How to do what I want

By Paulo Coelho

As soon as he dies, Juan found himself in a very beautiful place surrounded by all the comforts and beauty he had ever dreamed of. Someone dressed in white came up to him:

– You are entitled to whatever you wish: any food, pleasure, entertainment – he said.

Enchanted, Juan did everything he had dreamed of during his life. After many years filled with pleasure, he sought out the person in white:

– I’ve already tried everything I wished for. Now I need a job so that I can feel useful.

– I’m so sorry – said the person in white. – But that is the only thing that I cannot manage for you; there is no work here.

– How terrible! – said Juan in irritation. – I shall spend eternity dying of tedium! I’d prefer a thousand times to be in hell!

The creature in white came over to him and said in a low voice:

– And where do you think you are?

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  1. Oh great story… he’s in hell alright. it’s pure hell… haha, can hell be pure??

  2. Koushik Paul says:

    Truly a thought provoking idea… I do appreciate the way you have dished the story out for us; specially the ending line “” a real shock!

  3. Jen Juan says:

    I have recently left a lucrative job hoping to take some time off to rest. But the moment I left it, I began pursuing what I really love to do which is to write, to blog, to do entrepreneurial stuff. I am not earning yet as of writing. But simply doing the things I love is enough for now. After all, this feeling of heaven, of happiness, of oneness is priceless.

  4. THELMA says:

    Sorry : The Researchers of Truth…
    Wrong ..typing..

  5. THELMA says:

    In 1979 I read the book ‘Life after life’ by Dr.Raymond Moody. In 2006 I read the book ‘The journeys of the soul’ by Dr. Michael Newton. The Cypriot, Dr. Kyriakos Markides has written many books : ‘The magus of Stovolos’ and ‘Homage to the sun’dealing about Daskalos and his teachings [Google: Daskalos and the receacthers of Truth] and after that three other books dealing with Orthodox Mysticism. [I have met with Daskalos and I know Kyriakos Markides]
    The Gospel and all religious and metaphysical books are there for us to read and investigate and … believe.
    If, we, human beings, could have a glimse into the Eternal Life, I think that this World would be a better place to live. It is important, I think, for the people to know our Heavenly Substance.

  6. darmastuti says:

    In the world where the number of unemployment rises day by day, heaven is the only promising place to stay. I just don’t know what kind of works we have in heaven … :) I love your writings Mr.Coelho, and ‘like the flowing river’ gives me much insight how to live in hell peacefully … :)

  7. T.K. says:

    Excellent! Deep enough to penetrate and wake my lethargic self UP!!

  8. ashraf monzer from Lebanon says:

    It is almost impossible for human nature to be able to sit down and do nothing. We have something that is called ambition, this something is what urges us to go out there and do what we do in order to reach what we want to reach. When we are there, there comes another something that urges us to work more in order to stay where we are which is pride. How can we reach where we wanted to reach and then deteriorate? To humans it is such a shame to do that.
    We are in a constant conflict either with the outer world or with ourselves that is what keeps us living and alive. Because as Paulo says in one of his books, “I know a lot of people who have stopped living, even though they continue working and eating and carrying on with their usual social activities.”
    To be alive is to see the beauty in everyday’s light. It is to be happy and angry and sad and miserable and… All these feelings at once. IT is to be in the core of the soul of the universe.

    Sitting there and letting the time pass is for dead people who are still alive. No wonder I cannot keep a job for more than 1 year.
    One needs to change and shake things around every once and a while. Jobs become boring and pointless and automatic after couple months but one has to keep them to keep the cash flowing (little cash I must add), especially if the job is not in your domain.


  9. Fernanda Signato Marques says:

    Como diz o ditado, “mente vazia, oficina do diabo”!
    Adorei o texto, muito bom!

  10. Rian says:

    Well put. Now I am ashamed of myself, always thinking I would never be happy unless I am in heaven, while I have been living in it the whole time.

  11. Sidharth says:

    Beautiful story.
    MORAL: Heaven can be experienced ONLY on earth???

  12. Jonathan says:

    Conveying so much with so few words is a talent so very few possess.

  13. Mirela Baron says:

    Eve risked allready, for all us to feel and KNOW ! So this is our path,of whole humanbeing!
    If we want to develope,we have to risk to find out what we dí¬dn`t achive till now!We decided allready to eat the apple!We decided allready to feel Heaven and Hell!we can only try to make it directly to belong to Heaven!

    I wisch us God Blessom for that!

    Mirela(woman in lift)

  14. Diana says:

    God said, be fruitful.

  15. tinni t. says:


  16. Marie-Ora says:

    Again I’ll quote the Smashing Pumpkins : ‘Would you believe in heaven, if heaven was all you had?’. Thank-you Paulo – that had me laughing out loud.
    In Love and Light

  17. Heart says:

    Smiling. To be passive and just let life come towards you, seems a hard thing for many of us. Although, this is what contemplation is all about;

    ‘ What the soul needs is greater solitude, tranquility, and freedom of spirit in which there is no anxiety about seeming to do nothing.’
    (John Venard 1990, in The Living Flame of Love. Saint John of the Cross’.)

  18. Arya Mukherjee says:

    I can’t stop laughing even while i’m writing this. Absolutely wonderful piece and quite educative at the same time. Our lives would have really become hell-like had we not any work to do.