The Power of Fairy Tales

I love stories. I like to read them and write stories of my own. Growing up, I have always enjoyed listening to fairy tales. What is the essence of a fairy tale? Goodness always defeats evil, the end is beautiful, and the author uses characters to try to convey a moral lesson to young listeners. I remember that when I listened to them as a child, I always saw myself in a variety of situations. In my mind, I roamed about huge castles or even fought dangerous dragons, and I, as a real fairy tale hero, was fierce and would defend the good and the truth from evil.

Probably most children saw themselves in this way. And they most likely promised themselves that one day, they will be the best knights, the most beloved princesses, or they will fight to achieve justice everywhere.

One day, kids grow up. Then, the fairy tale is gone and what’s left is the reality.

Can life become a fairy tale? Maybe.

Ask yourself where you spend the most time in your life.

At home? True. At work? Of course.

So, in order to transform your life into a fairy tale, you must have an enjoyable job, a lovely home, and a good relationship between these two things.

An enjoyable job

When one hears this phrase, two thoughts will often come to mind:

First is the idea that work must be a “do what you love” type of work.

And second is the amount of salary.

Often, the second thought becomes the most important criteria when choosing a job. But precisely because of this rearrangement of priorities, there are many clichés such as “I hate Mondays”, “finally at home”, and so on. In other words – people hate their jobs.

Often, the idea of “doing what you love” is equated with the idea that with a career, you need to do only what you want to do. But that is not the truth. What do people want to do? Travel, read books, watch movies, eat and sleep. But those are not jobs. Those are for spare time.

Work is defined as “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a goal or result.” That means work remains work. Work becomes a fairy tale only when it is meaningful. So, what does that really mean?

Work must provide satisfaction and pleasure. These feelings are obtained when our work has a mission, purpose, and meaning. Each of us comes to life with different values and opinions. Naturally, when we feel that we are living and defending ours and our parents’ values, we feel good. Pursuing the good is the subconscious nature of man and the basis of happiness; furthermore, pursuing the good provides meaning and a sense of fulfillment. There is not only one type of work or job that brings meaning and fulfillment to people’s lives. Meaningful work does not always equate to a high salary.

Of course, money is also important, but when choosing money over meaning, life will never be a tale. Without seeking this meaning, our lives will lose their color, our existence will fade, and we will be unable to live up to our fullest and utmost potential. Instead, we will be constrained by our inability to pursue anything but material goods.

Meaningful work often benefits not just you, but in most cases, it also benefits others. When our work is rooted in service towards others and something meaningful, we have a new desire to pursue certain tasks as we are no longer motivated simply by deadlines, but instead, what propels us is a feeling of shared responsibility for other human beings and a desire to live out our values.  

Typically, the way we feel and act at work transfers over to how we interact with family at home. I don’t think family members are very happy when the father or mother returns home tired, wanting only to sit at the TV and waste time. The atmosphere at home becomes better when work is talked about and shared and when accomplishments are celebrated.

The values we foster in the workplace affect our home life just as the virtues and vices we have in the home influence our work ethic.

Joy and job satisfaction directly affect family and home relationships. Without adopting a childlike hope and believing that life can be a fairy tale, we will not have the imagination or perseverance to attain our greatest ambitions.

It is gratifying that, according to recent studies, more and more people value the meaning of work as opposed to a salary when choosing a job. It shows people’s awareness and willingness to do meaningful work and make this world a better place.

Fairytales develop our values and attitudes to life. A number of studies have been conducted that show the differences between children who have heard tales in their childhood and who have not. Children who grew up listening to stories often have a more active imagination, better artistic and literary abilities. As teenagers and consequently as adults, they continue to read more books, which often leads to a more accomplished, well-rounded, and dynamic person. Moreover, such children are less likely to have psychological or emotional disorders.

Growing up doesn’t necessarily equate to forgetting fairy tales. We should never lose sight of our true dreams nor abandon our capacity to imagine. To answer my earlier question: yes, life can become a fairy tale. And when that happens, life becomes truly joyful and meaningful.

Written by Antanas Bernatonis, a WYA Headquarters Intern from Lithuania.