The importance of others

Paulo Coelho

The mousetrap

Very worried, the mouse saw that the farmer had bought a mousetrap: he was out to kill him!

He began to warn all the other animals:

“Careful with the mousetrap! Careful with the mousetrap!”

The hen, hearing his shouts, asked him to be quiet:

“My dear mouse, I know that this a problem for you, but it’s not going to have the last effect on me, so stop making such a fuss!”

The mouse went to talk to the pig, which was annoyed because his nap had been interrupted.

“There is a mousetrap in the house!”

“I appreciate your concern and I sympathize with you,” answered the pig. “So rest assured you will be in my prayers tonight, but that’s the most I can do.”

Lonelier than ever, the mouse went to the cow for help.

“My dear mouse, what’s that got to do with me? Have you ever seen a cow killed in a mousetrap?”

Seeing that no-one was offering any solidarity, the mouse returned to the farmer’s house, hid in his hole and spent the whole night wide awake, afraid that some tragedy was about to happen.

During the early hours he heard a noise: the mousetrap had caught something!

The farmer’s wife went downstairs to see if the mouse had been killed. In the dark she did not notice that the trap had only caught the tail of a poisonous snake; when she drew near, she was bitten.

The farmer, hearing his wife screaming, woke up and raced her to the hospital. She was given the proper treatment and then sent home.

But she still had a fever. Knowing that there is no better remedy for the sick than a good broth, the farmer killed the hen.

His wife started to recover. As the couple was much loved in the region, all the neighbors came to visit them. Grateful for such a show of affection, the farmer killed the pig to serve his friends a hearty meal.

His wife finally recovered, but the treatment was very expensive, so the farmer sent the cow to the slaughterhouse and used the money from the meat to pay all the medical bills.

The mouse saw all this and thought to himself:

“I warned them well. Wouldn’t it have been better if the hen, the pig and the cow had understood that one’s problem puts everyone else in danger?”

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  1. AllaSobirova says:

    I today understood today that i should be the most important person in my life and never give up my position!
    Alla Sobirova

    1. Marie-christine says:

      Yes, you are the Chairman of the Board. Don’t ever forget it! J’adore!

  2. This is an adorable story.

  3. Dhede Wantah says:

    In this era, people tend to be more individualistic nowadays, they seek any circumstances that had impact directly to them and kinda hard to internalize the idea/thought that every situation in this life, in this world has impact to one other, even if you live across the sea..
    Nevertheless, I do *sometimes* act like those other animal above (pig, cow, etc) when some’rat’ came to warn me about something. In my excuse (or self-defense), “I still have plenty of works to do beside worrying about it”, well, this story really shock me though.. Hope I can always remember about this story.. :)

  4. Marie-Christine says:

    “We are one after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate each other.”
    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

  5. andrea says:

    …..every day I have to take care of myself not being a pig, a cown or a hen,sometimes I take myself acting like this, just looking to the other way, I have to take care.

  6. Pavlik says:


    I enjoyed this story, thank you!

    How every action in the world/life makes a trace, makes a difference, how things are interconnected even we don’t realize…..

  7. HOpe says:

    hahah i laugh my heart out,such a cute story.I mean i loved it coz i feel like i am the mouse here hahaha and i saw those hen cows and pigs too.Lol anyway i did my part and u know what paulo,my path not only opened but it was just wiating for me.Well i realized i just needed to have little strength to take the 1st step.
    Am so happy cya in near future somewhere if our path cross.
    I feel free and happy


  9. orly says:

    INTERESTING MORAL- yes it takes years and generation to society – to understant the moral of this story,,,,
    and history repeat and repeat…. and i hope with time we will all change our attitude and learn to listen and care the others situation!!!
    one day
    i hope!!

  10. luce says:

    I love this story, nowdays too many people say for too many things it is not of their concern !

  11. Irina Black says:

    Indifference.Don’t be afraid of enemies-they can just kill you.Don’t be afraid of friends either,they can betray you.Be afraid of indifferent people.Just because they are indifferent-killings are possible.Just because they are indifferent-betrayals are possible as well.(Somebody).

  12. Ajay says:

    I am sorry, I do not agree with the others. I do not see how this is a good story, because the hen and the pig and the cow could not have prevented the farmer from bringing the trap, or stopped the snake from getting caught in the trap, or the farmer’s wife from getting bitten. Even if the other animals had wanted to save the mouse, the incidents that followed would have occurred anyway.

    In fact, the other animals would have been saved if they had pushed the mouse into the trap, preventing the snake from getting stuck, and therefore not getting the housewife bitten.

