I do not know how many times I read “The Little Prince”, so many that I lost the count. However, every time I take this book in my hands I find a sentence that is fitting with the stage of life I’m living. Therfore, while Saint Exupery wrote this book with a very simple language, his teachings transcend the barrier of time and age.
The story, apparently innocent of the little prince, creates a parallel universe compared to our reality, in which we often see ourselves reflected. In fact, growing up we can see ourselves reflected in the different characters and ways of acting. For this reason its pages always suggest, and, in a sense, help us regain the magic of childhood, help us not to turn us into “old” people who “understand” only when spoken with numbers, whose ego is as big as the baobab and don’t enjoy life because are too busy.
1. Know yourself before you criticize others
“It is much harder to judge yourself than the others. If you can judge yourself well then you are a true sage”.
We are easy to criticize. However, often we do not realize that our critics toward the others, after all, are nothing more than a projection of the features that we do not accept of us, those that represent our “renegade self”. We criticize what we do not like, what it costs us to accept, all those things that we can not deal with.
So, before criticizing it is better to look within ourselves. The little prince encourages us to look within ourselves to better understand these resistences and barriers we self-impose, but also to better understand our strengths and weaknesses, to find out who we really are, for not being deceived from the softened picture we invented of ourselves.
It means changing perspective, stop focusing so much on the others, on their errors, to start focusing on who we are and what we can do. Undoubtedly, this change in perspective will allow us to be more proactive and happy.
2. Love unconditionally, but respecting individuality
“You only need to require everyone what he can give. The authority is mostly based on reason”.
These were the words of the king to the little prince. And they enclose a huge truth we often prefer not to see. In fact, we often claim that people next to us have to meet our expectations without considering their dreams and needs, and we make more and more pressure on them until they reach the limits.
This can be seen especially in the relationships between parents and children, employers and their employees and also in couple relationships. In these cases, the person claims that the other must adapt to his rules and the way of seeing life, and its requirements become more and more irrational.
But the little prince urges us to respect individuality and don’t expect too much from people, especially if we start with unreasonable expectations. In fact, behind this message there’s an even more powerful one: love must be unconditional, it should never be a burden to those who receive it.
3. Look inside, without prejudice
“You see well only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye”.
Eyes are blind, you have to look with your heart, says the little prince. When we focus too much on the external appearance we lose the opportunity to discover something far more important: the inside. In fact, often stereotypes lead us to establish relationships conditioned by prejudices with some people, so we can not understand their individuality, which is where lies their true wealth.
We must remember that we all interact wearing social masks and move into roles that have been given us. Therefore, to be able to connect with someone, you need to break down these barriers.
Everyone has always something to offer us, but we should be able to go beyond the outward appearance, we must connect with their more profound “self”. Only when we take this step we can really know someone and establish a useful relationship.
4. Invest your time in building special relationships
“It is the time you lost for your rose that makes it important (...) She’s the one that I watered. I put it under a glass bell. I've heard her complaining or bragging, and sometimes even remaining silent".
The little prince reminds us of something that we often forget: our most valuable asset is time. Expensive gifts can not compensate for the time we did not spend with our children, parents or partners. Our time is the true gift.
Only when we spend time with a person we can truly know her, it is in those moments that we build a unique and special relationship that will endure the problems brought by life and become a solid support.
This book invites us to value our time and use it more wisely to build relationships that really matter for us. It invites us to take advantage of every moment spent with someone special, because are these moments that make life worth living.
5. Choose feelings and experiences, not material goods
“Men raise five thousand roses in their garden and do not find what they seek. Yet, what they seek might be found in one single rose”.
Many people spend their entire lives in search of the secret of success, thinking that this way will find happiness. But when they arrive at the end of their life discover they have accumulated more remorse than joy.
The problem is that sometimes, to find something, you have to stop searching, or at least change the direction you’re looking to. Having more does not mean to be richer, sometimes satisfaction comes simply from the need to live with less things and less pressure.
The little prince encourages us to change perspective, because when it comes to feelings, what matters is not quantity but quality. So, do not ask yourself what you want to posses, but what you want to feel and live. You will realize that it is much easier to be happy this way.
The Little Prince: 5 life lessons that we have forgottenJennifer Delgado