a life story

How to write your life story: 7 tips to start

Aspiring autobiographers often mail us asking, ‘how can I write my own story?’ Try these 7 life writing tips to start:

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 62 Comments on How to write your life story: 7 tips to start

a life story

Aspiring autobiographers often mail us asking, ‘how can I write my own personal story?’

How can I craft a compelling narrative?’ It can seem like a daunting task writing and researching your life experiences.

It can be a challenging writing project, but a valuable and creative one. It’s a chance to organise the narrative arc of your life, key impactful moments in your life, reappraise where you’ve been and where you’re going. You’ll also see what life lessons you have experienced and can share that with readers. It can be a rewarding creative writing project. 

There are several book genres to consider when writing a life story: autobiography (a whole sweep of a life), memoir (which tends to focus on a theme, or a particular time in one’s history), or an essay collection. 

Try these seven life writing tips to start:

1. Decide whether you’ll write non-fiction or fictionalize

There are many ways to approach life writing. You could follow a non-fiction approach and set down dates, facts and memories as close to events as they occurred as possible.

Another option is to fictionalize and blur the line between fact and fiction. This approach to life writing may be useful if you want to:

  • Protect your identity or those of others while writing about trauma or difficult subject matter
  • Experiment with elements of fiction and a playful approach even if you are wanting to write it as a nonfiction book of real-life events. 

Hedi Lampert, one of our writing coaches, takes this approach in her fictionalized memoir, My Life with my Aunt. Although it’s based on a true story, there are many fictionalised elements in it.

Although you might go with a non-fiction approach, add all the elements of fiction that you need to. For example, include strong characters (build them up in the reader’s mind), flesh out the supporting cast, include description, use the five senses as much as possible, include dialogue, and so on. 

Example of experimental life writing: Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes

The French theorist Roland Barthes begins his memoirs with a preface that reads:

It must all be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel. Roland Barthes,  Roland Barthes  (1977).

Barthes proceeds to give the reader fragments written in the third person , alternating with captioned photographs from his youth. For example, in one fragment titled ‘Arrogance’ he writes:

He has no affection for proclamations of victory. Troubled by the humiliations of others, whenever a victory appears somewhere, he wants to go somewhere else . Barthes,  Roland Barthes ,  p. 46.

Describing himself in the third person, Barthes gives the reader insights into his views and values, as an ordinary autobiography might . Yet in their fragmentary, third-person presentation (without narrative), they become like brief, philosophical musings, rather than a traditional linear ‘story’ with character development. The memoir is told very much in the voice of a theorist and scholar of language.

How to write your story - quote by Mary Karr | Now Novel

2. Choose an approach to time

Time is an interesting element to conside r when deciding how to write your life story.

For example, will your book cover birth to the present day? Or a few weeks or months spanning either side of a momentous life event?

First-person narrators in fiction give us examples of narrative approaches to time we can also adopt in writing about our lives.

For example, the title character of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield begins his story by describing the setting for his birth:

To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. Charles Dickens,  David Copperfield  (1850), p. 5 (1992 Wordsworth Editions).

After detailing the day and time of his birth, David goes into closer setting detail:

I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or ‘thereby,’ as they say in Scotland. I was a posthumous child. My father’s eyes had closed upon the light of this world six months, when mine opened on it. Dickens,  David Copperfield,  p. 6.

This approach to time gives a linear sense of the way a life progresses, from childhood. It’s a common narrative approach in many bildungsromans (coming-of-age stories).

You can also, however, experiment with time in writing your life story.

You could start with a significant event that happened later in adulthood, for example, and circle back to past scenes that illuminate backstory and help the reader to understand what led up to later events.

As you plan how you’ll write  time in your life story, ask, ‘What would provide the strongest dramatic effect?’

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3. Do what you need to set aside any fear

Many writers feel daunted when embarking on a new project. This is often particularly acute when writing about more personal experiences or real life where you don’t have the protective veil of fictional characters.

When the acclaimed biographer of Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee, was asked whether fear is a useful emotion for a biographer, she replied:

The fear has to be channeled somehow into the energy of the work. While you’re doing it, I think you have to feel that she is yours and you alone understand her. But in order to arrive at that feeling you have to deal with, and master, your apprehension. Hermione Lee, interview in ‘Hermione Lee, The Art of Biography No. 4’ for The Paris Review, available here . 

Lee goes on to describe how the biographer Richard Homes coped with this feeling. He said:

I get to my desk every morning and I hear these little voices saying, ‘He doesn’t know what he’s doing!’ and I raise my arm and I just sweep , I sweep them off the desk.’

Find your own way to silence any fear, be it changing key figures’ names or even fictionalizing your life entirely.

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Writing your life story is a journey of discovery and reflection. Navigate it with an expert by your side. Our private coaching offers personalized feedback, encouragement, and the critical insights needed to transform your personal experiences into a captivating narrative. Let us help you tell your story with authenticity and emotional depth.

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4. Summarize significant events to cover

Any one person’s life is a massive archive or trove of significant experiences and memories. As Hermione Lee says, the immensity of this ‘source material’ can feel overwhelming.

As a preparatory step in deciding how to write your life story, summarize key events you want to include. Try to write just two lines for each incident or scene you’re thinking of including (you can create and organize scene summaries in our Scene Builder tool ). This will help you plot the key points of your life story, and may even help you with arranging the story thematically. If not already apparent, the narrative arc of your story will become apparent.

You’ll also see what life lessons you have experienced and can share that with readers. Remember you don’t have to write your entire life story from year dot.

Another important point is to remember to describe in detail. Sometimes when we are writing from memory or the ‘mind’s eye’, because the landscape in our recollections is familiar to us, we sometimes don’t describe things. We might say, ‘We lived in that house for ten years.’ We can see the house, because it’s so deep in our memory, but the reader can’t. Describe the house: ‘It had redbrick and a red tiled roof and small windows that let in hardly any light.’ That tells the reader a lot more than ‘that house’.

At the heart of great life writing (as with great fiction), there’s often a main internal conflict and/or an external conflict. A key tension or experience the autobiographer confronts. Tweet This

For example:

  • A moment of awakening or discovery of purpose
  • Family or personal trauma
  • Career or financial difficulties: retrenchment, having to sell your home 
  • Relationship troubles
  • A breakup or divorce 
  • Birth of a child
  • Death of someone significant

What core experience (or group of experiences) will your story frame?

5. Allow your authentic voice

As in fiction, in life writing the voice of the memoir author helps to create a distinct sense of character.

The acclaimed memoirist and poet Mary Karr gives excellent advice to aspiring life-writers on voice in her book The Art of Memoir (2015). Writes Karr:

Each great memoir lives or dies based 100 percent on voice. It’s the delivery system for the author’s experience—the big bandwidth cable that carries in lustrous clarity every pixel of someone’s inner and outer experiences. Mary Karr,  The Art of Memoir  (2015), p. 35.

Karr cautions against covering up aspects of your own voice to appear more palatable a person to readers. She says:

The voice should permit a range of emotional tones – too wise-ass, and it denies pathos; too pathetic, and it’s shrill. It sets and varies distance from both the material and the reader – from cool and diffident to high-strung and close. The writer doesn’t choose these styles so much as he’s born to them, based on who he is and how he experienced the past. Karr, p. 36.

Infographic on how to write your life story | Now Novel

6. Avoid telling the truth in oversimplified terms

In Karr’s chapter, ‘The Truth Contract Twixt Writer and Reader’, she discusses the value of telling the truth (rather than ‘pumping yourself up’ for your audience):

How does telling the truth help a reader’s experience, though? Let’s say you had an awful childhood – tortured and mocked and starved every day – hit hard with belts and hoses, etc. You could write a repetitive, duller-than-a-rubber-knife misery memoir. But would that be “true”? And true to how you keep it boxed up now, or to lived experience back then? Back then, those same abusers probably fed you something, or you’d have died. Karr, p. 2.

What Karr’s words strike at is that the ‘truth’ is often something more complex than what makes us look good (or others look bad).

One of the important lessons in learning how to write your life story is how to portray people not simply as heroes and villains. Indeed, to rather show the bits of life between people’s better and worse choices that flesh out more complex portraits, with more colours (and more shades of grey). As Karr says:

It’s the disparities in your childhood, your life between ass-whippings, that throws past pain into stark relief for a reader. Karr, p. 2.

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Ready to write your life story but not sure where to start? Sign up for a Now Novel account. Brainstorm your story idea, create compelling character profiles, and share your work for community feedback. Begin crafting your life narrative today.

7. Get help pulling your life story into shape

Writing memoir or a fictionalized autobiography is challenging because you are dealing not only with the standard elements of story (conflict, narrative, voice and more) but also personal areas. Some of these may be more challenging to revisit (or capture in prose) than others.

Due to the many challenges involved (including the challenge of subjectivity), don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Karr writes about sending people she’s included in memoirs manuscript drafts to ensure embellishment does not disservice the person or the story. Beta readers may provide valuable input, more so if they were bystanders or active participants in the events you describe.

You can also get help from a writing coach who will help you begin weaving personal experience and anecdote into a better, fuller story.

Related Posts:

  • How to write a biography: 7 life-writing ideas
  • How to write memoir: 9 ideas for a vivid slice of life
  • How do you write a dystopian story? 5 tips
  • Tags how to start writing a memoir

a life story

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

62 replies on “How to write your life story: 7 tips to start”

am 15 yrs old I’m writing my own story.Thanks

Hi Desmond, good luck writing your story. Thank you for reading our articles!

Hello. I enjoyed reading your tips, in fact I am copying them off for reference if that is ok. I began the memoir/life story before and lost all my data with computer failure. Dumb me, lesson learned to back things up on a couple of flash drives so that doesn’t happen again. So, I am beginning again, after reading your notes here that may have been a blessing in disguise as I have learned so much reading your article. Thank you for publishing this, it will be invaluable as I begin again!! 🙂

Hi Jenny, thank you for reading! Please do feel free to copy anything for reference. I’m so sorry to hear about your data loss, that is frustrating. Glad you’re creating backups this time around, though. Have a creative, inspired 2021, from all of us at Now Novel.

Good day I don’t have a comment but I would love to write my life story as I know it could you help me on this matter thank you.

Hi Catherine, thank you for sharing that. Go for it! I would say start by creating a list of life events you feel would be important to include. Look within them for a good starting point, is there a specific, pivotal event out of which the rest of your life story could unfold in narrative?

If you share a little more about what aspect of your life is compelling you to write (you can email us at [email protected] ) I’m sure we can provide more detailed, specific help.

Hi Jordan, am happy that this morning i came across your article, the artcle mae a good start of writing my own life story. i have been thinking on how to start for a while but now i see my path. Thanks.

Hi Joyce, I’m happy to hear that this article was helpful and you can see the path ahead. I hope you make great progress and discover many moments of excitement and revelation as you proceed.

[…] https://www.nownovel.com/blog/how-to-write-your-life-story/ […]

Hand written my not finished book of 350 A4 Pages

Hi Freda, that sounds like an epic, impressive to have written it by hand. Good luck with what remains of the process.

Hi, my son gave me an empty book pages cover with my childhood pictures.I started some lines. Actually I was searching a writer about my Sisters life story which is very interesting. You’re Tips are good.

Hi Cloty, that sounds a lovely gesture on your son’s part. It’s interesting that you’d like to write your sister’s life story, is there a reason you’d prefer to write about her life rather than your own? Good luck with it, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed our articles.

Very good guide lines

Thank you, Cloty!

I’ve given a lot of thought to writing my story, and haven’t been sure how to get started. I’ve finally been doing some digging, and came across this article. My experience to date is blogging, so a book seems intimidating, but broken down like this it’s a little less scary. I think I’ll create an account here, see what else you have to offer!

Hi Tara, thank you for sharing that. Being a blogger you already have some good writing experience, I’m sure. That is the trick, breaking it down into manageable, less daunting tasks. Please do, and thanks for reading our blog!

Hello Jordan. I am writing a life story but specifically the love interests and most memorable experiences. Your tips have been so helpful. My main problem is that I don’t know whether to write separate chapters for each or separate short stories for each because the timelines overlap a lot. Please help.

Hi Lindo, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found the Now Novel blog helpful. It depends whether you have a running narrative thread (if the individual love stories add up to a specific outcome or growth or other arc) or each is more fragmentary/discontinuous (despite the timeline overlap).

If the latter, I would suggest short stories as if there’s no narrative end-point (for example, a new learning or insight these love interests and experiences lead to), then each might be more self-contained. Sending the stories as a collection to an editor would likely help, as this would firstly polish the individual pieces but an evaluation could also give insights into how to connect them all together.

I hope this is helpful, keep going!

Hello and thank you. I enjoyed reading your article. I am considering writing my life story however I am not sure of whether I would like to write an actual tell all/novel/biography-book or if I would actually like to write a screenplay instead. A lot of your methods can be translated the same way when writing a screenplay. I would eventually like my story to become a movie. Should I write the book 1st or just go straight to the screenplay? Which is a better route?

Hi Tony, thank you for your interesting question. Many screenplays are based on novels or biographies and I think it helps to write in book-from first, since you then have the shape of the story down, the research (if needed) and other elements such as characterization in place. From there you could whittle and carve the best possible use of mise en scene , dialogue etc. out of what you have. It would be an interesting way to build a sound framework for a tauter screenplay in other words, I’d say.

I need to write my life stories but is confused. I know it can change someone’s life or journey . I have been saying this for 20 years or more ….why am I not doing it ? ….

Hi Dawn, thank you for sharing that. All I will say is: Start! 🙂 And thank you for reading our blog.

I want to write my life stories very interesting, but some negative idea comes to my mind. That is my story is not so much important, i am not knowen person any field of work,…etc. But now i get clues ,so i am initate to write my own autobiography.

Hi Zenenbe, I’m glad you’re writing regardless of those doubts. It’s natural to have doubts, but there are stories worth telling and sharing in every life – whether the teller is famous/well-known or not ?. Good luck!

Your tips are very helpful. I have started entering short stories competitions (written in first person)for practice! Now starting on Fictional/factual life story and find Tip 1 and 3 helpful to give my characters fictional names and feel comfortable also using 3rd person i.e.she. Also more confident about introducing fictional events into my story to make it more compelling for the reader while still being authentic.

Hi Lyn, I’m glad you found this helpful. It’s great you’re entering short story competitions, that’s great practice. Absolutely, many non-fiction authors embellish for the sake of story. Good luck with your contest entries!

Wonderful article. Just wanted to let you know of a new service that helps you in putting together your life story. https://www.huminz.com/ It makes writing your story fun. And then brings your story to life

Hi Etan, thank you and thanks for sharing your web app for memoir-writing, it looks interesting.

It’s been long overdue, I’m 54 yrs old now. I finally have come to terms in writing an autobiography of myself. Life experiences I have encountered from my 1st memory as a child. At the age of 4yrs old, the year was 1971 Christmas Eve. First memory to my life awaken by the Jaws of life. My mind has been a camera through every moment in my life. What would be read on the publisher end, would be so intrigued to see all the drama, hardships. Caught up in how I survived my dilemmas, with all to be said, physically be right their with me. So consumed from your start of my life to relive my nightmare. Totally lost on how I still have so much compassion & love till this day. Never a dull moment adventure ,trauma, abuse, raped, child molesters. I’m ready to bring it all to an end to start a life I was expected to do as child in middle school. Looking forward to replaying the camera that has consumed my eyes & life experiences. Not sure where I will have to submit my book when I have achieved my story.

Hi Kathleen, thank you for sharing that. It’s never too late to share one’s life story (and from the subject matter you mentioned, I’m sure your courage in telling your story could greatly help others who’ve been through similar life experiences). I’m glad you’re looking forward to the process – go for it. Once you have a first draft you could think about submission (for now I’d say focus on the task at hand which is getting the first version of your story down).

I find the article really useful.Thank you so much for the enlightenment. I have more than twice in my lifetime thought of sharing my life story through a book,but have often felt like it was a load of work to do so. But reading through your article and also reading through the comment section,I feel like its the right time.Thank you so much for being an inspiration especially with me as a beginner.

Hi Mere, it’s a pleasure, thank you for reading our blog and for sharing that. Writing is a lot of work, but it’s rewarding work I’d say. I hope you enjoy the process. Feel free to join our writing groups where you can chat to others at a similar stage of the journey.

That is nice,and thanks for that

Ok,I need your help more

Hi Mary, thank you for reading our blog and a Happy New Year to you. What would you like help with? Please feel free to mail us any questions at help at now novel dot com.

Hi , i wanted to write my life story, how to start?? Any help?

Hi Hana, thank you for sharing your question. I would start by brainstorming a list of key/significant events in your life you want to include, as these you can then plan scenes and scene structure around; once you know what experiences in your life you want to tell most. As a guiding principle, I’d suggest brainstorming incidents that are:

  • Emotionally impactful – wins, losses, trials, turning points
  • Illustrative – of where you’re from, who you are, what you value and have learned or overcome

This is a loose starting point but I would say is a good preparatory process for sifting through memories and ideas and finding topics and subtopics to organize your life story around. I hope this helps!

Thank you sir Jordan for sharing these tips. I am planning to write my life story. However, I’ll write a story because of the problems and negative things that happened to me in the past and I’m a little bit shame about my experiences but I want to make a story that can inspire many and motivate them. I also ask on how to start writing. Is there any chapter? and how to divide some events of your life into writing a story.

Hi Joash, it’s a pleasure, and thank you for sharing this. Life-writing can be hard because of this – that there are often traumas and painful experiences one wants to write about but there is often fear attached as sometimes society tells us these areas are taboo; that we aren’t allowed to talk about them.

A writing teacher gave a writing circle I belonged to great advice once – ‘turn the family portraits to the wall’ (in other words, banish silencing figures and, ‘What would uncle so-and-so say?’ from your writing space, if possible). You can edit for sensitivity/intensity in the passages that are uncomfortable later if necessary, but the first draft is for telling yourself the story, and nobody else’s potentially shaming perspectives matter at this stage.

There are many places to start. One of the classic autobiographical starting points is when you were born (what year, place, era, political moment). I would suggest reading a few biographies and taking notes on the opening to see the many possibilities. Ask whether the beginning is effective, what information the author focuses on, whether they start with a description, a statement, or something else. A great biographer to read is Hermione Lee – she has written many acclaimed biographies of famous writers and artists.


It’s a pleasure, Gladys! No need for honorary titles 😊 just ‘Jordan’ is fine. Thank you for reading our blog.

