Paulo Coelho Quotes That Will Make You Rethink Your Life

Published June 22, 2016
Updated May 4, 2018

Beloved around the world for his novel The Alchemist, Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho’s early life was shaped by crippling introversion. His parents placed him in a mental institution to treat the condition, and Coelho stayed there until he was 20 years old.

After his release, he led an itinerant hippie lifestyle, traveling around the world and finding himself in prison for acts of political activism. While wandering along Spain’s Road of Santiago de Compostela in 1986, Coelho realized that in order to be truly happy, he needed to write.

He began writing The Pilgrimage that same year. It was The Alchemist, published two years later, that garnered him the devoted following he has today. It is Coelho’s words, as seen in the quotes below, that have inspired many to live their own dreams — before it’s too late:

Paulo Coehlo Quotes Two Books
“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do them now.” Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Every Person
“Every person on Earth plays a central role in the history of the world.”

Dubai Festival
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Paulo Coelho Quotes Addressing Crowd
“You're always learning. The problem is, sometimes you stop and think you understand the world. This is not correct. The world is always moving. You never reach the point you can stop making an effort.”Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Black Coat
“I think you can have 10,000 explanations for failure, but no good explanation for success.”Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Black White
“We have to stop and be humble enough to understand that there is something called mystery.”Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Blue Background
“If you start by promising what you don't even have yet, you'll lose your desire to work towards getting it.”Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Dark Face
“Let us be absolutely clear about one thing: we must not confuse humility with false modesty or servility.”Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for Hubert Burda Media

Glasses On
“Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs. False friends only appear at difficult times, with their sad, supportive faces, when, in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their miserable lives.”Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Gray Tree
“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”wikimedia/Paul Mcleod

Holding Mic
“When I had nothing more to lose, I was given everything. When I ceased to be who I am, I found myself. When I experienced humiliation and yet kept on walking, I understood that I was free to choose my destiny.”Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Huge Smile
“People want to change everything and, at the same time want it all to remain the same.”Matej Divizna/Getty Images

“Human beings can withstand a week without water, two weeks without food, many years of homelessness, but not loneliness. It is the worst of all tortures, the worst of all sufferings.”

Orange Background
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”Wikimedia Commons

Tan Chair
“I can control my destiny, but not my fate. Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one-way street. I believe we all have the choice as to whether we fulfill our destiny, but our fate is sealed.”Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Threatening Place
“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”

Violent Storm
“The more violent the storm, the quicker it passes.”

Writing Book
“When I write a book, I write a book for myself; the reaction is up to the reader. It's not my business whether people like or dislike it.” Pexels

White Background
“Pain, loss and separation are inevitable on the path of love, and the only way of avoiding them is by deciding not to take that path at all. In order not to suffer, you have to renounce love. It was like putting out your own eyes in order not to see the bad things in life.”TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

River Drown
“You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.” Pexels

Purple Chair
“Tears are words that need to be written.”Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Love Paradise
“Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere.” Pexels

Next, read these Ernest Hemingway quotes on life and war. Then, have a look at the best George Orwell quotes.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.