Throughout history, storytelling has been a major part of communication. From sitting around fires in times gone by, to translating these stories into images in modern times. A well-told story can completely change the way you think.

Good stories make us laugh, cry, change, and everything in between. It’s through stories that we learn important lessons, ones we might never learn if we were only to have our own experiences. Stories develop empathy, compassion, and a myriad of essential elements within us that help us to navigate the world around us.

A good story doesn’t have to be a long one. I fact, some of the best stories with the most important lessons come in smaller sizes. The following are 5 examples of short stories that will completely change the way you think.

These Short Stories Will Completely Change The Way You Think

1) The black dot

One day, a professor entered his classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin.

The professor handed out the exams with the text facing down, as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the papers.

To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions–just a black dot in the center of the paper. The professor, seeing the expression on everyone’s faces, told them the following:

“I want you to write about what you see there.”

The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.

At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams and started reading each one of them out loud in front of all the students. All of them, with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the center of the sheet.

After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor started to explain:

“I’m not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same thing happens in our lives.

However, we insist on focusing only on the black dot – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend.

The dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds. Take your eyes away from the black dots in your lives. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!”

Author Unknown

This story is incredibly important in reminding us that the problems and issues we face are only a small part of what makes up our lives. However, humans do have a problem sometimes focusing only on the negative aspects of their life.

This is why it’s essential to practice techniques such as positive thinking and mindfulness in order to focus on the positive aspects of our lives. When you really stop and think about it, there is so much more to be thankful for than the issues we may be facing.

We call this gratitude. An excellent way to start your day is to remind yourself of a few things you’re deeply grateful for. This could be people in your life, hobbies you may have, or the simple fact of being alive in the first place. When we start our days with gratitude it reduces the significance of the negative aspects of our lives and allows us to focus on what’s truly important.

2) We are never alone

A boy is about to begin the youth’s rite of passage.

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolded, and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump for the entire night and not take off the blindfold until the ray of sun shines through it. He is all by himself. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night he then becomes a man.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience. Each boy must come into his own manhood.

The boy was terrified and could hear all kinds of noise. It seemed like beasts were all around him. Maybe even some human would hurt him. The wind blew the grass and earth and it shook his stump. But he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man.

Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he saw his father sitting on the stump next to him, keeping watch for the entire night.

We are never truly alone. Even when we do not know it, our family and friends are watching out for us, sitting on a stump beside us.

Author Unknown

In our darkest moments, it’s common to feel like we’re incredibly alone. Fighting battles on all sides and stumbling towards a direction we hope will get us out of it. But it’s important to remember, we’re not alone, whether we see it or not, there is help available.

Opening up to those around you doesn’t burden them with your problems. People who love you want you to share, want to do what they can to alleviate your suffering because that’s what people do for those they care about. You’d do it for them so why wouldn’t the people around you want to help.

When you’re struggling and feel like there’s no help, a change of perspective can really help you to get through it. Support is always available, whether it’s from a person known to you or a stranger. Talking about your problems lessens the hold they have on you and is often the way you’ll find a solution.

It’s also important to understand even though you might not see it, those close to you might be battling their own demons, alone and afraid. Reach out to those you love and reassure them you’re there for them. This could make the biggest difference to someone.

3) True Love

It was a busy morning, approximately 8:30 am, when an elderly gentleman, in his 80s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry and that he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redressed his wound. While taking care of him, we began to engage in conversation. I asked him if he had a doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.

The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I then inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As we talked and I finished dressing his wound, I asked if she would be worried if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, and hadn’t recognized him in five years. I was surprised, and asked him,

“And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?”

He smiled and patted my hand and said, “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.”

Author Unknown

Reaffirming our own choices, despite a lack of credit, is an important milestone when it comes to building your own character. The smallest actions you take might not be noticed, but the positive energy they put into the world makes a major difference.

In a world where it seems everyone’s actions are based on acquiring digital likes and attention, this message can often get lost. We don’t need to act for recognition, approval, or reward. Doing something only because it’s the right thing to do is reason enough to do it.

When you realize this fact the actions you take become more meaningful. You should never take more than you give and if everyone understood that, the world would be a much brighter place.

4) To Change The World

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

Author: unknown monk around 1100 AD

This is an incredibly important story about what can be controlled and changed in the world around you. It’s easy to get lost in trying to change those around you, the situation or circumstances you find yourself in.

However, when you get right down to it, the only thing you have the power to change and control is yourself, your actions, and the response you make to the world around you. This is a powerful thing to understand.

With this knowledge, your energy can be spent on yourself, improving the things you want and learning the lessons you were meant to learn. This might seem like a small thing but remember, even the smallest change can have a massive ripple effect.

5) The starfish

Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance, he could see a person going back and forth between the surf’s edge and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached, he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was struck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached, the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

As he came up to the person, he said: “You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said: “It sure made a difference to that one!”

Author unknown

Of all the stories on this list, this one is my personal favorite. There are situations in life that seem all too overwhelming. You’re just one person, how much of a difference can you make.

When you change your mindset from ‘I can’t change the world but I can change the world for one person,’ anything seems possible. You don’t need to choose all or nothing. Simply trying can make a huge amount of difference.

When we tell ourselves we can’t make much of a difference, we listen and we believe it. Understanding that any positive change is an improvement is a powerful realization. If we all understood this, these small changes add up to a massive difference and have a real chance of changing the world around us; even if it is only for one person!