How to do what I want

By Paulo Coelho

When he died, Juan found himself in an exquisite place, surrounded by all the comfort and beauty he had always dreamed of. A man dressed in white spoke to him:
‘You can have anything you want, any food, any pleasure, any diversion,’ he said.
Delighted, Juan did everything he had dreamed of doing while alive. Then, after many years of pleasure, he again searched out the man in white.
‘I’ve done everything I wanted to do. Now I need a job, so that I can feel useful,’ he said.
‘I’m sorry,’ replied the man in white. ‘But that is the one thing I can’t give you; there is no work here.’
‘How awful!’ said Juan angrily. ‘That means I’ll spend all eternity bored to death! I wish I was in Hell!’
The man in white came over to him and said softly:
‘And where exactly do you think you are, sir?’

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet


  1. Sohaib Athar says:

    Haha @ 'bored to death'

  2. Adrienne says:


    I really like this story. I really admire you. I’m looking forward on reading your latest book i just dont have enough money to buy one but im really eager to read Brida! :)


  3. aditya says:

    HI freinds !

    Paulo & Kathleen, both stories I enjoyed.

    If all u can do if u have nothing left to do is that u get bored then hell “where else do u think you are” ha ha


  4. Maria says:

    Hi Paolo, I loved this short story and all the comments too! I particularly enjoyed Tania’s sharing of author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s words, “This holy longing is to live passionate, rather than passive, lives.” Loved that. Work is deeply connected to passion. Our true passions awaken through our every day work…and life without work would indeed be hell! Thanks for sharing this insightful story! I blogged this as well, hope you don’t mind. :)


  5. Niina says:

    First I tought you were going for the ‘reincarnation coming up’… but I get it now.

    People might want things, things and things. But if they don’t get to do anything to grow themselves and learn during the process, then it’s not a life.

  6. angela blake says:

    AaaaH! Touche! Touche! I loved it, thank you. If we cannot laugh at and with life and its eccentricities, it will laugh without us.

  7. Marjo says:

    Dear Paulo,

    I’m posting todays message in my blogsite. Hope you don’t mind. Thanks!

    To Kathleen on the Bill Gates story, hope you’ll give me the permission to post your story, too. Thanks!

    of course not only you, but all readers, can post anything. Internet is a free place! Love

  8. Marjo says:

    Sometimes, that is exactly what we humans do. We search for the most comfortable place to stay where grandeur and extravagance is the name of the game. Freedom ain’t in question because we can do whatever we wish to do in any way, whatever time of the day or wherever and whenever we please.

    That is life for us.

    Biggest mistake! For the beauty of life and the happiness we get out of it is our choice and sometimes our options, well, I mean, more often than not, our alternatives are guised in the meanest and ugliest features that our immediate tendency is to strike the goal with equal meanness and ugliness we shun away from it without knowing that such is our ultimate source of well-being.

  9. Tania Chilby says:

    We can have the diversion ,i think that it makes us holy ,Here is something from the nineteenth century author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe so beautifully decribes it__ This holy longing is to live passionate,rather than passive,lives.

    In the calm water of the love nights
    Where you were conceived,where you have conceived,
    A strange feeling comes over you
    When you see the silent candle burning.

    No longer caught up in the obsession of darkness,
    A desire for higher love making
    Sweeps you upward.

    Finally distance does not make you falter,
    Flying ,soaring,arriving in magic
    And insane for the light,

    You are the moth,
    And you are gone.

    And so long as you do not accept this truth
    And be willing to die,so that you might live,
    You will always walk this dark earth
    A troubled guest ,alone…
    blessings Tania

    Now I do have to get to my book and finish my editing ,if i am to soar. Thanks for another interesting read ..

  10. ana zaragoza says:

    me parece muy buena la reflexion sobre el trabajo, muchas veces nos sentimos abrumados por este, y no nos acordamos que debemos de valorarlo y dar gracias de que lo tenemos!