Hi Jordon it’s nice we can communicate with you and take ideas from you I want to start writing and I’m so pleased to know you !

Hi Randa, thank you for reaching out and for reading our blog – it’s good to meet you.

I have been mulling over writing my life story and being asked by many to do so, however, have no clue where to start. I could not write using my own name as the need for my protection for others is immense. What would you suggest?

Thank you for reading this article and for your question. I would suggest changing names if necessary and writing under your own name. You could also change a few fundamental details in the story arcs of the others you wish to protect (and make it so-called creative non-fiction) so as to further obscure their identity or the possibility of readers connecting the story back to the real people involved. If it is possible, you could also ask anyone who features whom you personally know for their permission to be included as a character in your memoir. If they wish to remain anonymous, then changing their name (and some details as suggested above) would help to protect their privacy.

I hope this helps.

Hi Jordan, have been difficulties on to start my life story,what is the best title for the story do i need to mention names.

Hi Gristone, it’s difficult to advise on a title not knowing anything about the scope or subject matter of your memoir. My suggestion would be to look at the memoir and autobiography titles currently selling well and study titles for ideas – where do the titles draw from? The person’s vocation or profession, a specific aspect of their personality, a specific life experience or struggle they overcame?

If you mean mentioning names in your title, not necessarily. It could be descriptive or it could be more straight-up, e.g. ‘[Name}: [Descriptive phrase]’. I hope this helps.

I been searching and collect some ideas how to start my life story which i think can give inspiration , for those who lost hope in life.

Thank you Jordan for this write-up. I plan to write the story of my life and I needed a guide as to how to start.

Hi Ogbu, it’s my pleasure. I hope it was helpful and wish you a good experience in writing your life story. Let me know if you have any further questions.

My book I have been working on for many years has been my life story of more trauma that seems unreal I started from birth of what I read from mom’s and grandma’s diaries in their words then what I remembered. From birth to 15 . Childhood secrets to motherhood at 16 domestic violence and drug abuse. Marriage 25 years of escaping after 9 attempts divorced never free. Stauked violated for years. Gas lighting still to this day and I am 59 years old soon. With the knowledge I know things I would have done differently and want to pass on that to anyone it may help. The name of my book is Broken -Post Vietnam untold stories of a military family what happened after the war. It’s a story of molestation, shame , guilt ,PTSD a lifetime of struggle . A mentally wounded father. And generational mentally wounded family. Most dysfunctional family hidden behind closed doors

Hi Patricia, I’m truly sorry to hear that you’ve been through such traumatic experiences and I commend you for wanting to help others through writing your life story. It’s important as a society we talk about these things and don’t just sweep them under the rug, but it is brave to confront them and bring them to light (and healing, I hope) too. Best of luck with your story. It sounds particularly interesting in that it touches on what it’s like being in a military family, as I know people who had similar experiences in military families. War is traumatizing on multiple levels and its deleterious impact is far-reaching.

hi Jordan, I have always been a bit of a story teller, all through my life in fact. I never really attended school but after my children I decided to go to college as part of an access course into nursing. one of the modules was English at A Level equivalent. I achieved a B in my written work But an A* in my Oral exam. I know this doesn’t make me a writer and I’m certainly not a reader but I can tell a good story, especially if its something factual happening in my life. I have got to an age in my life where I have lived so much love, loss, happiness and drama, not to mention how different things were back when I was a child to society today and I would like to reflect the stages of my life and how I feel emotionally and mentally. I would like to write my life story fictionally but based on true life events and experiences. This is to protect my identity and that of all the people involved due to the content. I don’t want to do it all in one book, 58 years of living my life couldn’t possibly be captured in one go. please can you advise me on where to start

Hi Lucy, Thanks for getting in touch. The article offers great tips for starting out, but one idea is to start by writing short stories inspired by the different stages in your life. You should reflect on any memories that stand out to you, the key points in your life story, then incorporate the details and the emotions that they evoke. If you need more advice, we can recommend our coach Hedi Lampert who has recently made more slots available in her schedule for new clients.

thank you Jordan for this article honestly it helps me so much and i have a lot to learn from it i am 16 and i am trying to write my life story cause i need to talk about a lot of things about like my trauma , absent father , strict mom that give me no freedom and always controlling , being pressure since 9th grade to get a scholarship and till now i am in 11th going to 12th still be pressure trying to be the perfect daughter , sacrifice happiness and mental health in order to get all A’s and whenever something happened to me i am the only that is always there for myself , whenever i cry i wipe my own tears and it has now get to the point i keep telling myself very soon i will old enough to live my life but every time i try to write the story i don’t know where to start from but reading this article just boost my knowledge and one things that bothered me is fear , i don’t know but every time i try to write something i always have fear or even before i started writing i will just start cry for no reason i think maybe cause i am not ready to write then i will give my self time but the same things will repeat it self so my fear and emotions is always holding me back and i don’t know why that happen but every time fear and emotions hold me back so i have now decided how will write it no matter what even though i will end up with red eyes from crying but i will not let my fear take over me , thank you so much for taking time to read this i will love to hear back

Dear Tee Tee, Thanks for writing in. I’m sorry to hear that it’s difficult for you to write your story. This can be something that stops you from starting. I think it’s useful to begin your story, as this is something you want to write about. If you’re not sure where to start, perhaps start by writing some ideas, an outline of what you’d like to write? Or, you could place ideas/themes that you would like to explore, eg: absent father as one theme, strict mother, another theme, and write some ideas of what you’d like to explore in relation to these themes. Hope these ideas resonate with you. Feel free to write in with any further questions.

I am 16 years old and I am starting to write a story about my life and this reading really helped me learn the steps on how to write it and the examples helped to! Thank you for making this reading. It has helped me so much!!

Hello Nevaeh,

That’s so wonderful to hear! Enjoy the writing process!

Great article, which I will share with my writers’ group. I am about two thirds of the way through the first volume of my memoir and conisdering submitting it to an agent with a proposal. I will get it read and edited by a mentor before I go ahead.

Thanks for your comment John! It’s wonderful that you’re writing a memoir. Good luck with it all!

Thanks so much John. Good luck with your memoir!

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Short Stories about Life: 21 Inspirational Short Stories about Life

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 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, and 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, and 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, and 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 if 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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Marty Nemko Ph.D.

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Telling Your Life Story

Two prompts that may make it easier to tell or write your story..

Posted August 5, 2020 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

Source: Trung Bui Viet/Flickr, CC 2.0

Whether you’re 20, 90, or anywhere in between, it can be fun and instructive to write your life story, even if only briefly and told only to yourself.

But many people have difficulty getting started, or they get stuck. Perhaps one of these prompts will make it easier. The first has you chronologically replaying your life. The second tempate helps you describe the life you wish you had.

Your true story

Template: There once was a little ( insert boy or girl ) whose most notable characteristic was that ( insert ). The first important thing that ever happened to him/her was ( insert ). Its effect on him/her was ( insert ). Continue by chronologically, describing each major life event and its effect on you. After having written your most recent event, describe what you hope and what you fear will be the next major event.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was unusually smart. She liked that, but it also got her in trouble: The popular kids were jealous of her and so kept her out of their clique and made fun of her. That made her spend much afterschool time alone: drawing, reading, or in front of a screen.

Her life’s next major event was when she got into Cornell. It was her reach school and she was surprised when she was accepted. Scared, the summer before her first semester, she started reading all the textbooks for her fall courses.

Her next major moment was when she met her husband, a fellow senator in Cornell’s student senate. She fell in love and the relationship was good for a while, but after five years of marriage , they divorced simply because they had grown bored of each other—it was an amicable divorce.

Her next major event was, at age 30, in her job at an eating disorders clinic, when she had her first breakthrough with a client. That made her decide to specialize in eating disorders. Finally, she had found something she felt naturally good at. She is detail-oriented and herself had been obsessive about eating, so she felt she could relate well to such clients.

Now at age 38, she’s looking forward to getting more expert as an eating disorders counselor and although she worries that she’s getting too old to find a great romantic partner and/or to have kids, she wants to try.

The story of the life you wish you had

Template: There once was a boy/girl named (choose a name other than yours). S/he ( insert the most desired characteristic you don’t actually possess ). The first important thing that ever happened to him/her was ( insert an event you wish had occurred early in your life ). It had the effect on him/her of ( insert ). Then chronologically, for each major wished-for event, describe it and say what its effect on you might have been. When you’ve written about your most recent event, describe what would be the next wonderful event, even if, in reality, it’s a long shot.

There was a boy who always managed to stay calm yet fully engaged no matter the situation. As a child, that made him a good peacemaker, stopping kids who might have duked it out or were already fighting.

His next major memory was his acceptance to West Point. While he was scared of basic training and all that discipline, he figured the army would provide good training for becoming a negotiator.

His next major memory was being hired by the New York City Police Department as a hostage negotiator. After two years, he got the opportunity of a lifetime: to talk down a terrorist who in the lobby of the New York Stock Exchange with a radiologic device in his backpack. He succeeded, his name was all over the news, and he received lots of fan mail. One letter was from a woman who appealed to him because of her looks and apparent intelligence and kindness.

His next vivid memory was when they, now married, had a child.

Their next ambition is for him to become a negotiator for the president of the United States or at least the State Department and she to become a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood .

The takeaway

Does your response to either of those prompts suggest anything that you want to do today or in the near future?

I read this aloud on YouTube.

Marty Nemko Ph.D.

Marty Nemko, Ph.D ., is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, California, and the author of 10 books.

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Life’s Stories

How you arrange the plot points of your life into a narrative can shape who you are—and is a fundamental part of being human.

This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic , Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.       

In Paul Murray’s novel Skippy Dies, there’s a point where the main character, Howard, has an existential crisis. “‘It’s just not how I expected my life would be,’” he says.

“‘What did you expect?’” a friend responds.

“Howard ponders this. ‘I suppose—this sounds stupid, but I suppose I thought there’d be more of a narrative arc .’”

But it’s not stupid at all. Though perhaps the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, wouldn’t much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way people choose to tell the stories of their lives, to others and—crucially—to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you’re on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.

“Life stories do not simply reflect personality. They are personality, or more accurately, they are important parts of personality, along with other parts, like dispositional traits, goals, and values,” writes Dan McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, along with Erika Manczak, in a chapter for the APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology.

In the realm of narrative psychology, a person’s life story is not a Wikipedia biography of the facts and events of a life, but rather the way a person integrates those facts and events internally—picks them apart and weaves them back together to make meaning. This narrative becomes a form of identity, in which the things someone chooses to include in the story, and the way she tells it, can both reflect and shape who she is.  A life story doesn’t just say what happened, it says why it was important, what it means for who the person is, for who they’ll become, and for what happens next.

“Sometimes in cases of extreme autism, people don’t construct a narrative structure for their lives,” says Jonathan Adler, an assistant professor of psychology at Olin College of Engineering, “but the default mode of human cognition is a narrative mode.”

When people tell others about themselves, they kind of have to do it in a narrative way—that’s just how humans communicate. But when people think about their lives to themselves, is it always in a narrative way, with a plot that leads from one point to another? There’s an old adage that everyone has a book inside of them. (Christopher Hitchens once said that inside is “exactly where I think it should, in most cases, remain.” ) Is there anyone out there with a life story that’s not a story at all, but some other kind of more disjointed, avant-garde representation of their existence?

“This is an almost impossible question to address from a scientific approach,” says Monisha Pasupathi, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Utah.  Even if we are, as the writer Jonathan Gottschall put it, “storytelling animals,” what does that mean from one person to the next? Not only are there individual differences in how people think of their stories, there’s huge variation in the degree to which they engage in narrative storytelling in the first place.

“Some people write in their diaries and are very introspective, and some people are not at all,” says Kate McLean, an associate professor of psychology at Western Washington University. Journal-keeping, though a way of documenting the life story, doesn’t always make for a tightly-wound narrative. A writer I interviewed several months ago—Sarah Manguso—has kept a diary for 25 years, and still told me, “Narrative is not a mode that has ever come easily to me.”

Nevertheless, the researchers I spoke with were all convinced that even if it’s not 100 percent universal to see life as a story, it’s at least extremely common.

“I think normal, healthy adults have in common that they can all produce a life story,” Pasupathi says. “They can all put one together … In order to have relationships, we’ve all had to tell little pieces of our story. And so it’s hard to be a human being and have relationships without having some version of a life story floating around.”

But life rarely follows the logical progression that most stories—good stories—do, where the clues come together, guns left on mantles go off at the appropriate moments, the climax comes in the third act. So narrative seems like an incongruous framing method for life’s chaos, until you remember where stories came from in the first place. Ultimately, the only material we’ve ever had to make stories out of is our own imagination, and life itself.

Storytelling, then—fictional or nonfictional, realistic or embellished with dragons—is a way of making sense of the world around us.

“Life is incredibly complex, there are lots of things going on in our environment and in our lives at all times, and in order to hold onto our experience, we need to make meaning out of it,” Adler says. “The way we do that is by structuring our lives into stories.”

It’s hardly a simple undertaking. People contain multitudes, and by multitudes, I mean libraries. Someone might have an overarching narrative for her whole life, and different narratives for different realms of her life—career, romance, family, faith. She might have narratives within each realm that intersect, diverge, or contradict each other, all of them filled with the microstories of specific events. And to truly make a life story, she’ll need to do what researchers call “autobiographical reasoning” about the events—“identifying lessons learned or insights gained in life experiences, marking development or growth through sequences of scenes, and showing how specific life episodes illustrate enduring truths about the self,” McAdams and Manczak write.

“Stories don’t have to be really simple, like fairy-tale-type narratives,” McAdams says. “They can be complicated. It can be like James Joyce out there.”

If you really like James Joyce, it might be a lot like James Joyce. People take the stories that surround them—fictional tales, news articles, apocryphal family anecdotes—then identify with them and borrow from them while fashioning their own self-conceptions. It’s a Möbius strip: Stories are life, life is stories.

People aren’t writing their life stories from  birth, though. The ability to create a life narrative takes a little while to come online—the development process gives priority to things like walking, talking, and object permanence. Young children can tell stories about isolated events, with guidance, and much of adolescence is dedicated to learning “what goes in a story … and what makes a good story in the first place,” Pasupathi says. “I don’t know how much time you’ve spent around little kids, but they really don’t understand that. I have a child who can really take an hour to tell you about Minecraft .” Through friends, family, and fiction, children learn what others consider to be good storytelling—and that being able to spin a good yarn has social value.

It’s in the late teens and early years of adulthood that story construction really picks up—because by then people have developed some of the cognitive tools they need to create a coherent life story. These include causal coherence—the ability to describe how one event led to another—and thematic coherence—the ability to identify overarching values and motifs that recur throughout the story. In a study analyzing the life stories of 8-, 12-, 16-, and 20-year-olds, these kinds of coherence were found to increase with age. As the life story enters its last chapters, it may become more set in stone. In one study by McLean , older adults had more thematic coherence, and told more stories about stability, while young adults tended to tell more stories about change.

McAdams conceives of this development as the layering of three aspects of the self. Pretty much from birth, people are “actors.” They have personality traits, they interact with the world, they have roles to play—daughter, sister, the neighbor’s new baby that cries all night and keeps you up. When they get old enough to have goals, they become “agents” too—still playing their roles and interacting with the world, but making decisions with the hopes of producing desired outcomes. And the final layer is “author,” when people begin to bundle ideas about the future with experiences from the past and present to form a narrative self.

This developmental trajectory could also explain why people enjoy different types of fictional stories at different ages. “When you’re a kid, it’s mostly about plot,” McAdams says. “This happens and this happens. You’re not tuned into the idea that a character develops.” Thus, perhaps, the appeal of cartoon characters who never get older.

Recently, McAdams says, his book club read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. “I read it in high school and hated it,” he says. “All I could remember about it was that this sled hits a tree. And we read it recently in the club, and whoa, is it fabulous. A sled does hit the tree, there’s no doubt that is a big scene, but how it changes these people’s lives and the tragedy of this whole thing, it’s completely lost on 18-year-olds. Things are lost on 8-year-olds that a 40-year-old picks up, and things that an 8-year-old found compelling and interesting will just bore a 40-year-old to tears sometimes.”

And like personal taste in books or movies, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are influenced by more than just, well, ourselves. The way people recount experiences to others seems to shape the way they end up remembering those events. According to Pasupathi’s research, this happens in a couple of ways. One is that people tailor the stories they tell to their audiences and the context. (For example, I tell the story of the time I crashed my mom’s car much differently now, to friends, than the way I told it to my mom at the time. Much less crying.)

The other is that the act of telling is a rehearsal of the story, Pasupathi says. “And rehearsal strengthens connections between some pieces of information in your mind and diminishes connections between others. So the things I tell you become more accessible to me and more memorable to me. Those can be pretty lasting effects.” So when people drop the cheesy pick-up line “What’s your story?” at a bar, like a man who nicks his carotid artery while shaving, they’ve accidentally hit upon something vital.

But just as there are consequences to telling, there are consequences to not telling . If someone is afraid of how people might react to a story, and they keep it to themselves, they’ll likely miss out on the enrichment that comes with a back-and-forth conversation. A listener “may give you other things to think about, or may acknowledge that this thing you thought was really bad is actually not a big deal, so you get this richer and more elaborated memory,” Pasupathi says. If you don’t tell, “your memory for that event may be less flexible and give you less chance for growth.” This is basically the premise of talk therapy.

And all of this doesn’t even account for all the conversations you plan to have, or elaborately imagine having and never have. The path from outside to inside and back out is winding, dark, and full of switchbacks.

Once certain stories get embedded into the culture, they become master narratives—blueprints for people to follow when structuring their own stories, for better or worse. One such blueprint is your standard “go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have kids.”

That can be a helpful script in that it gives children a sense of the arc of a life, and shows them examples of tentpole events that could happen. But the downsides of standard narratives have been well-documented—they stigmatize anyone who doesn’t follow them to a T, and provide unrealistic expectations of happiness for those who do. If this approach were a blueprint for an IKEA desk instead of a life, almost everyone trying to follow it would end up with something wobbly and misshapen, with a few leftover bolts you find under the couch, boding ill for the structural integrity of the thing you built.

“I think that’s a particularly pernicious frame for people who become parents,” Pasupathi says. “That’s a narrative where the pinnacle is to get married and have kids and then everything will be sort of flatly happy from then on.”

