post written by: Marc Chernoff

4 Short Stories that Will Change the Way You Think

4 Short Stories that Will Change the Way You Think

“There’s always room for a story that can
transport people to another place.”
―J.K. Rowling

Let me distract you for a moment and tell you four short stories.

These are old stories – familiar stories.  The people and the circumstances differ slightly for everyone who tells them, but the core lessons remain the same.

I hope the twist we’ve put on them here inspires you to think differently…

Story #1:  All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are fresh water turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.  (Read 29 Gifts.)

Story #2:  The Weight of the Glass

Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.  (Angel and I discuss this process of letting go in the Adversity and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Story #3:  Shark Bait

During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.

As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.

Again, the shark quickly attacked.  This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off.  Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail.  Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition.  Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks.  Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack.  The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.

The moral:  Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark in the story, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. In other words, we continue to see a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

Story #4:  Being and Breathing

One warm evening many years ago…

After spending nearly every waking minute with Angel for eight straight days, I knew that I had to tell her just one thing.  So late at night, just before she fell asleep, I whispered it in her ear.  She smiled – the kind of smile that makes me smile back –and she said, “When I’m seventy-five and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this very moment.”

A few seconds later she closed her eyes and fell asleep.  The room was peaceful – almost silent.  All I could hear was the soft purr of her breathing.  I stayed awake thinking about the time we’d spent together and all the choices in our lives that made this moment possible.  And at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter what we’d done or where we’d gone.  Nor did the future hold any significance.

All that mattered was the serenity of the moment.

Just being with her and breathing with her.

The moral:  We must not allow the clock, the calendar, and external pressures to rule our lives and blind us to the fact that each individual moment of our lives is a beautiful mystery and a miracle – especially those moments we spend in the presence of a loved one.

Your turn…

How do you think differently today than you once did?  What life experience or realization brought on a significant change in your way of thinking?  Please leave a comment below and share your story with us.

Photo by: Hartwig HKD

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  • Subtly amazing stories and lessons. Thank you…

  • Mine is actually quite simple. One day, I was having a serious case of feeling sorry for myself. I felt as if I had nothing to offer. Then I felt like I was dumb.

    I didn’t outright say it but I definitely alluded to these thoughts with a friend. He said one sentence that stuck with me since that day. “No, Vincent, you’re insightful.”

    Really, there is no explanation I can give as to why that was so powerful, but with those words I realized it is true. I have many different perspectives and insights into things that others do not have. I have a great gift.

    From that day on, I never put myself down because I know I have a lot to offer to the world. He still does not know the impact that simple sentence has had on me.

  • These stories are worth reading, telling and re-telling. They have the hidden power to change our thinking. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  • I read your blogs quite often & envy the relationship you guys have. I long to be loved the way you two love each other.

    Today I made a very difficult decision to leave my home w/ my 2 young boys in hopes that “absence will make the heart grow fonder.” I’m in a very one sided relationship. I give, give, give & can’t even get a thank you or a peck on the cheek in return. After spending my day going through your blogs, I finally mustered up the courage to pack a few belongings & leave with my children. Now that it’s bedtime my already broken heart is being ripped into pieces as I’m tucking my precious boys in on a couch & not their own beds. As I lay here now on a borrowed pillow I miss my home so much. I miss knowing that he’s beside me & that I’ll wake up in the morning all alone. So many of your stories are about letting go of the negative & making s change before I can expect a change in him. I hope so badly that he is lonely tonight. I hope he is regretting all the times he never kissed our boys goodnight. I hope he is feeling lonely like I’ve felt so many nights. Thank you for all of your blogs. They are so inspirational & a true blessing in my life right now. I hope to get your books soon.

    God bless the both of you & I pray one day me & the man I love can find the happiness the two of you celebrate. Goodnight.

  • I love what you two do on this website…hopefully you realize the big and small differences you make in not just your readers lives, but the lives of the people your readers come into contact with.

