“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. He has become one of the most widely read authors in the world today. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. The Alchemist, his most famous novel, has been translated into 80 languages. Paolo has sold 150 million copies worldwide.

Remaining Open to Love

Paulo Coelho 

It serves us well to remember that there may be times when we’d love to help those who love us dearly, but that there may not be much that we can do. Circumstances may not allow us to approach them, or they may be closed off to any gesture of charity or support.

So, we are left with only love. In those moments when doing anything seems useless, we can still love – without expecting rewards, changes, or thanks. If we can act and love in this way, the energy of that love will begin to transform the universe around us. When this energy appears, the job always gets done. “Time does not make man. Willpower does not make man. Love transforms him,” says Henry Drummond.

I read about a child in Brasília who was brutally beaten by her parents in the newspaper once. As a result, she lost most of her body movements and the majority of her speech. She was admitted to Base Hospital, and was cared for by a nurse who told said the words “I love you” to her every day. Although the doctors said the child could not hear what was being said to her, and that the nurse’s efforts were useless, she kept repeating, “I love you, do not forget that.” Three weeks later, the child had recovered the ability to move her limbs. Four weeks later, she was able to talk and smile. The nurse never gave any interviews to the media, and the newspaper did not publish her name – but her message lives on: love heals.

Love transforms, love heals. But sometimes, love builds mortal traps and ends up destroying the person who decided to completely surrender to it. What feeling is it that stays in the background that allows us to continue living, struggling and trying to improve? It would be irresponsible of me to attempt to define it because, like any other human being, the only thing I can do is feel it. Thousands of books have been written, plays staged, films produced, poems scribbled, sculptures carved attempting to capture it but all that the artist can convey is the idea of a feeling – not the feeling itself. I learned that this feeling is present in small things, and manifests itself in the most insignificant attitudes we take, so you must always have love in mind, when we act or when we fail to act.

Picking up the phone and saying the words of affection that we always delay saying. Opening the door and letting those who need our help come in. Accepting a job. Leaving a job. Making the decision that we were procrastinating on. Apologizing for a
mistake we made that would not leave our conscience. Claiming a right we have. Opening an account at the florist, which is more important than opening one at the jeweler. Putting the music loud when your loved one is far away and turning it down when he or she is near.

Knowing how to say “yes” and “no” because love handles all the energies of man. Finding a sport that can be practiced by two. Never following any recipe, even the one listed in this paragraph – because love needs creativity. And when none of this is possible, when all that’s left is loneliness, then remember this story that a reader once sent me:

A rose dreamed day and night alongside the company of bees, but none of them ever came and landed on her petals. But, the flower went on dreaming, during the long night she imagined a sky where many bees flew, coming down tenderly to kiss her petals. By dreaming of this, she was able to hold off her temptations until morning, when she was able to open up and enjoy the suns warmth.

One night, knowing how lonely the rose was, the moon said, “Are not you tired of waiting?”

“Maybe. But I have to keep fighting.”


“Because if I do not open my petals, I will certainly wither.”

During the moments when loneliness seems to crush all the beauty in the world, the only way to resist it is to keep ourselves open.


Paulo Coelho on Luck, Coincidence and Faith