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Live Life Happy

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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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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a life story

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
  • 64 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.

Personal Guidance on Your Journey

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.

Your Life, Your Story

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.

64 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!

This really helped Thank you!

I’m so pleased to hear that. Good luck with your own life writing.

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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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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.

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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.

Develop Good Habits

37 Best Inspirational & Motivational Short Stories [2024 Update]

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Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that had a lasting impact on you?

Stories are one of the most powerful ways to guide, teach, and inspire people. Storytelling is effective because it helps to establish connections among people, as well as between people and the ideas that unite humanity.

Inspirational stories move past creating a sense of connection, and allow the listener to identify with the story wherever they are in their own life , which makes them more receptive to learning.

Some of the best stories contain several different meanings or lessons so they’re effective in communicating complex ideas in ways that are easy to understand.

Finally, storytelling has characteristics that benefits the three main types of learning: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

Visual learners benefit from the mental pictures that stories evoke.

Auditory learners are able to focus on the words and voice of the storyteller.

And kinesthetic learners can retain the emotional connections that they feel were created in the story.

No matter what type of learner you are , you can benefit from an inspirational story that comes with a moral.

In this article, I will share 23 short inspirational stories that can teach you valuable lessons .

Table of Contents

23 Best Inspirational Short Stories with a Motivating Moral

1. three feet from gold.

Watch the Video of This Story:

During the gold rush, a man who had been mining in Colorado for several months quit his job, as he hadn’t struck gold yet and the work was becoming tiresome.  He sold his equipment to another man who resumed mining where it had been left off.

The new miner was advised by his engineer that there was gold only three feet away from where the first miner stopped digging.

The engineer was right, which means the first miner was a mere three feet away from striking gold before he quit.

When things start to get hard, try to persevere through the adversity.

Many people give up on following their dreams because the work becomes too difficult, tedious, or tiresome–but often, you’re closer to the finish line than you may think , and if you push just a little harder, you will succeed.

2. Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand

A philosophy professor once stood up before his class with a large empty mayonnaise jar. He filled the jar to the top with large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full.

His students all agreed the jar was full .

He then added small pebbles to the jar, and gave the jar a bit of a shake so the pebbles could disperse themselves among the larger rocks. Then he asked again, “Is the jar full now?”

The students agreed that the jar was still full.

The professor then poured sand into the jar to fill up all the remaining empty space.

The students then agreed again that the jar was full .

The Metaphor:

In this story, the jar represents your life and the r ocks, pebbles, and sand are the things that fill up your life .

The rocks represent the most important projects and things you have going on, such as spending time with your family and maintaining proper health. This means that if the pebbles and the sand were lost, the jar would still be full and your life would still have meaning .

The pebbles represent the things in your life that matter, but that you could live without.

The pebbles are certainly things that give your life meaning (such as your job, house, hobbies, and friendships), but they are not critical for you to have a meaningful life.

These things often come and go, and are not permanent or essential to your overall well-being.

Finally, the sand represents the remaining filler things in your life, and material possessions. This could be small things such as watching television , browsing through your favorite social media site , or running errands.

These things don't mean much to your life as a whole, and are likely only done to waste time or get small tasks accomplished.

The metaphor here is that if you start with putting sand into the jar, you will not have room for rocks or pebbles.

This holds true with the things you let into your life. If you spend all of your time on the small and insignificant things, you will run out of room for the things that are actually important.

In order to have a more effective and efficient life, pay attention to the “rocks,” because they are critical to your long-term well-being .

3. The Elephant Rope

When walking through an elephant camp, a man noticed that the elephants were only secured with a small rope that was tied around one ankle. He wondered why the elephants didn’t break free from the rope, as the elephants were certainly strong enough to do so.

He asked a trainer why the elephants didn’t try to break free, and the trainer responded by saying that they use the same size rope for baby elephants all the way up to adulthood.

Because they’re too small when they’re babies to break free from the rope, they grow up being conditioned that the rope is stronger than they are . As adults, they think the rope can still hold them, so they don’t try to fight it.

The elephants in this case are experiencing learned helplessness . This phenomenon occurs when someone has been conditioned to anticipate discomfort in some way without having a way to avoid it or make it stop.

After enough conditioning, the person will stop any attempts to avoid the pain, even if they see an opportunity to escape.

If you go through life thinking that you can’t do something just because you have failed at doing it in the past, you’re living with a fixed mindset .

You have to let go of your limiting beliefs in order to make the breakthroughs that are required for your ultimate success.

Don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do something, and don’t hold onto an assumption that you can’t grow and learn from past failures.

4. A Wise Man’s Jokes

A wise man once faced a group of people who were complaining about the same issues over and over again. One day, instead of listening to the complaints, he told them a joke and everyone cracked up laughing.

Then, the man repeated the joke. A few people smiled.

Finally, the man repeated the joke a third time– but no one reacted .

The man smiled and said, “You won’t laugh at the same joke more than once. So what are you getting from continuing to complain about the same problem?”

You’re not going to get anywhere if you keep complaining about the same problem but do nothing to fix it.

Don’t waste your time complaining, expecting other people to continue to react to your complaints. Instead, take action to make a change.

5. It’s Never Too Late

In the 1940s, there was a man who, at the age of 65, was living off of $99 social security checks in a small house, driving a beat-up car.

He decided it was time to make a change , so he thought about what he had to offer that other people may benefit from. His mind went to his fried chicken recipe, which his friends and family loved.

He left his home state of Kentucky and traveled throughout the country, trying to sell his recipe to restaurants. He even offered the recipe for free, asking for only a small chunk of the money that was earned.

However, most of the restaurants declined his offer. In fact, 1,009 restaurants said no .

But even after all of the rejections, he persisted. He believed in himself and his chicken recipe.

When he visited restaurant #1,010, he got a YES .

Colonel Hartland Sanders.

There are a few lessons that you can take away from this story.

First, it’s never too late in life to find success . In a society that often celebrates young, successful people, it’s easy to start to think you’re never going to be successful after a certain age.

However, Colonel Sanders is an example that proves that argument wrong.

This story also demonstrates the power of persistence. You have to have confidence in yourself and believe in your work for other people to believe it also.

Disregard anyone who tells you “no” and simply move on.

6. The Boulder and the Gold

There once was a king who decided to do a little experiment. He had a giant boulder put right in the middle of the street. He then hid near the boulder to see who, if anyone, would try to move it out of the way.

First, some wealthy merchants walked by. They walked around the boulder, complaining that the king hasn’t been maintaining the roads very well.

Next, a peasant walked by, heading home with his arms full of food for his family. When he noticed the boulder, he put his groceries down and attempted to move it out of everyone’s way. It took him a while to move it, but he eventually succeeded.

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After the peasant gathered up his groceries to carry on home, he noticed a bag lying in the middle of the road, just where the boulder once was.

He opened the bag to find that it was stuffed full of gold coins , along with a letter from the king saying that the bag’s gold was a reward for the peasant to keep.

The king gave this gift because the peasant had taken the time and energy to move the boulder out of the road for the convenience of others who would be traveling the road in the future.

The peasant in this story was taught by the king that every obstacle you face offers an opportunity to improve.

If you’re able to push through moments that are challenging, you may end up being much better off than you were before you started trying.

This story also offers a lesson of personal responsibility.

If you see a job ahead of you, don’t leave it for the next person to do. Rather, step up and get the job done to help the people who come after you.

(To learn more about this concept, here are 8 key ingredients of personal responsibility .)

7. Dirty Money

A well-respected speaker began a seminar by showing an audience of 150 people a crisp $20 bill.

He asked, “Who wants this $20 bill?”

All 150 people nodded.

He said, “I am going to give this money to someone, but first….”

Then he proceeded to crumple the bill up.

He asked the crowd again if anyone wanted it.

All 150 hands went up in the air.

The speaker then dropped the money on the floor and stomped all over it.

He then raised it in the air to show the crowd. The money was filthy.

“Does anyone want it now?”

Every hand went up.

The speaker proceeded to tell the crowd that no matter what he did to ruin the money, people still wanted it because its value remained the same .

It was still worth $20.

Life often beats us up to the point where we feel inadequate. We deal with bad circumstances and make bad choices that we have to deal with later. However, no matter what you go through, your value will remain the same .

You have something special to offer that no one can take away from you.

8. The Ultimate Test

One night, four college students stayed up late partying, even though they knew they had a test the next day. The next morning, they came up with a plan to get out of having to take their test.

Each student rolled around in dirt and then went to the teacher’s office.

They told the teacher that they had gotten a flat tire the night before, and they spent the entire night pushing their car back to campus.

The teacher listened, and to the students’ delight, he offered a retest three days later.

On the day of the test, the students went to their teacher’s office. The teacher put all four of the students in separate rooms to take the test. The students were okay with that because they had been given a chance to study.

The test had 2 questions:

1) Your Name __________ (1 Points)

2) Which tire was flat? __________ (99 Points)

  • Front Right

Aside from making wise decisions, you always need to take responsibility for your actions .

This means not blaming other people for your mistakes, not complaining about the reality of the present moment, and not giving in to other people’s pressure.

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9. What a Waste

A mother camel and her baby were lying down, soaking up the sun.

The baby camel asked his mom, “Why do we have these big bumps on our back?”

The mom stopped to think and then said, “We live in the desert where there is not much water available. Our humps store water to help us survive on long journeys.”

The baby camel then stopped to think and said, “Well, why do we have long legs with rounded feet?”

His mother replied, “They are meant to help us walk through sand.”

The baby asked a third question, “Why are my eyelashes so long?”

The mother replied, “Your long eyelashes offer you protection from sand when it blows in the wind.”

Finally, the baby said, “If we have all of these natural abilities given to us to walk through the desert, what’s the use for camels in the Zoo?”

The skills and abilities that you possess won’t be useful if you’re not in the right environment.

You’ve probably heard of a professional who ditched his or her career to follow their dreams–or the person who remains unfulfilled in their job, but doesn’t try to make a change .

If you’re stuck in a career that isn’t the right fit, you have to do some self-reflection to realize where you strengths lie that are going to waste. ( Here is a five-step process to identify your personal strengths .)

Turn to people that you know the best as well as professionals in any given market so you can start thinking about what may be better for you.

Think big and remain open to new ideas.

10. Breathing With No Air

A boy once asked a wise old man what the secret to success is.

After listening to the boy’s question, the wise man told the boy to meet him at the river in the morning and he would be given the answer there.

In the morning, the wise man and the boy began walking toward the river. They continued on into the river, past the point of the water covering their nose and mouth.  At this time, the wise man ducked the boy into the water.

As he struggled to get out, the wise man continued to push him further down. The boy felt a fish slip by his leg and squirmed to get up even harder. The man eventually pulled the boy’s head up so he could get air. The boy gasped as he inhaled a deep breath of air.

The wise man said, ‘What were you fighting for when you were under water?”

The boy replied, “Air!”

The man said, “There you have the secret to success. When you want to gain success as much as you wanted air when you were under water, you will obtain it. That’s the only secret.”

Success starts with the desire to achieve something.

If your motivation is weak , your results will follow suit.

Think about what you desire the most in life and work towards getting it. Don’t allow your environment or other people to influence the things that you truly want.

Just because the fish swimming by is comfortable with being under water doesn’t mean that you are.

11. Sweet Dreams

A young boy and girl were enjoying a pleasant afternoon playing outside in their neighborhood together.

The boy showed the girl his collection of beautiful, unique marbles. In turn, the girl showed the boy the handful of candy that she had just gotten for her birthday.

The boy proposed that the two of them switch–he would give her all of his marbles if she handed over all of her candy.

The girl agreed, as she found the marbles to be beautiful as well.

The boy handed over all of his marbles, but kept one–the most exquisite one of them all–in his pocket.

The girl kept her promise and gave the boy all of her candy.

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That night, the girl was happy with the exchange and peacefully went to sleep.

The boy, however, couldn’t sleep, as he was up wondering if the girl had secretly kept some of her candy, just like he did with the marble.

If you don’t give 100% in your relationships, you will always assume your partner isn’t giving 100% either.

If you want your relationships to be built on trust, you have to be a participating factor in that.

Honesty grows your character.

By being honest in relationships, you’re holding your partner accountable to do the same. It allows both you and your partner to continuously think about your choices and how you can help (or hurt) your partner and your relationship.

12. Teamwork

There was once a man who lived with his three sons. His sons were hard workers, but they constantly fought with each other .

Even though the man continuously tried to help his sons make peace with each other, he was never successful. In fact, their fighting got to a point where their neighbors would make fun of them.

Eventually, the father became ill. He begged his sons to learn how to work together because of his impending death, but they didn’t listen. The father then decided to teach his sons a practical lesson to help his sons forget their differences and become a united team.

The father called his sons and said, “I’ll give you each an equal collection of sticks to break in half. Whoever breaks the sticks the fastest will be rewarded.”

After agreeing to the task, the father gave each of his sons 10 sticks and instructed them to break each stick in half.

This task took the sons mere minutes to complete, but once they were finished, they started to fight about who finished first.

The father said, “Dear sons, the task isn’t finished. Now I’ll give each of you 10 more sticks, however, you must break the sticks in half as a bundle rather than snapping each one separately.”

His sons agreed and attempted to do what he had asked. They each tried their best, but none could break the bundle in half.

They told their father that they had failed.

In response, their father said, “See, it was easy to break the sticks in half individually, but you couldn’t break all 10 of them at the same time.

Similarly, if the three of you stay united as a team, nobody will be able to harm you. However, if you fight all the time, anyone will be able to defeat you. Please come together as a united team.”

This lesson helped the man’s sons understand the power of being a team and promised their father that, moving forward, they would work together as a team, no matter what the situation was.

Being an effective member of a team helps contribute to the overall moral and motivation of the team.

Strong teams are naturally aligned to work harder, support each other, and be cooperative with working toward a mutual goal.

Individuals each have diverse talents, strengths, and weaknesses to contribute to teamwork, so staying focused on the task at hand rather than allowing personal disputes to get in the way will help you achieve your desired results. 

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13. Frogs for Dinner

A lady was once heating up a pot of water on a gas stove with the intent of cooking pasta for her family for dinner.

A frog fell into the pot while it was sitting on the stove. While it wasn’t his intention to be stuck in a pot of water, he didn’t try to escape. He was comfortable enough as he was.

The lady soon turned on the flame to begin boiling the water.

As the water’s temperature began to rise, the frog was able to adjust his body temperature accordingly, so he remained in the pot without trying to do anything to change the situation.

