I loved reading fairy tales as a small child and it was with great pleasure when many years later I read that my favourite author and thinker, G. K. Chesterton, had had very much affection for them too and believed them a source of great wisdom:
"According to elfin ethics all virtue is in an ‘if.’ The note of the fairy utterance always is, ‘You may live in a palace of gold and sapphire, if you do not say the word "cow"’; or ‘You may live happily with the King’s daughter, if you do not show her an onion.’ The vision always hangs upon a veto. All the dizzy and colossal things conceded depend upon one small thing withheld. All the wild and whirling things that are let loose depend upon one thing that is forbidden."
Chesterton believed that all people were specially shaped to experience the joy of being alive, but that happiness was ultimately something that had to be accomplished. It is conditional on our capacity to experience it - a capacity that can be naturally trained like any other.
Fairy tales teach us to feel wonder for ordinary things - rivers running with wine remind us of the marvel of rivers running with water, talking flowers reflect the beauty of all flowers and golden apples are as wonderful for being apples as for being made of gold.
In the end, the test of all happiness is gratitude - an appreciation of the little, everyday things that make up the fabric of each human life.