  • Story 3 was the real eye opener for me. Thanks so much for this great read :)

  • I can’t say that one single experience changed everything for me, but I can say with sincerity that the way I see things today is not how I saw them several years ago. When new obstacles face me today, even though I may be terrified, I have the courage to face them. That was not the case earlier in my life.

    I think the biggest change to me was due to trying. Even though it seemed overwhelmingly impossible, I tried. Even though it may not have been rational, I tried. Even though I had to do it alone, i tried. And often times I failed. Miserably, in fact. But sometimes I succeeded. Almost always with some bumps and bruises but I made it.

    Your shark story spoke right to me. It’s the absolute truth. After you fail all the time (or at least it feels that way) you begin to think you can’t succeed. That your success is based on your past… it’s not. That barrier you think is there really isn’t. A quote that always comes to mind when I need it: “You try, you fail, you try, you fail. But the only true failure is when you stop trying.”

    Now that I can see things more clearly and live everyday with joy and peace, (note that doesn’t mean things are perfect or easy… far from), your messages remind me of what I already know. That life is worth living, love is worth fighting for, and we can do so much more than we could ever imagine!

    Btw, Tristin, I’m praying for you and your little ones. I know God will take care of you, and whatever his plan may be, I pray you’ll find love and peace. :)

  • I am a aspiring writer with parents that don’t necessarily support this dream. Your stories struck a cord that; if I keep waiting for my parents approval before I start pursuing my dreams then nothing will ever happen in my life. I need to move forward even though I may have leave my parents out of this part of my life.

  • Meaningful stories!! Thanks. They just made me to realize many important things. The last one was very beautiful!! :-) I just love your blog! :-)

  • Very motivational, as usual. I wish you would write a story specifically about energy suckers (social vampires) who suck your emotional energy, enthusiasm and happiness by their judgmental, cheap, narrow-minded, negative, mentality. More tips to deal with them decently would be appreciated.

  • These stories were beautiful. Thank you. Especially appreciated the advice to treasure every moment. My best friend was killed in a bike accident Jan. 5, 2012 and my fondest memories are the silly, spontaneous moments we spent together.

  • Stories to make us think. Stories to help us find the courage to step out into a new story. Tristin there is no way of knowing what the next few days or months hold for you but I pray they will stengthen you, bring you closer to God and bring some light into your life. You have taken a brave step to change how your life was going and you’re hoping it will be a wake up call for the man you love. I hope it works out as you would like it too but from my own experiences when I’ve looked to make a change I’ve actually ended up with what I asked for but never in the way I imagined it. God gave me my desire but differently to how I’d seen it.

    I play guitar, and many years ago saw myself as some kind of a celebrity playing in nursing homes and care homes to people with disabilities and dementia and thought people would look up to me for being so kind. Patronising attitude really I know. The reality turned out that I started working in registered care as a care assistant, feeding people and helping with personal care and the cleaning of the building etc. I also got to bring in my guitar and play now and then and was at first a little upset that the people with learning disabilities would listen to me or not as they wanted and they weren’t at all impressed by how good I thought I was. Very humbling and beneficial to me once I got used to it.

    What I’m saying, Tristin, is you might not get the outcome you’re looking for but if you have the courage to follow your belief in yourself then I hope and expect that you will find a new life with love, respect and trust in it but it might not be with who you now want it to be. None of us know the future but yours is now in your hands.
    God Bless You.

  • Four nice and different stories. Recently I have been reading a lot of literature on how to stop worrying and live a life without doubts, worries and bad thoughts. I think the story about the glass illustrate this point very well.

    What I have learned over the past few years is that one thing that can stop you from worrying is to accept the worst possible outcome. Identify the worst possible outcome and clarify a plan if that outcome happens. You have clarified your thinking and your worries does not seem too heavy anymore.

    Wake up and say to yourself: “Today, I choose happiness”….

  • This was a wonderful read to start my day. My work day was quite stressful yesterday and I woke up early this morning turning things over in my mind and just getting more worked up and upset. Story #2 really hit home for me when I realized I was making all my problems so much larger in my mind. I also tend to take on other people’s problems and likely they are not stressing about their issues as much as I am. This is a trait I have to work on. Thanks for the reminder!