And these scripts evolve as culture evolves. For example, in centuries past, stories of being possessed by demons might not have been out of place, but it’s unlikely most people would describe their actions in those terms nowadays.

Other common narrative structures seen in many cultures today are redemption sequences and contamination sequences. A redemption story starts off bad and ends better—“That horrible vacation ultimately brought us closer as a family”—while a contamination story does the opposite—“The cruise was amazing until we all got food poisoning.” Having redemption themes in one’s life story is generally associated with greater well-being, while contamination themes tend to coincide with poorer mental health.

Many people have some smaller stories of each type sprinkled throughout their greater life story, though a person’s disposition, culture, and environment can influence which they gravitate to. People can also see the larger arc of their lives as redemptive or contaminated, and redemption in particular is a popular, and particularly American, narrative. “Evolving from the Puritans to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Oprah Winfrey … Americans have sought to author their lives as redemptive tales of atonement, emancipation, recovery, self-fulfillment, and upward social mobility,” McAdams writes in an overview of life-story research . “The stories speak of heroic individual protagonists—the chosen people—whose manifest destiny is to make a positive difference in a dangerous world, even when the world does not wish to be redeemed.”

The redemption story is American optimism—things will get better!—and American exceptionalism—I can make things better!—and it’s in the water, in the air, and in our heads. This is actually a good thing a lot of the time. Studies have shown that finding a positive meaning in negative events is linked to a more complex sense of self and greater life satisfaction. And even controlling for general optimism, McAdams and his colleagues found that having more redemption sequences in a life story was still associated with higher well-being.

The trouble comes when redemption isn’t possible. The redemptive American tale is one of privilege, and for those who can’t control their circumstances, and have little reason to believe things will get better, it can be an illogical and unattainable choice. There are things that happen to people that cannot be redeemed.

It can be hard to share a story when it amounts to: “This happened, and it was terrible. The end.” In research McLean did, in which she asked people who’d had near-death experiences to tell their stories to others, “the people who told these unresolved stories had really negative responses,” she says. If there wasn’t some kind of uplifting, redemptive end to the story (beyond just the fact that they survived), “The listeners did not like that.

“The redemptive story is really valued in America, because for a lot of people it’s a great way to tell stories, but for people who just can’t do that, who can’t redeem their traumas for whatever reason, they’re sort of in a double bind,” she continues. “They both have this crappy story that’s hanging on, but they also can’t tell it and get acceptance or validation from people.”

In cases like this, for people who have gone through a lot of trauma, it might be better for them not to autobiographically reason about it at all.

“The first time I ever found this association, of reasoning associated with poor mental health, I thought that I had analyzed my data incorrectly,” McLean says. But after other researchers replicated her findings, she got more confident that something was going on. She thinks that people may repress traumatic events in a way that, while not ideal, is still “healthy enough.”

“The typical idea is that you can repress something but it’s going to come back and bite you if you don’t deal with it,” she says. “But that’s still under the assumption that people have the resources to deal with it.”

In one study, McLean and her colleagues interviewed adolescents attending a high school for vulnerable students. One subject, Josie, the 17-year-old daughter of a single mother, suffered from drug and alcohol abuse, bipolar disorder, rape, and a suicide attempt. She told the researchers that her self-defining memory was that her mother had promised not to have more children and then broke that promise.

“I’m the only person that I can rely on in my life because I’ve tried to rely on other people and I either get stabbed in the back or hurt, so I really know that I can only trust myself and rely on myself,” Josie said when recounting this memory.

“That’s pretty intensive reasoning,” McLean says. “So that’s meaningful in understanding who you are, but it doesn’t really give you a positive view of who you are. It may be true in the moment, but it’s not something that propels someone towards growth.”

It’s possible to over-reason about good things in your life as well. “There’s been some experimental research that shows that when people are asked to reflect on positive experiences, it makes them feel worse, because you’re like ‘Oh, why did I marry that person?’” McLean says. “Wisdom and maturity and cognitive complexity are all things that we value, but they don’t necessarily make you happy.”

Though sometimes autobiographical reasoning can lead to dark thoughts, other times it can help people find meaning. And while you may be able to avoid reasoning about a certain event, it would be pretty hard to leave all the pages of a life story unwritten.

“I think the act of framing our lives as a narrative is neither positive nor negative, it just is,” Adler says. “That said, there are better and worse ways of doing that narrative process for our mental health.”

In his research, Adler has noticed two themes in people’s stories that tend to correlate with better well-being: agency, or feeling like you are in control of your life, and communion, or feeling like you have good relationships in your life. The connection is “a little fuzzier” with communion, Adler says—there’s a strong relationship between communion and well-being at the same moment; it’s less clear if feeling communion now predicts well-being later.

But agency sure does. It makes sense, because feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are classic symptoms of depression, that feeling in control would be good for mental health. Adler did a longitudinal study of 47 adults undergoing therapy, having them write personal narratives and complete mental-health assessments over the course of 12 therapy sessions. What he found was not only that themes of agency in participants’ stories increased over time and that mental health increased, and that the two were related, but that increased agency actually appeared in stories before people’s mental health improved.

“It’s sort of like people put out a new version of themselves and lived their way into it,” Adler says.

(There’s something about the narrative form, specifically—while expressing thoughts and feelings about negative events seems to help people’s well-being, one study found that writing them in a narrative form helped more than just listing them.)

But, he continues, “I’m not like Mr. Agency, agency at all costs. I don’t believe that. If you have Stage 4 cancer, agency may be good for you, but is it a rational choice? And I do think [redemption] is good in the long term, but in the throes of really struggling with illness, I don’t know that it actually helps people.”

But I wondered: Though agency may be good for you, does seeing yourself as a strong protagonist come at a cost to the other characters in your story? Are there implications for empathy if we see other people as bit players instead of protagonists in their own right?

“That’s actually kind of an interesting empirical idea,” Pasupathi says. “I don’t know that anybody’s looking at that.”

As Adler’s work shows, people need to see themselves as actors to a certain degree. And Pasupathi’s work shows that other people play a big role in shaping life stories. The question, perhaps, is how much people recognize that their agency is not absolute.

According to one study, highly generative people—that is, people who are caring and committed to helping future generations— often tell stories about others who helped them in the past. McAdams suggests that narcissists are probably more likely to do the opposite—“People [who] are really good at talking about themselves and pushing their own narrative, but they’re not willing to listen to yours.”

“If our stories are about us as triumphant agents going through life and overcoming, and they underplay the role of other people and the role of institutional support in helping us do those things, we are likely to be less good at recognizing how other people’s lives are constrained by institutions and other people,” Pasupathi says. “I think that has real implications for how we think about inequity in our society. The more the whole world is designed to work for you, the less you are aware that it is working for you.”

It’s a dizzying problem: People use stories to make sense of life, but how much do those stories reflect life’s realities? Even allowing for the fact that people are capable of complex Joyce-ian storytelling, biases, personality differences, or emotions can lead different people to see the same event differently. And considering how susceptible humans are to false memories, who’s to say that the plot points in someone’s life story really happened, or happened the way she thought they did, or really caused the effects she saw from them?

Pasupathi’s not convinced that it matters that much whether life stories are perfectly accurate. A lot of false-memory research has to do with eyewitness testimony , where it matters a whole lot whether a person is telling a story precisely as it happened. But for narrative-psychology researchers, “What really matters isn’t so much whether it’s true in the forensic sense, in the legal sense,” she says. “What really matters is whether people are making something meaningful and coherent out of what happened. Any creation of a narrative is a bit of a lie. And some lies have enough truth.”

Organizing the past into a narrative isn’t a way just to understand the self but also to attempt to predict the future. Which is interesting, because the storytelling device that seems most incompatible with the realities of actual life is foreshadowing. Metaphors, sure. As college literature-class discussion sections taught me, you can see anything as a metaphor if you try hard enough. Motifs, definitely. Even if you’re living your life as randomly as possible, enough things will happen that, like monkeys with typewriters, patterns will start to emerge.

But no matter how hard you try, no matter how badly you want to, there is no way to truly know the future, and the world isn’t really organizing itself to give you hints. If you’re prone to overthinking, and playing out every possible scenario in your head in advance, you can see foreshadowing in everything. The look your partner gives you means a fight is on the horizon, that compliment from your boss means you’re on track for a promotion, all the little things you’ve forgotten over the years mean you’re definitely going to get dementia when you’re old.

“Actual life is full of false clues and signposts that lead nowhere,” E.M. Forster once wrote. These become obvious in the keeping of a diary: “Imagine a biography that includes not just a narrative but also all the events that failed to foreshadow,” Manguso writes in Ongoingness, the book about her 25-year diary . “ Most of what the diary includes foreshadows nothing.”

So what to do, then, with all the things that don’t fit tidily? There is evidence that finding some “unity” in your narrative identity is better, psychologically, than not finding it. And it probably is easier to just drop those things as you pull patterns from the chaos, though it may take some readjusting.

But Pasupathi rejects that. “I would want to see people do a good job of not trying to leave stuff out because they can’t make it fit,” she says. “We’re not trying to make pieces of your life go away.”

And so even with the dead ends and wrong turns, people can’t stop themselves. “We try to predict the future all the time,” Pasupathi says. She speculates that the reason there’s foreshadowing in fiction in the first place is because of this human tendency. The uncertainty of the future makes people uncomfortable , and stories are a way to deal with that.

“The future is never a direct replica of the past,” Adler says. “So we need to be able to take pieces of things that have happened to us and reconfigure them into possible futures.” For example, through experience, one learns that “We need to talk” rarely foreshadows anything good. (Life has its own clichés.)

There’s been some brain research supporting this link between the past and the future, showing that the same regions of the brain are activated when people are asked to remember something and when they’re asked to imagine an event that hasn’t happened yet. On the flip side, a patient with severe amnesia also had trouble imagining the future.

Similarly, the way someone imagines his future seems to affect the way he sees his past, at the same time as his past informs what he expects for the future.

“If you’re planning to be a doctor, and you’re a 25-year-old starting medical school, and you have expectations about what the next five to 10 years are going to be like, you’ve probably construed a narrative from your past that helps you understand how you got to this point,” McAdams says. “Then, say, you get into med school and you hate it and you drop out, you probably at the same time are going to change your past. You rewrite the history.”

A life story is written in chalk, not ink, and it can be changed. “You’re both the narrator and the main character of your story,” Adler says. “That can sometimes be a revelation—‘Oh, I’m not just living out this story; I am actually in charge of this story.’”

Whether it’s with the help of therapy, in the midst of an identity crisis, when you’ve been chasing a roadrunner of foreshadowing toward a tunnel that turns out to be painted on a wall, or slowly, methodically, day by day—like with all stories, there’s power in rewriting.

“The past is always up for grabs,” McAdams says.

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Mentor texts

Telling Short, Memorable Stories From Your Life: ‘My Secret Pepsi Plot’

An invitation to students to tell a meaningful story in a limited number of words, with an example from The Times’s Lives column to help.

a life story

By Katherine Schulten

Our new Mentor Text series spotlights writing from The Times that students can learn from and emulate.

This entry, like several others we are publishing, focuses on an essay from The Times’s long-running Lives column to consider skills prized in narrative writing. We are starting with this genre to help support students participating in our 2020 Personal Narrative Essay Contest .

Our Personal Narrative Essay Contest is inspired by The New York Times’s Lives column, which ran from 1996 to 2017 and featured “short, powerful stories about meaningful life experiences .”

The editor of the column once posted some advice on “How to Write a Lives Essay” to guide those who submitted to the column annually. Much of that advice applies to our contest as well.

For example, several points boil down to reminders to keep it simple, including tips like:

Don’t try to fit your whole life into one “Lives.”

Don’t try to tell the whole story.

Tell a small story — an evocative, particular moment.

Better to start from something very simple that you think is interesting (an incident, a person) and expand upon it, rather than a large idea that you then have to fit into a short essay. For example, start with “the day the Santa Claus in the mall asked me on a date” rather than “the state of affairs that is dating in an older age bracket.”

This advice is similar to advice often given to high school seniors writing college essays : You have only 650 words to show admissions officers something important, interesting or memorable about who you are and what matters to you. A list of awards you’ve won won’t do it, but an engaging story about making brownies with your stepbrother just might.

As you’ll see when you read the texts below, none of them try to tell the whole story of a life, but, instead, illuminate an important aspect of it through focus on one event or moment. Yet that one focus ripples out, and says so much more.

Before You Read

Use the sentence starter below to write for a few minutes about whatever comes to mind. You will return to this writing in the “Now Try This” section.

A moment I’ll never forget from my childhood is …

Mentor Text: ‘ My Secret Pepsi Plot ,’ a 2014 Essay From the Lives Column, by Boris Fishman

This essay describes a memory from when the writer was 10 years old and his family had just immigrated from the Soviet Union to Brooklyn. “In the Soviet Union, we were secretly wealthy, but we arrived in Brooklyn as paupers,” he writes.

Somehow, his family ends up with 24 Pepsi-Colas in their refrigerator. The story of what happens next is Mr. Fishman’s short, powerful story:

Around this time I learned that American supermarkets gave back 5 cents for every returned empty. (Some states, like Michigan, its very name like a granite monument, gave you 10 cents.) I decided I would return those cans and give the money to my parents. My secret — a surprise.

Read the essay, focusing on how Mr. Fishman anchors the whole story in this one goal he had at age 10 — to return the Pepsi cans and get money for them.

As you read, you might trace the structure of the story. What does each paragraph do? What does each add to the telling of this small story?

Then, consider these questions:

How do the first two paragraphs set the stage for the story and give some necessary background?

How does telling this story allow the writer to show readers a particular time and place through the eyes of a new immigrant?

How does he pull you into the action, minute by minute, in the three paragraphs that begin “On Saturday afternoon …”?

How is money a theme throughout, in both stated and implied ways? What other ideas recur?

What is the role of the last paragraph?

Now Try This: Find Your Own Short, Powerful Stories

Look back at the writing you did before reading the mentor text. What is strongest about it? Could it become a short essay like the one you just read? If so, what would you need to do to shape it?

What other small stories — or “evocative, particular moments” — from your life might make wonderful short essays?

In a 2010 lesson plan, “ Going Beyond Cliché: How to Write a Great College Essay ,” we suggest students first make a timeline of their lives, or of one period in their lives, brainstorming at least 20 events, big and small, that were significant to them for any reason.

You might try that, or you can brainstorm answers to this list of prompts — or both:

-A time I took a risk: -A time I learned something about myself: -A memory from childhood I think about often: -Something that happened to me that still makes me laugh: -Something very few people know about me: -Something I regret: -A time when I felt rejected: -Something I am really proud of: -Something that changed the way I think or look at the world: -How I am different from most people I know: -Some of my fears: -A time I felt truly satisfied: -A time I failed at something: -An object I own that tells a lot about me:

Once you’ve chosen a topic, you might try to free-write for 10 minutes or so, asking yourself as you go: What was most interesting or memorable about this? What images come to mind when you think about this topic? Do you picture a person, a scene, a place? Do you hear a conversation or a bit of music? Do you smell, taste or feel something?

Finally, if you are still stuck, we have a list of prompts from our site that can inspire narrative writing . Take a look and see if any of them spark ideas for you.

More Mentor Texts for Telling Short, Memorable Stories

While the entire Lives column is devoted to “short, powerful stories,” the pieces we chose below are especially student-friendly in terms of both their subject matter and the way the writers focus on “an evocative, particular moment.” Below each title, an excerpt from the piece.

“ How Ramen Got Me Through Adolescence ,” a 2014 Lives essay, by Veronique Greenwood

When I was in fifth grade, I developed an intense dislike of eating around other people. The cafeteria was a place of foul odors, gelatinous spills, horrific mixtures of chocolate pudding, fruit cocktail and ketchup consumed on dares, and I found myself fasting from breakfast, at about 6 in the morning, until 3:35, when I walked home through the woods from the bus stop. Each step up our hill, a narrow ridge in rural California, I fantasized about the big bowl of ramen I would make myself when I reached the top.

“ Charmed ," a 2015 Lives essay, by Laila Lalami

‘‘Wait,’’ I said. From my pocket I pulled out a brown suede pouch bearing the name of a little jeweler in Rabat, the kind of place you send your friends to and say, tell him I sent you. In the pouch was a necklace with a silver khamsa — a charm in the shape of an open palm.

“ Montana Soccer-Mom Moment ,” a 2010 essay from the Lives column, by Laura Munson

I live in northwest Montana, and I have a teenager, and my teenager plays sports. That means a lot of driving — over-the-Rocky-Mountains-and-back-in-one-day kind of driving. I think about Meriwether Lewis every time I cross the Continental Divide, usually with sleeping soccer players wearing headphones in the back of my Suburban. I want to say, “Can you imagine everything depending on your horse and your ability to dream of an ocean past the mountains?” But it isn’t worth the eye-rolling.

“ All the Single Ladies ," a 2014 essay from the Lives column, by Jen Doll

“Single ladies to the dance floor!” came the cry, a masculine voice urging us forward. Wedding guests parted, creating a narrow path for the train of unmarried women to parade through in their finery. But we single ladies no longer looked so fine as we had that morning. We were worn and tired, sweat beading down our necks, sand crunching unpleasantly in our shoes, which were wearing raw the backs of our heels. We should have been lying down in cool rooms elsewhere, but the wedding was not over. We were 28. We knew what was next.

“ Working the Reunion ,” a 2008 essay from the Lives column, by ZZ Packer

My residential college always hosted the 45th reunion, one of the most well attended, I suppose because you just might not be around for the 50th. To my eyes, these guys were the picture of old money. Although they may have mastered physics or appraised the sharp beauty of “King Lear” in school, at reunions they reminisced about football glories and practical jokes. I sometimes felt less like a Yale co-ed who happened to be black than a black waitress who happened to be bringing them an extra fork. But after their dinner we reunion workers would drink up all the leftover bottles of wine while cleaning the dining hall.

Related Questions for Any Short, Narrative Essay

What is the one small moment or event this piece focuses on? Why do you think the writer might have chosen it?

What do you learn about the writer and his or her world through this moment or event? How? What lines do this well? What is implied rather than stated?

How is the piece structured? What does each paragraph do? How does each contribute to the story?

Look closely at how the writer tells a complete story in a limited number of words. Where, in terms of time and place, does the story begin? Where does it end? How does the writer weave in necessary background even while keeping the action of the story moving forward?

