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Home arrow Psychology arrow The Life and Creative Works of Paulo Coelho : A Psychobiography from a Positive Psychology Perspective
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Like a Flowing River

In 2006, Coelho published a book, “Sei wie ein Flu6, der still die Nacht durchstromt (English version: “Like the flowing river”, Coelho, 2010a). This book is a collection of stories and thoughts that were published before in journals, on his homepage or were unpublished texts and explorations. In the preface, Coelho (2010a, p. xi) refers to his autobiographical story during his adolescence, when he told his mother that he wanted to become a writer. He was sent to do research on how writers are and what they do. He was advised to rather step into the footsteps of his father and become an engineer. Many of his thoughts and autobiographical experiences are reflected in the short texts in this book.

Coelho writes about his daily activities, about his fascination with technology and the internet, but also about archery and his walks in nature that revitalised him and helped him to listen to the voice of nature and to the unseen world, which manifests itself quietly in the seen world (Coelho, 2006, p. 59). For Coelho (2006, p. 88), walking is a form of “meditation in movement”, to experience the joy of movement, the balance of the body and the challenge to move forward.

How a person approaches the world is connected to love. For Coelho, love is the major source of life, the most important when it comes to re-evaluating the lived life (Coelho, 2006, p. 78). The feeling of love provides a person’s life with perfection and the energy to proceed in life if this person integrates his/her soul and body - if a person does not experience love, he/she will always be imperfect (Coelho, 2006, p. 132). Coelho (2006, pp. 255-256) states that many people in the world live according to the “law of Jante”, which says that a person is worth nothing and that anonymity and mediocrity are the best choices; he himself turned this law towards the positive in his own life, believing that a person is worth even more than he/she thinks, that being on earth is important and that a person has to live without fear, then he/she will win in the end.

Coelho defines work as a supportive source as long as it helps the individual to think about his/her actions. However, work is a spell, when it is used not to think about the daily actions and the meaning in life (Coelho, 2006, p. 71). When Coelho is working on his books and texts, he feels that the mind of the author is travelling and in his opinion books should travel from one person to the other (Coelho, 2006, p. 95). Coelho is constantly searching for meaningfulness throughout his life, knowing that “Sic transit gloria mindui” - all earthly glory is transient (Coelho, 2006, p. 159).

Despite all his success and fame, Coelho describes his work as a challenge, for example when he is asked to write texts for special occasions (Coelho, 2006, p. 98). He doubted himself, did not feel inspired and felt several times like declining the request to talk at the special occasion at which Shinin Ebadi received the Nobel price. However, he overcame all his doubts and fears, took on the challenge and in the end succeeded with his speech.

Coelho’s view on spirituality has been addressed in many of his novels, as well as in his autobiographical texts. He sees human beings as interconnected and uses the metaphor of a huge invisible spider web that connects each and every human being. He says that with his writings he tries to repair this spider web and reconnect to spirituality (Coelho, 2006, p. 106). His own great search has therefore always been the spiritual one (Arias, 2001, p. 150), striving to give his best at all times. However, Coelho also knows the laziness that tries to stop him from writing, telling him that he has already written enough, and it becomes difficult for him to start writing a new book (Arias, 2001, p. 152). To overcome this feeling of laziness, Coelho follows some rituals, such as writing in his home in Brazil where the diversity of the people and the deeply anchored mysticism inspires him, where he feels at home and has enough distance from Spain, one of the countries he loves (Arias, 2001, p. 157).

On a day in 2005, Coelho (2006, p. 118) reflected on the difficulty of simply sitting still, relaxing and listening to his inner being. He asked himself questions about why it is a challenge not to get up and buy things that are needed, not to switch on the computer or not to call a friend to talk to. He felt a strong trepidation within himself and only after he had overcome these negative feelings of fear and trepidation, he experienced a feeling of contemplation, which arose slowly and made him listen to himself and his soul. This time of quietness is important to him, because the most important aspects of life do not necessarily show their face when one is in action, but rather in silence (Coelho, 2006, p. 218).

 
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