However, as the water approached its boiling point, the frog’s body temperature could no longer keep up. He finally tried to jump out of the pot, but with water temperature continuing to increase, he didn’t have it in him to make the leap.

It was too late for the frog to save himself.

Things don’t always go as planned in life, and they certainly don’t always go the way we want them to. But, no matter how bad a situation is, it’s critical to be proactive and face the problem head-on.

Unlike the frog, who waited until the last minute to try to do anything about the problem he was clearly facing, it’s important to project the future outcomes of the obstacles that hinder you and mediate them before they get past the point of no return .

You have to avoid wasting time and take appropriate action before problems get out of hand or become too much to handle.

14. Will You Marry Me?

Centuries ago, in a small Italian town, there was a business owner who was in a great amount of debt.

His banker, who was an old, unattractive man, strongly desired the business owner’s younger beautiful daughter.

The banker decided to offer the businessman a deal to forgive the debt that he owed the bank completely. However, there was a bit of a catch.

In order for the businessman to become debt-free, he was to have his daughter marry the banker.

The businessman didn’t want to concede to this agreement, but he had no other choice, as his debt was so extreme.

The banker said he would put two small stones into a bag–one of which was white, and the other black .

The daughter would then need to reach into the bag and blindly choose a stone.

If she chose the black stone, the businessman’s debt would be cleared and the daughter would have to marry the banker.

However , if she chose the white stone, the debt would be cleared and the daughter would not have to marry him.

While standing in the stone-filled path in the businessman’s yard, the banker reached down and chose two small stones, not realizing that the businessman’s daughter was watching him. She noticed that he picked up two black stones and put them in the bag.

When it came time for the daughter to pick a stone out of the bag, she felt she had three choices:

  • Refuse to do it.
  • Take out both stones and expose the banker’s cheating.
  • Pick a stone, knowing it would be black, and sacrifice herself to get her father out of debt.

She picked a stone from the bag, and immediately ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the abundance of stones where they were all standing.

She said to the banker, “I’m sorry, I’m so clumsy! Oh well. Just look in the bag to see what color stone is in there now so you will know what color stone I picked.”

Of course, the remaining stone was black . Because the banker didn’t want his deceit to be exposed, he played along, acting as if the stone that the businessman’s daughter dropped had to have been white.

He cleared the businessman’s debt and the daughter remained free from having to spend the rest of her life with the banker.

While you may have to think outside of the box sometimes, it’s always possible to conquer a difficult situation.

You don’t have to always give in to the options you’re presented with.

Challenge the status quo.

Think creatively.

Engage in productive nonconformity when possible.

Don’t be afraid to question the things that are expected to be true. In order to overcome challenges, you have to think in ways that you’ve never thought before.

15. Wait…What?

A carpenter who was nearing retirement told his boss that he was ready to end his career and spend his time with his wife and family. He would miss his work, but he felt it was time to spend his time with the people who were important to him.

His boss was saddened by this news, as this carpenter had been a good, reliable employee for many years. He asked the carpenter if he could do him a favor and build just one more house.

The carpenter reluctantly conceded, even though his passion for building had faded.

While he was building this last house, his normal work ethic faded and his efforts were mediocre, at best. He used inexpensive and inferior materials and cut corners wherever he could. It was a poor way to finish such a dedicated career that he once had.

When the carpenter was finished, his boss came to look at the house. He gave the key to the carpenter and said, “This house is my gift to you for all of the hard work you have done for me over the years.” 

The carpenter was astonished.

What a generous gift this was to receive from his boss, but if he had known he was building a house for himself, he would have made his usual efforts to create a high-quality home.

The same idea applies to how you build your life.

Every day that you wake up offers an opportunity for you to put your best foot forward, yet we often do mediocre work, saving the more important things for “another” day .

Then one day, we find ourselves shocked that our lives aren’t what we had hoped they would be. The “house” we built to live in has a lot of flaws due to a lack of effort.

However, you can’t go back and rebuild it in a day or two.

As people say, “Life is a do-it-yourself project.”

Your attitude and choices help build the life you will live tomorrow. So…build carefully.

16. Toothpaste Recant

One night in July at an all-girls summer camp, the campers were gathered around in a circle for their nighttime devotions.

The counselor asked if any of the girls wanted to share something that had happened that day that impacted them.

One camper raised her hand and said a girl from another camp cabin had said something that hurt her feelings and she was really upset about it.

The camp counselor went to the bathroom to grab a tube of toothpaste.

She took the tube and squeezed it just a bit so some toothpaste came out. She then tried to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but it just created a mess. Then she squeezed the tube even more, pushing more toothpaste out and creating even more of a mess, but none of it would go back into the tube.

The counselor then told the campers, “this toothpaste represents the words you speak. Once you say something that you want to take back, it’s impossible and it only creates a mess. Think before you speak, and make sure your words are going to good use before you let them out.”

Speaking is a fundamental social skill required for living a successful life.

However, many are careless with their words, but they hold so much power. They can have a direct impact on the outcome of a situation, creating a helpful or hurtful reaction in our world. T

he problem is, once words come out of your mouth, no amount of “I’m sorrys” will make them go back in: blurting something out and then attempting to take it back is like shutting the gate after the horse has taken off. 

Thinking before you speak allows you the time to consider the potential impact of your words.

Be careful when choosing where and when you let your words out. You can easily hurt other people, and once you do, you can’t take it back.

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Words define who we are by revealing our attitudes and character, giving people an indication of our intellect or ignorance. 

Stop for a minute before you speak and question yourself about why you’re saying what you are. Are you trying to relay information? Relate to someone else?

Make sure you’re able to take responsibility for whatever you’re about to say.

17. Just Be

One evening, after spending several days with his new wife, a man leaned over and whispered into her ear, “I love you.” 

She smiled – and the man smiled back – and she said, “When I’m eighty years old and I’m thinking back on my entire life, I know I will remember this moment.”

A few minutes later, she drifted off to sleep.

The man was left with the silence of the room and the soft sound of his wife’s breathing.

He stayed awake, thinking about everything they had done together, from their first date to their first vacation together and ultimately to their big wedding. These were just some of the life choices that the couple had made together that had led to this very moment of silence in the presence of each other.

At one point, the man then realized that it didn’t matter what they had done or where they had gone. Nor did it matter where they were going.

The only thing that mattered was the serenity of that very moment.

Just being together. Breathing together. And resting together.

We can’t let the clock, calendar, or pressure from external sources take over our lives and allow us to forget the fact that every moment of our lives is a gift and a miracle – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is.

Being mindful in the special moments that you spend in the presence of the ones that you love are the moments that truly give your life meaning. (For more on this, here are 71 mindfulness exercises you can use to live in the present moment .)

18. The Weight of the World

Once, a psychology professor walked around his classroom full of students holding a glass of water with his arm straightened out to the side.

He asked his students, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

The students started to shout out guesses–ranging anywhere from 4 ounces to one pound.

The professor replied, “The absolute weight of this glass isn’t what matters while I’m holding it. Rather, it’s the amount of time that I hold onto it that makes an impact.”

“If I hold it for, say, two minutes, it doesn’t feel like much of a burden. If I hold it for an hour, its weight may become more apparent as my muscles begin to tire.

If I hold it for an entire day– or week –my muscles will cramp and I’ll likely feel numb or paralyzed with pain, making me feel miserable and unable to think about anything aside from the pain that I’m in. “

“In all of these cases, the actual weight of the glass will remain the same, but the longer I clench onto it, the heavier it feels to me and the more burdensome it is to hold.”

The class understood and shook their heads in agreement.

The professor continued to say, “This glass of water represents the worries and stresses that you carry around with you every day.  If you think about them for a few minutes and then put them aside, it’s not a heavy burden to bear.

If you think about them a little longer, you will start to feel the impacts of the stress. If you carry your worries with you all day, you will become incapacitated, prohibiting you from doing anything else until you let them go.”

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Put down your worries and stressors. Don’t give them your entire attention while your life is passing you by.

Let go of things that are out of your control.

Don’t carry your worries around with you everywhere you go, as they will do nothing but bring you down.

Put your “glass down” each night and move on from anything that is unnecessarily stressing you out.

Don’t carry this extra weight into the next day.

19. Cherish Your Struggles

One day, a girl came upon a cocoon, and she could tell that a butterfly was trying to hatch.

She waited and watched the butterfly struggle for hours to release itself from the tiny hole. All of a sudden, the butterfly stopped moving–it seemed to be stuck.

The girl then decided to help get the butterfly out. She went home to get a pair of scissors to cut open the cocoon. The butterfly was then easily able to escape, however, its body was swollen and its wings were underdeveloped. 

The girl still thought she had done the butterfly a favor as she sat there waiting for its wings to grow in order to support its body. However, that wasn’t happening.

The butterfly was unable to fly, and for the rest of its life, it could only move by crawling around with little wings and a large body.

Despite the girl’s good intentions, she didn’t understand that the restriction of the butterfly’s cocoon and the struggle the butterfly had to go through in order to escape served an important purpose.

As butterflies emerge from tight cocoons, it forces fluid from their body into their wings to prepare them to be able to fly.

The struggles that you face in life help you grow and get stronger .

There is often a reason behind the requirement of doing hard work and being persistent. When enduring difficult times, you will develop the necessary strength that you’ll need in the future.

Without having any struggles, you won’t grow–which means it’s very important to take on personal challenges for yourself rather than relying on other people to always help you. 

20. Seeking Happiness

There were 200 people attending a seminar on mental and physical health.

At one point, the speaker told the group they were going to do an activity. He gave each attendee one balloon and told them to write their name on it. Then, the balloons were collected and moved into a very small room.

The participants were then asked to go into the other room and were given 2 minutes to find their balloon.

It was chaos…

People were searching frantically for their balloon, pushing each other and running into one another while they grabbed a balloon, looked at it, and inevitably tossed it to the side.

At the end of the 2 minutes, no one had found the balloon that had their name on it.

Then, the speaker asked the participants to go back in the room and pick up one balloon at random, look at the name, and return it to its owner. Within minutes, everyone had been reunited with their original balloon.

The speaker then told the group, “This is what it’s like when people are frantically searching for their own happiness in life .

People push others aside to get the things that they want that they believe will bring them happiness. However, our happiness actually lies in helping other people and working together as a community.”

You will get your happiness if you help other people find theirs. The Dalai Lama says, “If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Helping others makes us happy because it gives us a sense of purpose.

In fact, a study from the London School of Economics found that the more you help other people, the happier you will be.

The researchers compared the variance in happiness levels of people who don’t help others on a regular basis to the happiness of weekly volunteers. They found that the participants had the same variance in happiness as those who make $75,000 – $100,000 annually vs $20,000.

Helping others brings us happiness for three reasons:

  • Diversion : When you worry less about your own needs–in this case, finding your own balloon–the stress of that hunt decreases.

Taking your focus away from the fact that you can’t find your own balloon lets you divert your attention away from your own problem.  The feeling of compassion replaces the feeling of need.

  • Perspective : Having concern for other people helps us remember that we are all facing similar problems in life–no matter what the individual severity of the issue is.

Sometimes when we are focused on our own issues, they get put into perspective when we encounter the true suffering of others (for example, bereavement or a  severe disability ).

It’s easy to then realize the excess amount of attention we’ve been giving our own problems.  Having compassion helps us put our problems into perspective.

  • Connection :  Connecting with others by helping them   can bring happiness into your life.

Humans are social beings that need to have positive connections with other people in order to be happy. Connecting with other people enriches our lives and gives us a sense of fulfillment.

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21. There Was Once a Boy…

There was once a boy who was growing up in a very wealthy family.

One day, his father decided to take him on a trip to show him how others lived who were less fortunate. His father’s goal was to help his son appreciate everything that he has been given in life.

The boy and his father pulled up to a farm where a very poor family lived. They spent several days on the farm, helping the family work for their food and take care of their land.

When they left the farm, his dad asked his son if he enjoyed their trip and if he had learned anything during the time they spent with this other family.

The boy quickly replied, “It was fantastic, that family is so lucky!”

Confused, his father asked what he meant by that.

The boy said, “Well, we only have one dog, but that family has four–and they have chickens!

We have four people in our home, but they have 12! They have so many people to play with!

We have a pool in our yard, but they have a river running through their property that is endless.

We have lanterns outside so we can see at night, but they have the wide open sky and the beautiful stars to give them wonder and light.

We have a patio, but they have the entire horizon to enjoy–they have endless fields to run around in and play.

We have to go to the grocery store, but they are able to grow their own food . Our high fence protects our property and our family, but they don‘t need such a limiting structure, because their friends protect them.”

The father was speechless.

Finally, the boy added, “Thank you for showing me how poor people live, they’re so lucky.”

True wealth and happiness aren’t measured by material belongings .

Being around the people you love, enjoying the beautiful, natural environment, and having freedom are much more valuable.

A rich life can mean different things to different people. What are your values and priorities?

If you have whatever is important to you , you can consider yourself to be wealthy.

22. A Pound is a Pound

There was once a farmer who, each week, sold a pound of butter to a baker.

After several weeks of buying a pound of butter from the farmer, the baker decided to weigh the butter that he was receiving to ensure it was indeed a full pound.

When the baker weighed it, he learned that the butter was under a pound , which enraged him. He felt he was being cheated and he decided to take the farmer to court.

When in court, the judge asked the farmer how he was weighing the butter.

The farmer said, “Your Honor, I am poor. I do not own an exact measuring tool. However, I do have a scale.”

The judge then asked if the farmer uses the scale to measure the butter.

The farmer said, “Your Honor, I have been buying a one-pound loaf of bread from the baker since long before he began purchasing butter from me.

Whenever the baker brings bread for me, I put it on the scale and then measure out the exact same weight in butter to give him in return. So, if the baker is not getting a pound of butter, he is also not giving a pound of bread like he promised.”

You get what you give. If you try to cheat others out of what you promise them, you will be cheated in return. The more honest you are, the easier it is to trust other people and not suspect they may be cheating you in some way.

When you’re honest, not only will other people trust you, but you will also feel more confident in your trust with others.

Honesty is always the best route–especially if you want others to be honest with you as well.

23. Jumping Frogs

A group of frogs was hopping through the forest when two of them accidentally hopped into a deep pit. The other frogs stood around the pit, and, seeing how deep it was, they told the two frogs that they couldn’t help them–there was no hope.

However, fighting for their lives, the two frogs ignored the others and started to try jumping out of the pit.

The frogs at the top continued to tell the frogs in the pit to give up, as there was no way they would be able to jump out.