    Although the “moral” is good, I think this is a poor story.

  13. Tomás says:

    Thank you for this wonderful story, Mr. Coelho. I find myself in many relationships, with friends and family, where I often give much of myself and don’t receive as much as I would like in return. This is hurtful, yet my urge to love is so great that I cannot help it. It has caused me grief in the past, but conversely, can create the greatest happiness I have known. Relationships are risky, yes, but worth it. Take heed to those around you, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t forget to stop and listen every now and then. Though it might be dangerous to rely on the strength of others, don’t forget about the strength we all contain within ourselves!

    Kind regards, and best wishes to all!


  14. Dear Paulo,

    Good and inspiring story…

    Dear all,

    -“Do not escape from other’s problem and solution given to someone else problem would minimize your own.”

    -” We all think of our ‘own’ by stating, ‘my’, ‘I’, and so on… When would we, understand both these ‘my’ and ‘I’ belong to ‘WE’? ”

    -“Those who say and do not help are those who will never be helped.”

    -“Life is full of problems and solutions of one problem will result into another problem but those who are willing to give will be never get empty, since they know they are full of solutions.”

    -“Most of the times, we have our own story to tell somtimes it is better to LISTEN to others too, despite your own worries because at that time by simply listening, you might be solving his/her problem.”

    God bless you all !

  15. munrocea says:

    and, maybe, we all need to be a little bit more like dogs..

    personal assistance – trained – doggies..
    article – dog saves life; very adorable.

  16. Alexandra says:

    Well,the mouse was right.The effect of the mouse-trap was like an avalanche.Nobody can live completely isolated.I think at the poor and rich,the rich not giving good wages may force some poor to be robber,and maybe to enter his house in a night and harm him.A funny example is a cartoon I saw,a squirell and an akon. (added by Mobile using Mippin)

  17. munrocea says:

    maybe sometimes we have to fall back so that no longer we are the image in the mirror but rather the person themselves.. [ie: todays image of the day].
    not being chased [as the mouse], but rather the one walking behind to the true pace..
    a time to take a breather for we have been working at a fast pace, maybe more so than is expected/required/ necessary…
    so it is ok to fall backwards.. and let the tide bring you in again slowly.
    because then you are able to see the full picture and the full audience is clear with their objectives.

    it is like coming full circle on something.

  18. THELMA says:

    This story reminded me a joke:
    Two Pontians [ Greeks from Εύξεινος Πόντος= Black Sea]were travelling with an aeroplane. Suddenly there were some air ..gabs .. The first one was worried and said to the other: “I think there is danger, the aeroplane may fall down”!
    “Who cares”, the second one answers, “it does not belong to us!!”

    I hope that I will not say the same tomorrow. ;]

  19. austere says:

    So true.
    TL- Good Luck to you.

    Sherry- So well said.

  20. Vida Mae Soriano says:

    For everything there is a season,
    And a time for every matter under heaven:
    A time to be born, and a time to die;
    A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    A time to kill, and a time to heal;
    A time to break down, and a time to build up;
    A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
    A time to seek, and a time to lose;
    A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
    A time to tear, and a time to sew;
    A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    A time to love, and a time to hate,
    A time for war, and a time for peace.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
    When man is faced with ordeal and debauchery, man always turns to the one thing that does not judge, does not stammer nor poke us with personal interest and greed in mind; we turn to literature and re-connect with the one who created our inner lives, and our spirits. This semester had been a whirlwind of macabre and tribulation for me. I have been placed in a seemingly stimulating and excellent group to grow and be molded as a competent nurse if not the best one. The first few days were as good as a boat sailing to the beat of a mellow song under the sun-kissed waving motions of the sea… Until days went into weeks and weeks went into months and different attitudes, arguments, clashes, outburst of emotions and mundane rumors surfaced like the bellowing waves of a sea at storm. I have always been a very introspective, highly intuitive, sensitive and a zeal idealist since the day I knew what I wanted out of life. And these are the things I have lived up to, and continue to struggle for at present. Up until the moment I graduate, up until I draw my last breath of my earthly existence. I have been through enough, kept my silence enough, and suffered enough to continue this charade that I am happy and well satisfied with the group I was randomly brought too. When I decided to be a part of the IN family of FEU, I had nothing but sheer joy and compassion for this profession. I had nothing but the faith that someday I will not only truly like this profession but I will someday be able to love the field I am studying for. I use to see beams of sunshine, shot across every person’s eyes, whether they are good to me, polite to me or rude and unkind to me. That was how I was raised and how I was taught as a Roman Catholic. But now everything seems to change….. Ever had the feeling or experience at one point in your lifetime when everything you believed in was not at all as it seemed? Everything you hoped for were chained in negativity? Everything you wished for, were trashed in the wilderness? And every ounce of love, esteem and enthusiasm in life was killed and bled to death? Before, I use to believe that every human being possesses an innate goodness rooted from the depths of their souls; and When God created the first man on earth and patterned him according to his own image and likeness, I thought that every person owned his compassion and love too. At church they say that every human being we see or encounter, has God in their eyes. Was this really true? MAYBE yes, maybe no, but still it doesn’t change the fact that there are people out there who can definitely wound you to the core and leave you with a heavy heart, a restless mind, a wounded pride, a bleeding heart and soul that’s dry……..Until no more tears come out and no more feelings to have……. That’s how I SEE my life reflected before my eyes at the moment. That’s how I SEE the world AS it turns around me every second. This is how I have spent my life for the past few months, and the say that “how you live your days is how you live your lifetime”. I HOPE it’s not true. But if it is true, I HOPE BY SOME WHISPER OR MAGIC, the Universe and My Creator would hear me, would hear my plead, would hear my agony, my confession, my repentance and my wish….

