Short Stories about Life: 21 Inspirational Short Stories about Life

Some of the most memorable lessons in life come from stories. Stories are fundamental to the way we process life experiences and the feelings that surround them. Stories are a way to encapsulate life’s memorable moments and enduring life lessons. The human brain is programmed to perceive patterns and grasp the plot sequences of stories to store them in long-term memory.

We strongly believe that good stories can change lives; thus, we have a list of some amazing short stories about life that will teach you valuable lessons, help you deal with various life situations and inspire you to take on life differently.

1. The Secret to Success

Quote about success - short story about life

Once a young man asked the wise man, Socrates,  the secret to success. Socrates patiently listened to the man’s question and told him to meet him near the river the following day for the answer. So the next day, Socrates asked the young man to walk with him towards the river. As they went in the river, the water got up to their neck. But to the young man’s surprise, Socrates ducked him into the water.

The young man struggled to get out of the water, but Socrates was strong and kept him there until the boy started turning blue. Finally, Socrates pulled the man’s head out of the water. The young man gasped and took a deep breath of air. Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when your head was in the water?” The young man replied, “Air.” Socrates said, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air while you were in the water, then you will get it. There is no other secret.”

Moral of the short story:

A burning desire is the starting point of all accomplishment. Just like a small fire cannot give much heat, a weak desire cannot produce great results.

 2. The coldest winter

It was one of the coldest winters, and many animals were dying because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep each other warm. This was a great way to protect themselves from the cold and keep each of them warm, but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After a while, they decided to distance themselves, but they too began to die due to cold. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or choose death. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with a few wounds caused by their close relationship with their companions to receive the warmth of their togetherness. This way, they were able to survive.


3. Meaningless Goals

Meaningless Goal- Stories about life

A farmer had a dog who used to wait by the roadside for vehicles to come. As soon as one came, he would run down the road, barking and trying to overtake the car. One day the farmer’s neighbor asked the farmer, “Do you think the dog is ever going to overtake those vehicles?” The farmer replied, “That is not what bothers me. What bothers me is what he would do if he ever caught one.”

Many people in life behave like that dog who is pursuing meaningless goals.


4. A lesson in giving 

Many years ago, when I worked as a transfusion volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little three-year-old girl suffering from a disease. The little girl needed blood from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same condition. The boy had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness and was the only hope for his sister.

The doctor explained the situation to the little brother and asked if the boy would give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate only for a moment before he took a deep breath and said, “Yes, I will do it if it will save my sister.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale, and his smile faded. Finally, he looked up at the nurse beside him and asked with a trembling voice, “When will I start to die?”

The young boy had misunderstood the doctor and thought he had to die to save his sick sister.


5. Everyone has a Story

Quote about Judging people- Short story about Life

A young man in his twenties was seeing out from the train’s window shouted…

“Father, look at the trees! They are going behind!”

The young man’s father smiled at the man, and a young couple sitting nearby looked at the young man’s childish comment with pity.

Suddenly, the young man exclaimed again.

“Father, look at the clouds! They are all running with us!”

The couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man.

“Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?”

The older man smiled and said

“We did, and we are just coming from the hospital. My son was blind from birth, and he just got his vision today.”

Every person in the world has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.


6. Unnecessary Doubts

Short stories about life- relationship

A boy and a girl were playing together. The boy had a collection of beautiful marbles. The girl had some candies with her. The boy offered to give the girl all his marbles in exchange for all her candies. The girl agreed. The boy gave all the marbles to the girl but secretly kept the biggest and the most beautiful marble for himself. The girl gave him all her candies as she had promised. That night, the girl slept peacefully. But the boy couldn’t sleep as he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some more tasty candies from him the way he had hidden his best marble.

Moral: If you don’t give your hundred percent in a relationship, you’ll always keep doubting if the other person has given their hundred percent.


7. Soar Like an EagleShort Inspiration story- soar life a eagle

Did you know that an eagle can foresee when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?

Instead of hiding, the eagle will fly to some high point and wait for the winds to come.

When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind can pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle soars above it.

The eagle does not escape or hide from the storm; instead, it uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the stormy winds which others dread.