What else do you notice or admire about this essay? What lessons might it have for your own writing?

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Structure your Life Story

This is the second part of our 'Ultimate Guide to Writing a Memoir.' To access the rest of the guide, click here.

So you've gathered everything you need to write your memoir – if you need some more help, make sure you've read Chapter 1: Organizing Your Memories , where you can download our Memory Prompt Cheat Sheet to uncover forgotten memories. But what comes next?

There are many ways to structure your memoir. There is no right or wrong way to do it – but it’s one of the biggest choices you will make about your book. Structure is crucial to the readability of your book. You might write beautifully, but without any kind of structure, your words will be scattered and disorganized.

So how do you structure your life story? We’ve outlined five of the best approaches to help you choose.

1. The chronological approach

One of the simplest ways to structure your life story and develop a narrative is chronologically – in the order that it happened. In this case, you’ll start at the beginning of your timeline and work your way through from birth to present day. Writing chronologically facilitates fluid and realistic character development, and as a result, allows events to mirror the way your book will be read.

  A surprizing example of a chronological structure: Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991, Martin Amis’ book is written in reverse chronological order. It follows the story of a doctor getting younger and younger as time passes in reverse. This disorienting narrative makes for an unsettling and irrational read and emphasizes the importance of deliberate structure within a book.

2. The Basic Three Act structure

The Basic Three Act structure splits the narrative into, unsurprisingly, three parts: the setup , confrontation , and resolution . It is one of the easiest ways to structure your life story.

The setup introduces the characters, their relationships, and the environment they live in. It also presents a strong hook – an exciting incident that provokes a change in the protagonist's routine.

The second act – the confrontation  – makes up the main bulk of your story. The stakes are raised throughout the act, until a major twist, usually a moment of crisis, initiates the start of act three – the resolution.

The resolution presents the final showdown and draws together and explains all the different strands of the plot.

If your timeline can be split into three clear sections along the lines of these themes, then this could be the structure for you. Often, a "Three Act" book will be written chronologically, but it doesn’t have to be...

Basic Three Acts Diagram

A great example of the Basic Three Act structure: The Titanic by James Cameron

The setup introduces Rose, an unhappy woman engaged to a man she detests. Jack rescues her, following her attempt to commit suicide. The confrontation sees the stakes raised when Rose’s fiancé begins to suspect their affair. In a moment of crisis, the famously unsinkable ship hits an iceberg. The resolution follows Rose and Jack as they try to escape the sinking Titanic, ultimately ending in Jack’s death and Rose’s survival. Rose recounts the series of events as an old woman as the story ends.

3. Freytag’s Pyramid

Freytag’s Pyramid is a more complex version of the Basic Three Act structure, with five parts rather than three. These are: exposition , rising action , climax , falling action , and resolution .

The exposition, similarly to the Basic Three Acts’ setup, introduces the characters and backdrop of the story. 

The rising action follows the series of events that occur straight after the exposition and leads up to the climax. 

The climax is the turning point that changes the protagonist’s fate.

The falling action is the consequence of the climax, where the conflict between protagonist and antagonist unravels in a final moment of suspense.

The resolution is the same as in the Basic Three Acts, creating a sense of catharsis in conclusion to the story.

Freytag's Pyramid Diagram

Compartmentalize the events from your timeline into these sections and you can start writing from any of the five starting points.

A great example of Freytag’s Pyramid: Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault

The exposition introduces Little Red Riding Hood as she takes a basket of food to her grandmother’s house. Before she gets there, the wolf eats and takes on the identity of her grandmother. This is the rising action. The wolf convinces Little Red that he is her grandmother, and eats her in the climax. In the falling action, the wolf falls asleep. The huntsman finds the wolf and cuts open his stomach. The resolution sees Little Red and her grandmother freed, and the wolf killed.

4. In Medias Res

Latin for "into the middle of things," it’s unsurprising that this structure starts your book right in the middle of the story. This is usually in the midst of a crisis, or at a crucial point of action. This structure gives the reader a sense of what’s to come before reverting to the beginning of the story to find out how they got there. It’s also a great way to hook the reader from the first page.

If there’s a specific event in your life that was a turning point, shaping who you are today, this might be an interesting place for you to start.

In Media Res Diagram

A great example of in medias res: The Odyssey by Homer

The famous poem opens in medias res, with most of Odysseus’ journey already finished. Flashbacks and storytelling describe the events and characters met along the way.

5. The Hero’s Journey

One of the most popular methods used to structure your life story is the Hero's Journey. It was first conceptualized by Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces , and has since been adapted by Hollywood executive, Christopher Vogler. There are 12 stages to the Hero's Journey.

The ordinary world introduces the hero, closely followed by the call to adventure  – a challenge or problem. The hero, probably scared of dangers ahead, is reluctant to accept the adventure in the refusal of the call . Meeting a mentor gives the hero confidence to cross the threshold , committing wholeheartedly to the adventure of the special world.

The hero faces tests , allies , and enemies as they draw closer to the “elixir” in the approach to the innermost cave . The ordeal sees the hero pushed to their limits in pursuit of reward , before the road back . Consequently, in the resurrection , the now-changed hero returns with the elixir , commonly knowledge, back to the ordinary world.

The Hero's Journey Diagram

A great example of the Hero’s Journey structure: Star Wars directed by George Lucas

In the ordinary world, Luke Skywalker lives on moisture farm on Tatooine. R2:D2 gives Luke a message from Princess Leia, asking Obi-Wan Kenobi to help her as the call to adventure. Obi-Wan gives Luke his father's lightsaber, but at first, Luke is reluctant to accept his offer in the refusal to call. In addition, Obi-Wan, the mentor, offers to train Luke to become a Jedi (this actually happens before the refusal to call in Star Wars). Crossing the first threshold, Luke finally agrees to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan to deliver the plans for the Death Star to Leia's father.

Han Solo and Chewbacca, their allies, agree to take Luke and Obi-Wan to Alderaan. In the approach to the innermost cave, the Death Star destroys Alderaan. They invade the Death Star and rescue Princess Leia, but Darth Vader kills Obi-Wan Kenobi in the ordeal. The reward sees Luke join the Rebels to destroy the Death Star, who also refuses Han Solo's offer to leave. Luke chooses to help overcome the Galactic Empire in the road back.

Luke remembers Obi-Wan's advice and destroys the Death Star using the Force in the resurrection, and wins a medal, finally taking his first steps towards becoming a Jedi in the return with the elixir.  

At the end of the day, your story can be as structurally unpredictable as life itself. It’s your life and your story. We hope these methods have opened your minds to the vast possibilities and different forms your life story can take. But remember, there’s no right or wrong way to structure your life story: it’s up to you.

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How to Write + Publish Your Life Story: Step-By-Step

Updated 06/3/2022

Published 05/15/2020

Sarah Kessler

Sarah Kessler

Contributing writer, editor

Discover how you can write and publish your life story, including step-by-step instructions and tips.

Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure .

Have you always wanted to tell or write your life story, but you’re not sure how to start? If so, you’re not alone. Many people want to share the story of their lives, but they get stuck. Whether it’s in the writing or the publishing, there might be something holding you back from writing the memoir you’re dreaming of. 

Jump ahead to these sections: 

8 steps for writing your life story, how you can publish and share your life story.

If you want to write your life story, either to have for yourself or to publish as a book, here are some steps to help you through the process.  

And if you're interested in unique ways to continue the legacy of a loved one who passed away, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence  or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like  Eterneva .

Telling the story of your own life should be pretty easy, right? After all, you were there and experienced everything personally. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. In fact, writing your own life story is often more difficult than penning a work of fiction. We experience so much in life that it’s hard to know what to include or leave out. And with personal emotions attached to each life event, getting through some chapters can bring up unpleasant memories.  

Below are the steps for writing your life story if you’re not sure how to begin or where to go next. 

Step 1: Choose a theme

First, decide whether your life story is just for yourself and your family, or whether you’ll share it with others. Many people write memoirs so that their families can remember them when they’re gone. Others write memoirs as first-hand accounts of historical events. 

If you choose the former, you’ll likely include life events and stories that are most meaningful to you. If you choose the latter, you’ll want to focus more on stories that relate to the event you’re recounting. The “theme” of your life story and your reason for writing it are important to decide early on. 

Step 2: Make a family tree

If more than just a few family members show up in your life story, it can help to create a family tree . You might do so just for yourself, for reference, or you might make a more polished version to include with the family story. 

Including a family tree at the beginning of your memoir will help readers, including other family members, follow along. It’s also a nice touch if you’re creating your memoir as a family legacy project . 

Step 3: Brainstorm key life events

Following the “theme” you chose, consider what life events and moments you want to include in your life story. If you’re creating an autobiography to recount your life to children and grandchildren, you can just go chronologically. Begin with key events from your childhood, then your teenage years, young adulthood, and adulthood.

Here are some other important events you can include: 

  • Getting into trouble with friends at school. 
  • Going to college. 
  • Your first job. 
  • Meeting your husband, wife, or partner. 
  • Fun and unique family traditions . 
  • Having your first child and any children after that. 
  • Traveling and experiencing different cultures. 
  • Losing someone you loved. 
  • Moving somewhere new or buying a house. 
  • Experiencing major world events (a war, an assassination, a pandemic, etc.)

Step 4: Journal about potentially painful events

Painful life events, like losing someone close to you, can be hard to write about. But that doesn’t mean you should leave them out of your life story. In fact, they’re often some of the most pivotal events in our lives. 

If something from your brainstorming session strikes an emotional chord, take some time to journal about that event. Just let yourself write without holding anything back. This is a good way to free up memories you might not have thought about in a while, and it’s also a helpful method for coping with grief from your past. 

Step 5: Jot out a rough draft

Next, go through the items on your brainstorming list, one by one, and write a rough draft for each event. If you think of something that applies more to a different item than the one you’re writing about, just make a note on your brainstorm list and move on with your current topic. 

Don’t worry about the final version of your life story during this step. You’ll end up with a lot of writing that you don’t include in the final edition, and you’ll end up adding more in as you go. Try to write as freely as possible without editing yourself along the way at this stage. 

Step 6: Record conversations with friends and family

Writing your life story can feel unnatural. But talking to friends and family about your life is something you probably do all the time. If you find yourself facing writer’s block, visit a friend or family member, and turn on your phone’s voice recorder. Have your loved one ask questions about the events on your list, and just talk as naturally as possible. 

Then, you can transcribe the sessions yourself or consider hiring a transcription service to do it for you. 

Step 7: Hire a freelancer

In addition to a transcriber, you might benefit from the help of someone who writes for a living. A writer can help put your ideas into words, and a professional editor can help you decide on a theme, as well as organize your autobiography. 

If you want to find a freelance writer or editor, consider these services:

Hiring a freelancer can be hit-or-miss, so make sure you conduct thorough interviews with each potential candidate. Find a writer who you relate to personally and don’t mind spending a lot of time talking to. 

After all, the writer or editor you choose will need to get to know you fairly well in order to convey your life story well.

Step 8: Or hire a professional service

If working with a freelancer doesn’t appeal to you, you might prefer to work with a company that specializes in life stories and memoirs. Some of these services, however, can cost upwards of $25,000 to publish a memoir start-to-finish. The cost includes travel for a writer to come out to you and interview you. 

Here are some of the more popular life story-writing-and-publishing services:

  • Real Life Stories
  • Heritage Memoirs
  • Modern Memoirs, Inc.

Working with one of the all-inclusive services listed above might cost more, but it often includes writing, editing, and publishing all in one. 

Step 9: Collect relevant photos

A life story is even more interesting if it includes photos related to the stories inside. Go through the photographs you have in storage, both physical and digital. Create stacks of photos (or folders on your computer) by year that the photos were captured. This will make life easier for you when you’re trying to locate a picture related to a certain story in your memoir. 

If you want to include any of your physical photos that you don’t have stored digitally, too, you’ll need to scan them. You can do so at home if you have a scanner, or you can take your photos to a printing service. 

Step 10: Edit your manuscript

Whether you write your life story completely on your own or hire outside help, you should be hands-on in the editing process. You’ll need to read through the entire memoir, making notes along the way. If you’re working with a professional writer or team, send your notes to them to make changes. 

When you’re editing, imagine you’re reading your life story as someone who doesn’t know you. 

Make sure your story is understandable, easy to follow, and conveys the message you decided on. If you include multiple family members in your life story, make sure it’s easy to understand who those family members are, and their relationship to you. 

After you’re done writing your life story, you’ll want to publish it. Publishing a book doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll sell it to people you don’t know. 

Having your autobiography published could mean simply making it more presentable and creating a few copies for family and friends. 

Here are some of your options when you’re ready to publish your life story. 

Leave it to the professionals

If you chose to hire professionals in the writing and editing of your life story, they might also offer publishing options. This is usually true of all-inclusive memoir and life story services like those listed above. 

If you hired a freelance writer, you could hire the help of a graphic designer to help design the cover of your life story, and an editor who’s familiar with publishing to help with the rest. 

Self-publish a physical book

To self-publish a hard-copy book, you’ll need to decide how you want the book to look, first. You’ll need to master typesetting and design a cover. 

Then, you can choose a print-on-demand or offset-printing service like one of those listed below to self-publish your book: 

  • IngramSpark

Create an e-book

You can also create an online version of your book, instead of a paper copy. You can do so using one of the services listed above, which also offer e-book services. Or you can design your book yourself. 

If you choose to DIY it, take your manuscript and log into one of the sites below to design a book: 

  • Bookwright (from Blurb)
  • Flipbuilder

Send your book to family and friends

If you create a physical book, it’s a good idea to order at least ten copies right away. That gives you the freedom to give your memoir as a gift for Christmas or keep it on hand to give out whenever you want. 

When you give your life story to a family member or close friend, make sure to include a personal inscription inside the cover. Write a message to your loved one explaining why you wanted them to have a copy of your personal story, or let them know what they mean to you. 

If you give your life story to someone who makes an appearance in the book, mark the pages where they appear with sticky-notes. 

Why Write a Life Story? 

You don’t have to be the most interesting person in the world to write your life story. Almost everyone can benefit from writing about their own life, and your family will enjoy learning more about your past. 

Creating a memoir gives future generations the opportunity to connect with a beloved family member. And if your life story relates to key world events, even more people might be interested in learning about what your life was like. 

No matter what your reason for writing a life story, doing so can be emotionally taxing. But when you’re done, you’ll have a physical account of everything you’ve experienced to share with the world.


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  • Autobiographies

How to Tell Your Life Story

Last Updated: February 23, 2022 References

This article was co-authored by Dan Klein . Dan Klein is an improvisation expert and coach who teaches at the Stanford University Department of Theater and Performance Studies as well as at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Dan has been teaching improvisation, creativity, and storytelling to students and organizations around the world for over 20 years. Dan received his BA from Stanford University in 1991. This article has been viewed 45,891 times.

Writing your life story can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have never told it start to finish before. You may decide to write your life story down on paper to then share with others. Or you may share your story out loud in a performance or a play. Writing your life story effectively takes research, focus, and plotting. Telling your life story may be a good way to work through your past and share life lessons with others.

Telling Your Life Story Effectively

Step 1 Do your research.

  • You should also do research at your local library and online. You may look at articles and books to help you with your research.

Step 2 Create a timeline of your life.

  • Try to be detailed when you write the timeline. Note each age of your life as well as significant events or moments that happened during that time. For example, you may write, “Age 4, Mom and Dad divorced, I was obsessed with Mickey Mouse and watched a lot of television on our living room floor.”

Step 3 Look for themes in your life story.

  • For example, you may have the theme “perseverance” in your life story. You may then write about key events or moments in your life that reflect the theme of perseverance.
  • Or you may realize that it took you several years to embrace the theme of “hard work.” You may then chart how you learned to embrace this theme through different moments in your life.

Step 4 Plot out

  • You can create a plot outline based on a more traditional plot structure, with exposition, an inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
  • You can also use the snowflake method to create a plot outline, with a one sentence summary, a one paragraph summary, character synopses, and a spreadsheet of scenes.

Dan Klein

How did you change through the story? Dan Klein, an improv and storytelling teacher, says: "The essential elements of a story include a character that the audience cares about, and something happening in the story that changes the relationships between the characters. It's also really nice if the story ties up at the end by reincorporating something from the beginning."

Step 5 Polish the draft.

  • If you created a performance based life story, you may perform a rough version for friends, family or colleagues and ask them for feedback. You should revise your draft and improve it until you feel it is ready to share with the larger world.

Writing Your Life Story Down

Step 1 Put together an...

  • Many autobiographies are written in first person present tense or first person past tense. They usually cover the entire span of a life.
  • You can read examples of autobiographies to get a better sense of the genre. For example, you may check to see if your favorite celebrity has an autobiography out or search for an autobiography of a famous historical figure.

Step 2 Write a memoir

  • You can write the memoir in first person or third person. They are usually written in past tense so you can reflect on a certain time period or event.
  • You can read examples of memoir to gain a better understanding of the genre, such as Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, In the Wilderness by Kim Barnes, The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard, and Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.

Step 3 Create a long...

  • Try using the poetic form to reflect a certain period or event in your life story. For example, you may write in a more playful form, such as the limerick , for poems about your childhood. You may then write in the sonnet form to write about a great love of your life.

Step 4 Write a personal...

  • The personal essay contains an introductory section, a body section and a concluding section. You can then play with the form as you see fit and do not need to adhere to a five paragraph essay form.
  • You can read examples of the personal essay, such as “Shipping Out” by David Foster Wallace, “The White Album” by Joan Didion, and “We Do Abortions Here” by Sallie Tisdale.

Step 5 Hire a ghostwriter

  • You can search for a ghostwriter online through online writing sites or online classifieds. You can also ask writing professors and other professionals to recommend a ghostwriter.

Sharing Your Life Story Out Loud

Step 1 Make a spoken...

  • You can watch spoken word performances online to help get a better sense of the genre, such as “If I should have a daughter…” by Sarah Kay [4] X Research source , “My First Period” by Staceyann Chin [5] X Research source , and “Can we auto-correct humanity?” by Prince Ea. [6] X Research source

Step 2 Create a play...

  • You could then arrange for the play to be performed at your local community center or film yourself performing it and then post it online.

Step 3 Adapt your life...

  • You could then use the screenplay to make a film based on your life. You may rent camera gear, located actors, and shoot the film yourself. Or you may hire a filmmaker to create the film based on your screenplay.

Step 4 Share your life story in casual conversation.

