13 Inspirational Short Stories that Will Shake You to Your Core

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In this post you’re going to learn about some of the most amazing inspirational stories ever told.

It’s hard to know whether some of them are true as they have been told for thousands of years.

However, one thing is for sure — these stories will inspire, move, and motivate you in ways that cannot be explained.

These stories will help you see how you can become a better person by loving yourself and treating others as you would like to be treated.

So get ready to laugh, love, cry and be inspired by these short stories…

#1. Elephant and a Rope

The elephant and a rope inspirational story.

A man was walking through an elephant camp and noticed that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains.

All that was holding them back from escaping, was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.

It was obvious that these massive animals could break away from their bonds but for some reason, they didn’t.

Curious and wanting to know the reasoning behind this, the man asked a nearby trainer why the elephants didn’t try to break loose.

The trainer replied;

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

The only reason why the elephants didn’t attempt to break free is that from a very young age they had been conditioned to believe that escaping was an impossible task.

Moral of the story:

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life believing that we cannot achieve something, simply because we were tied down by an erroneous belief?

Don’t be an elephant — break your rope and get rid of your limiting beliefs. Start believing in yourself because if you don’t, all of your goals in life will seem impossible to reach.

#2. A Group of Frogs

Inspirational story about a group of frogs

As a group of frogs was traveling through the woods, two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, they told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them.

However, the two frogs decided to ignore what the others were saying and they proceeded to try and jump out of the pit.

Despite their efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they should just give up. That they would never make it out.

Eventually, one of the frogs took heed to what the others were saying and he gave up, falling down to his death. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die.

He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?”

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Moral of the story:

On your journey to the top, you will encounter many naysayers — Don’t allow them to hold you back and keep jumping until you reach your goal.

Also, understand that your words can have a big effect on other people’s lives so use them wisely.

#3. Father and Son

Inspirational story about a father and sun on how the rich and poor live.

One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how the poor lived.

They spent there several days on the farm of what he considered was a very poor family. On their return, the father asked his son, if he liked the trip.

“Oh, it was great dad,” the son replied.

“Did you see how poor people did?” the father asked. ‘Oh Yeah,’ said the son.

 “So what did you learn from the trip?’ asked the father.

The son replied:

I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a river that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.

The boy’s father was left speechless. Then the son added, “thank you, dad, for letting me see how poor we are.”

Moral of the story:

There is a popular saying that states “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” In other words, you are the one who decides what value to place on everything around you.

Material things are nice, but they should not be your definition of wealth.

#4. The Fence

inspirational story about a wall full of nails

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down.

He discovered it was easier to control his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

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. He said:

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 of the story:

Sometimes verbal wounds are more damaging than physical ones.

Learn to control your anger and try to avoid saying hurtful things to others because the wounds you create might never heal.

#5. The Blind Girl

Inspirational story about a blind girl

There was a blind girl who hated herself just because she was blind. She hated everyone, except for her boyfriend who was always there for her.

She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry her boyfriend.

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her and then she could see everything, including her boyfriend.

He took her hand and said, “now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”

The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying:

Just take care of my eyes dear.

Moral of the story:

Don’t turn a blind eye to the people that have helped you throughout your life. Thank them and return the favor many times over if you get the chance.

Even if minuscule in your eyes, you never know what sacrifices others had to make to help you.

#6. The Important Things in Life

professor inspires students with an empty jar

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car, ect. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

Moral of the story

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your priorities are and don’t lose sight of them because of the small things that always get in the way.

#7. Mistakes

Inspirational story about how thomas edison failed 2,000 times before inventing the lightbulb

Thomas Edison tried two thousand different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.”

Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”

Moral of the story

There is great debate as to whether Thomas Edison invented the first lightbulb or not, but no one can deny his perseverance in the face of defeat.

Humans are not perfect. You will make many mistakes in life — learn from them and continue along until you get the result that you’re looking for.

#8. The Crow and the Pitcher

the crow and the pitcher inspirational story

In a spell of dry weather, when Birds could find very little to drink, a thirsty Crow found a pitcher with a little water in it. But the pitcher was high and had a narrow neck, and no matter how he tried, the Crow could not reach the water.

The poor thing felt as if he must die of thirst.

Then an idea came to him. Picking up some small pebbles, he dropped them into the pitcher one by one. With each pebble the water rose a little higher until at last, it was near enough so he could drink.