  • I love your posts and read them almost every day. However, the shark one bothers me. You know the old saying that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result. The shark was not insane. He probably tried attaching from an angle, head on, slowly, rapidly. Eventually he realized what he was doing was not working. He did not understand why, but it wasn’t. So he sensibly stopped that behavior.

    Sometimes you need to stop doing the same thing over and over if it is not working. Step back, think about it, and do something different or try a different way. I admire people who “try, try, again”. But it needs to be a situation where it makes sense, where something is learned by each attempt, and, at some point, there needs to be an exit strategy.

    Not knowing there was an invisible barrier that could be randomly removed, the shark thought he would be beating his head badly for the rest of his days and made a wise decision to “let go” of eating those fish. A better experiment would be to let him succeed some days and not others to see if he could learn to test for the barrier gently before attacking.

  • Well hello Marc, thanks for sharing these stories. Number 1 was especially important as all too often we are told to focus on the big picture, and all too often that makes us realize there is little point in doing what we wish. That is until we forget the big picture and focus on the small picture again, which is where we all have the power to make the world a better place, no matter how small that improvement is.

    The third is particularly relevant at the moment as I find myself back at the start, having lost a year to personal and online distractions which means I now need to put aside this lost year and push forwards in directions I truly desire and need.

  • Nice post. These inspiring short stories are moving… I like the glass half full example.

  • I see the tank in Story #3 in an additional way:
    We can erect our own barrier between ourselves and the “sharks” (the stressors). We’ll still see them and know that they’re out to consume us… but we don’t have to let ‘em. And while the stressors may not give up, our response to them can. I think I’ll go put that insert in the fishbowl of my life right now.

  • These stories are great but I wanted to comment on Tristin’s post. Tristin, you are amazingly courageous and strong. Your babies may not be in their own beds, but they are with their loving Mama and away from the tension and resentment of your relationship. I hope this step will bring you that much closer to a happy and peaceful life. You deserve it and so do your babies.

  • I gave my teenage daughter our usual hug before she walked out the door to go to school. After I released the hug, she looked at me and said, “Do you know that you always let go first?”

    I learned to hold on to the ones I love a bit longer.

  • Tristin, I lived the marriage you just left. It was the hardest choice I’ve ever made, to leave and choose to be alone rather than lonely. It was also the best thing I’ve ever done. Now, 4 years later, I have the life and relationship my heart was seeking. My children also recognize that we are all better for it. I’m sending you strength and love!

  • The first story applies to you, Marc and Angel. Yare making a BIG difference in people’s lives everyday… me being one of them.

    I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. As one reader said, you are all Angels… Keep up the good work!

  • I was with my husband for 10 years; I looked at him one day and he asked why I was staring at him. I said, “because I see you everyday I don’t want to take for granted how good looking you are…. you’re so handsome, I love your face. You have a beautiful mouth, your eyes are perfect, you’re just a good looking man”. He said, “thank you”. 2 months later, I was on a trip and the last thing I said to him was, “I love you baby”. 2 hours later he died in a motorcycle accident. Enjoy every minute and always choose love. It might be the last thing you say to someone who means the world to you!
    I love you Steve!!

  • While working in a big multinational, I once had a casual conversation with a colleague. We were complaining about something and at one point I said something like “Yeah, but what can you do?” and she said “There is always something you can do”.

    Not a spectacular conversation, I agree. But somehow I realized all of a sudden that in fact we always have a choice….

    I was the one closing the door to alternatives, settling for something, just because it was a familiar evil vs. an unknown territory.

    Not anymore :)

  • Thank you for helping me start my day a little stronger and more peaceful than I thought it would be. God bless you both for the inspiration and peace you give others through the ideas and stories you share on your site.

  • Beyond perfect…

  • Story #3 Shark Bait - we are vulnerable to build up a mentally barrier and tell ourselves a “No” after a several failed attempts. Don’t give up easily!