After trying over and over, one of the frogs listened to the others and gave up, accepting his fate and falling to his death. But the other frog continued to jump with all of his might. The crowd of frogs yelled down the pit for the frog to just stop–he wouldn’t make it.

But the frog jumped even harder and persisted until he finally got out. Upon reaching the top, the other frogs said, “We thought there was no way any frog could jump that high–couldn’t you hear us?”

The frog then signaled to the others that he was deaf, and he thought that the frogs standing around the pit were encouraging him the whole time.

Others’ words can greatly impact your attitude and actions. Ignore the naysayers. Only engage with those who encourage you and believe in your ability to succeed.

Furthermore, think about what you say to people before speaking so you can make sure what you’re saying is supportive. Your support (or lack thereof) could make the difference between success and failure.

24. The Ultimate Gift

There was once a little girl who desperately needed an emergency blood transfusion to save her life. 

Her only chance of surviving would be to get a transfusion from her younger brother, who had miraculously overcome the same disease she had, and therefore had antibodies in his blood that were needed to fight the illness.

The doctor explained to the little boy that it would save his sister’s life if he were to give her his blood. The boy hesitated for a moment before agreeing to give his blood if it would help his sister. At the age of 5, this was scary, but he would do anything to save his big sister’s life.

As the blood transfusion was happening, he lay next to his sister in the hospital and was overcome with happiness as he saw the color coming back to her cheeks. Then he looked up at the doctor and quietly asked, “When will I start to die?”

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The boy had assumed that he was giving his life in order to save hers. The little boy’s parents were astonished over the misunderstanding that led the boy to think they were choosing his sister over him–and even more astonished that he had agreed to do so.

The doctor replied, explaining that he was not going to die, he was just going to allow his sister to live a long, healthy life alongside him.

This is an example of extreme courage and self-sacrificing love from a young boy that we can all learn from. The love and care that he showed for his sister relays an inspiring message about selflessness.

While we may not be faced with such a life or death decision, being selfless in general can help us connect with others, which is rewarding and fulfilling.

25. Angry Nails

There was once a boy who became angry so frequently with his friends at school that he was constantly getting sent home.

His temper was disruptive to the class and hurtful to other students.

His father came up with a strategy to try to deter the boy from getting angry so easily. He gave his son a hammer and some nails and told him to hammer a nail into the family’s fence every time the boy got angry in the future.

The following day, the boy got angry 37 times, and had to hammer as many nails into the fence.

Over the next few weeks, the boy got tired of hammering nails into the fence and he gradually started to control his temper. Slowly, the number of nails he was hammering into the fence started to decrease.

The boy realized that it was easier to remain calm when he started to feel angry than to gather the tools, go outside, and start hammering.

Eventually, the boy stopped losing his temper altogether. His dad noticed, and told the boy to remove a nail from the fence every day that he was able to keep his temper under control.

Eventually, as the weeks went by, all of the nails had been taken out of the fence. The father and son then stood in front of the broken fence, which was completely scattered with holes.  

The father turned to his son and said, “You have done well, but look at the holes in the fence. They cannot be repaired. When you get angry at other people, it leaves a scar just like the holes you see in front of you. It doesn’t matter if you say I’m sorry one hundred times, the injury is still there.”

Control your anger toward other people. While you may not see the damage that it does, it can leave irreparable wounds that can eventually break them.

Be kind to others and think before you let your emotions get the best of you.

26. Walking on Water

Once there was a boy who lived with his family on a farm.

They had a beautiful dog who would go down to the pond for hours every day in the spring and summer with the boy to practice retrieving various items.

The boy wanted to prepare his dog for any scenario that may come up during duck season because he wanted his dog to be the best hunting dog in the whole county.

The boy and his dog had vigorous training sessions every day until the dog was so obedient, he wouldn’t do anything unless he was told to do so by the boy.

As duck season rolled in with the fall and winter months, the boy and his dog were eager to be at their regular spot down at the pond near their house.

Only a few minutes passed before the two heard the first group of ducks flying overhead. The boy slowly raised his gun and shot three times before killing a duck, which landed in the center of the pond.

When the boy signaled his dog to retrieve the duck, the dog charged through the duck blind and bushes toward the pond. However, instead of swimming in the water like he had practiced so many times, the dog walked on the water’s surface, retrieved the duck, and returned it to the boy.  

The boy was astonished. His dog had an amazing ability to walk on water–it was like magic. The boy knew no one would ever believe this amazing thing that he had just witnessed. He had to get someone else down there to see this incredible phenomenon.

The boy went to a nearby farmer’s house and asked if he would hunt with him the next morning. The neighbor agreed, and met up with the boy the following morning at his regular spot by the pond.

The pair patiently waited for a group of ducks to fly overhead, and soon enough, they heard them coming. The boy told the neighbor to go ahead and take a shot, which the neighbor did, killing one duck.

Just as the day before, the boy signaled to his dog to fetch the duck. Miraculously, the dog walked on the water again to retrieve the duck.

The boy was bursting with pride and could hardly contain himself when he asked his neighbor, “Did you see that? What do you think?!”

The neighbor responded, “I wasn’t going to say anything, but your dog doesn’t even know how to swim.”

The boy sat in disbelief as his neighbor pointed out a potential flaw of the dog rather than recognizing the fact that what he had just done was a miracle.

People will often downplay others’ abilities or achievements because they’re unable to accomplish the same thing. Don’t let this bring you down. Just move on and keep working on improving yourself. Maintaining a positive mindset is a key part of being successful.

Furthermore, be conscious of instances in which you may be tempted to not give credit where it is deserved. Pointing out other people’s shortcomings does not make you a superior person.

27. It’s Not That Complicated

There was once a very wise man living in ancient times. He was elderly and educated and held knowledge and books to the highest regard.

One day while on a walk, he realized that his shoes were really starting to wear out. Because he spent a lot of time walking on a daily basis, he knew he had to find the best shoes to support and protect his feet.

But, back then, this wasn’t such an easy task, as he couldn’t jump online to do some research and have shoes delivered to his door.

The man didn’t want to make things worse by purchasing the wrong shoes and having inadequate protection, which would lead to injuries and the inability to leave his home and walk to find new books to read.

The man gathered all of the books he could that were written by only those that he admired the most to search for the answer to his question, “What do I do if my shoes have fallen apart?”

He read through several books for many hours before finding out that he had no choice but to go buy a new pair of shoes. He then spent a lot of time reading about how to know if a pair of shoes fits properly.

Once he was satisfied with the answers he found, he was proud of himself for doing the research and he felt confident in his ability to buy a high-quality replacement for his old shoes.

He figured if he hadn’t done his research, he probably would have gone barefoot for the rest of his life, as he had no one to tell him how to fix his shoes.

Following the books’ instructions, the man took a stick and measured his foot with it. He then went to the market and finally came upon a pair of shoes that he liked. However, he realized he had left the stick back at home, which was far away from the shop.

By the time the man returned to the market, the shop was closed. And, by that point, his shoes were completely split, so he had to return home barefoot.

The next morning, he walked back to the market with bare feet, but the shoes that he had chosen the day before had been sold. The wise man explained what had happened to the shopkeeper, who reacted with a sense of surprise, asking, “Why didn’t you buy the shoes yesterday?”

The wise man replied, “Because I forgot the stick that I had used to measure my feet back home. And anyone who knows anything about shoes knows that you have to have the correct measurements of your feet before you can buy shoes. I didn’t want to buy the wrong size, and I was following the normal instructions.”

Even more confused, the shopkeeper asked, “But your foot was with you, why didn’t you just try the shoes on?”

The wise man was equally confused in return and responded, “All the books say shoes must be bought with the exact same measurements of the shoes you already own.”

Laughing, the shop owner replied “Oh, no! You don’t need the advice from books to buy shoes. You just need to have your feet, some money, and some common sense to not complicate things.”

Sometimes you need to take action without overthinking things. Knowledge often comes in handy, but in some circumstances, if you lack experience or common sense , your knowledge will only get you so far. In fact, it could make things seem a lot more complicated than they actually are.

If you’re facing an issue, don’t forget to use your reasoning skills in addition to anything you’ve learned in a formal learning environment.

28. Don’t Hold Back

There was once a company whose CEO was very strict and often disciplined the workers for their mistakes or perceived lack of progress.

One day, as the employees came into work, they saw a sign on the door that read, “Yesterday, the person who has been holding you back from succeeding in this company passed away. Please gather for a funeral service in the assembly room.”

While the employees were saddened for the family of their CEO, they were also intrigued at the prospect of being able to now move up within the company and become more successful.”

Upon entering the assembly room, many employees were surprised to see the CEO was, in fact, present. They wondered among themselves, “If it wasn’t him who was holding us back from being successful, who was it? Who has died?”

One by one, the employees approached the coffin, and upon looking inside, each was quite surprised. They didn’t understand what they saw.

In the coffin, there was simply a mirror. So when each employee looked in to find out who had been “holding them back from being successful” everyone saw themselves. Next to the mirror, there was a sign that read:

The only person who is able to limit your growth is you .

You are the only person who can influence your success. Your life changes when you break through your limiting beliefs and realize that you’re in control of your life.

The most influential relationship you can have is the relationship you have with yourself.

Now you know who has been holding you back from living up to your true potential. Are you going to keep allowing that person to hold you back?

You can’t blame anyone else if you’re not living up to your potential. You can’t let other people get you down about mistakes you make or their negative perception of your efforts.

You have to take personal responsibility for your work –both the good and the bad–and be proactive about making any necessary adjustments.

29. The Chef’s Daughter

Once there was a girl who was complaining to her dad that her life was so hard and that she didn’t know how she would get through all of her struggles. She was tired, and she felt like as soon as one problem was solved, another would arise.

Being a chef, the girl’s father took her into his kitchen. He boiled three pots of water that were equal in size. He placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in another, and ground coffee beans in the final pot.

He let the pots sit and boil for a while, not saying anything to his daughter.

He turned the burners off after twenty minutes and removed the potatoes from the pot and put them in a bowl. He did the same with the boiled eggs. He then used a ladle to scoop out the boiled coffee and poured it in a mug. He asked his daughter, “What do you see?”

She responded, “Potatoes, eggs, and coffee.”

Her father told her to take a closer look and touch the potatoes. After doing so, she noticed they were soft. Her father then told her to break open an egg. She acknowledged the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he told her to take a sip of the coffee. It was rich and delicious.

After asking her father what all of this meant, he explained that each of the three food items had just undergone the exact same hardship–twenty minutes inside of boiling water.

However, each item had a different reaction.

The potato went into the water as a strong, hard item, but after being boiled, it turned soft and weak.

The egg was fragile when it entered the water, with a thin outer shell protecting a liquid interior. However, after it was left to boil, the inside of the egg became firm and strong.

Finally, the ground coffee beans were different. Upon being exposed to boiling water, they changed the water to create something new altogether.

He then asked his daughter, “Which are you? When you face adversity, do you respond by becoming soft and weak? Do you build strength? Or do you change the situation?”

Life is full of ups and downs, wins and losses, and big shifts in momentum, and adversity is a big part of this experience.

And while many of us would rather not face adversity, it doesn’t have to always be a negative thing. In fact, handling adversity can be a positive experience that can lead to personal development .

You choose how you respond to adversity, whether you let it break you down or you stand up in the face of it and learn from it. In many instances, facing adversity gives you a chance to learn important lessons  that can help you grow as a person.

When facing adversity, it’s important to recognize your freedom to choose how you respond. You can respond in a way that ultimately limits you, or you can choose to have a more productive response that could potentially open windows of opportunity that we didn’t know existed.

30. Cleaning Turtles

There was once a man who walked his dog every Sunday morning around a lake near his house. Week after week, he saw the same elderly woman sitting at the edge of the water with a small metal cage next to her.

The man’s curiosity finally got the best of him and he approached the woman one day. He noticed that the cage was actually a small trap and she had three small turtles in it. In her lap, there was a fourth turtle that she was carefully wiping down with a sponge.

The man greeted her and said, “If you don’t mind my asking, what do you do with these turtles every week?”

She smiled and explained to him that she was cleaning their shells because any algae or scum that builds up on a turtle’s shell reduces its ability to absorb heat and slows down their swimming. It can also corrode their shell and weaken it over time.

The man was impressed as the woman continued, “I do this every Sunday morning to help the turtles.”

“But don’t most turtles live their entire lives with algae on their shells?” the man asked.

The woman agreed that was true.

He replied, “Well then, you’re kind to do this, but are you really making a difference if most turtles don’t have people around to clean their shells?”

The woman laughed as she looked down at the small turtle on her lap. “Young man, if this little turtle could talk, he would say I’m making all the difference in the world.'”

“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” — Dr. Seuss

Just because you may not be able to change the world or help everyone, you can still make a huge difference in one person’s life by offering them any help that you can. Don’t choose to not do anything because you can’t do everything .

The actions of one person can make a world of difference to someone else. When you see someone in need, you may never know how much of a difference your help can make in their life.

31. Puppy Love

A pet shop owner got a new litter of puppies and was ready to sell them to their “forever” families. A young girl walked by the shop and noticed a sign saying, “Puppies for Sale” and of course was very eager to go inside.

She asked the owner, “How much do the puppies cost?” The owner replied, “They are all around $50.”

The girl emptied her pocket change and told the store owner that she only had about $2, but she still wanted to look at them.

The shop owner whistled for the dogs, who came running down the hall of his shop. Five tiny furballs, followed by one, limping behind the rest. The girl immediately singled out the lagging puppy and asked the store owner what was wrong with him.

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The owner explained that the puppy was born with a deformity– he was missing a hip socket. He would walk with a limp for the rest of his life.

The girl got excited, saying, “I want that puppy!”

The owner replied, “You don’t want to buy that puppy. If you really want him, you can have him for free.”

The girl became upset. She looked at the owner and said, “I don’t want to have him for free. That puppy is worth just as much as the others. I’ll give you the change I have now and a dollar a month until I have paid for the puppy entirely.”

The owner continued, “This dog is never going to be able to run and play like all of the other dogs, I think you’re going to regret this decision.”

To his surprise, the girl reached down and rolled up her pant leg to reveal a crippled leg that was supported by a large metal brace. She looked up at the owner and softly replied, ‘Well, I’m not much of a runner, and this puppy needs someone who understands.”

Don’t make assumptions about other people’s wants, needs, or abilities. Every one of us has our own weaknesses, whether it’s physical or mental.

The trick is to not allow your weaknesses to slow you down, and instead, find others in the world who can support you. Find and surround yourself with people who challenge you to reach your potential.

