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10 Most Inspirational Short Stories That Are Deeply Thought Provoking



Stories have the power to draw you in and feed you life lesson without you even realizing. Whether it’s movies, storytelling, or books, we’re drawn to stories.

Ever since we were young, we were told fables and folktales which usually had a moral behind the story. Story telling is one of the most exciting methods of teaching. Some stories have the power to change the reader or listener.

Here are 10 Inspiring Short Stories Selected That Are Deeply Thought Provoking!

1. The Man in The Train

A young man in his twenties was looking out the train window. He suddenly exclaimed, “Father, look at the trees! They are going behind!”

The father smiled, 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 old man smiled and said, “We did and we are just coming from the hospital. My son was blind since birth. He just got his vision today.”

Moral: Don’t judge a book by its cover. People tend to jump to conclusions about people they don’t even know. More often than not, their judgment turns out to be entirely wrong. Just like how a stranger wouldn’t be able to know who you are and what your story is, you don’t know anything about them either.

2. The Elephant and The Rope

A man was passing through an elephant camp, when he spotted the elephants were tied to a small piece of rope on one of their legs. He was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try to at all. Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape.

The trainer replied, “When they are very young and much smaller, we used the same sized rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe that they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp was that over time they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible.

Moral: Of course, we understand that elephants in real don’t try to break free because they’ve experienced years of tortured training. What the story is trying to say, is that we are just like the elephants in the story. We’ve been told that we can’t do certain things so we never try. Never let other people determine what you can and cannot do. Make your decisions based on your will and desires.

Related: 22 Most Empowering Beyonce Quotes To Inspire You

3. The Black Pebble

There was a small business owner who owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking guy that just so happened to fancy the business owner’s daughter. He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. However, the catch was that he would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the daughter. Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust.

The loan-shark said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black. The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped, but the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.

Standing on a pebble-strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. Whilst he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.

The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done:
1. Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag. 2. Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating. 3. Pick a pebble from the bag fully well knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom.

She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles. She said to the loan-shark; “Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt.

Moral: Life throws tough challenges your way sometimes, when it does, try to think outside of the box. You will find your solution when you make the effort to have a wide perspective on the problem.

Related: 25 Wittiest Tyrion Lannister Quotes to Keep You on Top of Your Life

4. The Boulder in The Road

A long time ago, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. He then hid himself and watched the road to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way. Many respected men and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.

Most of the people loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the stone out of the way. A peasant then came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to push the stone out of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.

When the peasant went back to pick up his vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King explaining that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

Moral: Every obstacle you face on your way, is an opportunity for you to prove yourself and learn valuable lessons. The lazy complain of their troubles that never go away, while the ones who work hard overcome their problems and become stronger.

Related: Top 33 Denzel Washington Quotes On Success and Hardships

5. The Butterfly

A man once found a cocoon of a butterfly. There was a small opening in the cocoon so, he sat and watched for several hours as the butterfly struggled to force its body through the little hole. Until, it suddenly stopped making any progress and looked like it was stuck. So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man didn’t think anything of it and sat there waiting for the wings to enlarge and support the butterfly. But that didn’t happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.

Despite the kind heart of the man, he didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle needed by the butterfly to get itself through the small opening; were nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings. To prepare itself for flying once it was out of the cocoon.

Moral: The struggles and difficulties you go through in life, are essential parts of your growth as a human being. When you always opt for the easy way out, it narrows down your possibilities. Face your obstacles with strong will and persistent mind; when you come out struggling through the other end, you will have become a better version of yourself.

6. The Boy Who Learned A Life Lesson

There once was a little boy who had a very bad temper. His father decided to hand him a bag of nails and said that every time the boy lost his temper, he had to hammer a nail into the fence.

On the first day, the boy hammered 37 nails into that fence. The boy gradually began to control his temper over the next few weeks, and the number of nails he was hammering into the fence slowly decreased. He discovered it was easier to control his temper than to hammer those nails into the fence.

Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father the news and the father suggested that the boy should now pull out a nail every day he kept his temper under control.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

“You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

Moral: Lashing out when you’re angry will never result in solving the issue. The things you blurt out when you can’t control your temper, can have a lasting effect. One’s temper should always be kept in check. The better you are at managing your temper, the less likelier you are to make things bad for yourself.

7. The Wise Man

People have been coming to the wise man, complaining about the same problems every time. One day he told them a joke and everyone 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 are you always crying about the same problem?”

Moral: Constantly being worried about your problems aren’t going to make it easier. Over-thinking your difficulties will stress you out and lead you into depression. As the wise man said, stop crying about the same problems, instead, try to solve them by having a broader view.

8. The Starfish Story

An old man walked across the beach until he came across a young boy throwing something into the breaking waves. Upon closer inspection, the old man could see that the boy was tossing stranded starfish from the sandy beach, back into the ocean.

“What are you doing, young man?” He asked.

“If the starfish are still on the beach when the sun rises, they will die,” the boy answered.

“That is ridiculous. There are thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. It doesn’t matter how many you throw in; you can’t make a difference.”

“It matters to this one,” the boy said as he threw another starfish into the waves. “And it matters to this one.”

Moral: One person can make the biggest difference for another, if only you want to. If a single person tried to help someone in need, it could a bring a significant change in the life of that person. Remember, the ocean is made up of millions of drops of water. So, never think you are too tiny to make a difference.

Related: 25 Greatest Margaret Mead Quotes On How You Can Change The World

9. Secret To Success

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 next morning for the answer. The next morning 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. Socrates pulled the man’s head out of the water. The young man gasps 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: When you desire something, and are willing to push your limits to achieve it, you will be successful. A person who only half-heartedly works to achieve their goals, will have a hard time accomplishing anything. So, if you want something, give it your best or don’t try at all.

10. 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 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 the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth of their togetherness. This way they were able to survive.

Moral: There is power in unity. When the storm is too dangerous for you to brave along, there’s no shame in seeking help from your close ones. Those who are too prideful to ask for help will never know the joy of fighting the battle of life along with our friends and family.

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