  • I love you stories and they truly do help me change my life and ceel better. I hope that one day my boyfriend will let go of his past and be better too. For now i have hope that one day he will, but i also know that we might reach the point were i need to let go, and as much as it hurts, i know it will be for the better.

  • I used to wake up every single morning nauseated and think, “Oh, Sh!t. Another day. I can’t do this anymore.” Then my husband passed away quite young freeing me of his abusive ways.

    Now, after almost 20 years as a widow, I wake up every morning happy because I’ve been blessed with another day. Now I meditate, check e-mail for Marc and Angel Hack, and simply enjoy the peace and quiet of early morning rituals. That’s the difference between living in fear of an abusive husband for “the glory of the Lord” and living in gratitude.

  • I had been on a non-stop bi-polar high for 4 months, and nothing was shutting it down. Then I spent 5 days in the hospital over Easter weekend, with a roller coaster fever and a hideous purple rash over my body. 9 doctors worked my case, and no one knew for sure what it was. It turned out to be Parvo B-19, a childhood disease. But they said if I waited 24-36 hours to come in, I would have gone into organ failure.

    Strangely, despite the uncertainty, I was very calm. I realized I could not solve this one, it was in the hands of the doctors and God. So I let them deal with it. I could not sleep at all, so I began thinking about all the things I had and had not accomplished in my life. Then it came to me, develop my own curiculum to finish my life on my terms.

    Once released from the hospital, I started buying recommended books from this blog, Amazon recommendations from books from those titles and reset my own library at home. In six weeks I have it ready to go. Meditation comes next, I just finished habits.

    Since starting this process, there has been a series of events that has allowed me to begin utilizing the lessons at work and home right away. I am much happier, my new bi-polar meds broke the high cycle, and a new life plan is under way.

    Let me know if you are interested in the book list. All were approved by my doctors for thier proven messages.

  • This single girl has recently been discouraged with dating. So many delightful men who just aren’t right for me (or vice versa).

    Many times I’ll write one of your titles or a key word to visually remind me of your important and hopeful messages. Every first date will be marked on my calendar with “Shark Bait!” A funny metaphor for dating - thanks for some perspective and a giggle!

  • These four stories are great! I always pass your articles on to my children and grandchildren, hoping it ill helping them deal with life’s struggles, and to remind them not take for granted all the truly important things that truly matter in life. We have such a short time on this planet… oh, the wisdom I wish I understood 50 years ago.

  • Wow! great, great stories. Every time I read from your website i experience different emotions. I’ve cried, I’ve hurt, I’ve smiled, I’ve laughed, but most of all the stories and tips inspire me and motivate me. I often feel so lost and lonely in my own thoughts and no matter how many insightful books I read, how hard I pray, how many positive stories I read - I go back to feeling so horrible about myself. I try to read your posts daily to keep me afloat and I thank you because although it may be a temporary feeling, I do feel inspired. Thank you!!

    To all who post comments on your site, they all sound like great people with such great stories as well. Thank you all!

  • I am realizing after my cancer diagnosis, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy that small gestures can make a person’s day. I received cards and messages from people I barely know and it always made a difference. I made sure I acknowledged every one of them in some way. Now I try to always follow through on sending that card or letter that may make a difference to someone else facing hardship or celebrating an event. I used to think “they won’t notice anyway because they don’t know me or I am not important in their life”, but now realize my little bit of effort may be the thing that brightens their day.

  • In the summer of 2009 I was living in my truck.
    A year earlier I had been a successful businessman with a big estate home and a picture-perfect family. Then it all unraveled.
    As I was losing everything, I took what little could be salvaged and set up my soon-to-be-separated-wife and our two young children with a furnished home and a reliable car - and then I gave away everything but the absolute essentials and blew up a mattress for the covered back of my rusty old Ford Ranger (that was replacing my recently repossessed, leather-seated, German sedan).
    With my business shuttered (ironic, perhaps, having only months before received my second consecutive nomination as business leader of the year), I found a job bartending and dropped off my tips every few days in my family’s mailbox.

