The secret of happiness (ENG, ESPA, PORT)

The story below is taken from my book “The Alchemist”, currently 170 weeks in the New York Times Bestselling list + one of the Top 20 Bestselling Books from all times

EN ESPANOL CLICAR AQUI: Las dos gotas de aceite
EM PORTUGUES, CLICAR AQUI: As duas gotas de óleo

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, the Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

from the book “The Alchemist”


  1. deepika says:

    sorry If Im asking a silly question, but I want to knw the answer..

    what does oil represent in the story in comparison to the real life..

    1. Sheela Nandini says:

      Hi Deepika,

      The two drops of oil
      by PAULO COELHO on APRIL 19, 2012

      “Standing above the little town of Tarifa is an old fort built by the Moors. I remember sitting here with my wife, Christina, in 1982, and for the first time looking at a continent from across a narrow stretch of water: Africa. At that time I could not dream that such a lazy moment in the late afternoon would inspire a scene in my best-known book, “The Alchemist”. Nor could I have dreamed that the story that follows, heard in the car, would serve as an excellent example for all of us who are searching for some balance between discipline and compassion.”


  2. Maria says:

    Dear Mr. Coelho,

    I’m a middle school English teacher in South Korea, and I just wanted you to notify you that a modified version of the above story has been used in one of our textbooks. I’m not sure if they received permission, as there is no source information provided or credit given in the textbook that you are the original author. In fact, I only found out by searching for more info on the story on Google. In case this is a copyright violation, I just thought I’d let you know so you can notify your publisher.

    The book is called Middle School English 3 and the authors are Young Hee Jang,, Dong Seok Choi, Hyun Sook Lee, and So Yeong Kim. The publisher is Neung Ryul Educational Publishing. The story can be found in Chapter 9 of the textbook,. I’ll put the info into Korean for you as well.
    Authors: 장영희 최동석 이현숙 김소영

    thank you for the information. The story was in The Alchemist, published in 1988 in Brasil. But what happened here is normal, and it is not the first time….

  3. mica says:

    Este libro es el mas lindo lo habia leido en una etapa de mi vida en que no estaba bien me ayudo mucho a pasar mis penas de amor y tambien me confirmo lo que mi querida madre siempre me decia la educaion es la riqueza interior mas importante lo demas son recursos y bueno gracias por es espacio donde paramos un rato y reflexionamos de la vida que hoy en dia casi la mayoria ya no lo puede hacer.

  4. Hilen says:

    Hola paulo, soy de la rioja- argentina. Es un placer para mi leer tus libros. Algunos me gustan mas qe otros pero todos me dejan alguna enseñanza, es eso lo q rescato de vos. Me inspiras a escribir mis propias historias. Saludos a tu pueblo. Y si te enteras de alguna manera de ayudar a nuestros hermanos egipcios x favor publicalo en tu facebook. saludos!

  5. thais says:

    Sr.Coello I will only say that the book the alchemist is one of the best books I have read q me that little book marked my life and taught me that one has to live his personal legend q, learn how to live, learn to listen and learn most of all to feel it and hear it because if you do your life will have no direction or sense.

  6. Ashima says:

    there is similar story in Indian ancient stories list, we read it in our childhood !!.. :) hope you are aware ~~

  7. Nancy says:

    Mi nombre es Nancy , la verdad no sé si usted leera esto, pero no se pierde nada intentandolo , solo queria agradecerle no sabe lo bien q me hace leer sus libros ,aprendi a ver la vida diferente y eso se lo debo a usted.Gracias nuevamente un beso .

  8. Mactalang says:

    Want all, lose all.

  9. Zoe says:

    Well put Jojo, be of the world and learn from it but never forget your destiny;what your heart tells you to do.

  10. Danish says:

    You are simply…

  11. Nadia says:

    Hi from Moldova !!! U r the best writer !!! i read all ur book and i am steel impresed !!! U r an Amazing Writer !!! Best wishes and wait for smthing new from u !!!