32. The Gift of the Magi

The Story :

There was once a young couple who was struggling to make ends meet during the holiday season. But despite their financial troubles, they both wanted to buy a special gift for the other.

After crying about their situation, the wife stood by the window and looked out with no interest. The next day was Christmas, and she had only $10 to buy her husband a gift. She had been saving as much as she could, but bills always cost more than expected.

But there was one thing that the wife had that would be valuable enough to sell: her long, flowy hair. She contacted a wig maker and asked them how much money she could earn if she gave them her hair. They said $100.

With that money, she quickly went from shop to shop looking for the perfect gift. And then she found it: a gold watch chain for his beloved gold watch that had been passed down for generations.

With 82 cents in change, she ran home, excited about the gift she had gotten for her husband.

While waiting for him to get home from work, the wife became nervous that he would no longer find her attractive with her new, short hair.

When he walked in, he stopped inside the door. He was as quiet and his eyes looked strangely at his wife with an expression in them that she did not understand.

She said to him, “Honey, don’t look at me like that. I sold my hair. I couldn’t live through Christmas without giving you a gift. My hair will grow back. Let’s be happy. You don’t know what a beautiful gift I got for you.”

He put his arms around her. And then from inside his coat, he took something out that was tied in paper and threw it on the table. “Listen,” he said. “Nothing like a haircut could make me love you any less. But open this.”

There lay two beautiful combs that she had seen in a shop window and loved for a long time. Combs with jewels–perfect for her beautiful hair. She knew they cost too much for them to afford. And now they were hers, but her hair was gone. She held them to her heart and said, “My hair grows so fast!”

And then she jumped up and held her gift out to him in her open hands. The gold chain sparkled. “Isn’t it perfect? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at your watch a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how they look together.”

He sat down and smiled. “Honey,” he said, “I sold the watch to get the money to buy the combs. And now I think we should have our dinner.”

The Moral :

Appreciate what others do for you. The magi were wise men who were the first to give Christmas gifts. In this story, each person sold the most valuable thing they owned in order to buy a gift for the other.

This story shows the true meaning of gift-giving, which is about the thought and love behind the gift rather than its material value. The couple’s gifts to each other are ultimately meaningless in terms of their practical use, but their representation of love and sacrifice proves to be invaluable for both of them.

33. Everyone Has a Story

There was once a 24 year old boy on a train with his father. Looking out from the train’s window, he shouted…

“Dad, look, the trees are going behind us!”

His dad smiled. The young man caught a couple’s attention sitting nearby, who looked at his childish behavior with pity. Suddenly, the boy exclaimed again…

“Dad, look, the clouds are running with us!”

Annoyed by the commotion, the couple looked at the old man and said, “You should take your son to see a good doctor.”

The old man smiled at the couple and said, “I just did. We are going home from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, and he just got his eyes today.”

Everyone on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.

34. A Dish of Ice Cream

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

“How much is an ice cream sundae?”

“50 cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket that had several coins in it.

“How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he asked.

“35 cents,” she replied impatiently.

remarkable journeys | encouraging experiences | inspiring biographies

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

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

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

There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip. The boy had enough money for a sundae, but he had ordered plain ice cream so he could leave her a tip.

In a world that constantly tells us we need to have more, it’s important to be reminded of the power of a person’s generosity.

35. A Very Special Bank Account

Let’s say you had a bank account that deposited $86,400 every morning. However, the account carries over no balance from day to day, doesn’t allow you to keep a cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you didn’t use during the day. What would you do?

Probably draw out every dollar every day!

We all have this bank–it is called Time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off whatever time you have failed to use wisely. It carries over no balance from day to day.

It allows no overdraft so you can’t borrow against yourself or use more time than you have. Each day, the account starts fresh. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, it’s your loss and you can’t appeal to get it back.

There is no such thing as borrowing time. You can’t take a loan out on your time or against someone else’s. The time you have is the time you have. Just as it is with money, time management is yours to decide how you spend it.

It is rarely the case of us not having the time to do things, but the case of whether we want to do them and where they fall in our priorities.

36. Hunting Monkeys

A man once asked a child, “Do you know how hunters used to trap monkeys?”

“Instead of chasing them up a tree or shooting arrows at them, they’d lay a heavy glass jar with a narrow neck on the ground with the monkeys’ favorite food inside.

Then they would hide a short distance away, waiting for the unsuspecting monkey to approach.

When it did, the monkey would reach inside and try to grab the snack. But the narrow neck of the jar would prevent the monkey from being able to get its hand out!

It would pull and pull, but it was stuck! There was no way to get its hand out of the jar without letting go of the food.

But instead of letting go, the monkey would keep trying, refusing to drop its dinner.

It was at this moment that the hunters would approach the monkey to catch it.”

“Don’t be like that monkey,” the man warned the child. “In life, to keep fighting another day and grow, you have to know when to quit, when to move on, and when to let go of whatever’s holding you back.”

Sometimes you have to let go and give up what you have now in order to receive something better in the future. Don’t let stubbornness get in your way to success.

37. The Fisherman and the Businessman

Once there was a businessman sitting on the beach in an Italian village.

As he sat and relaxed from his day, he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat full of fish back into the harbor.

Impressed, the businessman yelled out to the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?” To which the fisherman replied “Oh, not so long.”

Confused, the businessman asked, “Then why don’t you fish for longer to catch even more?”

“Because this is enough to feed my family and even offer some to my neighbors,” the fisherman replied.

“So what do you do for the rest of your day?” Asked the businessman.

The fisherman said, “Well, I’ve usually caught my fish by late morning, so I go home, kiss my wife, and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap and read. In the evening, I go to the village to have a drink with my friends, play guitar, sing, and dance into the night!”

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Being an entrepreneur, the businessman offered a suggestion.

“I have a PhD in business! I can help you become much more successful. From now on, you should spend longer at sea and catch as many fish as possible. When you’ve saved enough money, buy a bigger boat to catch even more fish.

From there, you’ll soon be able to buy more boats, set up your own company, build a production plant that will package the fish and control distribution, and move to the city to control your other branches.”

To this, the fisherman asks, “And after that?”

The businessman laughs, “After that, you’ll be able to live like a king, you will be rich!”

“And after that?” Asks the fisherman again.

“Well, then you can retire, move to a house by the ocean, wake up early in the morning to go fishing, then return home to play with your kids, kiss your wife, take a nap in the afternoon and join your friends in the village to drink, play guitar and dance into the night!”

Puzzled, the fisherman replies, “But isn’t that what I’m doing already?”

Be happy with the things that you have. Will having more in life bring you more happiness? Stress is often a choice. There’s joy and peace in simplicity.

Final Thoughts on Inspirational Stories

Some of these inspirational stories of success and hope left me astounded for a minute because of their strong impact, and I hope they had the same impact on you. They truly do make you think, and the images in your mind that they create are memorable.

Share these stories with friends who you think could benefit from the morals that they offer.

I’m hoping that from now on, when you’re tempted to cut corners, restrict your thinking to social conformity, remain comfortable with mediocrity, or anything else that may be holding you back in life, you will come back to these stories for a bit of a motivational boost.

And if you're looking for more inspiration, be sure to check out these other roundups:

  • 15 Inspirational Poems About Life You Must Read Today
  • 13 Famous Stories About Success & Overcoming Challenges
  • 35 Best Songs About Success and Achievement

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals .

a life story

Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.

funny inspirational stories with morals | inspirational stories about life with moral lesson tagalog | inspirational moral stories for adults

Sergey Tsygankov stumbled upon Jesus at a friend's bible study in Russia, in 1992. He was soon faced with huge questions of faith after a classmate lost his life. Watch his inspirational video as Sergey shares the story of how a revelation from Jesus saved him during his time in the Russian Army.


 Negeen is a 17 year old who has earnestly sought after truth. Raised as a Muslim, she identifies with both Afghanis and Americans. Despite the comfort found in Muslim traditions and the love and support of her family, she began to question her beliefs in the Qur'an and found herself being pulled toward the loving Creator. Her conversion to Christianity was not without a cost as she lost faith in everything she had once believed in. Negeen shares her testimony on this inspirational video. 



, Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs fell in love at first sight and were soon blissfully married. They lived in their dream house and were never in want. Within a few years Cheryl was surprised to find herself unfulfilled in her marriage, and even more surprised when she became involved in an adulterous affair. Watch this motivational video as the Scruggs tell the painful story of divorce, years of anger, and God's inspirational love that lead them to be remarried.


Stories by Name

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  • Freed From Lies, Embra ...
  • A Life Changed By A Ha ...
  • True Acceptance
  • Called By Name
  • Punk Meets Jesus
  • Love, Despite All
  • Growing Up Homeless
  • Eternity As Life
  • A Ressurected Marriage
  • Path Interrupted
  • Beating Addiction
  • True Comfort
  • Safe For The First Tim ...
  • 9,999 Steps
  • Surrendered Free Will
  • A New Land, A New Love
  • Strength From A Phonec ...
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  • "God is Bigger Th ...
  • Religion to Relationsh ...
  • Motorcycles, Atheist, ...
  • Loved From The Start
  • Undeserving
  • Loving The Murderer
  • Grace Discovered
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How to Write a Life Story Essay

Last Updated: April 14, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 102,716 times.

A life story essay involves telling the story of your life in a short, nonfiction format. It can also be called an autobiographical essay. In this essay, you will tell a factual story about some element of your life, perhaps for a college application or for a school assignment.

Preparing to Write Your Essay

Step 1 Determine the goal of your essay.

  • If you are writing a personal essay for a college application, it should serve to give the admissions committee a sense of who you are, beyond the basics of your application file. Your transcript, your letters of recommendation, and your resume will provide an overview of your work experience, interests, and academic record. Your essay allows you to make your application unique and individual to you, through your personal story. [2] X Research source
  • The essay will also show the admissions committee how well you can write and structure an essay. Your essay should show you can create a meaningful piece of writing that interests your reader, conveys a unique message, and flows well.
  • If you are writing a life story for a specific school assignment, such as in a composition course, ask your teacher about the assignment requirements.

Step 2 Make a timeline of your life.

  • Include important events, such as your birth, your childhood and upbringing, and your adolescence. If family member births, deaths, marriages, and other life moments are important to your story, write those down as well.
  • Focus on experiences that made a big impact on you and remain a strong memory. This may be a time where you learned an important life lesson, such as failing a test or watching someone else struggle and succeed, or where you felt an intense feeling or emotion, such as grief over someone’s death or joy over someone’s triumph.

Alicia Cook

  • Have you faced a challenge in your life that you overcame, such as family struggles, health issues, a learning disability, or demanding academics?
  • Do you have a story to tell about your cultural or ethnic background, or your family traditions?
  • Have you dealt with failure or life obstacles?
  • Do you have a unique passion or hobby?
  • Have you traveled outside of your community, to another country, city, or area? What did you take away from the experience and how will you carry what you learned into a college setting?

Step 4 Go over your resume.

  • Remind yourself of your accomplishments by going through your resume. Think about any awards or experiences you would like spotlight in your essay. For example, explaining the story behind your Honor Roll status in high school, or how you worked hard to receive an internship in a prestigious program.
  • Remember that your resume or C.V. is there to list off your accomplishments and awards, so your life story shouldn't just rehash them. Instead, use them as a jumping-off place to explain the process behind them, or what they reflect (or do not reflect) about you as a person.

Step 5 Read some good examples.

  • The New York Times publishes stellar examples of high school life story essays each year. You can read some of them on the NYT website. [8] X Research source

Writing Your Essay

Step 1 Structure your essay around a key experience or theme.

  • For example, you may look back at your time in foster care as a child or when you scored your first paying job. Consider how you handled these situations and any life lessons you learned from these lessons. Try to connect past experiences to who you are now, or who you aspire to be in the future.
  • Your time in foster care, for example, may have taught you resilience, perseverance and a sense of curiosity around how other families function and live. This could then tie into your application to a Journalism program, as the experience shows you have a persistent nature and a desire to investigate other people’s stories or experiences.

Step 2 Avoid familiar themes.

  • Certain life story essays have become cliche and familiar to admission committees. Avoid sports injuries stories, such as the time you injured your ankle in a game and had to find a way to persevere. You should also avoid using an overseas trip to a poor, foreign country as the basis for your self transformation. This is a familiar theme that many admission committees will consider cliche and not unique or authentic. [11] X Research source
  • Other common, cliche topics to avoid include vacations, "adversity" as an undeveloped theme, or the "journey". [12] X Research source

Step 3 Brainstorm your thesis...

  • Try to phrase your thesis in terms of a lesson learned. For example, “Although growing up in foster care in a troubled neighborhood was challenging and difficult, it taught me that I can be more than my upbringing or my background through hard work, perseverance, and education.”
  • You can also phrase your thesis in terms of lessons you have yet to learn, or seek to learn through the program you are applying for. For example, “Growing up surrounded by my mother’s traditional cooking and cultural habits that have been passed down through the generations of my family, I realized I wanted to discover and honor the traditions of other, ancient cultures with a career in archaeology.”
  • Both of these thesis statements are good because they tell your readers exactly what to expect in clear detail.

Step 4 Start with a hook.

  • An anecdote is a very short story that carries moral or symbolic weight. It can be a poetic or powerful way to start your essay and engage your reader right away. You may want to start directly with a retelling of a key past experience or the moment you realized a life lesson.
  • For example, you could start with a vivid memory, such as this from an essay that got its author into Harvard Business School: "I first considered applying to Berry College while dangling from a fifty-food Georgia pine tree, encouraging a high school classmate, literally, to make a leap of faith." [15] X Research source This opening line gives a vivid mental picture of what the author was doing at a specific, crucial moment in time and starts off the theme of "leaps of faith" that is carried through the rest of the essay.
  • Another great example clearly communicates the author's emotional state from the opening moments: "Through seven-year-old eyes I watched in terror as my mother grimaced in pain." This essay, by a prospective medical school student, goes on to tell about her experience being at her brother's birth and how it shaped her desire to become an OB/GYN. The opening line sets the scene and lets you know immediately what the author was feeling during this important experience. It also resists reader expectations, since it begins with pain but ends in the joy of her brother's birth.
  • Avoid using a quotation. This is an extremely cliche way to begin an essay and could put your reader off immediately. If you simply must use a quotation, avoid generic quotes like “Spread your wings and fly” or “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’”. Choose a quotation that relates directly to your experience or the theme of your essay. This could be a quotation from a poem or piece of writing that speaks to you, moves you, or helped you during a rough time.

Step 5 Let your personality and voice come through.