Moral of the story

Little by little you can accomplish a lot.

Sometimes your goals might seem unreachable and thoughts of giving up will cross your mind. However, if you just take it one step at a time, you might be surprised by what you can accomplish.

#9. The Woodcutter

woodcutter story about sharpening your axe

Once upon a time, there was a very strong woodcutter. He asked for a job from a timber merchant and he got it.

The pay was good and so was the working conditions and for that reason the woodcutter was determined to do his very best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area in the forest where he was to work.

The first day the wood-cutter cut down 18 trees. His boss was extremely impressed and said, “Well done. Keep it up. You are our best wood-cutter yet.” 

Motivated by his boss’s words, the woodcutter tried even harder the next day, but he only cut down 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder but only cut down 10 trees.

Day after day the woodcutter cut down fewer and fewer trees. His boss came to him and told him that if he did not chop down more trees each day he would lose his job.

The woodcutter needed the job, so he tried harder and harder. He worked during his lunch breaks and tea breaks, but still he could not cut down enough trees.

I must be losing my strength,” the woodcutter thought to himself. He worked over-time, but still it was not enough.

Eventually, his boss came to him and told him he was fired. The woodcutter was really upset, but he knew that he had worked as hard as he could and just did not have enough time to chop more trees. He sadly handed his axe back.

The boss took one look at the axe and asked, “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?

The woodcutter replied:

 I have never sharpened my axe. I have been too busy trying to cut down trees.

Moral of the story

Abraham Lincoln once said:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” 

Never stop sharpening your skills — there’s always room for growth.

#10. A Box of Kisses

inspirational story about a little girl who gives her father a gold box of kisses

Some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.” He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found the box was empty.

He yelled at her, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside it?”

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, ”Oh, Daddy, it is not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy.”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.

It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for years and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

Moral of the story

You never know what surprises life will throw your way.

Think before you react — and most importantly, if you don’t know the reasoning behind something… ask questions!

#11. A Dish of Ice Cream

a dish of ice cream sundae inspirational story about a little boy

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?”

“50 cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it.

“How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient.

“35 cents,” she said brusquely.

The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw.

There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw.

There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip.

Moral of the story

Don’t judge a book by its cover — always treat others the way you would like to be treated.

#12. Value

professor show students the value of money in this inspirational story about a $20 dollar bill

A popular speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. A crowd of 200 had gathered to hear him speak. He asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”

200 hands went up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” He crumpled the bill up.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

All 200 hands were still raised.

“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” Then he dropped the bill on the ground and stomped on it with his shoes.

He picked it up, and showed it to the crowd. The bill was all crumpled and dirty.

“Now who still wants it?”

All the hands still went up and the speaker said:

My friends, I have just shown you a very important lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.

Moral of the story

Think of yourself as that $20 bill… Just because you are going through a rough patch doesn’t mean your value diminishes.

Your self-worth should always be sky high and anyone who disagrees should be pushed to the curb.

#13. The Starfish

inspirational story about a boy saving a starfish on the beach.
Cartoon seascape. Cartoon and vector illustration

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 of the story

Everything you do in life matters regardless of how meaningless it might seem so make it count.

Bonus: Your Bank Account

inspiration on how to better use your time to achieve your goals

Imagine you had a bank account that deposited $86,400 each morning. The account carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.

What would you do? Draw out every dollar each day!

We all have such a bank. Its name is Time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever time you have failed to use wisely.

It carries over no balance from day to day. It allows no overdraft so you can’t borrow against yourself or use more time than you have.

Each day, the account starts fresh. Each night, it destroys an unused time. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, it’s your loss and you can’t appeal to get it back.

There is never any borrowing time. You can’t take a loan out on your time or against someone else’s. The time you have is the time you have and that is that.

Time management is yours to decide how you spend the time, just as with money you decide how you spend the money.

It is never the case of us not having enough time to do things, but the case of whether we want to do them and where they fall in our priorities.


Inspirational stories are a good way to get back on track.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives that we lose focus on what we want out of life.

So much so that we forget the importance that we need to place on ourselves and others.

I hope you’re able to find a little nugget of useful information in each of the above mentioned inspirational stories.

If you love inspirational stores be sure to grab the following books:

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