30 SEC READ: Problems ( ENG, PORT, ESPA)

Illustration by Ken Crane


ESPANOL AQUI : Problemas



There was once a well-known scholar, who lived in a mountain in the Himalayas. Tired of living with men, he had chosen a simple life and spent most of his time meditating.

His fame, however, was so great that people were willing to walk narrow paths, climb steep hills, swim rivers – to meet the holy man who was believed to be able to resolve any trouble of the human heart.

The wise man said nothing but asked them to sit and wait. Three days passed, and more people arrived. When there was no room for anyone else, he addressed the people who were outside his door.

“Today I will give the answer that everyone wants. But you must promise that, to have your problems solved, you will not tell the new pilgrims that I moved here – so that you can continue to live in the solitude you so much crave. Tell me your problems” .

Someone began to speak, but was soon interrupted by others, as everyone knew that this was the last public hearing that the holy man was giving. The wise man let the situation be prolonged a little, until he cried, “Silence! Write your problems down and put the papers in front of me,” he said.

When everyone finished, the wise man mixed all the papers in a basket, then said, “Keep this basket moving amongst you. Each of you will take a paper, and read it. You will then choose whether to keep your problems, or take the one given to you.”

Each person took a sheet of paper, read it, and was horrified. They concluded that what they had written, however bad it was, was not as serious as what ailed his neighbor. Two hours later, they exchanged papers amongst themselves, and each one had to put their personal problems back into his or her pocket, relieved that their distress was not as hard as they once thought.

Grateful for the lesson, they went down the mountain with the certainty that they were happier than all the others, and – fulfilling the promise made – never let anyone disturb the peace of the holy man.


  1. Nobuaki Kang says:

    Dear Mr.Paulo

    Thank you very much your wonderful story. It’s awesome! I do agree this my feeling.

    However, I just wondering why all of them feel happier than others after knowing the others distress?

    Some people wants the own personal answer, and think “My distress is the worst” I think. Could they get the answer?

    It would be very appreciate & happy if you could reply me. Thank you very much for reading my question even if my poor English.

    Arigatou gozaimasu!

  2. Ken Crane says:

    Translation in Japanese:











    1. いわぶち IWABUCHI says:


    2. Ken Crane says:


    3. Marie-Christine says:

      Japanese writing – another fine example of calligraphy by excellence. -

  3. golightly says:

    so true and so wonderful to be reminded of this. I once lived in a homeless shelter as the result of some challenging events in my life. Speaking to the other guests there made my own burden lighter to carry.

  4. Walter says:

    Paulo, thank you for your words.

    They always inspire one to bring best from us that is always inside hidden from what we call “the cruel world outside our front door”.

    We all should meditate from time to time, because the effort of doing so, only benefits us and the one around us.

    Again thank you Paulo for your wise words (always..).

  5. hitesh gaur says:

    World will become better place if all of us share our problems.. our joy will double if we can share happiness with others too

  6. vidisha says:

    When the student is ready the teacher appears! Its strange and beautiful that I should read this today bcoz this morning was a huge learning experience for me in the same dimension. Thanks for ending me day so beautifully with a reminder of the truth that I experienced today:)

  7. Ken Crane says:

    Please forgive me to leave a reply here in Japanese.
    I want to check if I could leave a reply in Japanese.


  8. Imli says:

    Paulo , im reading your stuffs more and more everyday. U r pretty intruiging

  9. ita says:

    Paulo…you are my guru…thank you :)

  10. Shilpa says:

    Dear Sir,
    Yesterday, I was sulking about what I’m going through in my life, on account of my health problem. Felt more worse about my predicament, when I saw happy snaps of my buddies posted all over face book. As one of my good friend said, Shilpa, FB is a mask that people put on. U’ll never know what goes underneath. That’s not the reality.
    Your story has truly made me think otherwise. Thank You.
    Warm Regards,
    Mumbai (India)

  11. Marisela K says:

    You never cease to inspire me, Paulo. Thank you for sharing your words!

  12. Another wonderful story emphasizing that people always think they have it worse off then they think.

    May I re-post this story at http://www.AllAboutGratitude.com ?

    Be Well.

  13. Alma Beatriz García Durán says:

    Lo que le sucede a este sabio, es lo mismo que le pudiera suceder a cualquier persona que le guste estar alejada del ruido, del bullicio, son de un tipo de persona tranquila, que no le gustan los problemas y prefiere vivir aislada. Que aveces a todo mundo le hace falta para meditar sobre su actuar en la vida…

  14. bharathi says:

    thanx for the tip. i now realise that everyone feels he/she has the greatest problem.