  • Always use the first person in a personal essay. The essay should be coming from you and should tell the reader directly about your life experiences, with “I” statements.
  • For example, avoid something such as “I had a hard time growing up. I was in a bad situation.” You can expand this to be more distinct, but still carry a similar tone and voice. “When I was growing up in foster care, I had difficulties connecting with my foster parents and with my new neighborhood. At the time, I thought I was in a bad situation I would never be able to be free from.”

Step 6 Use vivid detail.

  • For example, consider this statement: "I am a good debater. I am highly motivated and have been a strong leader all through high school." This gives only the barest detail, and does not allow your reader any personal or unique information that will set you apart from the ten billion other essays she has to sift through.
  • In contrast, consider this one: "My mother says I'm loud. I say you have to speak up to be heard. As president of my high school's debate team for the past three years, I have learned to show courage even when my heart is pounding in my throat. I have learned to consider the views of people different than myself, and even to argue for them when I passionately disagree. I have learned to lead teams in approaching complicated issues. And, most importantly for a formerly shy young girl, I have found my voice." This example shows personality, uses parallel structure for impact, and gives concrete detail about what the author has learned from her life experience as a debater.

Step 7 Use the active voice.

  • An example of a passive sentence is: “The cake was eaten by the dog.” The subject (the dog) is not in the expected subject position (first) and is not "doing" the expected action. This is confusing and can often be unclear.
  • An example of an active sentence is: “The dog ate the cake.” The subject (the dog) is in the subject position (first), and is doing the expected action. This is much more clear for the reader and is a stronger sentence.

Step 8 Apply the Into, Through, and Beyond approach.

  • Lead the reader INTO your story with a powerful beginning, such as an anecdote or a quote.
  • Take the reader THROUGH your story with the context and key parts of your experience.
  • End with the BEYOND message about how the experience has affected who you are now and who you want to be in college and after college.

Editing Your Essay

Step 1 Put your first draft aside for a few days.

  • For example, a sentence like “I struggled during my first year of college, feeling overwhelmed by new experiences and new people” is not very strong because it states the obvious and does not distinguish you are unique or singular. Most people struggle and feel overwhelmed during their first year of college. Adjust sentences like this so they appear unique to you.
  • For example, consider this: “During my first year of college, I struggled with meeting deadlines and assignments. My previous home life was not very structured or strict, so I had to teach myself discipline and the value of deadlines.” This relates your struggle to something personal and explains how you learned from it.

Step 3 Proofread your essay.

  • It can be difficult to proofread your own work, so reach out to a teacher, a mentor, a family member, or a friend and ask them to read over your essay. They can act as first readers and respond to any proofreading errors, as well as the essay as a whole.

Expert Q&A

Alicia Cook

You Might Also Like

Write About Yourself

  • ↑ http://education.seattlepi.com/write-thesis-statement-autobiographical-essay-1686.html
  • ↑ https://study.com/learn/lesson/autobiography-essay-examples-steps.html
  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201101/writing-compelling-life-story-in-500-words-or-less
  • ↑ Alicia Cook. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 11 December 2020.
  • ↑ https://mycustomessay.com/blog/how-to-write-an-autobiography-essay.html
  • ↑ https://www.ahwatukee.com/community_focus/article_c79b33da-09a5-11e3-95a8-001a4bcf887a.html
  • ↑ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/10/your-money/four-stand-out-college-essays-about-money.html
  • ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY9AdFx0L4s
  • ↑ https://www.medina-esc.org/Downloads/Practical%20Advice%20Writing%20College%20App%20Essay.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-harvard-business-school-essays-2012-11?op=1
  • ↑ http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/passive_sentences.htm

About This Article

Alicia Cook

A life story essay is an essay that tells the story of your life in a short, nonfiction format. Start by coming up with a thesis statement, which will help you structure your essay. For example, your thesis could be about the influence of your family's culture on your life or how you've grown from overcoming challenging circumstances. You can include important life events that link to your thesis, like jobs you’ve worked, friendships that have influenced you, or sports competitions you’ve won. Consider starting your essay with an anecdote that introduces your thesis. For instance, if you're writing about your family's culture, you could start by talking about the first festival you went to and how it inspired you. Finish by writing about how the experiences have affected you and who you want to be in the future. For more tips from our Education co-author, including how to edit your essay effectively, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Write Your Journey

Everybody has a story that matters. Writing your life story creates a legacy for your loved ones and for future generations. It is also a way of examining your life a little deeper. Writing your story will help you recognise that you have lived a meaningful life and made a positive contribution to the world.  

A well-lived life includes a wealth of stories, experiences and memories. Writing these down can bring enjoyment, satisfaction, healing and a sense of closure. Writing about your life will allow you to see the uniqueness in the life that you have lived and it will make you aware of the life lessons and universal truths contained within your unique life story that are worth sharing with others. But where do you start?

I’ve just finished delivering a series of six workshops teaching rural community members how to write their life stories. It’s by far one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. The workshops were originally offered to senior citizens, but I had plenty of participants younger than me. Clearly many people are longing to write their life stories but where to start is often the problem. 

In this post I share some of the main points that came up in these workshops to make it easier for you to start writing your life story. 

a life story

Firstly, what is the difference between memoir and autobiography?

When I told a friend that I am writing a memoir he looked at me like I am nuts. I could literally see what he was thinking: you are not famous. Who do you think would be interested in your memoir? 

Famous people write autobiographies, I told him. Ordinary people write memoir and it happens to be one of the most popular genres at the moment. An autobiography chronicles a person’s entire life story, from childhood to the present. A memoir, by contrast, is about a life event that has profoundly changed the writer and carries a universal lesson.

As memoir coach Marion Roach Smith puts it, it’s not what you did in your life but what you did with it that makes for an interesting story.

The best memoirs are often stories about adversity overcome and how that has made the writer grow and find deeper meaning in life that has universality.

A good memoir is written as narrative non-fiction, which simply means it’s a true story (non-fiction) written like a novel adhering to narrative conventions of plot, clear story line that builds to a climax and follows a story arc. The people you write about in a memoir become characters and are developed like characters in a novel would be, ie. through narrative (description) intermixed with scenes (action and dialogue anchored in place and time). 

In a memoir, unlike in an autobiography, you include only the stories and experiences that are directly relevant to the book’s message and central question.

Writing your life story doesn’t have to be this complicated, but do try to write it with the reader in mind. Tell your story in a way that will allow your reader to emotionally relate to your story and to identify with you, the protagonist.

Start writing your life story by breaking it down into stepping stones & turning points

Writing your entire life story can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Don’t sit down to write your whole life story in one go, start to finish. That will feel overwhelming and will most definitely put you off. Break it up into small anecdotes and individual memories, then sit down to write that anecdote or that particular memory as an event.

You don’t have to remember every event in your life, that would also be impossible. Focus on the key events that brought you to where you are today. Start writing your story by remembering the life-changing moments that have shaped you. 

Identify the key events that changed your life for better or for worse. These can be positive events such as getting married, the birth of your children, graduating from university, creating a business. And they will also include big and tragic events such as the loss of a loved one, migrating to a new country or surviving an illness. They can also be smaller but no less tragic events, ie. a high school teacher telling you that you are not clever enough to go to university.

Simply begin with a brainstorm, writing down 10-15 stepping stone moments.

To start writing your life story, focus on the turning points in your life

As well as considering the life-changing moments in your life, you need to think about the major turning points in your life. The thresholds in our personal narratives are the entry points into your story. They are the major dramatic beats that signal transformation, radical change and growth. 

The most fascinating stories are often about the ways we have overcome life’s obstacles and how we have transformed and created new meaning for ourselves.

What obstacles have you overcome in your life and what did you learn from that experience? These lessons may just be the core of your story that everything else moves around.

Making a list of the major turning points in your life will help you find the structure of your story.

Adding detail and finding your theme

Write the stepping stone and turning point events out like a scene in a book. Add dialogue, description, vivid detail and conflict. Bring your writing alive with sensory detail. What could you see, touch, hear, touch, test and smell? Engage your reader emotionally. What was the dominant emotion at a particular life event?

As you keep writing and collecting memories and key life events, you will start to see themes, patterns and questions.

Storytelling is all about asking a question. As the playwright Eugene Ionesco said: “It’s not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”

Most stories revolve around a single question that represents the core of the story. Will Romeo and Juliet end up together? Will Harry Potter defeat Voldemort? Will Frodo destroy the Ring?

Perhaps the underlying theme of your life story is about finding happiness despite the odds and your question is, what does it take to create a happy life?

how to write your life story

Remembering the details

All of our writing comes from memory. 

Memories are, by definition, subjective. Every time we recall a memory, we recreate it, we embellish it or expand on it. In other words, we are being creative.

Let me give you permission right now to be creative with your life story! Don’t worry, nobody expects you to remember exactly what you said as a 12-year old or even as a 45-year old.

Here are a few ideas to help you remember as many details as you can for writing your life story:


Photographs are great memory triggers. You can use them as writing prompts and to recall forgotten details.

Pick a photo from a meaningful event and write about the people in the photo and the occasion it was taken. What feelings do you associate with the photo? Explore the memories that come up.


Old letters will help you find your voice.

Over time the way we speak changes. See if you can dig up old letters (or emails) or even diaries and discover the ways you spoke and thought in the past and the stories they contain.


What were the news headlines on your wedding day or your first day of school?

You can access old news content online (get a younger member of the family to help you if necessary), or maybe you can dig up clippings of old newspaper articles from an important event in your life that you have kept? This will provide historical context and also help you to unlock specific memories and feelings.

My favorite writing prompts to help you start writing your life story

To dig up your unique memory of a specific event ie. your first kiss, your wedding day, your first trip overseas we need to tap into our ‘episodic memory’, which is stored in our long-term memory.

A great way to do that is to use writing prompts and to write to a timer. 10 minutes is a good length.

I am a big fan of timed writing prompts because freewriting in this way allows you to bypass the inner critic who always sits on our shoulder telling us that our writing is no good.

Here are 4 quick and simple writing prompts to help you write your life story :


This prompt helps to unlock the stories you really want to tell and it jogs your memory to recall forgotten details and to find the stepping stones and turning points in your life.

The prompt is inspired by Joe Brainard’s autobiography, I remember (1970), depicting his childhood in the 1940s and ’50s in Oklahoma as well as his life in the ‘60s and ’70s in New York City. The book, which became a literary and artistic cult classic, is written in sentence form, all of which start with the words “I remember.” Sounds almost too simple, but it’s a great read!

Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes and write without stopping to think or edit. 

Brainstorm as many memories as you can, starting each new sentence with the words “I remember…”


This prompt invites us to fill in the blanks. In Natalie Goldberg’s words, it makes us explore the underbelly of the mind. Let’s try to get to what lurks in the depth of our memories, what remains hidden, what we fail to notice or what we actively banish from our minds.

You’ve got infinite possibility with this prompt. Your hidden memories can be positive or negative. It’s whatever comes up. You may end up writing for 10 minutes about the things you don’t remember about the primary school you attended, the things you wish you could remember; or you may write a list related to things you CAN remember — the little details within your memories that you’ve forgotten. Be specific and give sensory detail.


Make a list of ten random memories of when you did something for the first time.

My first day in a foreign country, my first day of marriage, my first kiss, my first day at work, my first day as a parent, my first bicycle, the first time I ate sushi, the first time I went to the cinema on my own…simply brainstorm, write quickly and capture whatever comes up.

Then choose one FIRST and write for 10 minutes. Be specific. Give details. Was the bicycle you rode to school red or blue? Did it rain on your first day at work? What did you eat for lunch on your first day as a mother? You never know what will happen when you allow the pen to lead the way.


What will engage a reader in a novel are the moral values that drive a character. A strong storyline is about conflict and challenge and how a character reacts when core values are being tested. The same goes for writing your life story.

Write “I believe …” at the top of a blank page and then find 5-10 different ways to complete it. Write without stopping to think, without giving the logical mind a chance. Stay with your intuitive mind.

Then choose one of your “I believe” statements and write it at the top of a fresh page. Explore your “I believe” statement from every possible angle.

Would you consider writing down your life story? Are you already doing so? Let me know in the comments and, please, share this with anyone you think will enjoy writing their own life story.

Hi I am Kerstin

Kerstin Pilz

I am a published author and former academic with 20 years university teaching experience. I discovered the healing power of writing when I went through the darkness of grief. Writing was my lifesaver. Read more

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“ some peace and quiet ” by phoebe barr.

🏆 Winner of Contest #255

For the record, I really wasn’t trying to kill myself. I know what it looks like. I grew up in the northeast; I should have known the dangers of a February night and a lakeshore buried in snow. I do remember being little, maybe five years old, and hearing my parents (bright, young, sober) discussing a boy who had frozen to death by my school. They said it was a soft, painless way to go, and that was what made February dangerous: you felt, there at the end, like you were calm and safe and even warm. You had to be smart to keep yourself from s...

“ Found Family ” by Phoebe Barr

🏆 Winner of Contest #254

I don’t really know how to tell this story. For a start, there are some logistical difficulties – I’ll get to those later – but even without those, I don’t know how to explain it all. I guess I’ll start when we saw each other at the club after four years apart. That night, my head was pounding with noise and my heart was burning with hurt, and I’d come to the club alone – a stupid move for a girl, some part of me still said, though I hadn’t looked like a girl in public for over a year. I threw myself into the sweaty, rainbow-hued crowd prepa...

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“ One thousand and three wishes ” by Maria Adamkiewicz

🏆 Winner of Contest #253

One thousand and three wishes He found it on his way to work. He liked to visit the old antique store before getting sucked into the whirlwind of unnecessary emails, long meetings and pointless discussions. The lamp looked weird and useless, yet he was drawn to it. He threw it in his bag with other pieces that had caught his eye, fought for a better price and won, and left the shop happy. Well, not really. Satisfied is a better word for it. He hadn’t felt happy in a long time.The day went by acceptably fast, considering the fact th...

“ Seven Hundred and Thirty Days ” by Danielle LeBlanc

🏆 Winner of Contest #252

My eyes felt like galaxies—holding the swirling glow of countless memories—as I took in our childhood home. Its siding looked like remnants of driftwood after a bonfire. I swore I smelled the smoky char of pine creep into my nostrils. It’s wild how the past stays with you like that. It can feel more visceral and real than the tangible things right in front of you. “Jesus, it feels like just yesterday.” I placed a trembling hand over my heart, struggling to steady my breath.My brother, Perry, pulled me into a tight embrace, his strength ...

