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Inspirational Stories and Motivational Stories

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Inspirational Stories

Inspirational stories have a profound capacity to transform our perspectives, spark our imaginations, and propel us into action. Drawing from various sources, I have curated a collection of some of the best inspirational short stories that are bound to uplift your spirit, ignite your courage, and inspire you to chase your dreams.

I am RayCee the Artist, a professional portrait photographer, event photographer, and if you would like view more inspirational stories and and motivational stories/motivational quotes, be sure to visit the following YouTube channel: Affirmations and Motivational Quotes

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and the following YouTube channel: Affirmations and Motivational Quotes

The Tale of the Elephant and the Rope

Inspirational Stories

One of the most inspirational short stories is “The Elephant Rope”. The story begins with a man passing by an elephant camp. He was confused to see that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. The trainer said, "When they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it's enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free."

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn't, they were stuck right where they were. This powerful and moving story illustrates how limiting beliefs can hold us back from achieving our fullest potential.

Lesson: This inspirational story serves as a powerful reminder that our beliefs can significantly influence our actions. Limiting beliefs can restrain us from reaching our full potential. Always remember, no matter how the world tries to hold you back, never lose faith in your abilities.

The Gift of the Magi

Inspirational Stories

In this heartwarming tale by O. Henry, a young couple goes to great lengths to buy each other special gifts, despite their financial constraints. They end up sacrificing their most treasured possessions to afford the gifts. Although their gifts turned out to be practically useless, their acts of love were priceless.

Lesson: This tale illustrates the true essence of gift-giving. It's not about the material value, but the love and thought behind the gift that counts.

The Epic Voyage of the Fig Tree

Inspirational Stories

Sylvia Plath, in "The Bell Jar," presents a mesmerizing depiction of a fig tree. The protagonist visualizes her life as a fig tree, with every branch representing a different path she could take. However, her indecisiveness leads to the wilting and falling of the figs, symbolizing missed opportunities.

Lesson: This short story is a reminder of the importance of decision-making. It's better to make a choice and move forward than to remain stagnant due to indecisiveness.

The Story of the Grateful Starfishes

Inspirational Stories

This story revolves around a young boy who was throwing stranded starfish back into the sea. An elderly man, watching this, told the boy that his efforts were pointless given the scale of the problem. However, the boy, undeterred, continued his deed, saying, "It matters to this one," as he threw another starfish into the sea.

Lesson: No matter how small our actions may seem, they can make a difference. Every act of kindness counts, and doing something positive is always better than doing nothing.

The Tale of the Baker and the Butter

Inspirational Stories

In this tale, a baker discovers that the butter he is buying from a farmer is less than what he had paid for. The farmer, however, reveals that he has been using the baker's pound loaf of bread as a measure for the butter. The baker realizes that he was the one shortchanging the farmer.

Lesson: This inspiring story serves as a reminder that in life, you reap what you sow. Treating others fairly and with respect will be reflected in how others treat you.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Inspirational Stories

The memoir by Chris Gardner, "The Pursuit of Happyness," is an inspiring tale of perseverance. Despite experiencing homelessness and financial struggles, Gardner's determination led him to become a successful stockbroker.

Lesson: This story teaches us that with hard work, determination, and a positive attitude, anyone can overcome adversity and achieve their dreams.

The Story of Colonel Sanders

Inspirational Stories

The story of Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), is a tale of persistence. Despite facing numerous rejections, Sanders refused to give up on his dream and continued to strive for success, leading to the creation of the KFC franchise.

Lesson: Success comes from hard work, perseverance, and refusal to give up. With determination and grit, anyone can achieve their dreams.

Buridan’s Ass

Inspirational Stories

The story of Buridan's Ass is a tale about a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty, and is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Unable to decide between the two, the donkey ends up starving to death.

Lesson: This story teaches us valuable lessons about the importance of decision-making. Indecisiveness can lead to missed opportunities and even detrimental outcomes.

The Fisherman and the Businessman

Inspirational Stories

In this tale, a businessman advises a fisherman to work longer hours and expand his business. However, the fisherman questions the businessman's advice, pointing out that he's already living a peaceful and fulfilled life.

Lesson: The story reminds us to be content with what we have and value the simple pleasures in life. Success is not just about accumulating wealth but also about finding happiness and fulfillment.

Five More Minutes

Inspirational Stories

Another inspiring story is “Five More Minutes,” which emphasizes the importance of cherishing the present moment and balancing our priorities.

"Five More Minutes" is a touching tale that emphasizes the importance of cherishing the present moment and balancing our priorities. It begins with a father and his young son playing together. The son, completely engrossed in the joy of play, asks his father to play for "five more minutes". The father, however, is busy with work and other responsibilities, so he tells his son that he doesn't have time.

As time passes, the roles reverse. The father grows old and his son becomes busy with his own life. One day, the father asks his son to sit and talk with him for "five more minutes". But the son, now engrossed in his own responsibilities, tells his father that he doesn't have time.

The story ends with a poignant reminder of the importance of cherishing every moment and making time for what truly matters.

Lesson: Prioritize our relationships and the people we love, for life is fleeting and every moment is precious.

Life Is Like a Cup of Coffee

Inspirational Stories

Similarly, “Life is like a cup of coffee” teaches us to savor each moment and focus on the journey rather than materialistic achievements, much like the process of enjoying eggs and coffee beans in a well-prepared breakfast, as a young couple sitting nearby might do.

One of the thought-provoking stories in this collection is the story of "Life is Like a Cup of Coffee". The story begins with a group of successful alumni visiting their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and then began eyeing each other's cups. Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and do not change the quality of life.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee that life has provided us. So, don't let the cups drive you... enjoy the coffee instead."

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most inspiring story?

One of the most inspiring stories is Harriet Tubman's remarkable story of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity. The story is an inspiring example of triumph over suffering. She overcame tremendous obstacles, going back to Maryland to rescue her family from slavery.

What are the inspiring stories to start a presentation?

Start your presentation with a story of adventure, transformation, or triumph - the quest, the stranger in a strange land, rags to riches, the love story, or the tale of revenge. All five stories can be used to motivate and engage your audience.

What are some examples of famous people who have turned their failures into success stories?

These inspiring figures have all embraced failure as part of their success story - Fred Astaire, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, and J.K. Rowling. Each has demonstrated the power of resilience and hard work in turning failure into success.

How can we make a meaningful difference in the world?

By taking action through small, meaningful acts of kindness, having a positive outlook on life, and taking responsibility for our environment, we can make a meaningful difference in the world.

What is the ripple effect, and how does it work?

The ripple effect is the ongoing consequences of an initial action or event, creating a chain reaction that has an impact far beyond the initial source. It works by propagating outward and affecting a larger portion of the system.


These short inspirational stories serve as vivid reminders of the power of perseverance, the importance of decision-making, the value of kindness, and the significance of contentment. These inspiring stories teach us that success is not just about wealth or recognition, but also about pursuing our passions, making a difference, and finding happiness in our endeavors.

Remember, every struggle is a step forward, and every act of kindness makes a difference. Let these stories inspire you to chase your dreams, make a difference, and lead a fulfilling life.

I am RayCee the Artist, a professional portrait photographer, event photographer, and if you would like view more inspirational stories and and motivational stories/motivational quotes, be sure to visit the following YouTube channel: Affirmations and Motivational Quotes

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and the following YouTube channel: Affirmations and Motivational Quotes


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