    One evening, I finished my shift just before midnight and walked out of the air conditioned pub into a sweltering heatwave. I was grimy and sweaty and wanted a shower so badly. The YMCA was long closed and it was too late to drop in on anyone. Feeling a bit sorry for myself, I decided to drive to the lake and have a cooling dip.
    I waded into the shallow water, a few hundred feet out from the sandy beach, and lay back with only my eyes and nose above the surface. Unable to hear anything but my heartbeat, I gazed up at the shimmering stars and let my thoughts wander.

    At first, I found myself focusing on all that I was missing. A soft bed. The incredible amounts of “stuff” I had worked so hard to accumulate over the years. The prestige and respect that came with being a community leader.
    This list of woes continued to grow, but, before my mood could go into complete freefall, I caught myself and very consciously decided that I needed to take inventory of what I still had in the “plus” column.
    Well, I was healthy. I still had every talent and skill with which I had earned my way to “the top” in the first place. I had magnificent children, and a loving, respectful friendship with their mother. I had a handful of close friends and family. In short, I realized that I had everything that mattered.
    At that very instant, there was a colorful explosion directly above me. It was so spectacular that I recognized it right away as fireworks. But fireworks as seen from the inside of a 360 degree mirrored bubble, as my eyes were perfectly positioned to take in the reflection simultaneously.

    I would discover later that a family had brought their leftover Canada Day pyrotechnics to the beach for a midsummer treat, but for now I didn’t worry about where this show came from. Instead, I remained acutely aware of what a unique and magical opportunity I was experiencing, as burst after cascading burst enveloped me in a kaleidoscope of color.
    By being absolutely present, the few minutes felt like a lifetime - a lifetime during which I renewed my gratitude for everything I’d ever had and would ever have again. And for this miraculous moment that could never have happened had my life not unfolded exactly as it did.

    Once the last rocket had burst in the midnight sky, I stood up in the waist deep water and walked in to shore. The family, gathering their blankets to head home, was startled to see me, as they had no idea I had been directly beneath the falling embers. As they started to apologize, I cut them off with a heartfelt “thank you” and explained how it had been an incomparably beautiful show, the likes of which I would almost certainly never see again.
    Today, four years later, my life is completely different again, filled with opportunity and travel and adventure and love. I am closer than ever with my children, and still best of friends with my erst-while wife (who has built a magnificent world of her own with a beautiful log home, a dream job, a small business, and a fantastic boyfriend).

    With a blossoming, and perfectly portable new career, I have replaced very little of my material possessions, choosing instead to travel light and remain ever available for whatever serendipitous satisfactions life brings my way. Because there is always a miracle hovering, whatever the circumstances. Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way to see it.

  • I grew up being very hard on myself. I thought that I was being modest by looking for every flaw and every area that I needed to improve. Even though others always thought I was a happy person I spent many quiet hours in desperation. One day I got the idea to write down all the things I said to myself inside my head. I put the list aside for a couple of days and then read it. I read it thinking, “what would I say if someone said this to my best friend?”And I was appalled. I would never let anyone speak to someone that I love like that. I’ll never forget realizing that the love I gave to others was the love I need to give to myself. I’m not perfect but it’s been 20 years since I wrote that list and I am much kinder to myself as a result.

  • I got tired. After all I was forced to give up in so many areas of my life, and after all I willingly gave up just to keep the peace and give others their way, I stopped believing in magic. I stopped believing in movies. I thought that they are just a tease. Why watch happy endings and live knowing there are no real happy endings.

    The person I wanted to marry, I was forbidden to marry and I didn’t marry that person. Now I am 60. Last week I traveled to a wedding; a rare social step for me to take. There was the person that long ago, I was forbidden to marry. We happened to meet just after the wedding reception as the bride and groom walked away from the podium, hand in hand. As we chatted, the rows of chairs around us were gathered, stacked and reassembled. The wedding canopy was removed, the flours were hauled away and we talked. The guests drifted into the dining hall and the tables were rolled in and we still talked. The red carpet was rolled up and we moved aside a little, as the reception room became mostly empty and the chairs, tables, flours and company were set up nearby. In the periphery of my mind I noticed that the room and its occupants seemed to move around us because we talked in that same space all that time.