“ Surrender ” by Adam Perschbacher

🏆 Winner of Contest #251

NOTE: This story alludes to suicide or suicidal thoughts. In addition, there is one swear I felt necessary to include, but it's entirely in reference to animal feces. * * * * *Our town was baptized in the flood that year and the swelling of the river unearthed relics from long before men settled in these parts. That same year I buried my wife and infant son, both lost in birth. Months after they were gone, our train of ragged coaches met the elbow of that great river, and upon our manifest of provisions and mouths, we would continue no furth...

“ Rhymes with Pepsi ” by VJ Hamilton

🏆 Winner of Contest #250

Dad did not like summer. “A little respiratory problem,” I overheard him tell the neighbour on one side of our house, but that was not why; I could hear the regular sigh of his breath when we watched TV together. “A minor circulatory thing,” I overheard him tell the other neighbour, but that was also not why because I could hear the steady ba-dump of his heart when I put my ear on his swollen belly. He just did not like the heat, I decided, like he did not like Coke but I did. The afternoon heat would drive us to the depths of the old stone ...

“ The World’s on Fire ” by Dena Linn

🏆 Winner of Contest #249

Trigger: Cancer My head rocks back, long hair sticks to sweaty shoulders and my tank barely holds my jiggling A-cups as I pound it out, dancing. I’m that “Girl on Fire,” a single mom gyrating to Ms. Keys. Flinging out one arm, hips swing and dip, fingers snap, eyes close, and my rock and roll fantasy, straight from a music video: my apartment’s clutter, with the snap of my fingers, flies to order. I burn, more than a flickering flame, heart thumps, shoulders shimmy, sweat drips into my pierced belly button. The fuchsia, sun-yellow and ...

“ Paradise Lost ” by Honey Homecroft

🏆 Winner of Contest #248

Calls for help came every day, in every language spoken from Alpha Centauri to Xanoid 10. Meteor. Famine. War!!! Help us, they pleaded. Whoever they was in that particular society that had figured out how to contact us. “Please remain calm,” I used to say. “A unit will be dispatched to your location.” But after our people went Silent, the calls went more like this:  “Hello? We need help.” “We're sorry, but Planetary Assistance is no longer available. Our thoughts are with you during your pending apocalypse. Goodbye.” “Wait —” And I woul...

“ DANGER: UNSTABLE GROUND ” by Madeline McCourt

🏆 Winner of Contest #247

Do not ever step foot on the ground. Charlie had been told this his entire life, but it never really sunk in. He didn’t understand the deep-seated fear everyone else seemed to harbor. He thought it was incredible, a beautiful problem to be solved. Until he was laying on the floor of the lab staring at the ceiling and blinking away tears. The first time Charlie ever saw the ground consume a person he’d been twelve. What the tree-top teachers referred to as “live mummification” was a quick, disturbing process. Dirt crawling over skin to creat...

“ Hearts Are Trump ” by Sarah Coury

🏆 Winner of Contest #246

Uncle Abe and Uncle Will haven’t played cards together in years. If you want to get real technical about it, Uncle Abe and Uncle Will haven’t even shared the same room in years, but that ain’t news to anyone east of Livernois. By now, the entire city of Detroit knows about Abraham and William Haddad—at least those who regularly stop into the family party store for their weekly supply of meats, spirits, and fresh-baked pita. It’s old news. Two bitter brothers broken up over a girl who left town anyway. It’s been ages and the aunties need fres...

“ Everything is Connected ” by Olivier Breuleux

🏆 Winner of Contest #245

Many people don't believe that everything is connected. It's strange. They believe in magnets, in electromagnetic waves, in quantum action at a distance. They believe that the force of gravity makes the Earth revolve around the Sun, and yet they do not believe that the same forces can influence the smaller details of our fate. They believe that it is all up to them. That they have free will. They say that Jupiter can gently pull the Sun, yet it cannot move our infinitely smaller souls.A paradox.The stars are difficult to read, for sure. The ...

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🏆 Winner of Contest #244

My phone buzzed. I rolled over to look at the text my cousin Maya had just sent. Can you send photo you took of all the girls in costume last night? xoxo My head was throbbing. Hanging out with Maya was fun, but she was eight years younger than me and she and her friends loved to do shots. I needed to stick with beer only if I didn’t want the hangover. That’s what I'd do next time. I opened my photos app to find the picture Maya had requested. It was a group shot I had no memory of taking. It wasn’t everyone who’d been at the party - just th...

“ Ke Kulanakauhale ma ke Kai, or The City by The Sea ” by Thomas Iannucci

🏆 Winner of Contest #243

Ke Kulanakauhale ma ke Kaior,The City by the Seaby thomas iannucci Author’s Note: In this story I use Hawaiian words, as the story is set in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii. However, I do not italicize them, as I am from Hawaii, and so these words are not foreign to me. Growing up there were many English words unfamiliar to us in school, and they were never italicized; I would like this same standard to be applied to Hawaiian, which is, for better or for worse, also now a language in the United States. Mahalo for your kokua. “The city by the sea,...

“ Do Not Touch ” by Niamh O'Dea

🏆 Winner of Contest #242

Jen lived by the unwritten rules of being single but wanting a child. Don’t look at children. Don’t engage with children. Don’t talk about children. Don’t let other people talk about their children. And don’t, for the love of all that is holy, tell anyone you long for a child. A nearby suitor could be eyeing you up, biting their bottom lip at the sight of your untoned bum, lusting after your wide midriff, admiring your conical legs. They could be subconsciously sliding you through their mental mold of their dream woman, seeing you slot in j...

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…in…in this room…cursed room…loved?... cursed…. where she slept…half-grown in her hometown t-shirt…shorts…no shorts…t-shirt worn with holes…on the floor…he having thrown it…under the bed…dust collected and swept and settled again…. and again…who?... he… not she?...gracious!...there for the first time…assuredly last time…no boys in the room, father said…keep out!...nodded her head… but in the room…blue light hugging the window…scotch tape…peeling off the paint whether chipped or freshly laid or…exhumed…he found her in the— no, not found…held…...

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On my last shift as a lighthouse keeper, I climbed the seventy-six spiral iron stairs and two ladders to the watch room, the number of steps the same as my age. The thwomp and snare of each step laid an ominous background score. Something wasn’t right. At that very moment, Richie Tedesco was pointing a fire extinguisher at the burning electrical panel in the engine room of his boat a few miles offshore.The placard in the watch room read “Marge Mabrity, Lightkeeper—First lighted the depths on March 2nd, 1985, and hasn’t missed a night.” Alrea...

“ Metonymia ” by Gem Cassia

🏆 Winner of Contest #239

“God is dead.” “Which one?” “I meant it as more of a blanket statement, but if we’re getting into specifics, I guess I mean the one that I killed.” [When | the | god | of | cause-and-effect | is | slaughtered | in | cold | blood | everyone | knows | who | to | blame.]“People aren’t too pleased about that, you know.” “I’ve heard.”[Everyone | has | heard.]&lt;...

“ Five Turns of the Hourglass ” by Weronika L

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I tow my dead father with me to the scorched heart of a desert. His body guilts down my shoulders, heavier each time he doesn't tell me that I took the wrong turn, that I need to straighten my elbows, that I never do anything the right way so why does he even bother. My jeep sputters and chokes under our weight as it brings us to the parking lot in front of the hotel. Vipassana, reads the sign above the glass door, melted open at the hinges. The Silent Retreat. Heat slaps me across the face. I backpack my father around my waist and march to ...

“ Love.edu: Courtship and Coincidence in Modern Academia ” by Eliza Levin

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Thursday, Jan 18 2:12 PMTo: [email protected]: [email protected]: Your (Brilliant) Paper on Mirrors/Jane EyreDear Professor Rhodes,I hope this email finds you well. I must confess that, although we have never met, I am a longtime admirer of your work—I was actually at your talk on Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell last year, which I greatly enjoyed.I write to you today to express my sincerest compliments on ...

“ Frozen Lemonade ” by Jennifer Fremon

🏆 Winner of Contest #236

Trigger warning: Contains underage sexual content, mentions of assaultYou know the movie Dirty Dancing? The one where Baby goes off to that fancy resort with her parents for the summer, and in the beginning she is a good, sweet girl who loves her daddy, and then by the end she is still a good sweet girl who loves her daddy but now she is kinda sexy too and can dance like a pro and is totally in love with that beautiful dance teacher. Why doesn’t anyone talk about how that teacher is clearly much, much older than Baby, and despite Patrick Swa...

“ KILLER IN THE WILLOWS ” by Kajsa Ohman

🏆 Winner of Contest #235

KILLER IN THE WILLOWSJust do it, so the T-shirts say. Just pick up the gun, pull the trigger—but maybe aim first, aim at the upper sternum and then pull the trigger, congratulating yourself that at last, in your long, passive life, you have shot somebody dead. So she did, and thus she became a murderer. She slipped through the night after that and disappeared into the willows to wash off any blood that spattered onto her clothing. The willows were thickl...

“ 6:47 PST ” by David Pampu

🏆 Winner of Contest #234

What has four faces, eight arms, and can’t tell time? The clock tower at Union Station. Four clocks on the tower and none of them run? I mean, what’re the odds? I peer up at the time and shade my eyes. It’s 6:47 pm. Always is, always will be. And all anyone knows is that on a Monday the world was a loud, frantic place and Tuesday it wasn’t. Tuesday? Really? The world should’ve ended on a Saturd...

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Vegan Hamburgers February 1st 11:11pm WOW. I cannot believe that just happened. I went to AJ’s studio and almost walked out with a record deal. I was sober, too. He started rolling a joint and offered me some but I immediately said no. Last week, I had drinks at Lighthouse Studios and the executive was totally judging me when...

“ The Lantern of Kaamos ” by Jonathan Page

🏆 Winner of Contest #232

The melting Arctic is a crime scene, and I am like CSI Ny-Ålesund. Trond is the anonymous perpetrator leaving evidence and clues for me to discover, like breadcrumbs leading back to him. “Jonna,” he had said, the day we first met at the research institute, “If you are going to make it up here, don’t lock your doors.” It seemed like a life philosophy, rather than a survival tip.It is ironic. Out on Kings Bay, the coal miners came first, then the science outposts. Trond was already out here mining the Arctic when I was sti...

“ No Junior League ” by Mary Lynne Schuster

🏆 Winner of Contest #231

You are sure you want to do this?   Running away. Starting over.  It’s not as easy as people think. You have to give up everything.  Oh, that part’s easy. Everyone thinks we are all traceable, that you can’t really hide. But, see, everything is tied to your identity. Your papers. If you change those, you are a different person.  Fingerprints? If they’re in the system, if yo...

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50 positive life quotes to inspire, and lift your spirit each day

" Life's a climb. But the view is great ." There are times when things seemingly go to plan, and there are other moments when nothing works out.

During those instances, you might feel lost. But words of encouragement can help. Certain quotes can inspire and remind you to live life to the fullest and persevere through whatever challenges come your way.

If you're looking for more, here is a list of quotes about life throughout the decades:

50 quotes about life

  • "You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated." – Maya Angelou , "And Still I Rise"
  • "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on." –  Robert Frost
  • "Life is a long lesson in humility." – J.M. Barrie , "The Little Minister"
  • "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." – Oscar Wilde
  • "The most important thing is to enjoy your life–to be happy–it's all that matters." – Audrey Hepburn
  • "To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone." – Reba McEntire
  • "We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." – Joseph Campbell
  • "Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Love the life you live. Live the life you love." – Bob Marley
  • "I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy." – Marie Curie
  • "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." –  Friedrich Nietzsche
  • "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." – Mae West
  • "The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one's destiny to do, and then do it." – Henry Ford
  • "In order to write about life first you must live it." – Ernest Hemingway
  • "Life has no limitations, except the ones you make." – Les Brown
  • "It's your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don't take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver." – Betty White
  • "Live for each second without hesitation." – Elton John
  • "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." – E. E. Cummings
  • "Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart." – Roy Bennett
  • "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." – Mark Twain
  • "I believe that if you'll just stand up and go, life will open up for you. Something just motivates you to keep moving." – Tina Turner
  • "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." – Thomas Edison
  • "I have very strong feelings about how you lead your life. You always look ahead, you never look back." – Ann Richards
  • "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." – Albert Einstein
  • "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." – Anais Nin
  • "You do not find the happy life. You make it." – Camilla Eyring Kimball
  • "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." – Jackie Robinson
  • "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • "The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams." – Oprah Winfrey
  • "If you own this story you get to write the ending." – Brené Brown
  • "Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once." – Lillian Dickinson
  • "Life is about making an impact, not making an income." – Kevin Kruse
  • "There are no regrets in life, just lessons." – Jennifer Aniston
  • "Accept no one's definition of your life, define yourself." – Harvey Fierstein
  • "The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes." – Frank Lloyd Wright
  • "If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of." – Bruce Lee
  • "Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts." – Nikki Giovanni
  • "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced." – Soren Kierkegaard
  • "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." – Steve Jobs
  • "If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow." – Beyoncé
  • "If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living." – Gail Sheehy
  • "I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." – Booker T. Washington
  • "Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful." – Annette Funicello
  • "The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything." – Frank Sinatra
  • "I think I've discovered the secret of life – you just hang around until you get used to it." – Charles Schulz
  • "Life is very interesting... in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths." – Drew Barrymore
  • "Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." – Joshua J. Marine
  • "Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can't build on it; it's only good for wallowing in." – Katherine Mansfield
  • "The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway." – Henry Boye
  • "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." – George Bernard Shaw

Quotes about love: 50 love quotes to express how you feel: 'Where there is love there is life'

Inspirational quotes: 50 motivational motivational words to brighten your day.

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USA TODAY is exploring the questions you and others ask every day. From " What is the rarest blood type? " to " Who was the oldest Golden Girl? " to " What state has the lowest population? " – we're striving to find answers to the most common questions you ask every day. Head to our  Just Curious section  to see what else we can answer.

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UK election: The intriguing real-life story of Keir Starmer, UK’s next prime minister

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Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on the campaign trail for Election 2024.

  • Sir Keir Starmer, once a defender of vegan anarchists, will now meet weekly with the King
  • Starmer, who comes from working-class roots, has been described as a ‘very private man’
  • Britain’s foreign policy is unlikely to change under Labour and Starmer, with his focus on domestic issues

He was a lefty lawyer who defended vegan anarchists before prosecuting terrorists on behalf of the British Crown. He was an editor of a Trotsky magazine in his youth, yet he delighted capitalists by putting “wealth creation” at the heart of the Labour Party platform this year. He was an anti-monarchist who was then knighted as “Sir Keir” and now will meet with the king once a week.