  • For example, you may say, "I was born in Miami, Florida in the 80s, and grew up right by the beach. It was a nice childhood except for that time I got stung by a jellyfish."

Expert Q&A

You might also like.

Write About Yourself

  • ↑ http://createyourlifestory.com/podcast/telling-your-stor/
  • ↑ http://www.allprodad.com/10-ways-to-tell-your-life-story/
  • ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0snNB1yS3IE
  • ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGk3-OJX7KE
  • ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

About This Article

Dan Klein

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Why do you use a q&a format.

Autobiographies can be difficult to write and hard to read. Our Q&A interview solves both of these challenges. Our interview questions naturally prompt you to remember and record interesting events in your life. Best of all, loved ones who read the final book will feel like they’re sitting down to have a wonderful conversation with you about your life. It’s your story, in your own words.

Can extra questions be added?

Yes. We know every story is unique so extra questions can be added to make sure nothing important is missed.

How long will it take?

As our interview is self-paced, we’ve had people finish their story in a single sitting. Others love the process and continually refine and expand their answers over many months.

If you’re looking to interview your loved one yourself, we recommend setting aside at least 3 hours with them. Our questions will spark a wonderful conversation so enjoy the process and remember that you don’t have to get through all the questions in a single sitting.

How long do I have?

You have 12 months from your start date to complete your book. But don’t worry, that’s plenty of time! However, if you still need more time we will provide an additional 3 month extension at no cost to you. If you need longer than 15 months, then we do charge an additional fee of $5 per month until you finish writing (at which point we will design, print and deliver your book at no additional charge).

Can photos be added?

Yes. No autobiography is complete without photos and there are no restrictions on how many you can add!

Is there a page limit?

No. We don’t have any word limit, page limit or limit on the number of photos that can be added. That being said, if the final book ends up longer than 150 pages, we charge an additional 50 cents per extra page. That’s just to cover the extra printing cost. As a guide, most books end up around 100 pages.

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In these situations we recommend that you use our questions to interview your loved one yourself. Our questions will spark a wonderful conversation so enjoy the process and remember that you don’t have to get through all the questions in a single sitting.

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Your initial purchase with A Life Untold includes the first hardcover book designed, printed & delivered. In addition, we’ll provide a digital e-book at no extra charge to make it easy to share the final book with friends and family over email.

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7 Beautiful and Inspiring Short Stories About Life

We’ve collected 7 of the best inspirational and beautiful short stories to help you get through life’s challenges. Enjoy!

The Story of Life

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be (possibly your roommate, neighbor, coworker, longlost friend, lover, or even a complete stranger) but when you lock eyes with them, you know at that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way.

And sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible, painful, and unfair at first, but in reflection you find that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realized your potential, strength, willpower, or heart.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness, and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight, flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet who affect your life, and the success and downfalls you experience help to create who you become. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones. If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious when you open your heart. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things.

Make every day count!!! Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free, and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don’t believe in yourself, it will be hard for others to believe in you. You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets.

An 87 Year Old College Student Named Rose

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know.

I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium.

As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day.

You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it! There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old.

If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.

The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.”

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be .When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of advice to your friends and family, they’ll really enjoy it!

These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.


We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give.

a life story

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.”

a life story

The Seasons of Life

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn to not judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no – it was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed, he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfilment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but one season in the tree’s life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are – and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life – can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfilment of your fall.

Don’t judge a life by one difficult season. Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”

Hands started going up.

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

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

Still the hands were up in the air.

“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.

He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable 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.

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 feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special – Don’t ever forget it!

Building Your House

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business to live a more leisurely life with his wife and enjoy his extended family. He would miss the paycheck each week, but he wanted to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go & asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but over time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work, his employer came to inspect the house. Then he handed the front-door key to the carpenter and said, “This is your house… my gift to you.”

The carpenter was shocked!

What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then, with a shock, we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we would do it much differently.

But, you cannot go back. You are the carpenter, and every day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Someone once said, “Life is a do-it-yourself project.” Your attitude, and the choices you make today, help build the “house” you will live in tomorrow. Therefore, Build wisely!

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business to live a more leisurely life with his wife and enjoy his extended family.

Find Happiness

Once a group of 50 people were attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He started giving each attendee one balloon. Each one was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room.

Now these delegates were let into that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos.

At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon. Now each one was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.

The speaker then began, “This is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is.

Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness. And this is the purpose of human life…the pursuit of happiness.”

Well done, my friend! You’ve made it to the end… so what do you think? Did any of these inspirational life stories help you shift your thinking? I know they did for me. Actually, the one about the carpenter made had me crying like a baby! Anyhooo, if there’s a short inspirational story that you’d like to share with our community, please do not hesitate to post it below in the comment section. I may add it to this list if enough people comment on it.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read these stories. It means the world to me 🙂

P.S. Looking for more stories? Check out the ones below 🙂

30 Days of Carrying My Wife

Ubuntu Story

Every Successful Story Has a Painful Beginning

Reader Interactions

February 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm

March 27, 2012 at 11:41 pm

live life happy

March 31, 2012 at 2:51 am

Awsm stories

April 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Itz jz awwwesoomee n encouraging stories! Amen.

April 6, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Its just awesome and encouraging stories! Amen.

April 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Nice and Touching stories

April 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm

dis is extremely good stories, soo encouragin nd extra-odinary!

April 21, 2012 at 7:45 am

Extremely nice stories……………….

April 22, 2012 at 9:22 am

the wise, will achieve from the story, but the fool will ll see it as a lagh & joke story….The story somuch make sence

April 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Nice and encouraging stories

April 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

May 1, 2012 at 5:06 am

Infact, dis story is educative , phycological it is great,

May 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Very inspiring stories

May 8, 2012 at 6:53 pm

nice stories pls i need more.

May 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm

These Stories r inspiring.

June 2, 2012 at 8:04 am

Inspiring stories! It’s as if the stories are actually meant 4 me.

June 3, 2012 at 5:01 am

l love this stories

June 15, 2012 at 7:05 am

Life changing stories ..thumbs up!!

June 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm

luv ur writing.

June 24, 2012 at 12:27 am

love it please mention the writer

June 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Dis is great

June 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I think dis great or real life stories

June 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Awesome n motivational.

July 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Excellent stories!

July 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

They ar nice and encouraging

July 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Nice and educative story

July 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I got new things to learn…….

July 14, 2012 at 9:33 am

i am 14 years of age and i have lost my father 5 days ago in a fatal car crash and was taken too soon. he is still here with me in my memories and in my heart. Although i have been kicked around by life in this never ending night mare that unfortunately cant wake up out of. these story’s have inspired me. i just needed some inspiration and motivation to keep me going in these rough times. it has helped so much! thankyou livelifehappy!

love you dad. miss you! your son Mitchell.

July 20, 2012 at 4:22 am

stories are really ,,,,,,,adorable

July 20, 2012 at 4:23 am

i wish u will come acroos this phase really soon……………

July 21, 2012 at 9:21 am

live changing stories- so good.

July 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm

May our gud Lord grant u happiness in ur heart so as to live pleasant life.we are with u in prayers and i send my sincere gratitudes to livelife happy 4 inspirational and life encouraging stories.thnx.

August 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Great stories, great lessons. I love them like the Bible

August 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Inspiring story,its amazing & encouraging. Tnx 2 u livelifehappy

August 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

i liked and loved these stories very very very very very very very very much because these are the real stories which are passing in our life

August 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Tough time won’t last but tough people do. God bless you

August 25, 2012 at 8:19 am

exactly it gv me hope n courages….

August 27, 2012 at 7:35 pm

This are actuly nice mind blowing stories. The hv the leasons every life nid to tak, ma adoration as i nid more

August 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm

diz storiez r de best

August 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

nice stories

August 30, 2012 at 7:18 am

I got you jst in time, your stories are such encouraging. keep it up!

September 3, 2012 at 5:54 am

Really was awesome stories thanks live life happy

September 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm

This stories make me to re-adjust my movement in life,it makes me to understand that my life and what am going to become in life is in my hand.thank very much livelifehappy for this wonderful stories.

September 10, 2012 at 7:29 am

Awesome Stories ; I will implement with immediate effect.

September 12, 2012 at 11:13 am

encouraging stories.thanks live happy life

September 13, 2012 at 2:48 am

September 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm

So makin my life so bright nd clear. Thank u so much 4 ur stories of encouragement. God bless u livelifehappy.

September 27, 2012 at 4:13 am

its one the best site ,i visit everyday… awsome word’s and stores ..keep on !!!

September 28, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Nothing has ever in my life touches me, but this story is very important to the strong heart, I appreciate you so much, the story has just change my way of reasoning.

October 4, 2012 at 10:17 am

This stories help us know that thing always Work out for the best and that we should never lose hope or judge for one day we will need someone to see our beauty.

October 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hey livelifehappy, is there a way I can join the crew? I’m a 12 year old girl dreamer, and I’m turning 13 pretty soon. I made my own website for those who want to live life the way they want, but are drawn back by fear, aka-stargazers. Maybe visit it sometime? I feel like this website really helped me a lot, and whoever wrote these quotes, and the owner of the site, has a lot in common with me. Please send me an email, I really want to be able to work with those who understand and can relate. I feel like people like us are one in a million, and it would be a honor to help/contribute, since I think we feel/think in a similar way. I feel like other people will be able to understand, but I felt like I can relate. I know I’m young, but I’ve been through a tough life of bullying and the death of my brother, and three best friends. Faith was what saved me. So now, I feel like I would do anything, ANYTHING, to find somewhere I belong and somebody to write with. Please consider me! ~ Victoria Lee

October 24, 2012 at 11:42 am

these are some of the wonderfull stories by reading them one can bring positive feeeling in his or her life… really such a great inspireing stories…..

October 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm

November 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm

This stories are very encouraging because i learnt a lot from it these past few days.They are inspirational stories.

November 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Inspirational Stories.! Very 9ce Work On The Site..LiveLifeHappy Always : )

November 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Better To Be a Failure I honestly think, as put by George Burns, it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate. It is not a failure if you enjoyed the process. Even if you fall down, don’t worry. Have a fresh view. The world looks different from the ground. You can take from every experience what it has to offer you. Do better the second time. You never know when you success is at threshold. It’s very difficult to come up with new, creative, and novel ideas unless you are passionate about your work. Leave your reputation and invest in character. Cheers to a new year; another chance for us to get it right with a new resolution.

November 28, 2012 at 12:16 am

I’m at a pretty low point right now and these stories and site in general has stirred some hope for me. Thank you for these!

December 3, 2012 at 9:22 am

i luv ur quotes,ur quotes nd stories are elements dat touches d heart..keep it up

December 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm

These stories are like magic words. They have spark something within me to help me live wisely.

December 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

these are so good stories and so touching and filled with messages……….

December 18, 2012 at 8:33 pm


December 21, 2012 at 6:01 am

hi its good to read these type of stories who are weak in their life or career like me. after reading it brings a positive attitude thankyou one & all who upload it please upload more

December 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Thank you so much for these stories…and thank you to all those who made it possible…

January 8, 2013 at 2:29 am

i want to thank you for these wonderful stories they help in planning for my future!

January 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm

a well life enchantin quotes nd stories wish i kud b getin lots of life on my email daily ….KUDOOS TO SITE OWNER u’ve inspired lives unknwd

January 23, 2013 at 3:34 am

hmmm…. Very touchn story

February 1, 2013 at 10:27 am

Thank you I love it I need this story in my e mail every day one story per day or whatever thank you.

February 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm

i too lked you bt ore important s i want to be ur friend.will u be my….

February 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm

This site is just awesome .!!!

February 5, 2013 at 5:02 am

these story are most eventful if u want something do to urself ……………

February 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Very inspiring stories. Very motivational! will keep them at heart!

February 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

i loved these stories and please tell me how can i get more of them

February 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm

The stories are so nice n encouraging.i felt stronger after reading them.nice!

February 25, 2013 at 5:56 am

good stories

February 28, 2013 at 11:19 am

very much inspiring…

February 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm

This is awesome live life happy.

March 9, 2013 at 5:05 am

Genesis, I feel the same. Instead, lets make our own.

March 14, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Live life to the fullest:)

March 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Lovely website. Very inspiring and refreshing.

March 22, 2013 at 5:54 am

This is awesome

March 24, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hi Mitchell, Thank you so much for sharing that story, u didn’t have to but u didid. I am going through so much right now, and literally feel like the world is on top of me and I cannot get out from underneath. I don’t know why, but something made me read your comment, I was scrolling down to see if there aren’t more stories, but could only see comments, somehow something told me to read your story and I am so sorry for the pain you have to go through without having your dad in your life. I just want you to know that your story just made me look at life differently, made me think “hey, u still have your mom and dad, why are u complaining” I guess everyone has a different kind of pain, guess that’s what life does. But what I do know for a fact is that nothing stays the same for too long. There might be lighting storms but the sun always comes out eventually. As much as It hurts to live in this world, there are amazing things about this hurtful world too. We will get through it all, we are made to make it through. We are created in the image and likliness of God, so we can do anything and have so much strenght in us, it is in our darkest hours that we discover who we are. Ur dad is with you always and will continue to be. God bless Mitchell and thank you once again…

April 1, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I love this story very ancorageing and very very impirational

April 11, 2013 at 11:54 am

Very encouraging, I needed to read this.I came accross it at a very relevant time. Thank u guys for sharing.

April 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Thank You for these beautiful stories 🙂

April 14, 2013 at 7:05 am

YAA sometimes life takes our test of trust ,that situtaion very hard for us to decide whether we did mistake so that we r faceing problem,that time we should convince our self thae gods dos every thing for our careing.

April 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

awesome stories….Thanks a lot

April 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm

So very interesting…I love these story

April 27, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Your story raises my spirit.

April 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Excellent justification given by you, felt really nice to read your comments it really inspires us. thanks

May 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm

that was lovly is great

May 19, 2013 at 4:59 am

Awesome Life story 1st blog

May 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hi, very nice, thought provoking, above par … list goes on… May I know the intervals for new stories.

May 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Really impressive stories…..I get a new view of life. Thanks

May 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm

great indeed

June 3, 2013 at 8:29 am

wow great story

June 10, 2013 at 11:43 am

Nice, luv dis page

June 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

I want to be receiving your posters, pictures, stories, and quotes. They are very interesting. Thank you

July 7, 2013 at 3:52 pm

These stories are very inspiring. It made me feel better when I read them. Thank you livelifehappy!

July 12, 2013 at 7:29 am

I’m so very inspired from this story.. especially “your value” and “seasons of life”… make more inspiring quotes… 🙂

July 12, 2013 at 7:31 am

may God bless you more.. the person who wrote this stories …..

July 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Thank yo very much for your great words!!

July 16, 2013 at 9:01 am

Very Nice stories

July 19, 2013 at 5:42 am

so nice to read and it is very much useful for the yong generations

July 20, 2013 at 11:12 am

Thank You so much for sharing all above stories … I was feeling so depressed and wanted to end my life at any cost…. after reading all above stories for an hour i forget all my problems and pain… I just enjoyed and learned alot…. thanks again …..

July 21, 2013 at 7:19 am

Truly inspiring and transforming. The principles encountered from the stories will not only inspire us but will lead us on a journey of life that will bring about potential change.

July 21, 2013 at 8:56 am

i give thanks to the person who wrote these stories. I was really inspired. And I learned a lot. thank you.

July 24, 2013 at 6:00 am

I am inspired to live my life as what God has planned for me..:)

July 25, 2013 at 9:45 am

Very inspiring stories. It gives me more pleasure. Some times we forgot to love ourselves because of the things happening around us and we feels that we doesn’t have any value at all. But instead of suffering with these regrets, if we feel that as odd season and if we take a step with belief and prove ourselves, then obviously we can get back the value in the society. By following these kind stories, we can achieve a better life i feel.

July 25, 2013 at 11:59 am

Thank you for all these wonderful life lessons stories, I am really touched & have learn lots from it. Life is a process, Its Beautiful & meant to live it no matter what we face in the journey.

July 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm

These stories have helped me re-evalate my self worth and appreciate things differently, hopefully we get to see some more up here soon 🙂

July 29, 2013 at 11:37 am

I m just Speechless..!! This Is Really Worth..<3 Even Couldn't Explain with my words

July 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I am Speechless and i couldn’t explain from my words..:) Really Inspirational

July 30, 2013 at 6:43 am

yaaaaa ful agree wid u. “leave your reputation and invest in character” is bst line in al ds.

July 30, 2013 at 9:22 am

July 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Hi Mitchell,

Just read your comment now..this is my first time readinglivelifehappy.com, and your comment above really got my attention and i cant explain how’s my feeling right now. I wanna say after a year that you posted it, prioritize your education and aim to finish it whatever happens..you can do more if you’ll be graduated from your chosen course..in this modern world your weapon is education..you can learn more ideas, knowledge and etc.. to understand more deeper what is life are all about and how can we handle things when we encounter such trials,difficulties, losing happiness and etc.. Be a good girl always huh? dont forget to pray god..avoid making friends of bad influence people..just focus to your goal..and I’m sure you can definitely make it..Wish you to have a happy life and succesful career.

July 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I am so inspired on your stories, reading of these made me realize that there are so many ways to be a better person, just find ways and do it.

August 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I’ve learned to believe in myself or else no one believe in me. Thank u live life hapy.

August 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Nice stories, Your stories are really inspring. Thnx 2 live Life 4 leting me knw that it is never too late to be all i can possibly be. Keep the good work.

August 5, 2013 at 9:58 am

August 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

frankly am inspired,thank you for sharing with us…..!

August 6, 2013 at 2:01 am

thanx for posting these stories..i believe these small stories will bring big difference in life….

August 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm

So inspiring am touched positively

August 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I really want to thank the person to teach me what decisions i should take i am 19 years old people around me always told me what to do and what not to but i guess never ever forget these stories

August 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm

August 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Dis stories are really, inspirational, Motivational and Adorable. I love it

August 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Really positive thinking is must, it gives positive results by default.

August 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Good inspirational quotes/stories are life experience.

August 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm


August 13, 2013 at 10:04 am

im so inspire by this site full of encouragement.. happiness and i feel blessed while reading those stories/..thank you lord..!

August 13, 2013 at 4:50 pm

’twas so wonderful to have read all these.i CAN’T afford to be unhappy!

August 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

Wow! Fascinating…..Am highly blessed with these stories.

