Feeling Stuck in Life? Learn to Live again as ‘Veronika decides to die’

My love for reading has never hit a full stop, be it a non-fiction work, an autobiography, a fiction work, a novel or a narrative. I remember, having a special corner for short-stories and poetries in school days and a natural flair for English literature. Shakespeare to Charles Dickens, I have always been fascinated with these greatest dramatists and novelists since the dawn of my childhood. If ‘Hamlet’, by William Shakespeare was the best play I read so far, ‘Call of the wild’ by Jack London was my favorite short adventure novel. But one particular novel, by none other than , did make the most impact on my mind. Surprisingly, it is not “ ”. I just finished reading “ ” the second time, the first time was almost a decade back. Since then I have learnt to rejoice in my life, live each day as it comes. Let us learn to live again with this beautiful story of “ Veronika decides to die “.

It is a story of 24 years old attractive young girl ‘Veronika’, who works in a library in Slovenia, lives in a comfortable room in a convent. She has a successful career, stable life, friends and family. She has everything one could ever wish for, and can be labelled as a ‘perfect woman’. Yet, she is not happy! Feelings of powerlessness, and apathy is predominant in her life which tempts her to seek freedom in death. Veronika has everything in her life, except a will to live and so Veronika decides to die. The opening lines read:

“On November 11, 1997, Veronika decided that the moment to kill herself — at last! — arrived. She carefully cleaned the room that she rented in a convent, turned off the heat, brushed her teeth, and lay down”.

Veronika attempts suicide by ingesting sleeping pills only to wake up in a lunatic asylum and to realise that she will die within a week due to overdose of drugs. She was told that her attempt to kill herself initially unsuccessful, will inevitably succeed. With a haunting thought of impending death, she decides to live her final days on her terms and conditions for the first time.

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Locked up in ward with other ‘insane’ people, Veronika is forced to accept her fate and struggles to accept her failure and her imminent success. In the mental institution she meets other patients and realises, to her surprise, that everyone has their unusual story to tell. Veronika experiences a gradual awakening of interests as she finds herself rejoicing piano in the common room of the mental asylum, and finds herself attracted to a schizophrenic patient. She derives an immense pleasure in playing piano as her lover watches her with the moon shining bright. She also takes advice from a fellow inmate to try something which was once forbidden and masturbates herself, only to climax multiple times. Veronika feels like she has lived and had enough, only to realize that she didn’t live at all. As Veronika takes up new experiences, she is drawn to life and ultimately desires to live to her fullest for the remaining time before the idea impending death consumes her fully. Veronika re-acquires her will to live. As she begins to fall in love with a schizophrenic patient she wants to live again. Finally Veronika learns to live!

Veronika is not aware of the fact that her stay in the asylum is part of testing of a hypothesis by her doctor — convincing her that she has only few weeks to live will somehow improve her health and cure her desire to commit suicide. And this apparently seems working! Veronika learns to live again!

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Life Lessons from Veronika decides to die which enable us to learn to live again

Here are my five life lessons from the book which enable me to move forward whenever I feel stuck in life. The learning would definitely enable the readers who are stuck by misfortune, or are seeking happiness, or are looking for some respite or are simply looking to move forward in life , to learn to live again.

1. Treasure your life as you may not get it again

We should learn to live again by learning to treasure our lives, and live every moment of it before it is too late as age and health concerns will eventually consume us all. Veronika learnt this only when she was on the verge of losing her life. She rediscovers her lost purpose in life when she starts falling in love, starts enjoying small things and starts helping others in the facility while exploring her true self in the process. Because Veronika finally realises the importance of her life considering each day as if it might be the last, she starts valuing it.

“You have two choices, to control your mind or to let your mind control you.”

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2. Survival in this world is based on love, respect & hope

The story clearly brings out that love, respect, honesty & hope has the power to weed out any problem in life. The story reveals that although Veronika has a rocking life and a good social support system, she consciously makes herself alone by avoiding everyone to continue alone in the journey of life. As the story unfolds, we realise she even shouts at her parents and asks them to leave her alone. She hates herself & her life. But as she lands up in the asylum, she makes friends, falls in love and hopes to live. All these things flair up her hope and ultimately her will to live again. As she finds love in mental asylum, and starts respecting others, she gains hope and a will to survive against all the odds.

In order to survive successfully in this world and learn to live again, we should learn to love freely, respect others and be optimistic. A little belief, a little faith, and a little hope is all we need to turn our lives around.

“Many people don’t allow themselves to love…because there are a lot of things at risk a lot of future and a lot of past.”

3. Attach some meaning in life

Despite her perception of having no meaning in life and her fear of being alone, Veronika starts reliving her life to the extent that she starts to empathize with other inmates and counsels them. She ultimately discovers a meaning attached to her life which fuels her up to keep going in the right direction.

The story brings out an important element that every second in our existence is a matter of making a choice between living and dying. While reading the book I was reminded of my true meaning in life. I am sure of things which I have to discover, learn and create to make it worth living every day. Therefore, attaching some meaning in life like helping others, or charity for example, should be encouraged in order to improve one’s overall wellbeing. If you want to learn to live your life again, attaching a meaning to it goes a long way.