  15. I think this example of help is great.
    The problems are not as big as they are.
    Hay no problema.

  16. Raghvendra Billawa says:

    GREAT & THANK YOU for remembering me how fortunate i am with respect to others & in the same manner others are in front of me….THANK YOU

  17. Arvinder Kaur says:

    The founder of the sikh religion Guru Nanak wrote” Nanak Dukhiys Sab Sansar ” Meaning The Whole World is full of pain and sorrow ! in solitude one feels their pain biggest and when the pain is shared one feels the other’s burden bigger and there is thankfulness so each has their fair share for personal growth .The wise never extensify or intensify their pain as they don’t want it to linger they do not want to play the part of destitudes instead they are thankful for their learning experience and move on a better plain… thanx Caehlo for letting us share and grow …love

  18. annick macal says:

    Il était une fois un savant bien connu, qui vivait dans une montagne dans l’Himalaya. Fatigué de la vie avec les hommes, il avait choisi une vie simple et passé la plupart de son temps í  méditer.

    Sa renommée, cependant, était si grande que les gens étaient príªts í  marcher des sentiers étroits, gravir des collines abruptes, nager rivières – pour satisfaire le saint homme qui passait pour íªtre en mesure de résoudre tous les problèmes du cÅ“ur humain.

    Le sage ne dit rien, mais leur a demandé de s’asseoir et d’attendre. Trois jours passèrent, et plus de gens sont arrivés. Quand il n’y avait pas de place pour quelqu’un d’autre, il s’est adressé aux gens qui étaient í  sa porte.

    “Aujourd’hui, je vais donner la réponse que tout le monde veut. Mais vous devez promettre que, pour avoir vos problèmes résolus, vous ne direz pas les pèlerins de nouveau que je propose ici – pour que vous puissiez continuer í  vivre dans la solitude vous tellement envie. Dites-moi vos problèmes “.

    Quelqu’un se mit í  parler, mais il fut bientí´t interrompu par d’autres, comme tout le monde savait que c’était la dernière audience publique que le saint homme a été donné. Le sage de laisser la situation se prolonger un peu, jusqu’í  ce qu’il s’écria: «Silence! Donnez vos problèmes et í  mettre les documents en face de moi, dit-il.

    Quand tout le monde fini, l’homme sage mélange tous les papiers dans un panier, puis il dit: “Gardez ce panier déplacer parmi vous. Chacun d’entre vous prenez un papier et le lire. Vous choisirez ensuite si vous voulez garder vos problèmes, ou de prendre celui qui vous est donné. ”

    Chaque personne a une feuille de papier, le lut, et a été horrifié. Ils ont conclu que ce qu’ils avaient écrit, si mauvaise qu’elle était, n’était pas aussi grave que ce que indisposé son voisin. Deux heures plus tard, ils ont échangé des documents entre eux, et chacun a dí» mettre leurs problèmes personnels de nouveau dans sa poche, soulagé de voir que leur détresse n’était pas aussi fort qu’ils ne le pensait.

    Reconnaissants pour la leí§on, ils descendirent de la montagne avec la certitude qu’ils étaient plus heureux que tous les autres, et – l’accomplissement de la promesse faite – ne laissez jamais personne de troubler la paix du saint homme.

  19. Dear Mr Coehlo,
    Thank you for the lovely story. It is from the old Jewish parable of the sorrow tree which was told to me by my spiritual teacher.
    There is a classic old Jewish story called the Sorrow Tree. The world became filled with complaints and moaning. People began comparing their misery and sadness. They became convinced that their pain was undeserved and more traumatic than anyone else’s pain. Each person was trying to sing the blues louder than everyone else. It was desperate and woeful. So God created a Sorrow Tree. People were invited to come to the Sorrow Tree and exchange their woes. Each person packed up their troubles in an old kit bag and hung them on a branch of the Sorrow Tree. They then took someone else’s bag of troubles- one that looked lighter and more manageable. At first this seemed like a great idea. But over time each person ended up going back to their own troubles. Better the sorrow you know. It turned out to be almost impossible to deal with someone else’s pain. Their pain was for them, specially custom tailored for their own spiritual growth.

  20. Kumar A says:

    God is given a gift Happy Life to good people — we can’t buy happy, be good it will comes to you. Thanks for your message

  21. aksh says:

    a grateful heart is a religious heart !