August 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

wonderful storis woooooow juana dast xosh

August 15, 2013 at 5:39 am

Realy touching story….

August 15, 2013 at 7:55 am

so many things in a few simple words… brief and precise! I loved it!

August 15, 2013 at 8:12 am

i was a man who lost my hope and dream but this remind me once again the my failar is nothing but its a lesson of achievement in our life.

August 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

Wooow !!! I can’t believe such inspirational stories are documented… I love these stories… What a great way to start my Morning…

August 16, 2013 at 11:22 am

Nice stories. I learnt so much. so much inspired me

August 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm


August 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm

What a great story.. I’m so inspired with this ur blog….u deserve d best bcuz u ar already the best….long live u for us….one love

August 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm

nice & inspiring stories………

August 18, 2013 at 6:32 am

iliked and loved these stories very very nice storeis realy

August 18, 2013 at 6:40 am

August 19, 2013 at 1:17 am

these stories are really inspirational

August 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Great inspiring stories. By reading one gets a lot of strength and lessons to learn about life. These stories are filled with a lot of encouragement. Thanks for sharing.

August 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm

There were that were lost on our way far from our families and friends hiding something because we dont want to be critisized or to be judge and were looking for someone, something that could help out us speak tell the truth these inspirational stories shed me a light thank you very much!

August 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm

August 22, 2013 at 9:22 am

Inspirational and life transforming stories. great work.

August 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

the dollar note has not lost its value.we are also into many difficult situations,threw ourselves away feeling sorry to our selves..but we are still what we are..we also dont lose our value..i told about it to my friend she was in depression..once she realised..she is doing very well now.it is motivating

August 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

Excellent stories. They are helping to reshape my life.. Thanks a lot for sharing.

August 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm


August 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I am touched and encouraged by these life changing stories. It has really helped me to reshape and refocus my priorities in life.

August 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Amazing stories! Real life lessons

August 25, 2013 at 7:21 am

Thank you! I appreciate all your stories. Pls keep on writing, keep inspiring.

August 26, 2013 at 5:36 am

This is really very nice and the important thing is that, these type of stories give us courage, strength and make people strong and give a feeling to do something in your life. Helping out to make our dreams come true and gives a lots of experiences. Thanks “live life happy” for posting some inspirational stories.l

August 27, 2013 at 6:18 pm

The stories were truly heart mending,we needed to be constantly aware of d fact that wat ever a man speakth he becometh . Thanks a lot 4building courage true media,i think dis is of d incomparable benefits of media. Keep it up.

August 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm

oh i’m touch with these stories God bless u all.

August 29, 2013 at 9:47 pm

They stories are really cool!!! It av really been an inspiration 2 mi @ also to many others… More power to your elbow.

September 2, 2013 at 10:04 am

-excellent, w0nderful, amazing, magnificent, enthusiasm, perfectly, and flamb0yantly pr0ud t0 salute this kind 0f irresistable st0ries, it shares deeper th0ughts, deeper meanings and pr0ductive analysis . . . t0 me, n0t 0nly in me but even th0se m0tivati0nal pe0ple and admiring people to transf0rm, change 0r ev0lve- 🙂 c0ngratulati0ns!

September 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Thatz xo inspiring,thanx alot.

September 17, 2013 at 1:02 am

Wow! Al the stories are amazin and wonderful, am realy touched

October 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

you enlighten my life thank you for this wonderful and encouraging story..

October 10, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Simply Amazing

October 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Wow thanks fot the great stories am blessed i used to devalue my self due to my past but thank God that i have known i have known. May he bless you mightly.

October 14, 2013 at 11:22 am

what an interesting story?it is real inspiring me.amen

November 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

very nice and touching stories

December 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Thank u livelifehappy,im in a foreign land and this is my story….this year 2013 my work permit expired and my salary was cut in july.early november i got involved in a near fatal accident,i cant have my car fixed because of the salary issue.After submitting my permit to my employer i was told that i would only be paid for two months i.e. November and December only.As if that was not enough,they told me that i have been terminated due to the late submission of documents…..i just wanted 2 say thank you livelifehappy for your inspiring quotes.

December 14, 2013 at 3:17 am

This is so true

December 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

This massages are inspiring and incouraging us dat we hav to work hard for ourlives

January 11, 2014 at 2:57 am

Our true character is revealed through adversity. Our mistakes, hardships, difficult times etc do not define who we are and ppl shouldn’t judge on that basis. It is how we react to adversity…whether or not we can shoulder our mistakes and be able to look into the mirror. It takes incredible courage to accept and own our faults in order to become better, wiser people. I admire those who have gone thru unthinkable times in their lives and are able to stand back up. If the adversity was self-inflicted, can they accept it openly rathen than make excuses? If they were betrayed, do they allow the hurt to destroy them or use it to gain perspective and grow. To me, these type of examples will show the true character of a person

January 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm

These short stories are great reading. I find them to be inspirational and motivating, Thanks.

February 19, 2014 at 3:33 am

Great stories and very inspiring!

March 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

wow what the inspiring stoies im greatful.im back on my feet again,keep up the good work by motivating us.

March 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

life is really the hardest exam ever..,everyone ought to tackle his or her own life differently since we all have varying abilities…these stories have given me ago ahead in life despite the many challenges that i have undergone.I sure have a future as everyone else depending on how i handle life and every situation that comes my way.Lets all remember that everything always has a purpose in this world….LETS ALL BE HAPPY AND JOVIAL ALWAYS FOR LIFE IS SHORT!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the stories.

March 31, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I’d almost everything… Thank you so much for such a lovely sharing. It’s all .. Rest all have already praised about your website and I’m sure my word won’t be best describe it.. except “Thank you!”

April 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Just amazing stories its really motivating n truely inspiring thank u for sharing it n making us realize the worth value n correct meaning of life

May 22, 2014 at 7:22 am

It is highly inspired;keep the good work going!

June 27, 2014 at 9:07 am

Mind blowing and stories on recontsructing a shattered shabbed life in every ramifications and aspect of life….thumbs up..

July 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm

All the stories are motivating,inspirative.I will tell to my students at period of moral education…Thank u for such stories!After hearing or reading these stories everyone will get inspiration.

January 20, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Your writing shows deep reflection and insight. Additionally, your writing is clear and concise. Your English teachers would be proud (even with intentional spelling adjustments) and smiling. Continue to write—you have a gift!

February 21, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Wow, what a great site this is – love your images – thanks 😉

March 2, 2015 at 9:16 pm

life has been came so wonderful with this stories I read Here everyday I love this site,its the best place I like to spend my time reading and it makes me wiser and changes me as a person to do better, I thank you very much

March 16, 2016 at 5:23 am

Worth reading! Thank you very much. 🙂

December 8, 2017 at 10:29 am

Wow, what a great site this is – love your images – thanks ?

March 9, 2018 at 12:07 am

This really keep me going . Anytime I feel like giving up and go through this amazing motivational quotes ,it make me strong ? hard times are there to lead us to great places ?

March 9, 2018 at 11:19 pm

I’m glad this could help you…

April 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm

After reading these stories, i realized i missed a lot of things in life. These stories will absolutely change my life.

April 19, 2018 at 8:16 pm

story about old lady is awesome.

April 22, 2018 at 4:47 pm

So much ave missed…anyway am blessed..thumps up..i need more stories..2018• guyz more comments

April 29, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Rose story was awsome

May 2, 2018 at 2:17 pm

these stories are very inspiring and I really felt enthusiastic after reading them. I learned that life is beautiful and whatever happens, happens for the best.thanks for sharing such motivational stories. Hope we will get some more stories to read. Good Luck!

May 6, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Well I’m so inexperienced to articulate what I m feeling right now. This is the first time that I have read livelifehappy.com but I would definitely say this is the best utilization and happy hours for me. I wish I could find lot more of the story. I kept on scrolling down but I could comments section. This has given me different way of looking into things and people as well. Hey Rob that really really wonderful to read this. Waiting for the upcomings. Thankyou so much for making me smile and motivated.

May 9, 2018 at 8:48 am

Thanks for such an inspirational stories… In today’s world people are so busy in making money and they have no time for their family and friends due to which people are facing lots of struggle.. … I am sure that by seeing this inspirational stories everyone will feel better and calm…. Anyone who are facing problems I just want to say that help one people who are in need of your help than I am sure by seeing smile on others face your problem will becomes less…. By helping others you will really feel solace….. When I read this short stories I really feel calm…. So thanks a lot……. Smile……

May 10, 2018 at 7:44 am

nice work and good stories i like it

May 16, 2018 at 5:59 am

Talking in between lectures and get thrown out of the class. This are the best classroom stories to remember. Just like when my crush got thrown out of the class. Even I went out just to talk with her and spend time with her, Some chapters of love stories are best learned outside the classroom love story

May 18, 2018 at 6:23 am

Encouraging stories.actually we need more.

May 22, 2018 at 10:40 am

This is really awesome, obviously these are all inspiration stories and we can share it to friends or family members not to be miserable.

Thanks for this kind of stories, please share more this kind of stories.

May 22, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Glad you enjoyed them my friend

May 25, 2018 at 1:39 am

you have a good article, i want to share this artukel, i hope it will be useful for others .. thanks

May 27, 2018 at 11:37 pm

very touching and so relevant..loved it!

June 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Such a great and an awesome story! Thanks for Sharing

June 18, 2018 at 6:47 pm

In the fast pace stressful life, inspirational stories works as energy boosters and pill with no side effects. Thanks for sharing the stories. I write inspirational stuff to inspire and motivate myself and others too. It gives another level of happiness. You may want to check these http://innovativheart.com/thomas-edison-life-lessons-success-story/ http://innovativheart.com/inspirational-story-butterfly/

June 22, 2018 at 6:55 am

at the first ,i was bored to read this long type stories but when i start to read i was really shocked ,it was amazing and power to inspire human.thank you

June 22, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Today I am lucky. I came out of my routine, finding out solutions for mysilly problems. At this age, I am wasting my time, a large part of it, into finding solutions for unnecessary issues. Today I made my first positive step and came to this wonderful and resourful blog post. The post is humarous, real, motivational and touching. I will keep coming to this blogs daily and spend a couple of hours on similar blogs.

June 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Everything happens for a reason and I’m so thankful that I happen to find these stories. Truly inspirational

June 28, 2018 at 2:04 pm

What A Wonderfull Stories I Like Them Please Add More

June 29, 2018 at 6:17 am

very nice stories …inspiring and motivating

July 2, 2018 at 9:50 pm

Hi guys, thanks for these inspiring story, indeed they do lift up a dead soul like mine, where by I thought I was worthless, and no longer have value. Thank you so much ?

July 4, 2018 at 2:38 am

i love these stories

July 4, 2018 at 2:40 am

These stories are so inspiring and so much fun to read. I enjoyed them.

July 8, 2018 at 1:58 pm

wow,such a great and inspirational stories

July 10, 2018 at 4:14 am

nice story ..

July 14, 2018 at 8:33 am

this is LOVEEE !…Its so beautiful to see the world with these eyes. A huge thanks for introducing me to these life visions. Pure happiness…

May 7, 2019 at 6:25 am

thank you so much i really loved and inspired with these stories . that’s how your morning should start thank you again.

March 24, 2020 at 10:19 am

May 13, 2020 at 11:09 am

Refreshing and makes you think about them. Thank you soooo much. Love

May 13, 2020 at 11:10 am

Refreshing and makes you think about them. Thank you so much. much love. Keep up the good work

May 13, 2020 at 10:53 pm

wonderful stories and good lessons for life. wish there more people in the world could read these stories.

May 31, 2020 at 9:11 pm

i love your work it has really bless me

June 7, 2020 at 1:53 pm


July 11, 2020 at 12:50 pm

August 19, 2020 at 9:52 am

inspiring stories

August 30, 2020 at 5:28 pm

thanks sir your site is good and i will share it my personal blog

September 23, 2020 at 2:16 pm

one day in 2020, I am finding myself

November 3, 2020 at 9:08 am

Hi, Can I know who is the writer of this stories?

March 16, 2021 at 11:18 am

As a rule, pride is at the bottom of all problems and mistakes. The truth will always be hard to swallow when we are choking on our noble.

April 8, 2021 at 5:16 am

Very encouraging stories. Thanks for sharing.

April 19, 2021 at 5:55 pm

Was looking for some takes regarding this topic and I found your article quite informative. It has given me a fresh perspective on the topic tackled. Thanks!

June 11, 2021 at 6:38 am

Thank you for tis stories. I would like more many. Please upload this type of things with in reality reach n teach us. 👍

July 22, 2021 at 5:20 am

October 11, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Good day A bit of my brain tumors Story….. I was about 21 when I was in a major train accident and had major head injuries and it left me paralysed for a few months or sooo as my pelvic bones were broken as well. I am a 51 year woman who worked for Nedbank for 27 years then this traumatic events started : We were moving office from one floor to another and I fell up the stairs with boxes in my arms and aged 22 bumped my head that time my colleague laughed and said they never heard of a person falling up the stairs but only down the stairs.

The doctor that time said my tumours is inherit from 3 generations meningioma and malama passed on to me and is stress related and he suggested that we move out of the residential area. Which we did. But neverless I lost everything my husband my beautifull plot my children my friends all my personal and sentimental belongings due to my personality changes, emotional insecurity, social phobia, memory loss, Nobody understood the changes in me, not even me do now. I had 4 brain operations over a period of 15 years. The first in 2001 half of my hair was shaved off to open my scalp to remove the tumour, the second 2002 the back of my left ear that leave me partial deaf the 3 rd in 2011 on my frontal right lobe eye what started with losing my eye sight the last in 2015 in my right frontal lobe.. which created a personality change which I battled to accept and it is difficult for my family as well. My children think I am putting up a act to get attention. I am losing my eye sight I think the last one was the most difficult one due to my age and it created a personality change which is difficult to accept by myself and family and I am scared for people that I did not know before the operation. I have no words to explain my condition, I cry every day and is tired and sleep most of the time. I am unbalanced and dizzy if I stand to long I cannot even go shopping. I went through a divorce and into a new relationship which made every thing more confused as I did not understand why are everybody treating me like a baby and my bf never left my side for 24/7. It felt that all know something but don’t want me to know. I believed I was crazy but my family rescued me. Well I believe I am able to cure with professional help / sponsorship or even if research is done on me to better technology. I am prepared to relocated for studies to be done on me. I want to be the same or a better person with wealth and health and happiness and success and love than before. I am under 24/7 care but believe I am able to heal 100% with God on my side and professional help. I constantly change living arrangements within the family as they do not know how to handle my moods and I cannot live by myself . I have emotional issues as I cry a lot and my family want me save and happy. I have short term and long term memory loss and it seem that no one understand me and I have no reason to live anymore. I was once admitted to Akeso Clinic as I had a major breakdown and my daugther send me to Randvaal in Walkerville in 2016 a place for old age people and brain damage persons younger than 60 who are under care 24/7 as well, as she has Power of Attorney on all of my financial affairs, but I turned out worse and now I am with family in Heidelberg always family with me 24/7 as I get lost and all funny things happen to me. So I am never alone….. I were everywhere with the family Durban, Cape Town, but had no professional help just loving family protecting and caring for me for the past 5 years. The Brackenhurst clinic referred me to Alberton North pshyco who wanted me go go to Sterkfontein hospital but my family said noooo. Once a month the family comes together and dress me up and make me beautifull for photos but that makes me even more emotional. They love me sooo much and also want to see me as I use to be and I Brain opp photos x15

November 30, 2021 at 3:10 am

These are soo inspiring stories we should put in our lifes.

January 13, 2022 at 6:38 am

Awesome site. Thanks for sharing.

March 1, 2022 at 7:48 pm

All stories inspired my way of thought and my life too. This will always be my power and knowledge to my life.

March 3, 2022 at 9:07 pm

I loved it I read it at school and it was the best ever I had to write a story based off or it.

April 6, 2022 at 9:43 am

The quates are seem to be a considerable and useful for everyone who logically go through them. Thank you. I appericiate your work.

November 7, 2022 at 2:52 pm

Thanks for sharing the stories. It would be nice to have more. I would appreciate if you could upload these kinds of things with in real life reach and teach us. 👍

Best Todays – Best Todays | A website to learn the ways to make money online and reviews. https://bestodays.com/

October 30, 2023 at 9:03 am

Thanks a lot buddy. Really felt happy.

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Begin My Story Blog

351 Life Story Questions to Ask People (Storytelling)

  • Categories: Family Storytelling , Interviews & Questions
  • Tags: Questions to Ask

Ask people these 351 life story questions for storytelling.

What questions do you ask people when interviewing them about their life stories? What writing prompts do you use to write their story? In this article, I have included 351-plus writing prompts and questions to interview others and write their stories. They are a little random, but you get an idea of what you can discuss. I would encourage you to add questions that come to you.

Using Open-ended Questions

You will note that many of the questions are open-ended questions. I believe open-ended questions are the best type of questions to ask others. Open-ended questions allow people to tell stories they want to share. An example of open-ended questions are:

  • What did you like to do when you were a little girl?
  • What did you do on your first date?
  • Where do you like to go for a vacation?
  • Who is your favorite author, and why?
  • What some of your favorite experiences with your mom and dad?

When I interviewed my dad, I lived in a different state. I asked my dad if I could set up a series of telephone interviews that I could record. I chose to break up the interview into 10 60- to 90-minute sessions over six weeks. Each talk focused on a different time period or topic of his life. At the end of each interview, I outlined what I wanted to cover in the following interview to give my dad time to ponder what stories he wanted to share. During our interviews, he shared many personal stories that I had never heard. We laughed, cried, and shared many precious and tender moments.

I have prepared a couple of other resources that will provide value in interviewing for and writing individual, personal, and family narratives: “ Complete Guide for Conducting Oral History Interviews ” and “ Complete Guide to Writing A Personal Narrative .”

351 Life Story Questions to Ask Others

These 351 writing prompts and questions are part of a 28 article, 108 category series entitled “ 7,500-plus Questions About Life to Ask People When Writing Narratives .”  I have divided the writing prompts and questions to ask others into the following categories. Click on the category to be taken to the questions.

Early Years

School years-elementary school, school years-jr. high school, school years-high school, school years-college/university/trade school, grandparents, spouses parents, professional/career, military and war, personal experiences, request for artifacts.