“Be like the fountain that overflows, not like the cistern that merely contains.”

4. Solitude is sometimes good for self-discovery

As we read the story, we realise Veronika, when in asylum, finds time for herself and explores her true meaning in life. Solitude gave her a vision into reality and set her on a path of self-discovery.

Solitude is not absence of a company or love, rather it is a moment where you feel yourself more freely, and allow your soul to decide what is it that you want from life. Rather than fearing solitude, you should enjoy your own company. So find time for yourself, process your emotions, come to terms with yourself, resolve your inner conflicts, and know yourself more. This is the best present you can gift yourself as you learn to live again.

“People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.”

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5. Everyone is unique and everyone has a journey of their own! Be different

“You are someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that in my view is a serious illness. God chose you to be different. Why are you disappointing God with this kind of attitude?”

As Veronika finds a life in the mental institution, she finds that every patient is unique, with sorrows and joys of their own. She starts to wonder who is mad and what is madness all about. She starts respecting her life as she explores others’ lives. She realises that there are people who have seen much worse in life than you can ever imagine of and yet they are living and have a will to live, even in this lunatic world. They all have a unique journey of their own and must be respected and cherished.

“If one day I could get out of here, I would allow myself to be crazy. Everyone is indeed crazy, but the craziest are the ones who don’t know they’re crazy; they just keep repeating what others tell them to.”

The story is thought provoking as it celebrates the reason to be unique and different. One should allow himself or herself to be crazy and believe in their madness. The world ultimately respects people who are unique and not average. As God has made everyone unique, one should explore themselves confidently without any notion of being judged by society.

6. Live your life to please yourself and not to please others

“The danger of an adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort”

Paul Coelho rightly said — follow your vision, live in the moment and make the most of your time. I believe we should follow our own vision, and before anything else. Instead of trying to meet the expectation of others, indulge in things which you wanted to pursue and dreamt of. This is only possible if you , give yourself adequate time, be true to yourself and make yourself happy before attending to others.

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“I want to continue being crazy; living my life the way I dream it, and not the way the other people want it to be.”

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7. Challenge the status-quo

The society has made rules and customs which are considered to be acceptable norms. But the story questions this very concept of societal norms and customs which are apparently considered as normal. For people in the asylum, it is a place of protection where they are shielded from the danger of the outside world (the society).The protective walls of the lunatic asylum is liberating to its patients, and allows them to discover their madness without any criticism and harm. The story starts with a contemplation of the conformity vis-à-vis madness, and turns into an exploration of unconscious choices we make each day between living and dying, despair and liberation.

Those who refuse to accept the society’s rules and customs are subjected to two choices: either succumb to the majority defined normal customs and accept that they are mad or fight against the majority and carve a way out in this pragmatic world. Choice is yours. While both the paths bring along with them their own set of struggles, the later one specifically makes you a fighter, a revolutionist and a reformist. If you choose to fight for your cause, you will eventually live a life on your own terms and conditions.

“Collective madness is called sanity”

While there is more to the story of “Veronika decides to die” from which we can draw much inspiration, the main juice of the story is to cherish our lives, follow our dreams, and express who we truly are in a quest to find happiness. While death is inevitable, we should celebrate each day by attaching some meaning to it, pursue our passion and live to please ourselves rather than prioritising others. We should keep moving forward while being different and unique, and even challenge rudimentary and binding societal norms in order to realise our full potential. Ultimately, we realise that life is a trade-off between life and death, despair and liberation and conformity and madness. So, let us make a choice carefully. I choose to live by practising gratitude and thanking God and I realise that life is a gift, wasting even a single bit of it is not worth it. My Veronika chooses to live! How about you?

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Learn to live with inspiring Vernoika decides to die quote

Here are few others inspiring Veronika decides to die quotes by Paul Coelho from the book Veronica decides to die.

“Haven’t you learned anything, not even with the approach of death? Stop thinking all the time that you’re in the way, that you’re bothering the person next to you. If people don’t like it, they can complain. And if they don’t have the courage to complain, that’s their problem”

“Nothing in this world happens by chance”

“She would consider each day a miracle — which indeed it is, when you consider the number of unexpected things that could happen in each second of our fragile existences.”

“The danger of an adventure is worth a thousand days of ease and comfort”

“Life is always a matter of waiting for the right moment to act.”

“She would consider each day a miracle — which indeed it is, when you consider the number of unexpected things that could happen in each second of our fragile existences.”

“You say they create their own reality,” said Veronika, “but what is reality?”

“Death frees from the fear of dying”

“If only everyone could know and live with their inner craziness. Would the world be a worse place for it? No, people would be fairer and happier.”

“The happier people can be, the unhappier they are.”

“Personal growth has its price, and she was paying it without complaint.”

“She didn’t quite know what the relationship was between lunatics and the moon, but it must be a strong one, if they used a word like that to describe the insane.”

Originally published at on September 14, 2020.



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