    1. Nis says:

      A grateful heart is God within you. Is you and your understanding, is your knowledge, is your experience.

      What you see don’t have to be the same with what you feel. Reflections can sometime be just illusionary.

      As I mentioned my opinion before, problems are just appearing with individuals selfishness. Nothing els. therefor you can’t be grateful for the stupidity of others, unless you learn your lesson from it; and even then it depends.

  22. Eve Aquino says:

    Love the story!It hits me bullseye!

  23. Mignonne says:

    There is a similar story of each one grumbling about the weight of his cross, till he tries to carry the cross of someone else… a good reminder Paulo!

  24. Jean says:

    Everything and nothing is relevant…. we hear but don’t listen… the message is wispered, the meaning is what you want it to be… Like you have so wisely said “your wounds will heal you” – it is all part of the great journey of life… Thank you for always inspiring me…

    1. Chana says:

      I love what you wrote…”your wounds will heal you” that is beautiful to me…thank you for sharing :0)

  25. Orabi says:

    thanks for everything you wrote, you are great !
    But i wanna ask ! why we need to look at the other people problems ! are we trying to lie on ourselves ,by saying ( oh ,yeah I’m ok ,I’m good, I’m better than others in the world) .
    i think that things are not going like this ! cuz when you have a problem,regardless what it is ! you feel that it’s the worst one in the world ,and you will never understand that there is some people who are really suffering more than you !! this is how we think ,we are humans,

    For me , i tried to do what you said , but it wont work :(
    I’m still feeling that i have the worst problems ,and it is !

    thanks again Mr.Paulo

  26. Fernando de Saracho says:

    The problems of the Lion, the shark does not have them;however if any one thinks what he is not, the suffering will not stop unless one discovers his call.

    Animo Paulo!!

  27. Anna says:

    The greatest thing about your writing is that they always teach us to improve ourselves……..another wonderful story which has given me a lot of strength …in one line i’d say an eye opener plz keep on blessing us with such amazing thoughts of yours 8) thank u!

  28. jo says:

    so, so true.. and i can relate to this..
    thanks for sharing and for reminding me that i can consider my problems negligible compared to those of the people around me.. i’m still a lucky person…

  29. Quincy J says:


    We sometimes need someone to shake us up and we need to stop focusing on oneself. It’s really a good lesson of humility…

    Many thanks for sharing this story.



  30. bluefire says:

    I have a problem, many others have. I think that the problem aint the thing, its how we see ourselves and life. We are very happy to share good and easy things in life, without any spiritual or fysical struggle. Its always welcome to have friend called pleasure, but if we meet the dear friend of sadness, or hatress, or something that makes us suffer, we say:u are a problem go away, even many times its here to teach us. Finding the idea that problems and negative feelings are in our life as important as all other things in life is very important. Then we learn to say: hello dear old friend of sadness, or problem, ive been waiting for u to come, pls shake my hand:) Then this problem has totally diff meaning, after we give this attitude to respect and accept all as a meaninful teacher. This is something i have learned with my problems:)i hope i will remember to keep it as i say>>may the god lead us towards the thruth of love, keep the light!

  31. enikma says:

    =D! yo creo que cada uno tenemos problemas distintos pero hacer comparaciones para poder llevar la fiesta en paz ?
    lo veo muy sarcastico !

  32. Alejandra says:

    Cada uno viene a este mundo a vivir su vida…nadie puede por más que quiera llevar los zapatos de los otros… Por eso debemos aprovechar cada instante con las personas que tenemos cerca, disfrutar, luchar por lo que queremos y asumir muestra vida con sus problemas, como con sus alegrí­as.

  33. Chinmoy C says:

    To all of us any issue can become a problem, chances are more if we sit on it. Life is a lesson to learn the art of living happily as it comes….. The more we give time to this attitude the more we complete the journey. Thanks a lot to Paulo for his inspiring books that has helped a lot of people to understand & live life beatifully…..

  34. veronika says:

    É bem verdade que nós compartilhamos com essa história, muitas vezes e pensei que credes meus problemas sí£o muito grandes, mas olhando ao meu redor eu percebo que eu estava me afogando num copo de água, muito fiel ao que nós compartilhamos

  35. misbah saeed ahmad says:

    hahahaha thanks paulo,it is awesome,just love the story.

  36. Sougato says:

    I actually know of some people who are absolutely happy in life….

  37. shubi says:

    nice article Paulo…
    once again it helps me think tht everybody has problems n d problems of any persn r nt smaller thn anybody elses….