When the storm of life or challenges hits us, we can rise above them and soar like the eagle that rides the storm’s winds. Don’t be afraid of the storms or the challenges in your life. Use it to lift you higher in your life.


8. The reflections

Quote about Life and karma- Short story about life

Once a dog ran into a museum filled with mirrors. The museum was unique; the walls, the ceiling, the doors and even the floors were made of mirrors. Seeing his reflections, the dog froze in surprise in the middle of the hall. He could see a whole pack of dogs surrounding him from all sides, from above and below.

The dog bared his teeth and barked all the reflections responded to it in the same way. Frightened, the dog barked frantically; the dog’s reflections imitated the dog and increased it many times. The dog barked even harder, but the echo was magnified. The dog, tossed from one side to another while his reflections also tossed around snapping their teeth.

The following day, the museum security guards found the miserable, lifeless dog, surrounded by thousands of reflections of the lifeless dog. There was nobody to harm the dog. The dog died by fighting with his own reflections.

Moral: The world doesn’t bring good or evil on its own. Everything that is happening around us reflects our thoughts, feelings, wishes and actions. The world is a big mirror. So let’s strike a good pose!


9. Stopped by a brick

A successful young executive was riding his brand new Jaguar down a neighborhood street when he noticed a kid darting out from between parked cars. He slowed down a little bit as he appeared near it, a brick smashed into his car’s door. He slammed on the brakes and drove back to the place where the brick had been thrown.

The furious man jumped out of his car and caught the nearest kid shouting, “What was that all about? What the heck did you do to my car? Why did you do it?”. The young boy was a little scared but was very polite and apologetic. “I am sorry, Mister. I didn’t know what else to do,” he pleaded. “I had to throw the brick because no one else would stop for my call to help.”  With tears rolling down his cheeks, he pointed towards the parked cars and said, “it’s my brother, he rolled off the curb and fell off his wheelchair, and he is badly hurt. I can’t lift him.”

The sobbing boy asked the man, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He is hurt, and he is too heavy for me.” The young man was moved beyond words and tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. Then, he hurriedly lifted the other kid from the spot and put him back in the wheelchair. He also helped the little kid with his bruises and cuts. 

When he thought that everything would be ok, he went back to his car. “Thank you, sir, and God bless you,” said the grateful kid. The young man was too shaken up for any word, so the man watched the little boy push the brother who uses a wheelchair down the sidewalk. It was a long and slow ride back home to the man.  When he came out of the car, he looked at his dented car door. The damage was very noticeable, but he did not bother to repair it. Instead, he kept the dent to remind him of the message; “Do not go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.” 

Moral: Life whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we do not listen to it, it throws a brick at us. It is our choice, listen to the whisper or wait for the brick.


10. Shark Bait

A marine biologist was involved in an experiment with a shark. He placed a shark in a tank along with other small bait fishes.

As expected, the shark ate every single fish.

The marine biologist then inserted clear fiberglass to create two sections within the tank.  He placed the shark in one area and smaller fish in the other section.

The shark quickly attacked, but then he bounced off the fiberglass. The shark kept on repeating this behavior. It just wouldn’t stop trying.

While the small fish in the other section remained unharmed and carefree, after about an hour, the shark finally gave up. 

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks. Each time, the shark got less aggressive. Eventually, the shark got tired and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass. The shark, however, didn’t attack. Instead, it was trained to believe in the existence of a barrier between it and the baitfish.

The moral: After experiencing setbacks and failures, many of us emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark, we choose to stay with past failures and believe that we will always be unsuccessful. We build a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier between where we are and where we want to go. Don’t give up. Keep trying because success may be just a try away.


11. The Old Carpenter

A carpenter with years of experience was ready to retire. He communicated with his contractor about his plans to leave the house-building business to live a more leisurely retired life with his wife and family. The contractor felt a little upset that his excellent and experienced carpenter was leaving the job, but he requested the carpenter to build just one more house for him.

The carpenter agreed with the contractor, but his heart was not in his work like it used to be. He resorted to shoddy craftmanship and used inferior materials for building the last house of his career. It was an unfortunate way to end his career. When the carpenter completed the house and the employer came to inspect the home.