    “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
    Albert Einstein

    “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

  21. Sherry says:

    I think that what is happening in the world today is also a reflection of the story. We are all connected and we are foolish to think that problems somewhere seemingly far away do not or will not affect our lives. What a great story!

    Sherry (

  22. Vida Mae Soriano says:

    i really love it. I have been going through some rough times for the past months now and I feel that nobody seems to care about what I Feel; the despair and loneliness i am struggling with, because like what my sister said ” everybody has their own personal vested interest”, and it seems to be true enough.
    Having said that, the reactions and feedback of the cow,pig and hen in the story speaks true to what i have experience from my group mates at duty.I just hope and wish that justice will be served, and that I WOULD FIND MEANING AND SENSE THROUGH WHATEVER IS HAPPENING AT THE MOMENT.I just wish I could see the bigger picture, I wish the Universe do truly have big plans for me. I hope and I PRAY THAT EVERY SINGLE TEAR I HAVE SHED WOULD BE WORTH IT ALL IN THE END.

  23. munrocea says:

    I have to add though some ideas/thoughts, because throughout my life – from 5 to around 18 i was following a personal mission that i threw heart and soul into… i knew that i had to counter the consquences of my actions to self-sacrifice, and so i worked even harder to do just that…
    strangely… i found obstructions by people who seemed to not allow me my own will … competition, envy or whatever drove them to alienate me. worse, my best friend at school deserted me at precisely the time i needed her friendship most [sadly, boys were more interesting at that stage]… so after years like this..the result for me was i became exhausted and at university had chronic fatigue…et al.
    after this, i was depressed and woe and behold.. everything i once was and was striving for, now my peers and others seemed to demand me to or themselves to be.
    its taking me a long time to figure out which way to go / follow again, to trust in others again.. to be a part of life again.
    its just strange how others seek to undermine others.. treat them like stepping stones.. take their spoils…
    its strange because ive always since age five – maybe before – been on a conscious level putting others – especially my mother, before myself…

  24. munrocea says:

    bless! bless! bless! what a wonderful story ;o)

  25. TL says:

    Dear all,

    This story has really struck a nerve. I was invited to a play and party where I hoped the man that I care about would be at. I asked some friends to come with me as it was not a local event and I didn’t want to go on my own. My friends refused. i then received a second inviation and my parents kicked up and said I couldn’t go. On the night of the play I dream about my man and it was such a strong and vivid dream, that I could feel his flesh, the strength in his arms. I felt safe, protected and loved. I emailed my man on the Monday after, he had gone and he had been thinking about me. I was really upset. I now know those friends weren’t friends because they did not care about me and they weren’t prepared to help me. Iam very loyal to my friends and I help them out if they are in trouble and this is how they repay me. A priest that I email says that I should trust in my dream and that is giving me the strength to keep going because I really felt lost and at the point of giving up.

    Thank you.



  26. sido66 says:

    Listen to….

    The world is a part of a “unity”.

    What concerns you, concerns me.

    What you saw, I also saw it through you.

    What you suffer, I suffer in my soul.

    Your enjoyments are my enjoyments; your efforts are my efforts, your anxieties are mine; your expectations are mine, a love in the same and big LOVE