The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of the best-selling books in history, selling over 65 million copies in 56 different languages. The story of Santiago, the shepherd boy on a journey to realize his “Personal Legend” has inspired people all over the world to live out their dreams.

Here are ten of the most popular passages and lessons to apply to your life:

1. Fear is a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

Any new pursuit requires stepping out into uncharted territory — that’s scary. Indeed the fear can become a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself. But with any great risk comes great reward. The experiences you gain in choosing to pursue your dream will eclipse the fears and struggles.

2. The “right” decision always endures

“If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.”

Truth cannot be veiled by smoke and mirrors — it will always stand firm. When you’re searching for the “right” decision, it will be the one that withstands the tests of time and the weight of scrutiny. In life, there are many “moments of light,” and “explosions of stars,” but what is of true substance, what is truly meaningful, will not be fleeting.

3. Make no room for the monotony 

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”

Gratitude is a game-changer. It will force you to look for the good in every single day. And those who look for the good, shall indeed find it. Life can easily become stagnant, mundane, and monotonous. But it comes down to what we choose to see. We have a choice to see the glass as half empty or half full. And there’s always a silver lining, if you look for it.

4. Embrace the present

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.”

There’s no point dwelling in the past and letting it define you, nor getting lost and anxious about the future. What’s done cannot be undone, what hasn’t happened cannot be forced. But in the present moment, you are in the field of possibility — reality is happening in real-time. Too often we miss that.

To be fully present is to be a participant while reality is being constructed. You need to be in the moment in order to make meaningful decisions. You cannot change the trajectory of a bullet after it has been fired — poor aiming happens when you’re not present.

5. Your success has a ripple-effect

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

Growth, change, and evolution are weaved into the fabric of reality. Becoming a better version of yourself creates a ripple effect that benefits everything around you: your lifestyle, your family, your friends, your community. There’s nothing selfish about pursuing your own dream, remember that “no man is an island;” success is contagious.

6. Take the first step

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he has never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the unknowns and finer details of your dreams. That’s why taking the first step and making that leap of faith is so difficult. But anyone who has pursued their passion will say that their only regret was in not starting sooner.

7. Be unrealistic

“I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.”

The way things are don’t mean it’s how they must remain. Some of the greatest inventions would not have happened if people chose to accept the world as it is. Great achievements and innovations begin with a mindset that ignores the impossible.

8. Keep getting back up

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

Because the eighth time could be your breakthrough. Some of the greatest novels in history were published after receiving hundreds of rejections. But those authors never gave up. If Thomas Edison hadn’t kept getting back up, we wouldn’t have the lightbulb.

9. Focus on your own journey

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

Be careful not to turn your opinions and advice into dogma. There are different strokes for different folks. It’s also easy to be influenced by others, but you’ll be miserable if you end up living someone else’s idea of life. There’s nothing wrong with taking advice, and learning from others, but make sure it aligns with your own desires and passions.

10. Always take action

“There is only one way to learn.

It’s through action.”

You can study, read, and listen until you turn blue in the face, but the full experience is when you take action, and let the rubber meet the road. Once you’re done aiming, pull the trigger.


Recently Published

Key Takeaway: Slavoj Žižek, a philosopher and cultural theorist, has written numerous books on various topics, including philosophy, psychoanalysis, pop culture, and commentary on recent events. He is known for his controversial debate with Jordan Peterson in 2019 about the connection between Marxism, capitalism, and happiness. Žižek’s work often critiques political ideologies, which can explain […]

Top Picks

Key Takeaway: A study examining the mental health of magicians found that they exhibited similar traits to people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and autism. Magicians, who both create and perform their own shows, require precision and technical skills to entertain the audience. They scored lower on nearly every psychotic symptom compared to the general […]
Key Takeaway: Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, has a diverse career in space exploration, electric cars, AI, and social media. His biography, written by Walter Isaacson, covers events up to Space X’s unsuccessful Starship rocket launch in April 2023. Isaacson interviews Musk and uncovered newsworthy information, such as his Starlink satellite network’s crucial role […]


I highly recommend reading the McKinsey Global Institute’s new report, “Reskilling China: Transforming The World’s Largest Workforce Into Lifelong Learners”, which focuses on the country’s biggest employment challenge, re-training its workforce and the adoption of practices such as lifelong learning to address the growing digital transformation of its productive fabric. How to transform the country […]

Join our Newsletter

Get our monthly recap with the latest news, articles and resources.


Welcome to Empirics

We are glad you have decided to join our mission of gathering the collective knowledge of Asia!
Join Empirics