He looked around the house, and just before he exited the house, he handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.” This was a massive surprise to the carpenter. Although it was supposed to be a good surprise, he wasn’t feeling good as he felt a deep shame inside him. If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in a home that wasn’t built that well.

Moral: Like the carpenter, we build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up with less rather than the best. Give your best. Your attitudes and the choices you make today will be your life tomorrow; build it wisely.


12. Build like a Child

short stories about life- career

On a warm summer at a beautiful beach, a little boy on his knees scoops and packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bucket. He upends the bucket on the surface and lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created. He works all afternoon spooning out the moat, packing the walls, building sentries with bottle tops and bridges with Popsicle sticks. Finally, with his hours of hard work on the beach, a sandcastle will be made.

In a big city with busy streets and rumbling traffic, a man works in an office.  He shuffles papers into stacks, delegates assignments, cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. He juggles with numbers, contracts get signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made. All his life, he will work. He was formulating the plans and forecasting the future. His annuities will be sentries, and Capital gains will be bridged. An empire will be built.

The two builders of the two castles have very much in common. They both shape granules into grandeurs. They both make something beautiful out of nothing. They both are very diligent and determined to build their world. And for both, the tide will rise, and the end will come. Yet, that is where the similarities cease. The little boy sees the end of his castle while the man ignores it. As the dusk approaches and the waves near, the child jumps to his feet and begins to clap as the waves wash away his masterpiece. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He is not surprised; he knew this would happen. He smiles, picks up his tools and takes his father’s hand, and goes home.

The man in his sophisticated office is not very wise like the child. As the wave of years collapses on his empire, he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He tries to block the waves with the walls he made. He snarls at the incoming tide. “It’s my castle,” he defies. The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs.

Go ahead and build your dreams, but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets, and the tides take – applaud. Salute the process of life and go home with a smile.


13. A  cup and  coffee 

Short story about life -Coffee Cup

A group of highly established alumni got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation among them soon turned into complaints about their stressful work and life. The professor went to his kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups, including porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive and some exquisite. The professor told them to help themselves with the coffee.

After all the students had a cup of coffee in their hands, the professor said: “Did you notice all the nice looking cups are taken, and only the plain inexpensive ones are left behind. While it is normal for everyone to want the best for themselves, but that is the source of problems and stress in your life. “The cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most of the cases, it’s just more expensive and hides what we drink.”, the professor continued.

“What  all of you wanted was coffee, not the cup, but all of you consciously went for good-looking expensive cups and then began eyeing on each other’s cups.”

“Let’s consider that life is the coffee, and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position are the cups. However, the type of cup we have does not define or change the quality of our lives.”

Moral: Sometimes, we fail to enjoy the coffee by concentrating only on the cup we have. Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s around you is perfect. It means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections and find peace. And the peace lies within you, not in your career, jobs, or the houses you have.


14. A funny Joke

Once a wise man held a seminar to teach people how to get rid of sorrows in their life. Many people gathered to hear the wise man’s words. The man entered the room and told a hilarious joke to the crowd. The crowd roared in laughter.

After a couple of minutes, he told them the same joke, and only a few of them smiled.

When he told the same joke for the third time, no one laughed anymore.

The wise man smiled and said,” You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over. So why do you cry over the same problem over and over?”


15. Two Neighbors

A wise and successful man bought a beautiful house with a vast orchard. But, not all were happy for him. An envious man lived in an old house next to him. He constantly tried to make his fellow neighbor’s stay in the beautiful house as miserable as possible. He threw garbage under his gate and did other nasty things.

One fine day the wise man woke up in a good mood and went into the porch to notice buckets of garbage thrown there. The man took a bucket, cleaned his porch. He carried a bucket and went to knock on his envious neighbor’s door. 

The envious neighbor heard a knock at his door and gleefully thought, “I finally got him!”. He answered his door, ready to quarrel with his prosperous neighbor.  However, the wise man gave him a bucket of freshly picked apples, saying, “The one who is rich in something, shares it with others.”