It all makes for a complex, messy, real-life story. It also makes it tricky to anticipate what sort of prime minister Keir Starmer will be.

One of his biographers confessed that Starmer is “hard to pin down” – and he had total access to his subject.

Starmer, 61, has used that ambiguity to his advantage. People have been able to project onto him what they want to believe. For a long time, he even benefited from the rumour that he was the inspiration for the Mark Darcy/Colin Firth urbane-human-rights-lawyer character in the Bridget Jones books and movies. (He was not.)

Being many things to many people may have helped Starmer deliver a big win on Thursday. His centre-left, social democratic Labour Party is poised to return to power after 14 years in the wilderness, while voters have banished the Conservatives to the opposition. (The results for the London constituency that Starmer represents in Parliament aren’t expected until early morning, though his is considered a safe seat.)

But what is Starmer’s mandate, really, other than his self-evident campaign slogan of “Change”? In Ipsos polling last month, half of respondents said they didn’t know what he stood for.

Starmer didn’t give foreign press interviews during this election. That’s typical for party leaders. But close colleagues also call him a “very private man”. He has a wife, Victoria, and two teenage children, whose names he has never made public, and a cat, whose name he was willing to reveal as Jojo. He has expressed worry about the impact a move to Downing Street will have on his family.

He’s not a flash politician. As an orator, he’s no Winston Churchill. But his friends say he can be ruthless, which might be what a stumbling-along Britain needs.

“He is very, very driven, quite relentless,” said Tom Baldwin, a journalist and former Labour spin-doctor, who recently published a well-received biography of Starmer. “He has an oversized view of his capacity to bring change. He is not going to inspire people with big speeches. What he might do is fix things.”

Starmer’s working-class roots

Starmer will be the most working-class leader of Britain in a generation – coming in after a prime minister who by some counts was richer than the royals.

On the campaign trail, Starmer introduced himself by saying, “My mum was a nurse, my dad was a toolmaker.” He talked about growing up with unpaid bills and the phone being cut off. Pasta “was a foreign food” in his home, his biographer Baldwin wrote. The family did not travel abroad.

Starmer scored well on tests and gained entry into an elite high school. He was the first of his line to attend a university – Leeds, and then a year at Oxford.

He has said he wants to help young families get their first mortgage, knowing that his parents’ modest semi-detached stucco home “was everything to my family – it gave us stability, and I believe every family deserves the same.”

He cites his mother’s work as a nurse, and the care she received for a debilitating inflammatory syndrome, for instilling his reverence for Britain’s National Health Service. His wife works for the NHS, too, in occupational health, which Starmer says has given him “insight” into the struggles of the underfunded, backlogged system.

Starmer says that his father felt “very disrespected” for working at a factory, that he was emotionally distant. As a dad himself, Starmer says he tries to “carve out really protected time for the kids”. He tries to stop work on Fridays at 6pm. Although an atheist himself, he has said they often do Shabbat dinner in keeping with his wife’s Jewish heritage.

Starmer as a lawyer

Colleagues who knew Starmer before his entry into politics say clues to how he will govern can be found in his extended life chapter as an attorney.

They say he was never a “jury’s lawyer” – the cinematic advocate who makes an impassioned closing argument – but a “judge’s lawyer,” who built the case with precedent, law, facts. Indeed, when he represented the opposition during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, the Starmer style was often described as “forensic.” His cross-examination managed to deflate even the bombast of Boris Johnson.

Early in his career, Starmer joined Doughty Street Chambers, known for taking on big, controversial human rights cases. He fought the death penalty in Commonwealth countries – defending, as the tabloids put it, “baby killers and axe murderers.” He was part of a legal team that got Uganda’s Constitutional Court to invalidate the sentences of all 417 people on death row.

Starmer also worked pro bono for a pair of vegan anarchists who passed out leaflets accusing McDonald’s of low wages, cruelty to animals and support of deforestation. The burger maker sued for libel, and the case and its many appeals lasted a decade, one of the longest legal fights in British history. It ended in a kind of draw.

London media lawyer Mark Stephens, who worked on cases with Starmer, said he was “always looking 10 miles down the road,” at how a seemingly unwinnable case could be won on appeal to the Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights.

Starmer surprised – and upset – some of his legal colleagues when he became the country’s top prosecutor.

He oversaw the first British prosecution of al-Qaeda terrorists. He brought forward charges against Tory and Labour politicians caught up in an explosive expenses scandal, first revealed by the press. He and his prosecutors were accused of heavy-handed bias when they came down hard in arrests and charges for people who rioted in London after a black man named Mark Duggan was shot dead by police in 2011.

His knighthood came in 2014, in recognition of his work for the Crown Prosecution Service.

In Baldwin’s biography, a former partner of Starmer’s, Phillippa Kaufmann, says that “law was never going to be enough for him”.

Starmer as a politician

Starmer didn’t get into electoral politics until he was 52. That was just nine years ago, in a country where many members of Parliament began plotting their rise to power in university days.

He was elected to represent the London district of Holborn and St. Pancras in 2015 and served as a “shadow minister” in the opposition, given the thankless job of negotiating Labour’s shaky position on Brexit. Starmer was against leaving the European Union, but many blue-collar Labour voters were for it. The party’s inscrutable compromise was that it was neither for Brexit nor against it, but wanted a second referendum. This mush – and Starmer, too – probably contributed to Labour’s colossal loss to the Conservatives in 2019.

But after that election, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was out, and Starmer was in. He set out to remake the Labour Party.

Critics who were bested by Starmer in intra-party brawls call him an opportunist. His allies credit him with purging members who had contributed to the public sense that Labour had “an anti-Semitism problem.” Starmer also tracked to the centre to make the party electable once again.

“What Keir has done is taken all the left out of the Labour Party,” billionaire businessman John Caudwell, previously a big Tory donor, told the BBC. “He’s come out with a brilliant set of values and principles and ways of growing Britain in complete alignment with my views as a commercial capitalist.”

The Labour Party highlighted his endorsement.

Starmer as prime minister

Starmer’s supporters dare hope that he will be a transformative leader – a kind of 2024 version of Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, without the baggage of the Iraq War – if he is not undone by the deep divisions in his own party.

“I think he’s proved he’s quite ruthless in terms of changing his party,” said Tony Travers, a politics expert at the London School of Economics. But will that ruthlessness carry forward into government? “We’ll have to wait and see,” Travers said.

What does Starmer believe in? “He believes in pragmatism, in developing policy by solving problems, not through grand theory. And he doesn’t come to the table with ideological presuppositions,” said Josh Simons, who ran the centrist think tank Labour Together.

Starmer has his critics in the party – for the very same reason.

“I think he actually stands for very little,” said James Schneider, former director of strategic communications for Labour and a Corbyn ally.

“He seems to reflect the ideas of the people that are around him,” Schneider said. “He has shifted or been shifted more and more into the establishment position,” and his government will be an attempt to restore the establishment’s authority, not challenge it.

“He seems like a middle manager scolding his workers, or an unpopular step dad who’s lost control of the kids,” Schneider said.

Critics on the left suspect Starmer will not be bold, but will hew to a soft middle.

Much of his focus will be on domestic politics – trying to shore up the British economy and address people’s sense that everyday costs have become unmanageable. He wants to cut soaring electricity costs – with a new state-run green utility company. He wants to cut wait times for medical and dental appointments.

Britain’s foreign policy hardly ever changes under a new government, and Travers said foreign policy would remain “amazingly unaltered” by a shift from Conservative to Labour rule. Starmer has said Britain will remain a strong member of Nato; will back Ukraine in its war against Russia; and will support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, while calling for a ceasefire.

Although Brexit is seen as a flop, and there is no enthusiasm for another referendum, Britain under Starmer will probably seek a closer relationship with the European Union.

Critics have described Starmer as dull. He is not. What will be most interesting – to Britain and the world – is what he does now that he and his party have power.

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'i will speak out for you: starmer set to become uk pm; tory heavyweight loses seat, biden says he is ‘first black woman to serve with a black president’, ‘hard to imagine a worse outcome’: tory collapse sparks blame game, leading evs in new zealand.

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Stuck in a rut? How to appreciate your life again, according to science

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Andrew Limbong

Why we become bored with our lives (and how to find joy again)

Illustration of a man relaxing on a hamster wheel, symbolizing taking a break from the daily grind to refresh yourself and appreciate life.

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A new job, apartment or relationship can all come with a sheen of excitement. But that luster fades after a while. And everything seems a bit duller.

There's a term for that phenomenon, says Tali Sharot , a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: habituation. It's "our tendency to respond less and less to things that are repeated or constant."

Its evolutionary purpose is to help us adapt to our surroundings so we can be on high alert for new threats. But it can also impair our creativity and affect our levels of stress and happiness.

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So how do we add that sparkle back into our lives? In a new book, Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There , Sharot and her colleague Cass R. Sunstein , a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert on behavioral economics, discuss how to dis habituate. That means making changes "that will allow us to feel joy again from the same things that are around us," says Sharot.

Sharot talked to Life Kit about how to disrupt your routine, get out of your rut and revitalize your life. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

In your book, you reference an episode of The Twilight Zone . In it, a crook is killed during a robbery. In the afterlife, he's given infinite access to money, cars and women. It's great at first, but eventually, he isn't happy. And surprise, you find out he's in hell. What lesson can we glean from this?

The major takeaway here is that even great things in your life, if they're always there, don't excite you as much. They don't bring you as much joy.

I worked with a tourism company that wanted to know when are people happiest on vacation. We went to different resorts and surveyed people. We found the happiest day of vacation was at 43 hours. After that, happiness started to go down slowly. People were still happy on days 5, 6, 7, 8 — but not as happy as they were on Day 2. That's habituation kicking in. They were getting used to the great things around them.

And that's what happened in that episode of The Twilight Zone . The crook had everything he thought he would want. But it wasn't as good as on days 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 as it was on Day 1. Usually, by that point, you're looking for something else .

What steps should you take if you're in a colorless gray rut? 

Take breaks from good things. Remove yourself from that environment or situation for a certain amount of time — then come back. You'll be better able to notice things that are great. People who go on business trips, for example, often find that when they come back, they suddenly appreciate their comfortable home, their loved ones, the view from their window.

You can also take this break in your mind. Close your eyes and imagine not having your house, not having your family, not having your job. Try to imagine it with vividness and detail. When you open your eyes again, there's some dishabituation, this feeling of gratefulness.

Improve your sense of direction

Improve your sense of direction

Don't overlook variety. It causes you to be in a state of learning. This could be something big, like moving to a different place or taking a new job. But it could also be smaller things, like taking on a new skill. Learning is one thing that really induces the most joy in people.

The changes you're talking about here are experiential. You can't buy your way out of a rut, right?

If you buy a new car, outfit, phone or whatever, you tend to habituate quite fast. But when it comes to experiences, like a concert, a lecture or a night out, if the experience was good, you tend to retrieve it in your mind every so often, and it still has quite a high amount of joy associated with it. That's one of the reasons why a lot of findings show that experiences give you more joy than material things .

Aside from sparking joy in your life again, are there any other benefits of dishabituation?

One study has shown that after people move from one country to another, for a short duration, they're better at problem solving . It could be because everything is new: the language, the way things look, the people, everything. Their brain is "on" in a different mode, a mode of taking in information and thinking about things differently. So they become better at problem solving. 

Another interesting study has shown that if you change your environment in a very simple way — like getting out of your office to work in the kitchen or a coffee shop or go for a walk — you become more creative . Now, the creativity boost that you get from simply changing your environment lasts for only about six minutes. However, those six minutes could be quite important. That could be the big eureka moment. So it's definitely something that I recommend doing any workday. Don't just sit in the same place — try to change your environment somewhat.

Are some groups of people more susceptible to habituation than others? 

One thing that we think may matter is age. There is a well-known U-shape of happiness in life, where happiness is relatively high in teenagers and kids; then it goes down, down, down and reaches rock bottom on average in your midlife. Then it starts going up again.

When a romance ends, can a friendship grow? NPR listeners weigh in

When a romance ends, can a friendship grow? NPR listeners weigh in

So why do we have this low point in midlife? One of the reasons is that we have a lot of sameness. Midlife is a time where most of us have been in the same situation for a long time: perhaps [staying] in the same place, in the same job, with the same partner for a long time.

These things can be good. But if you stay in that position for a long time and you're not progressing upwards, people usually tend to feel a bit down. Because what people like to do is see themselves progressing.

The digital story was edited by Malaka Gharib. The visual editor is Beck Harlan. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at [email protected].

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‘For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign'

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Brian Wallach has more fight in him, more grit, than seems humanly possible. 

The attorney and former Obama White House staffer was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 37. He could easily have resigned himself to a cruel and unfair fate at that point, but instead he and his wife Sandra Abrevaya chose to battle on – not just for themselves and their family, but to benefit everyone affected by ALS and other conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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Watch the interview here and see photos from the event below.

“I am most proud of the fact that we took a disease that nobody knew and made it a centerpiece in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases,” Wallach said as he made an appearance at the Deadline Studio at Prime Experience in Hollywood. Abrevaya echoed that: “I’m really proud that we’ve had a big impact not only on ALS but on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”

The couple co-founded I Am ALS, a nonprofit “patient-led community that provides critical support and resources to those living with ALS, caregivers and loved ones.” The documentary shows how Wallach, Abrevaya and their allies have led a successful campaign to dramatically increase federal funding into research towards treatment and a cure for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Among their allies in the cause is Katie Couric, the former  Today Show  host and  CBS Evening News  anchor, who is an executive producer of  For Love & Life . “I read an article in Politico about [Brian and Sandra] and I was so taken by their story and deep in the body of the article, it said that there was a documentary being developed for their story. And I said, I want to be involved,” Couric explained. “I just knew right away that I wanted to not only get to know Brian and Sandra, but I wanted to help in a small way elevate what they were doing and try to even bring more attention to it.”

Phil Rosenthal , the creator of  Everybody Loves Raymond  and a fellow EP of the documentary, was drawn to the film for very personal reasons.

Director Christopher Burke has known Wallach since college. When Wallach and Abrevaya were launching I Am ALS, he helped to shoot a PSA for the organization and, with help from producer Tim Rummel , the collaboration morphed into the documentary.