  • What is your full name, and why were you named that? (Maiden name for females)
  • Who are your parents and your grandparents? a. Your parents? Please give full names. b. Your grandparents? Please give full names.
  • What is your place of birth?
  • What are your birth date and year?
  • Were you named after someone?
  • Where did you live during your early years?
  • What are the earliest memories of your home?
  • Did you have any nicknames as you were growing up? a. If yes, what would you like to share about the nickname?
  • What chores did you have as a child? a. What memories do you have about your chores? b. Which chore did you dislike and why?
  • What kind of books did you like to read? a. Did you have a favorite book or books series? b. Why did you like the books?
  • What was your nighttime routine for going to bed? a. What memories would you like to share?
  • Did you have favorite songs that you liked to sing?
  • Why type of toys did you like to play with as a child?
  • What types of games did you like to play? a. Indoors? b. Outdoors? c. Boardgames?
  • What were your favorite foods as a child? Explain. a. Was there ever a time when you did not have enough to eat? Explain.
  • What did you want to become when you grew up? (e.g., policeman, fireman, nurse, doctor)
  • Who was the oldest person you remember as a child? a. What do you remember?
  • Did you ever have any childhood diseases (e.g., measles, mumps, chickenpox) growing up? What do you remember?

Return to questions list.

  • Where did you go to elementary school?
  • What was the school like?
  • Who were your friends in elementary school?
  • What are your favorite memories about your friends?
  • Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
  • Were you ever bullied in elementary school? Explain.
  • What memories do you have about elementary school?
  • How did you go to school?
  • Did you eat lunch at school or go home?
  • What did you like to play?
  • What did you like to do after school?
  • What other memories would you like to share?
  • Where did you go to school in Jr. High or Middle School?
  • Who were your friends in Jr. High school?
  • Were you ever bullied in Jr. High? Explain.
  • What memories do you have about Jr. High school?
  • What classes did you like most and why?
  • What type of classes did you take for your elective classes? (e.g., band, shop, home education)
  • Did you participate in after-school activities like sports, marching band, cheer or other activities? What are your memories?
  • Were there any dress fads during your school years?
  • What other memories about Jr. High would you like to share?
  • Were you ever given any special awards for your studies or school activities?
  • Describe yourself in High School.
  • Where did you go to school in High School?
  • Who were your friends in High school?
  • Were you ever bullied in high school? Explain.
  • What memories do you have of High School?
  • What classes did you like most and why? Least, and why?
  • What type of classes did you take for your elective classes?
  • What kind of grades did you get in your classes?
  • Did you participate in after-school activities like sports, marching band, cheer or other activities? What memories do you have?
  • Did you date during High School? What were their names? What memories would you like to share?
  • What did you wear to school? Describe it.
  • What other memories about High School would you like to share?
  • Did you and your friends have special hang-outs where you liked to spend time?
  • How many years of education have you completed?
  • Did you attend any school or training after high school?
  • What can you tell me about your education?
  • Why did you choose it as your field of study?
  • Did you graduate? What memories would you like to share?
  • Describe yourself as a young adult.
  • Did you date as a youth? a. How older were you had your first date? b. What do you remember about your first date? c. Who was your first date?
  • When did you first meet your spouse? a. Where was it? b. What do you remember about the first meeting? c. Describe your time dating? d. What attracted you to that person? e. Describe your time together. a. Describe them. f. How long did you know them before you got married? g. Describe your wedding proposal.
  • Where and when did you get married? (Include date, place, church, etc.)
  • Describe your wedding day and ceremony.
  • Who was there? Best Man, Bride’s Maid, other wedding party members?
  • Did you have a honeymoon? a. Where did you go?
  • How would you describe your spouse(s)?
  • What do (did) you admire most about them?
  • How long have (were) you married?
  • When and where did your spouse die? a. How died? b. Where buried?
  • What advice would you give to your child or grandchild on their wedding day?
  • Have you ever been divorced? What can you share?
  • Do you have children?
  • What are their names, birth dates and birthplaces?
  • What is the story behind each name you gave your children?
  • Did you adopt any children? a. Can your share your experiences of adoption?
  • Describe the memory about learning you were going to be a parent for the first time?
  • What memories do you have about each child?
  • Describe the personalities of your children.
  • What are some of the most memorable experiences you had with your children/family?
  • What memorable experiences did you have with each child?
  • What is some funny, humorous experience you had with your family?
  • What were some trying times as a family? Explain? a. What did you do to overcome the time? b. How did it affect your family?
  • What did you find most challenging about raising children?
  • What do you consider to be rewarding about being a parent?
  • How would you describe your parenting style as a parent?
  • What are the lessons you learned as a parent?
  • What were your happiest moments as a parent?
  • Where were your saddest moments as a parent?
  • What would you like to do over if you could as a parent?
  • How did you treat each child?
  • What do you consider to be the most complex decisions you made as a parent?
  • What do you regret most as a parent?
  • Who influenced you most as a parent?
  • What were your happiest moments as a family?
  • What were your tragic moments as a family?
  • Did you move as a family? Why and where? a. How did the move affect your family?
  • How did you first hear that you were a grandparent, and how did you feel about it?
  • What advice would you pass on to your children/grandchildren?
  • What can you tell me about your parents? a. What memories would you like to share about your mother? b. What memories would you like to share about your father? c. What memories would you like to share about your parents together?
  • Did your parents stay together, divorce or pass away? If yes, did they remember? a. What memories would you like to share? b. Did you have any stepparents? c. What memories would you like to share?
  • Do you remember hearing your parents describe their lives? a. What did they say?
  • When and where did your parents die? a. What do you remember about it? b. How they died, were hospitalized, buried?
  • Did your family belong to a religion? If yes, a. Did your parents and grandparents belong to the religion? b. Did you attend a church? c. What do you remember? d. Do you have any experiences you would like to share?
  • What can you remember about your grandparents? a. What memories would you like to share about each of your grandmothers? b. What memories would you like to share about each of your grandfathers? c. What memories do you have about your grandparents together?
  • Do you remember hearing your grandparents describe their lives? b. What did they say?
  • Do you remember your great-grandparents? a. What do you know about them?
  • Did you have any brothers and sisters? What were their names? a. What memories do you have about your brothers and sisters that you would like to share?
  • How did your family have fun when you were a child?
  • Where did your spouse’s parents live? a. What memories do you have about your spouse’s parents?
  • When and where did your spouse’s parents die? c. What do you remember about it? d. How did they die, were hospitalized, buried?
  • What details can you remember about the death of your spouse’s parents?
  • What was your chosen career?
  • Where did you receive training/education for your career?
  • How did you decide on a career?
  • What do you remember about your first job?
  • Where have you worked? City? Company? a. What were the jobs? b. What do you remember about each job? c. Has work provided a good living? d. Describe a typical day at work? e. What did you like most/least about work?
  • Did you have more than a career? Explain.
  • What are some of your most memorable experiences/projects? • Have you retired? When would you like to retire?
  • Did you serve in the military? a. What branch of the service did you serve? b. Why did you decide to join the military? c. When and where did you serve? d. Where were you trained? e. What was your training?
  • Where were you stationed during active military duty? a. Describe each post and what you did? b. What are your memories of active duty? c. Do you remember your units? If yes, what were they?
  • What was your highest rank?
  • Did you ever serve in the war? Which one (s)? a. WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, or other? a. What were the circumstances? b. Were you in a combat or support role? c. What campaigns were you in? What was your role in the campaign?
  • Would you be willing to share your experiences and memories of war? a. If yes, where would you like to begin? b. Were you injured in war? Explain.
  • How did your time in the military affect you? Explain.
  • By what name/nickname do your friends call you? Does the name have a special meaning?
  • What name are you known by among family?
  • As you look back on your life, what would you consider to be the most important ____? Why? Explain your memories. a. Inventions? News events? World events? Politics? Technology advances?
  • Talk about the differences in today’s life compared to the time as a child?
  • Did you or your family experience events like prohibition, the depression, war? Explain. What do you remember?
  • Have you had any health problems over the years? a. What were the health issues? b. When did the health issue arise? c. How did they affect your life? d. Where they heredity? e. What are they?
  • What do you do regularly for exercise?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized? If so, what for? a. Have you ever had surgery? b. What for? c. Do you or have you ever had habits that you would consider wrong? Explain? d. Do you still have them, or did you overcome them? Explain.
  • Have you been a victim of crime? a. What happened? b. How did the incident affect your life?
  • Have you ever been in a severe accident?
  • Has anyone ever saved your life? a. Describe.
  • How would you describe yourself politically? b. Are you Conservative or Liberal, and why?
  • Who would you consider to be your good/best friend (s)? a. What are their names? b. How long have you known them? c. What do you like about them? d. What do you do together? a. What would your friend say about you?
  • Have you ever met anyone that you would consider being a soul mate or kindred spirit? a. Who were they? b. Explain why you felt a special bond with them?
  • What were the most (i.e., challenging, meaningful, troubling) decision(s) you have made in your life? Explain. a. What was the outcome? b. Do you consider the outcome to good or bad? Why?
  • Who do you consider the most influential individuals in your life? a. Who were they? b. What did they do that influenced your life?
  • What do you consider to be the essential advice you have received in life? a. Did you take that advice? b. What was the outcome? Explain.
  • Is there anything you would change about yourself? Why? Explain.
  • Describe moments/memories in your life when you were most stressed?
  • What do you consider to be the tough times in your life? Why? Explain. a. What helped you get through the period? b. How did the experience affect you for good or bad?
  • Describe times when you were scared? What happened?
  • Have you ever played a musical instrument? a. If yes, what kind? Describe your experience.
  • Are you or would you consider yourself to be creative? Explain.
  • Have you ever made something for someone else? Explain?
  • What types of service have you provided others? a. How does it make you feel? b. What were the outcomes of your service?
  • What are moments in life when others served you? a. What was the most memorable time? b. What were the outcomes of the service?
  • How would you describe your sense of humor?
  • Have you ever played a practical joke on someone? a. Describe that experience and what you did.
  • What type of activities have you enjoyed as an adult? a. Recreation? Hobbies? Personal enrichment? Relaxation? b. What did you like about each activity? c. A most memorable experience with each activity?
  • When you were not working, what did you like to do?
  • What would you consider to be the most exciting/wonderful experience in your life?
  • Did you ever meet anyone famous? Who? a. Describe the experience.
  • Have you ever belonged to any organizations or groups? a. What the group about? b. What drew you to join the group? c. What are your memorable experiences in the group? d. Are you still a member? If not, explain.
  • Have you ever been awarded a price or award as an adult? Explain. a. What did you have to do to earn the award?
  • Describe a time in your life when you felt most happy or at peace? a. Where were you, and what were you doing?
  • Describe the beautiful place you have ever visited, and what was it like?
  • Have you ever taken an extended trip or vacation? a. Where did you go? b. What did you do?
  • What do you consider to be your favorite vacation? a. Where did you go, and why was it special?
  • Do you have a place that is special to you where you like to visit? a. Where is it? b. Why is the place special? c. Can you share your memories?
  • Have you ever had a pet? a. What was the animal? b. What was the name of the animal? c. How did the pet become part of your life? d. Do you have a favorite story about your pet?
  • What is on your bucket list of things still to do? Why?
  • Is there a time in your life that you would consider to be most memorable?
  • What or who is your favorite and why: a. Animal? Artist? Athlete? b. Author? Boardgame? Book? c. Candy? Card game? Color? d. Cookie? Desert? Drink? e. Ice cream flavor? Flower? Fruit? f. Holiday? Meal? Movie star? g. Movie? Musical group? Musical instrument? h. Painting? Poem? Poet? i. Restaurant? Season? Singer? j. Song? Sport? Style of music? k. Tree? TV program? Vegetable?
  • How would you describe each member of your family? a. Mother? b. Father, c. Siblings (brothers/sisters)? d. Children?
  • Who fits the following descriptions and why? a. Animal lover? Best cook? Best gardener? Best housekeeper? b. Best looking? Best memory? Best storyteller? Biggest tease? c. Calmest? Funniest? Hardest worker? Most athletic? d. Most colorful? Most creative? Most frugal? Most generous? e. Most mischievous? Most politically active? Most reclusive? f. Most relaxed? Most sociable? Quietest? Shortest? g. Tallest? Wildest lifestyle?
  • Do you have any artifacts like letters, journals, photos, movies, videos or audio recordings of older family members that can help tell your story?
  • Would you allow me to make copies (e.g., Photograph, scan, read)?


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Daily Inspired Life

Life Changing Stories | 21 Real Life Short Stories That Will Inspire You To Change Your Life

Real-life stories from around the world to inspire you to change your life. topics include love, relationships, health, hardship, career, money, and making good life decisions.  .

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‘See Me’ by Susan Greeff | What’s really important in life? | Inspiring Story #73

Heart-warming story about a young Surma boy who teaches an award winning photographer a powerful lesson about what is most important in life

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I was just forty years old. A few weeks earlier, I had booked an appointment with my doctor for a “routine” breast examination ..

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One evening while enjoying a ride, Brad Johnson’s world is torn apart by a serious motorcycle accident. Two weeks after being released from the hospital, and still recovering, a deadly fire rages through his town. Brad is lucky to escape alive, with literally the shirt on his back, and his faithful dog Bella.

Rather than being defined by tragedy, Brad’s story is about his choice to celebrate life by giving back to others.

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Short story about challenging the world’s definition of success and creating your own happy life filled with meaning.

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There was a time when best-selling author, Barbara Sher, thought life was too short for all her dreams. The choices were too many, and she thought she’d have to choose between one thing and another.  But then … It was just one summer, but what a summer.I once had my own vegetable garden. It was my

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  Life is precious, life is fleeting. Make the most of your moments while you’re here  ~ Karletta MarieI was called to take a detour through the cemetery this morning.  An old man, grey hair sprouting from under his cap sits in silence staring at a grave in front of him. I wonder who it is

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When young Cari meets a mysterious stranger on a beach in Mexico, she gets a lesson that will impact her for many years to come.

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In this story, witness Julie’s personal encounter with the Dalai Lama and learn about the transformative power of practicing kindness and compassion in your life.

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When Michelle’s father passes away, she makes a shocking discovery that teaches her a powerful life lesson that will impact her every day.

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Definition of life story

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10 Themes for Writing Your Life Story

a life story

Want to write your life story but don’t know where to start? You’ve learned a lot of lessons in life, and you’ve had experiences you’d like to share with others, whether with family, friends, colleagues, or even complete strangers. But as you’re musing on all the experiences you’ve had, you begin to wonder how you’ll ever organize it all—and how you’ll write it in a way that resonates with readers and doesn’t make them feel like they’re reading dry, old history.

Here’s a tip: Don’t start with the day you were born. Find a theme to focus your story around.

As you’re searching for the perfect theme, keep in mind the difference between your life story, or autobiography, and memoir. Memoirs “feature a story or series of stories centered on a common element from the author’s life, sometimes called slice-of-life stories.” For example, writing solely about overcoming a disease or debilitating addiction would be considered memoir. An autobiography, on the other hand, “takes a broader perspective” and focuses on “key life-history events.” (For additional tips on getting your nonfiction genre right, head over to our “ Defining Nonfiction Categories ” article when you’re done reading this one!)

Examples of Themes

For a life story, focusing on a theme can help you organize your thoughts, your life events and experiences, and your book as a whole. It can help you focus on those “key life-history” moments that matter most to the reader.

Here are ten themes to get the ideas flowing:

  • Crossroads . Is there an event that changed the course of your life? If something different had happened or you’d made a different choice, what would your life be like today?
  • Body . How has health or sickness affected your life? Have you overcome any significant physical challenges?
  • Death . What was your first experience with death? How did it change you? How do you feel about your own mortality?
  • Religion . How has your religion, or lack of it, made you who you are? Write about where your beliefs come from and how they have changed over the years.
  • Family . What makes your family unique? What was it like growing up with them? How did it affect you as an adult?
  • Goals or dreams . What major goals have you made and met in your life? What dreams did you go for (or wait patiently for), and how did that journey turn out?
  • Dinnertime . What is it like around your dinner table on a regular day? How about around the Thanksgiving table?
  • Regrets . If you could go back and change one life decision, what would it be? How do you think your life would be different today if you could? If you don’t have major regrets, another way to look at this is to consider your mistakes in life—big and small—what you learned from them, and how you can pass on that wisdom by telling the stories around the mistakes.
  • Travel . Where have you traveled? How have those places shaped your worldview?
  • Fears . What are you afraid of? What have you avoided because of those fears? How have you overcome your fears, and how did that change your life?

The Wrap-Up

There are many things you can choose to focus on, but this list should get you started. After all, you’re the one person who can decide which theme will best help define and illuminate your life experiences and the lessons you hope to teach.

Do you have a theme idea we didn’t share here? We’d love to hear about it! And if you’re ready to get started on sharing your life lessons,  contact us  to see how we can help you get them out there!


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Warren F. Rosenbauam

Very thought-provoking and well presented. I have several memoirs, short articles about profound events in my life, and they are a decent start. But your themes add much more dimension to both my life’s story and the 7,500 words I have of “Our Family” story. I can visualize each of your themes as chapters, organizing information or events in these categories plus a Summary Chapter wherein a personal observation of the overall information concludes with a (hopefully) positive summation of a good life lived. The ups were positive rewards and the downs were redirecting me to new callings in my life as I matured from one season-of-life to the next. Approaching my 83rd birthday next week I have quite a lot of information and life-experiences to sort through and categorize. But as I concluded in one of my metered, rhyming poems titled “Selected Memoirs Are Revealing,” With joy of the memories and the lessons learned, My duty to record before life is adjourned, Regardless of writing skills or style, The end product makes it all worthwhile. Best Wishes, Warren


I deeply agree with you, Warren. And congrats on reaching the level of wisdom you’re at! My first-grader decided that he’ll watch all the TV he wants when he’s a senior (grandma lives with us), and I had to laugh, because some seniors are more active in life than I am! I’m sure your memoir will offer a great deal of wonderful insight to your posterity and to history!


Thank you Warren and Emilee. I now have a better understanding of where i need to sort and start.

Kay Davis

Hi. I am looking for a professional editor for a 50-page life history. It will go in a series of archives for personal papers. I would love this to be fun, interesting, and informative. It talks a bit about where I grew up, the type of environment I had, and what I accomplished in the first part of my life.