  11. ana zaragoza says:

    hola paulo, sigo escribiendote en español, se ingles, pero es un poco mas complicado para mi, me gusto mucho la reflexión sobre el trabajo, uno muchas veces no se da cuenta de lo importante que es nuestro trabajo, y de lo agradecidos que debemos de estar por tenerlo

  12. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,
    There is one more thing that comes to my mind.
    The gift of work.
    We almost never realize that it can be a blessing,
    but also it can be a curse.
    If you work to enjoy life – you happy.
    But if you work because there is nothing else you can do with your life – you live to work (only!) – you will never be satisfied,
    you will never find peace inside.
    So love what you do but do not be addicted to it.
    See other things in life.
    Be creative.
    – love to all

  13. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,

    Oh, I love this story! Thank you!

    The evil hides behind the mask of the Good.
    It shows how clever the evil is, as always.
    Tempts us with the things we desire, offering lots.

    As it happened before (Adam & Eve)- the evil – usually wins. Hopefully not for long.
    There is this question that comes to mind –
    Why the man cannot be humble?
    why he/she is so easy to tempt?
    I guess – it’s because of the first sin, that goes on and on and on.

    The truth is that GOOD doesn’t have to use tricks –
    it’s simple, humble and beautiful!! –
    and you cannot buy it anywhere.

    The sacred it’s not for sale!!!

    Everything that comes from the heart, from the soul,
    FROM GOD – you cannot get anywhere but from the source itself.

    Too bad that man very often doesn’t realize that this is what he/she really needs.
    The question is –
    why the man desire something that will actually not make him/her happy,
    that will not give him/her peace?
    Who can answer that??
    I think that everybody has to speak for him/herself.

    For me the only way is through God.
    If we really believe in Him/Her –
    He/She will shows us the way,
    will quides us.
    We just have to really trust in Him/Her !!!

    We have to look into our heart and soul and see
    THE LIGHT!!!



  14. Kathleen says:

    I was recently sent a similar story (something for a bit of a laugh)
    Bill Gates- After Death

    Well, Bill,” said God, “I’m really confused on this one. I’m not sure whether to send you to Heaven or Hell! After all, you helped society enormously by putting a computer in almost every home in the world and yet you created that ghastly Windows. I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to let you decide where you want to go!”

    Mr. Gates replied, “Well, thanks, Lord. What’s the difference between
    the two?”

    God said, “You can take a peek at both places briefly if it will help you decide. Shall we look at Hell first?” “Sure!” said Bill. “Let’s go!”

    Bill was amazed! He saw a clean, white sandy beach with clear waters. There were thousands of beautiful women running around, playing in the water, laughing and frolicking about.

    The sun was shining and the temperature was just perfect!

    Bill said, “This is great! If this is Hell, I can’t wait to see Heaven!”

    To which God replied, “Let’s go!” and off they went. Bill saw puffy white clouds in a beautiful blue sky with angels drifting about playing harps and singing.

    It was nice, but surely not as enticing as Hell. Mr. Gates thought for only a brief moment and rendered his decision.

    “God, I do believe I would like to go to Hell.”

    “As you desire,” said God.

    Two weeks later, God decided to check up on the late billionaire to see how things were going. He found Bill shackled to a wall, screaming among the hot flames in a dark cave. He was being burned and tortured by demons.

    “How ya doin’, Bill?” asked God. Bill responded with anguish and despair.

    “This is awful! This is not what I expected at all! What happened to the beach and the beautiful women playing in the water?”

    “Oh, THAT!” said God. “That was the screen saver”

    Kathleen xx

  15. Sohaib Athar says:

    Haha @ ‘bored to death’

  16. Karen says:

    I like this!:)

  17. Marie says:

    This story seems to perpetuate the myth that for ‘life ‘ to have any value/to have any use, then it must be spent doing work and that if you have no work, then you’ll be bored and of no use. And even if the man was bored, who’s to say that there is anything wrong with that? Perhaps no-one has any use and because we can’t handle that, then we constantly seek for things to do. If God is and God is everything, then it all is already and there really is nothing for us to do; except maybe to realise that.