    Just like you see in the movies when the couple meets and realizes that they are in love and the cameras swing around them in a circle and the script design makes you think that they think nothing and nobody in the world exists except for the magic in their private circle. That’s how it was. I still can’t believe it but I know it is true. That person is still there, that person remembers me, movies that have those circular-camera scenes are made from real life. Magic is alive again in my heart. I took the memory with me, and I know that the person took that memory also, home to cherish.

  • Thank you Marc, for your kind words (previous post). While I move around life in various directions, I never forget to remember the wrong I’ve done, so that it hovers over me and I never, ever, EVER go there again.

    Tristen and Stacy, I pray for you.

  • Ha, I meant “flowers” not “flours”. Just goes to show you that this really did happen. My head and heart were elsewhere as I was typing.

  • Great stuff. Reminds me of Einstein’s explanation of relativity: “Holding your thumb on a hot stove for a second lasts an hour. Spending an hour talking to a beautiful woman lasts a second. That is the most accurate explanation of relativity.”

  • Four years ago I thought my world at work had come to an end…my program (which I had been given the opportunity create from the ground up 12 years prior and was focused on child injury prevention) was being transferred to a different division – one that didn’t want me or my program. In fact – in my first week, the head supervisor told me, “We didn’t ask for you, we didn’t want you, but we’re stuck with you.” My immediate supervisor took her cue from him and did her best to create roadblocks for me every time I tried to keep my program together and on track. I spent the first six months ranting and railing about my mistreatment (having been a loyal and pretty highly regarded employee for 20 years) – but I always ended my rants with the proverbial, “At least I still have a job”.

    After about six months – I stopped the pity-party and got back to giving my best in the new section – all the time trying to keep my original program afloat. My work week became divided between my former work and new assignments that had absolutely no relation to my other work – much to my chagrin. My work-related travel was suspended over budget issues and I missed several key conferences, yet I still kept plugging along answering emails and phone calls each day.

    Several things happened during those four years: I met my new coworkers and discovered that several of the women and I had things in common, another coworker got me involved in volunteering at some of the performance theaters in town, and I met another group of interesting people through that avenue. I also discovered this blog and have honestly tried to live my life in a positive manner – to let go of the old hurts and resentments, remove the negative people from my life, and start each day in a calm, grateful manner.

    Talk about coming full circle – this year, almost four years to the day of the initial transfer – I was told that my program (and myself) was to be transferred to a newly created unit dedicated to public education. As I sat listening to my supervisor tell me the reasons and details for the move – I was calm and collected – and SHE was the one with tears in her eyes, telling me how much she would miss having me in her group and how she had come to depend on me to get my work done with little to no supervision. I was able to tell her that I viewed this as a new and exciting opportunity. I told her that when this had happened to me four years prior – I felt like my world had ended and I had been thrown away in the agency. But now, I could sit and name off the many positive things I have in my life that I would not have had I not had that earlier transfer: I have three wonderful women in my life that are dear friends, I have discovered my love of volunteering in the theaters and performing arts venues – meeting the patrons and helping them to have a wonderful experience at each one and I have an entire new circle of friends from that arena that I would never had met on my own.

    I came to realize that I must have had some lessons to learn – patience being one of them! My eyes have been opened to see things from every possible perspective, and to give, give, give – it eventually came back to me in a way I never imagined.

  • Wonderful words from everyone.. Tristen and Stacy, you two are very brave. May Allah be with u. Love and prayers for you two.

  • After attending a lunch yesterday where Sir Bob Geldof was guest speaker this post reiterates that everyone can make a difference to some one who is hurting - no matter how small it may seem.

    Johnny Waite thanks for your story -it’s quite relevant to our situation right now.

    Stacey and Tristan -thinking of you. You are so brave -keep strong and may you find love and happiness.

    Marc and Angel, I love your blog. Thank you.

  • The Story of Two Wolves

    An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life.