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a life story

At its center is another richly defined and dedicated Hilary Swank performance as the two-time Oscar winner goes for what she knows best, a flawed character who picks herself up off the floor determined to make a difference in not only her own life, but an entire community. She plays Sharon, a divorced alcoholic hairdresser at odds with her son who one day sees something in the local Kentucky small town newspaper and decides to show up out of the blue to offer help. She turns up unannounced at the funeral for Theresa, the wife of blue collar roofer Ed Schmitt ( Alan Ritchson ) who is grieving the loss of his life partner and mother of their two girls, one of whom, Michelle, suffers from the same rare congenital liver disease her mom died from. She is in desperate need of a transplant and Sharon is offering her unique talents to bring awareness. It gets even more urgent when it is learned an organ transplant is now possible, but they must get Michelle to the Omaha hospital urgently. It won’t be easy. The snowstorm of the century at 22 degrees below zero and 16 inches of powder has blanketed the area. Using every idea in her wheelhouse, Sharon manages to engage the entire tiny community to attempt the impossible.

Producers are Jon Berg, Roy Lee, Dave Matthews, Johnathan Dorfman, Sarah Johnson, David Beal, Kevin Downes, Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin.

Title: Ordinary Angels Release date: February 23, 2024 Director: Jon Gunn Screenwriters: Meg Tilly, Kelly Fremon Craig Cast: Hilary Swank, Alan Ritchson, Nancy Travis, Tamala Jones, Drew Powell, Amy Acker, Skywalker Hughes, Emily Mitchell Rating: PG Running time: 1 hour and 56 minutes

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Timeless life stories told by your loved ones., share more than photos. share life stories..

Do you want to pass your personal story to your family? Perhaps hear your favorite family story, told in the voice of your loved one? Or do you simply want to preserve your family's history for generations to come? A Life's Story does just that. We take interviews with your loved one and turn them into keepsake audio productions for your whole family to treasure.

A Life's Story is the production team you need to create a multi-generational masterpiece for your family. Receive state-of-the-art equipment in the mail, and then be interviewed by world-class professionals.. A production team will edit and produce your audio documentary, providing you with a final product that is easy to share and save for a lifetime.


Stories that last a lifetime.

Discover life's favorite memories with A Life's Story. Each audio documentary is personalized, masterfully edited and stored as one single file to easily share with your whole family.

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You'll receive state-of-the-art recording equipment and easy-to-follow instructions delivered straight to your house.

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Our seasoned team of experts conducts a series of pre-interviews and full interviews to craft your life's story.

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Our team will edit the story flow, add soundscapes, musical scoring, and more for the final production.

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What Clients Say

"You framed our mother's story in such a way that made it so poignant and meaningful. We were blown away! My brother, my sister, and I are so very happy to have had you capture her life story. We will be proud to share it with her grandkids and someday her great-grandkids."

- Emilio Faildes

Meet the founder, World-Class Interviewer, Leslie Gold.

Leslie Gold, "The Radiochick," is a world-class content creator bringing decades of production experience to A Life's Story. Naturally curious and empathetic, Leslie is a master storyteller with veteran broadcast experience, including interviews with presidents, politicians, celebrities and entrepreneurs. Today, she focuses on moving listeners to both laughter and tears with family heirloom audio stories crafted with love and attention to detail.

Leslie works seamlessly with the interviewers and producers of A Life's Story to meticulously craft lifelong stories and keepsakes for families. Her personal vision, paired with an emotional connection leads to heartwarming family audio documentaries that last a lifetime.


A Life's Story Podcast: Stories That Stay With You.

Tune in to A Life's Story Podcast, available on all major platforms, including Spotify and Apple. Hear from a variety of perspectives during full-length interviews with Leslie Gold. From Holocaust survivors to stories of unrequited love, you'll learn life lessons and hear from the voices of our generations.

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Taylor Swift's 'ick face,' Travis Kelce and when going public causes more harm than good

a life story

Did Taylor Swift get "the ick" ? Are she and Travis Kelce really happy? What did she whisper to him after that one game?

Questions like these and more have swirled throughout Swift and Kelce's relationship − yet the pair haven't let the speculation deter them from flaunting their love publicly. Their romance has involved concert shout-outs, jumbotron-sized football cheers and plenty of PDA, with seemingly little regard for how many people are watching or what they may think.

Experts say Swift and Kelce's romance and fans' reaction to it highlight the burdens that can arise when a relationship becomes public, whether the people involved are famous or not.

"When people start analyzing every micro-expression of the couple, it's because they are looking for data," says Sara Nasserzadeh , the author of the book "Love by Design: 6 Ingredients to Build a Lifetime of Love." "They're collecting to complete their stories in their own mind."

Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce's PDA is drastically different from her relationship with Joe Alwyn

Swift's dating life has long been the topic of scrutiny and public speculation − so, in that regard, the buzz around her relationship with Kelce is nothing new.

What stands out to fans this time, however, is the freedom with which Swift and Kelce show their relationship for the world to see. It seems a stark contrast to Swift's previous relationship with actor Joe Alwyn, which lasted six years and seldom saw the two at crowded places together, let alone making public comments about each other or their relationship.

Mental health experts say keeping a relationship private or making it public is a decision every couple has to make together. Each path has its benefits, but each also has its challenges.

One burden of the public route is it gives people outside the relationship the opportunity to read into signals about the health of the relationship − regardless of if these signals are real or imagined. For instance, after the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl victory, Kelce scream-sang "Viva Las Vegas" into a microphone . The camera flashed to Swift's expression, and many fans were certain she felt "the ick," or a sudden feeling of repulsion, toward Kelce.

"We call this kind of body language micro-expressions," says Gary Brown , a licensed marriage and family therapist "What we're seeing are snapshots in time. We're seeing a couple in a given moment, but we don't really know what's really the baseline of their relationship when they're not in front of a camera or a microphone. What is the tone of their relationship? What is the quality of their relationship? What is the nature of their love? And so I think we really run the risk of analyzing to the point where our analysis can become pretty easily flawed."

We can't stop watching: Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce pack on the PDA.

Going public with a relationship has pros and cons

Public scrutiny on a relationship is going to have different effects on different people. Those who are more naturally extroverted may not mind the spotlight as much as those who are more introverted.

Being in a public relationship also lends itself more easily to public support. You can celebrate milestones online and receive affirmation from those who may not know you deeply, but champion you all the same.

"Your fans can enjoy watching your journey as a couple and celebrate your happiness, and you get to celebrate your love openly," Brown says.

Of course, however, going public with anything, especially a romance, comes with the risk of trolls and detractors. This doesn't just go for famous people. Everyday people who hard-launch a relationship on social media or share a mushy post about their significant other should brace themselves for unwanted comments and intrusive questions from everyone including disapproving relatives, envious exes and judgmental acquaintances.

These comments can take a toll on one's mental health, exacerbating issues like anxiety and depression; so, if you're going to date publicly, you need to prepare for them.

"Anytime that we're exposed to unneeded criticism I think can impact self-esteem and confidence," says  Stephanie Sarkis , a psychotherapist and author of "Healing from Toxic Relationships: 10 Essential Steps to Recover from Gaslighting, Narcissism, and Emotional Abuse." "Your relationship is really nobody's business but you and one person."

More: Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and finding happiness and hatred all at once

What to know before making a relationship public

Sarkis adds there are important things a couples should consider when deciding to make a romance public or keep it under wraps. They need to communicate and make sure they're on the same page about how public they'd like the relationship to be. This is essential for famous and non-famous people alike.

"You have to make sure it's mutual and that you've agreed to the terms of relationship," Sarkis says. "There needs to be parameters on what's going to be discussed. Is sex life going to be discussed? Are our conversations you've had going to be discussed? What's the level of comfort of disclosure of each partner?"

Don't feel rushed into going pubic either. It can be healthy for a couple to keep their romance just between them for a while before sharing it with others.

Also, always remember what anyone says about your relationship often has more to do with them than it does you.

"It's important to understand that if you're posting online, people are probably going to post things you don't want to read, and that it's rarely personal," Sarkis says. "It's about that person, their projections, rather than you."

Cuffing season has arrived. Don't jump into a relationship just because it's here.

Opinion Pro-life up until birth? Even that assessment is too generous.

a life story

Conservative politicians are sometimes accused of being pro-life up until the point the baby is born. But perhaps even that assessment is too generous.

Unborn children are getting short shrift thanks to recent state and federal policy choices that have worsened access to prenatal care.

Take, for instance, a new Florida law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that forces hospitals that receive any Medicaid dollars to ask patients about their immigration status — even though undocumented women in the state are not on, and do not qualify for, Medicaid.

Predictably, the law has discouraged immigrants from accessing available care, including when pregnant. Providers and maternity-focused nonprofits in the state report that fewer immigrant women have shown up for medical checkups and prenatal care since the law went into effect last year. Some pregnant women have been reluctant to seek emergency care when in severe pain or facing complications for fear that their immigration status will be used against them, advocates report.

Even if the state is indifferent to the health of foreign-born women, it should at least feign an interest in their gestating, U.S.-citizen children.

a life story

Many states are also purging their Medicaid rolls , leaving new moms and infants without access to care, often because of paperwork mix-ups . Last year, Texas erroneously disenrolled thousands of pregnant women , state whistleblowers claim.

Meanwhile, gridlock and obstructionism on Capitol Hill have taken a toll on the availability of critical maternal and fetal care.

Syphilis cases have soared in recent years , reaching their highest level since the 1950s. This has put both adults and their in-utero children at risk, as the disease can transfer from mother to baby through the placenta (known as congenital syphilis). The consequences for babies are severe: About 40 percent of babies born to women with untreated syphilis are stillborn or die as a newborn, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Others suffer from bone damage, anemia and nerve problems causing blindness or deafness, among other complications.

But the disease is easily treatable, assuming patients know they have it and receive care. So doctors have asked for more funding to support testing, tracking and treatment.

Alas, as part of last year’s debt limit showdown, Republicans pushed for, and Democrats ultimately capitulated to, large cuts to government spending, including to public health programs for sexually transmitted diseases . The actual funding levels have been in limbo, as Congress has been unable to pass a budget for the current fiscal year.

Legislative gridlock has also shortchanged the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC. Research has found that prenatal participation in WIC has led to better birth outcomes and fewer infant deaths. But with no budget agreement several months into the current fiscal year, WIC funding has stayed flat at last year’s level. This is inadequate to cover all eligible applicants this year given higher-than-expected participation rates and food costs.

In the coming months, if no increase in funding passes, pregnant and postpartum women and young children could end up on waitlists for the first time in 25 years , according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. While it is tempting to blame “Congress” for this outcome, the greater obstacle is House Republicans , who have explicitly tried to reduce WIC funding .

Finally, there’s the elephant in the room: the Dobbs decision , championed by conservatives, which has enabled abortion bans around the country. While these bans have forced more unintended pregnancies to be carried to term, they have also jeopardized wanted pregnancies — even those that might be considered less complicated.

That’s because experienced obstetricians are fleeing red states because of fears of legal liability and restrictions on their ability to provide needed care . States with abortion bans likewise saw the number of applicants for OB/GYN residencies drop more than 10 percent in 2023, the Association of American Medical Colleges reports .

“Fewer providers will mean less access to prenatal care, to say nothing of the restrictions those providers face when it comes to providing certain kinds of care,” said Dana Suskind, co-director of the University of Chicago’s TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health .

There are some encouraging counterexamples to this broad trend. For example, most states have now taken up a federal option to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage . (Of course, that only helps those who aren’t erroneously purged from Medicaid rolls.)

Still, politicians who call themselves pro-life should be passing more policies to support lives at all ages, including those in utero. Doing so would not only abide by their moralizing rhetoric; it would also support their stated concerns about budget deficits. Each dollar spent on prenatal nutrition and other maternal care offers a great return on investment by reducing spending on government services further down the line.

Something you’d never guess from any of their actual policy choices.

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a life story

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Welcome to ‘Supersex’: Why Porn Icon Rocco Siffredi Brought His True Story and More Than 40 ‘Boundary-Pushing’ Sex Scenes to Netflix

Porn icon Rocco Siffredi claims that after making roughly 1,400 hardcore films — with titles like “The Ass Collector” and “Rocco’s Perfect Slaves” — over the past four decades, he has finally found “the peace of his senses.”

“I could crack a bad joke and say I can’t get it up anymore,” says Siffredi, 59, speaking on a video call from the Budapest office of his Rocco Siffredi Production company, which houses the Siffredi Hard Academy, touted as the world’s first “university of porn.”

“I have to tell you that it was a mix of problems connected with my personal life and the dependency that this job, for better or worse, sets forth in you when you’re on set 28 days every month doing two or three scenes a day,” Siffredi says. “I don’t know if it was dependency or just desire. But I swear, it’s over.”

That said, he’s still happy to shoot other actors and create porn. “But I don’t feel the need to do it myself.”

“ Supersex ,” the Netflix series inspired by Siffredi’s life that drops globally on March 6 after premiering at the Berlin Film Festival in February, begins with Rocco announcing, “Porn for me is over. I’m retiring,” at a 2004 Paris porn industry convention. That really happened. But in a fictional twist written by the show’s creator, Francesca Manieri, Rocco, played by Italian star Alessandro Borghi, then proceeds to have rough sex in front of a throng of cheering journalists and fans, having been enticed by one of the convention’s hostesses, an aspiring porn performer who is seeking her big break.

Manieri, who is a militant feminist, says that when she was approached by producer Lorenzo Mieli about doing a Rocco Siffredi origins show on the set of Luca Guadagnino’s gay coming-of-age TV series “We Are Who We Are” — which she co-wrote — she thought Mieli was joking. He asked her to give it some serious thought.

Everyone told her it was “too risky,” but Manieri came on board because she saw it as a unique opportunity.

“I said to myself that if when women are given the chance to delve into the heart of masculinity — with all its dysfunctionality and potential toxicity, or even its power —we turn it down, then we can’t blame anyone anymore,” she says.

“That evening was like my high school and college graduation crammed into one,” says Siffredi — who is named after Alain Delon’s gangster character Roch Siffredi in the 1970 French film “Borsalino.” “When I saw Gabriel in that club, I knew that in front of me I had the opportunity that I had been seeking ever since I was a kid. The emotion I felt is indescribable.”

“Supersex” traces Siffredi’s journey from Ortona to Paris, Rome and then Los Angeles, where he started working with U.S. porn pioneer John Leslie and producer John Stagliano. It delves into Rocco’s close relationships with his mom and older brother Tommaso (Adriano Giannini) and with Tommaso’s partner Lucia, played by Jasmine Trinca, a Berlin juror. Lucia becomes a prostitute and is a “mirror for Rocco.” “They are both sex workers,” Manieri says. “But the social judgment cast upon them is completely different.” Lucia eventually manages to find redemption, though not entirely, “because our society does not allow that strong a twist.” But her character provides a “bridge between the feminine and masculine [realms].”

In terms of genre, Manieri calls “Supersex” a hybrid between a melodrama and a coming-of-age story. As references she cites Luchino Visconti’s neo-realist classic “Rocco and His Brothers” and Sergio Leone’s epic “Once Upon a Time in America,” classics that feature respectively a feminicide and a rape, she points out. These films depict “the dynamics of how a masculine psyche is built,” she says. Similarly, the series deconstructs “the boundaries of that type of toxic masculinity.”

Both Siffredi and Manieri say there is a lot more of Rocco’s real journey in “Supersex” than a show “just inspired by my life,” as Siffredi puts it. “Stories are built on conflict,” says Manieri. “Rocco and I in a room were the biggest conflict you could possibly imagine, so it was a great start.”

For Borghi — known to U.S. art-house audiences for playing Bruno, the Alpine native who has a meltdown in male-bonding drama “The Eight Mountains” — “Francesca’s screenplay is probably the reason I chose to make this series.” What interested him about the story of an 8-year-old kid from a dirt-poor family in Ortona who becomes the world’s biggest porn star is that it’s “so filled with emotional changes that have to do with dependency and pain and things connected with his family — this whole dark side,” he says.

“If they had written a series about a porn actor just to show how good he was at fucking, surely I would not have accepted,” he adds.

Borghi says he has roughly 40 or 50 “boundary-pushing” sex scenes in the show, some more intense than others. But what’s crucial for him is “that every scene that has to do with sex, with porn, always involves a new narrative twist for the character,” he points out. “It’s never because at that point in the narrative you needed to throw in some sex for the audience.” Instead, the steamy scenes “can be Rocco’s consecration, his happiness, or the way he faces pain.”

To play these scenes with several actresses— including Gaia Messerklinger, who plays Italian porn star Moana Pozzi, and Jade Pedri and Linda Caridi as women with whom Rocco becomes romantically involved — directors Matteo Rovere, Francesco Carrozzini and Francesca Mazzoleni had an intimacy coordinator on set in Rome, Sicily and Paris.

“We did lots of different things,” says Borghi, who describes the mood instilled on set by intimacy coordinator Luisa Lazzaro.

“It was funny because the first couple of weeks we were all a little uneasy,” he says, “and then the third week we just stood there naked looking at scenes on the monitor. So something must have worked.”

There is little doubt that of the many women in Rocco Siffredi’s life, the most important one is his mom, Carmela.

“My whole journey [into the porn world] starts with that woman and her suffering, my desire to suffer the way she did,” he says wistfully. “It was always very important for me to find redemption in order to help my mother, even financially.”

“She’s the biggest luck of my life,” he continues. “A mom who doesn’t judge you for your choice, doesn’t try to oppose it or create problems.” On the contrary: “It’s not that she pushed me. But she had that protective attitude that says: ‘Rocco, if it makes you happy, go for it!’”

Going for it took Siffredi from Ortona to Los Angeles in 1990. It was very tough, he recalls, due to his Italian accent and “because Americans are used to selling, not to buying,” as he puts it.

“Rocco, this guy from Italy. I’m the first European to disembark in America and I changed porn,” Siffredi boasts, referring to his signature brand of rough on-screen sex, not to mention his supersized cock, which has won him 150 porn industry prizes.

So is there a moral to “Supersex”? Can it help teenagers grasp the distinction between porn and real sex? “This series can help Rocco fans understand better who Rocco is — his life, where he comes from,” says Siffredi.

But it should also help viewers understand what it takes to become a porn star. “Guys arrive at my academy and they think they are going to find 10 women with their legs spread open, ready to do what they want,” Siffredi points out. But it’s not like that.

According to Siffredi, “Porn is a very tough job; it’s a vocation. I always say to the guys, ‘If you want to do this because you are unemployed and you need to make money, it’s not going to work. Because working with sex is the worse thing you can do in your life.’”

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