16. Changing Vision

There once lived a wealthy man who was bothered by severe eye pain. He consulted many physicians,  but none could treat his ache.  He went through a myriad of treatment procedures, but his pain persisted with more vigor. He looked for every available solution for his pain and approached a wise monk renowned for treating various illnesses. The monk carefully observed the man’s eyes and offered a very peculiar solution.

The monk told the man to concentrate only on the green color for a few weeks and avoid other colors. The man was desperate to get rid of the pain and was determined, ready to go to any extent. The wealthy man appointed a group of painters, purchased green paint barrels and directed that every object, his eye was likely to fall to be painted green.

After a few weeks, the monk came to visit the man to follow up on the man’s progress. As the monk walked towards the man’s room, the appointed painter poured a bucket of green paint on the monk.  The monk could see that the whole corridor and the room were painted green. As the monk inquired about the reason for painting everything green, the wealthy man said that he was only following the monk’s advice to look at only green.

Hearing this, the monk laughed and said, “If only you had purchased a pair of green spectacles worth just a few dollars, You could have saved a large share of your fortune. You cannot paint the world green.”

Moral: Let us change our vision, and the world will appear accordingly.


17. A boat for all feelings

Once there was an island where all the feelings and emotions lived together. One day a big storm from the sea was about to drown the island. Every emotion on the island was scared, but Love made a boat to escape. All the feelings jumped in the boat except for one sense. Love got down to see who it was. It was Ego! Love tried its best to bring Ego to the boat, but Ego didn’t move. Everyone asked Love to leave Ego and come in the boat, but Love was meant to Love. It remained with Ego. All other feelings were left alive, but Love died because of Ego!


18. Waiting for rabbit suicide

Once there lived a lazy farmer who did not enjoy working hard in the fields. He spent his days napping under a tree. One day, while he was resting under a tree, a fox came chasing a rabbit. There was a loud THUMP–the rabbit had crashed into the tree and died.

The farmer picked up the dead rabbit and took it home, frustrating the hell out of the fox. The farmer cooked and ate the rabbit for dinner and sold its fur at the market. The farmer thought to himself, “If I could get a rabbit-like that every day, I’d never have to work again.”

The next day, the farmer went right back to the tree and waited for another rabbit to die similarly. He saw a few rabbits, but none of them ran into the tree-like before. Indeed, it was a very rare incident, but the farmer did not realize it. “Oh well,” he thought cheerfully, “There’s always tomorrow.” Since he was just waiting for the rabbit to hit a tree and die, he did not give any attention to his field. Weeds grew in his rice field. Soon, the farmer had to be hungry as he ran out of his rice and never caught any other rabbit too.

Moral: Do not wait for good things to come without doing anything. Do not give your life to luck without working for success.


19. Twenty Dollar Bill

A well-known speaker started his seminar by holding up a brand new twenty-dollar bill. In the room filled with people, he asked if anyone would like to have his $20 bill. Hands in the rooms started going up. He crumpled and crumbled the bill and asked the crowd if anyone was still interested in having the bill. The hands were still up, signing that people still wanted the crumpled $20 bill.

He then dropped the bill on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked up, now crumpled and dirty $20 bill. “Does anyone still wants the bill?” he asked. Still, the hands went into the air.

The speaker said, “Today, we have all learned a valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the bill, you still wanted it because it did not lose its value.”

“Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as we are worthless, but no matter what happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.”

Moral: Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, we are priceless. The worth of our lives comes not from where we are from or who we know, but from who we are.

20. The Little Wave:

The Little wave Story about Life

A little wave was bobbing along in the ocean and was having a grand old time. He was enjoying the wind and the fresh air as it traveled– until he noticed that all the other waves in front of him were crashing against the shore. “Oh My God, this terrible,” The little wave thought. “Look what is happening to all the other waves, and I will have to face the same fate!”

When the little wave was in a state of panic, another wave came across and asked the little wave, “Why are you distressed, my friend?”

The little wave said, “We are all going to crash against the shore and face our end! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?”

The second wave answered with a smile, “No, you don’t understand. You’re not just a wave; you are a part of the ocean.”

21. Start with yourself

The following words were written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the Crypts of Westminster Abbey: 

When I was young and free, and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. 

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. 

And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed my life first, then by example, I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.


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