    “A fight is going on inside me,” he told the young boy, “a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil, full of anger, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity and false pride. The other is good, full of joy, peace, love, humility, kindness and faith.”

    “This same fight is going on inside of you, grandson…and inside of every other person on this earth.”

    The grandson ponders this for a moment and then asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

    The old man smiled and simply said,
    “The one you feed.”

  • Simply marvelous stories!

  • I truly enjoy reading those stories, they are simple, beautiful and inspiring so much. I like the second one and the last one the best and I feel like my stress and worries should be gone now, so that I can continue create treasuring moments that I am spending with my beloved ones. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Wayne, wow, thank you!


  • Story #2 really resonated with me. It just makes so much sense and is so simple it’s really life changing for just some short paragraphs.

    I’m going to remember this as I continue to work on my blog. The so called “writers block” has been creeping up on me and it’s taking me a whole day to complete a 1000 word post. It’s beginning to get stressful and the fun has been slowly receding. I want to preserve and nurture my blog and produce good work, but I think the stress and pressures of making each post memorable and perfect is retracting from my progress.

    So I’ll have to say, if a post isn’t working, let it go. Which I have done in the past and came up with something much, much better. Causing less pimples and wrinkles in the process :)

  • Super… Love it!!!

  • Marc and Angel, thank you so much for starting and running this website; all the inspirational things you put on it has been really helpful for me, especially if and when I fall into one of my Depressive episodes.

    Also thank you, Wayne, for your story about the two wolves; I actually and audibly gasped at the moral of the story.

  • Wow another great post with 4 great stories. More grease to your elbows Marc and Angel. Stay blessed everyone.

  • I enjoy this site so much; I have grown so much that each post has something for me to learn.

    I have been living a life of ‘no hope at all’ rejection left right and center and always feeling sorry and angry at myself for all the failures in my life. I have 2 kids from different men and I have no support from both sides and my relationships always end up disastrous. I have given up on love. I’m going to stick with my kids and give them all the attention.

    Slowly I’m seeing the light. I need to love myself first the to expect someone else to love me…right!!!! Wow.

    Thanks so much for the heads up. Stories #2&3 really made me realize that I have to change my attitude of looking at my situations or else I will die young.

  • Do I worry about missing your wonderful blog? No - its my home page! Did I miss your followers passing the 100K mark? No! Congrats!! You inspire me daily.

  • These stories made for a great morning read and perspective check. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t make me miss a past love a little bit. But I don’t mind occasionally being reminded of those wonderful times either. Today is a good day to have a good day. Happy Thursday.

  • These stories reminded me of a moment I experienced with my mother. My dad had passed away a few years before and we had become very close after his death. I was very protective of her and wanted to let her know that I would always be there for her. We had both grown and evolved throughout the years, and while we both experienced the highs and lows of a mother/daughter relationship, we had come to a point of mutual understanding and love. One Sunday, while I was visiting with her, we went for a stroll and then sat down at a bench that was surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees. It was one of those serene summer days when the air was sweet and calm and the sun was comfortably warm. I hugged her and felt so grateful that she had made such a difference in my life. I thought then I always want to remember this moment. My mom passed away 11 years ago, and to this day, thinking of that moment brings me so much peace and love.

  • I have always been very hard on myself regarding my abilities and my courage to do things. This in turn has resulted in allowing others to make decisions for me such as the course of study I took in University. Today, I am unemployed because I don’t feel the motivation to work in a field that I am not interested in and passionate about. I decided to carve out a new path, one where the decisions I make are mine and the mistakes I make are my own. It’s been difficult finding out what my passions are and how I can go about pursuing them on my own. It helps to know that there is a whole community out there feeling the way that I do and that there is a place like this that we can all go to be inspired.

  • #3 is like the story of elephants - when chained to a post as youngsters, they need no post to hold them down when they mature, because they think it’s still there. Sure we are human and that makes all the difference, because we can read, experiment, challenge old beliefs and take risks on a wide spectrum. But it still takes herculean courage to overcome the past sometimes. And probably some loving support.