“I was there with them in all these moments where they’re just living their life and fighting this disease, but also they’re this loving couple,” Burke noted. “You have a moment where she’s pulling a needle out of his chest and he’s correcting the way she’s doing it and whatever. It’s just like this crazy laughter through the most ridiculously difficult thing imaginable. And that, I think, is what keeps it going because nobody wants to sit and listen to a bunch of science statistics. You want to see people going through this and fighting through it.”

“Everyone’s here [on the project] for personal reasons,” Rummel said, “and they’re all here because there’s something about this issue that they care about, and it’s really a labor of love of everybody.”

Among the people who appear in the documentary is Dr. Priscilla Chan, who co-founded the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative with her husband, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg. CZI has become deeply involved in funding research into neurodegenerative diseases including ALS.

“The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative created a program called Rare As One, and at the heart of Rare As One is the insight that patients have all of this incredible knowledge about their disease,” said Jeff MacGregor, an executive producer of the film and until recently VP of Communications for Science at CZI. “They have insights that will help move the science in a big way. They need to be at the table, they need to be a part of the process of moving science forward. And Sandra and Brian are the perfect examples of that. They created a playbook that could allow others to follow in their steps.”

Former President Obama is interviewed in the film, speaking about the work and perseverance of Wallach and Abrevaya. His support for the film has gone beyond appearing on camera for it – he also hosted an event in Austin, Texas during the 2023 SXSW festival where he saluted the couple he first met when they were staffers on his presidential campaign.

Pres. Obama’s support “means everything to me,” Wallach said. “When I was on his campaign, I learned that every person can make a difference and has the power to share their story and to change the world. So, that’s what we’ve been doing. And I owe it all to him.”

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Brian Wallach

Anthony Avellano for Deadline

Sandra Abrevaya and Katie Couric

Phil Rosenthal and Christopher Burke

Tim Rummel and Jeff MacGregor

For more Deadline Studio at Prime Experience content, click  here .

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Dexter morgan was inspired by a real-life killer: true story explained.


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All The Dexter Seasons Ranked From Worst To Best

Dexter: every character who knew about his dark passenger (& how they found out), i love the bear, but season 3 confirmed 1 harsh reality about the show.

  • Dexter Morgan, a fictional serial killer, was inspired by real-life murderer Pedro Rodrigues Filho.
  • Both characters share similar themes of dark urges, revenge, and societal benefit through their actions.
  • The TV series Dexter is loosely based on Filho's crimes, with significant differences in plot and character details.

Michael C. Hall's Dexter Morgan in the series Dexter was inspired by a real-life murderer. The acclaimed Showtime series follows a charismatic serial killer who works as a blood splatter analyst for Miami Metro Police. The intriguing premise was first featured in a novel titled Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, published in 2004. Two years later, Showtime made the narrative into a 12-episode season in 2006. The show went on to produce 96 episodes over eight seasons, as well as one spinoff series titled Dexter: New Blood .

Despite Dexter being inspired by a real-life murderer, it is still considered a completely original narrative and a work of fiction. The strange story of Dexter Morgan appears too far-fetched to be based on reality, but surprisingly, this is not the case. Dexter seemingly has it all in the series, given a loving family, loyal coworkers, and a happy life in a sunny, tropical environment by creator James Manos Jr. While the real-life Dexter Morgan experienced a much less comfortable life than the fictional character, both murderous vigilantes share unique ethical stances that enabled them to use their dark passengers for revenge and societal benefit.

Custom image of season 4, season 1 and season 8 of Dexter

When the Dexter seasons are ranked from worst to best it always shows a journey of ups and downs, but its one that produced a truly beloved show.

Dexter Morgan Was Inspired By Pedro Rodrigues Filho

A brazillian serial killer who targeted criminals inspired the show.

Michael C. Hall as Dexter in the original series

Pedro Rodrigues Filho is the real-life vigilante killer who acted as the inspiration behind the fictional character Dexter Morgan. Pedro was born in Brazil and lived there his entire life. Often regarded as the "South American Punisher" and the "Brazilian Dexter," Pedro was an infamous serial killer who murdered dozens of criminals and gang members beginning when he was between the ages of 14 and 19. Pedro and Dexter share a similar theme by only murdering those who have committed heinous crimes.

Pedro and Dexter experienced dark urges as young adults and began acting on them in various ways.

Pedro and Dexter experienced dark urges as young adults and began acting on them in various ways. Both also experienced losing their significant other and retaliated by killing those responsible. In the series, Dexter loses Rita, who is murdered by the Trinity Killer, Arthur Mitchell, right before their honeymoon. Dexter eventually is able to track down and kill the Trinity Killer after the damage had already been done. Pedro similarly murdered an entire gang after his pregnant girlfriend was killed, leading him down a viciously dark and murderous road.

Pedro Rodrigues Filho's Crimes Explained

The real killer that inspired dexter murdered over 100 criminals.

Dexter wearing gloves in the back of a van

Pedro's killing spree occurred during his adolescence and began in 1968, when he was 14, after shooting the mayor of a Brazilian city. He went on the run and got involved in a gang where he was forced to kill other members of rival gangs. After gang members killed his pregnant girlfriend, Pedro took it upon himself to hunt members of the rival gang to murder them all. He also killed his own father as revenge for murdering his mother. Pedro admitted to having murdered over 100 people, including roughly 40 people in prison.

Unlike the events of the show, the "real" Dexter Morgan was eventually apprehended and spent several decades behind bars.

Unlike the events of the show, the "real" Dexter Morgan was eventually apprehended and spent several decades behind bars. Pedro was arrested on 71 counts of murder and served 30 years in prison between 1973 and 2003 (via Latin Post ). Pedro later served another prison sentence from 2011 to 2018 on charges of riot and deprivation of liberty, for which he was released on good behavior.

Pedro became a famous YouTuber and TikTok star after his second prison sentence. He developed a following on his TikTok page called "Pedrinho EX Matador," which had over 400,000 followers and 3.4 million likes. In another surprising twist, Pedro was shot and killed in March 2023 in a drive-by shooting. No suspects have been identified in his murder case.

Dexter Harry Miguel Brian Dark Passenger

While Dexter's number one rule was to not get caught, he slipped up quite a few times, leading several characters to discover his killer identity.

How Dexter Is Different From Pedro Rodrigues Filho

The show is only loosely based on the crimes of pedro rodrigues.

Michael C Hall as Dexter Morgan looking worried in the woods in Dexter: New Blood

While Dexter Morgan was loosely based on Pedro Rogrigues Filho, the plot of Dexter is far from a direct adaptation of the Brazillian serial killers crimes, and there are many differences between the pair. Dexter's code only allows him to kill people who are murderers or serial killers, alluding to Hammurabi's Code and the ancient precept "lex talionis," which is commonly associated with the "eye for an eye" principle of retribution. Pedro's theme of murders found him killing fellow murderers but also expanded to include drug dealers, rapists, and gang members.

Pedro also never worked for the police department like Dexter, and had no expertise as a blood splatter analyst.

The way the story of Dexter ended, and the eventual fate of Dexter Morgan himself, is also a huge deviation from the true story. Dexter is different from Pedro in that he never got caught by police, never served a prison sentence, and never became a YouTuber. Dexter also didn't commit his first murder until he was 20, whereas many of Pedro's murders occurred while he was still a teenager.

Pedro also never worked for the police department like Dexter, and had no expertise as a blood splatter analyst. Those were details added to Dexter Morgan's character to make him more compelling. Dexter, of course, is also not from Brazil as Pedro was, having been born and raised in Florida. Despite all the differences between Pedro Rodrigues Filho and the fictional Dexter Morgan, there were enough sinister similarities between their dark natures to inspire the riveting narrative that became the TV series, Dexter .

A Real Killer Was Inspired By Deter Morgan

Canadian killer mark twitchell developed a fascination with killing thanks to dexter.

While Dexter Morgan is based on a real serial killer, one of the most bizarre (and tragic) twists in the legacy of the show is that the fictional character went on to inspire a real-life murderer. Canadian killer Mark Andrew Twitchell's murder of John Brian Altinger in 2008 captured the attention of the media when it went to trial for several reasons, notably that Twitchell cited Dexter and the character of Dexter Morgan specifically as an inspiration for his crimes.

It should be noted that Twitchell's inspiration from the show didn't seem to extend to Dexter Morgan's M.O. of targeting other killers, since there was no evidence that Altinger was guilty of any criminal activity. Twitchell met Altinger on a dating app while posing as a woman, and lured him to his address. This is where the Dexter inspirations became clearer, as Twitchell had set up facilities to dispose of Altinger's body that were incredibly like Dexter Morgan's.

The case was incredibly tragic. Twitchell had a fascination with serial killers and with Dexter as a show, and it was mentioned multiple times during the trial. It also opened the wider societal debate once again about the ethics of basing endearing fictional characters on murdering psychopaths, as the Twitchell case is far from the first time a show based on true events has ended up inspiring bloodshed.

Dexter Season 8 Poster

*Availability in US

Not available

Based on the character created by author Jeff Lindsay, Showtime's Dexter follows Miami Metro Police Department's most skilled blood spatter analyst, Dexter Morgan, as he attempts to satisfy his Dark Passenger's need to kill by hunting down criminals who have escaped justice. However, using the rules his adoptive father taught him to remain undiscovered, Dexter must walk the fine line of seemingly blending into society while continuously feeding his dark urges. Dexter faces several serial killers as his facade slowly crumbles around him; with every problem solved by his Dark Passenger, another one arises for his suburban fatherly life. When Dexter takes things personally or feels that the law is failing, he takes matters into his own hands and even compromises the investigations of his co-workers. Dexter aired on Showtime for eight seasons before receiving a mini-sequel series called Dexter: New Blood , which picked up ten years after the show's events. You can buy each season for just $9.99 for Prime Day. 

Dexter (2010)

Trump made false claims about 'late-term abortion' during the debate, experts say

Former President Donald Trump made false claims about late-in-pregnancy abortions during Thursday’s debate with President Joe Biden, experts say.

Abortion is poised to be one of the biggest topics that will define this year’s presidential election.

On Thursday, Trump repeated claims he made in 2016 regarding late-in-pregnancy abortions during a debate against then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

He claimed: “They will take the life of a child in the eighth month, the ninth month and even after birth.”

By definition, late-in-pregnancy abortions take place at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 1% of all abortions occur at this stage of pregnancy. More than 80% occur at or before nine weeks of pregnancy, and just 6% occur between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is during the second trimester. Abortion does not involve ending the life of a born baby. 

Any claim stating that it is is incorrect, Dr. Dara Kass, an emergency medicine physician in New York and a former regional director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told NBC News.

“What he is talking about is murder, and it doesn’t happen in relation to abortion,” she said.

Trump also specifically targeted former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, stating, “He’s willing to, as we say, rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month and kill the baby.”

In a 2019 interview , Northam was pressed on proposed state legislation that would have eliminated a restriction that required abortions in the second or third trimester to be performed in a hospital. It also would have eliminated a requirement that three physicians agree that a late-in-pregnancy abortion is medically necessary.

Northam said he supported this decision being made between families and their physician, rather than having a law that made that decision for them.

“When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of the mother and the physician, and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that is nonviable,” Northam said in the interview.

Jill Wieber Lens, a law professor at the University of Iowa who is an expert on reproductive justice, said, “What Northam was talking about is a baby born with severe abnormalities, the kind of thing that a person learns about during late-stage pregnancy.”

A full-term pregnancy lasts 39 to 40 weeks. If a woman late in a pregnancy begins to experience life-threatening symptoms like pre-eclampsia , doctors may induce delivery. Even if the baby is extremely premature (less than 28 weeks), the odds of survival are good. This induction is not abortion, and if a healthy baby is killed after being born in this way, that is infanticide, experts say.

Often, tests don’t reveal such severe complications until later in pregnancy, or pregnant women may not know there are severe problems with the fetus — or their own health — until then. In fact, the number of women who received either no prenatal care during pregnancy or didn’t get prenatal care until the third trimester — between the seventh and ninth months — increased to a record nearly 7% in 2021, according to CDC data .

If a fetus is not expected to live, a physician and a family may need to have conversations such as, “Do we do life support if it’s ultimately futile,” Wieber Lens said, referring to perinatal hospice. “Northam was not talking about abortion, he was talking about how do we care for nonviable babies.”

Wieber Lens said she expects more families will now face choices related to perinatal hospice, particularly in states that do not have abortion law exemptions for congenital anomalies .

Complications can require difficult decisions

In an emailed statement to NBC News, a representative from SBA Pro-Life America said, “Most late-term abortions are elective, performed on healthy women with healthy babies for the same reasons given for first-trimester abortions.”

When pressed to define late-stage abortions, which does not have a technical definition, SBA Pro-Life America said it classifies “late-term abortions” as anything after 15 weeks.

Medically, “late term” is a phrase that describes pregnancy after 41 weeks, which is beyond full term.

It is true that a significant number of abortions that take place during the second trimester — which lasts from 13 to 27 weeks of pregnancy — likely are not medically necessary, experts say.

“You will still see a significant number of abortions for reasons such as a late discovery of pregnancy, or maybe a partner lost a job, or a person had a really hard time making a choice whether to terminate or not,” said Greer Donley, an associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, who is an expert on abortion law.

People may also struggle to access an abortion, forcing the decision later into pregnancy when they can finally access one, she said.

“Part of the reason later abortions are taking place, after 12 weeks, is because states have made it so difficult to get abortions early in pregnancy,” said Wieber Lens.

In some cases, abortions after 12 weeks are deemed medically necessary.

Donley was 20 weeks pregnant when a test revealed her son had a serious brain anomaly that was preventing his brain tissue from forming. As a cancer survivor, Donley’s pregnancy was already high-risk. At 22 weeks pregnant, Donley made the difficult decision to have an abortion.

“It was devastating,” she said.

Abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy are rare, expensive, and usually are done when a life-threatening diagnosis is made. It’s also often difficult to find a doctor to do an abortion at this stage, even in states with no abortion bans, Donley said.

In the third trimester, which includes weeks 29 through 40 — or months seven, eight and nine of pregnancy — “we are almost exclusively talking about a majority are medically necessary abortions,” Donley said.

These abortions “are almost always the result of complications such as fetal anomalies, or a medical condition in which the woman’s life is in danger,” said Amita Vyas, an associate professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and director of the university’s MPH Maternal and Child Health program. “There are so many different nuanced medical reasons, from different congenital anomalies to genetic things that come up. Most of these diagnoses cannot occur earlier in pregnancy.”

Kaitlin Sullivan is a contributor for NBCNews.com who has worked with NBC News Investigations. She reports on health, science and the environment and is a graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York.


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