our lives, except the mistake that destroys us.
  • If we pay close attention we will come to realize that no day is the same as another. Every morning brings with it a hidden blessing.
  • Absolute freedom does not exist; what does exist is the freedom to choose anything you like and then commit yourself to the decision.
  • Start to do something. That way, time will be an ally, not an enemy.

[Photo during a boat cruise on River Li, from Guilin to Yangshuo]