  • @Vincent: I bet your friend would love to hear this story. Send him the article and tell him to read the comments. =)

    @Tristin: Looking at the bright side, a story like yours has lots of hidden hope and happiness. On one level changes need to be made, but on another level there is plenty of room for positive growth. It sounds like your heart is in the right place. I think a lot of the community here is cheering for you. Our heart is with you. Stay strong and take it slow, one step at a time. Remind yourself that you’re not running away, but realizing your worth and slowly moving in a better direction. Hugs to you and your boys.

    @Sandra Lundell: Beautiful, touching words. Thank you!

    @David Rapp: Your own personal school, I love it! Please e-mail Angel the book list, she wants to check it out: angel at

    @Johnny Waite: What an incredible, heartfelt story. Sometimes we have to remember that the best thing that can possibly happen to us in the long run is not getting exactly what we want right now. You are living proof.

    @Anna: What a great wake-up call and a great exercise many of us could try.

    @JS: Absolutely beautiful!

    @Stacy: Making one person smile CAN change the world… maybe not the whole world, but their world. Thank you for paying it forward and reminding us it’s the small, sincere gestures. =)

    @BW: Using time, pressure and patience, the universe gradually changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls, and coal into diamonds. You were being worked on too. Just because something didn’t happen , doesn’t mean it will never happen. Congratulations!

    @Wayne: Wow, thank you for sharing!

    @Rhonda: From the bottom of my heart, thank you! We’re smiling from ear to ear. =)

    @LB: You are not alone. Check out The 52 Week Life Passion Project by Barrie Davenport, I thought it was very helpful and inspiring. You’re on the right path.

    @All: Thank you for sharing your stories. You enlightened our evening with beautiful wisdom and insights. Angel and I simply love sitting down and spending an hour reading over your comments. Inspiring!

  • The second story opened my eyes. What a blessing it would be to master such ability. The weight of the glass. I know I have made small situations heavier because I carried it so long.

    Thanks for the insight.

  • Marc,

    This is an amazing post.

    I learnt valuing others, the hard way. You know how sometimes in life, one doesn’t realize the value of a person until he / she goes away. And it’s a painful process.

    I have changed this thing about me and I ensure that I don’t take things for granted. I make sure that I am able to value people and their time, right away rather than holding on to making them feel special until they get sick of waiting and go away from you forever!

    Thanks again for a good read!

  • I liked story no. 3 the best. I can totally relate to it because I was once the shark. Thank you for this wonderful article!

  • Your short story with you and your wife, and her purring of her breathing. Those were the sweetest words I’ve read. You see, my ex-husband (as of June3,2013) was verbally abusive to me. He said “I am sick of hearing your heavy breathing at night”. That was one of the many hurtful words he said to me, that made me strong enough to walk away after 30 years. Now I know what a true relationship should be like. I thank you.

  • It was a big shock to me when I discovered my half-sister was not a very nice person. I grew up adoring her, babysitting her, loving her very much. When my parents went back to court to argue alimony years after their divorce, my father told me if I didn’t support his case he’d cut off contact to my half-sister. Of course I couldn’t not support my own mother, so… When I encountered my sister again, she was 18. She was horrible, and I didn’t see it. I still saw her as a sweet, young child and treated her that way. She sent me a series of unprovoked and incredibly cruel emails, finally telling me she never wanted to speak to me again over nothing. Really nothing. (I noticed on facebook that she was always complaining about her life, calling the people around her names like “trolls” and so forth, and she was going to art school in Paris, fully paid without having to work or worry. I gently suggested she try to change her attitude.) I guess she had learned tactics from my father.

    I was beyond devastated for years. Since I’ve had a baby, strangely enough, I’ve been feeling compelled to try to revisit a lot of these painful moments to come to grips with them and let them go. Today I reread her emails to me for the first time since she wrote them 2 years ago. I was struck by their utter uncalled-for nastiness. I wasn’t hurt any longer. I was shocked and a little saddened. What sort of person talks to other people that way? Then I looked at her Facebook page, what was public on it anyway, trying to get a sense of who this person was. (It’s sad in itself that my real connection with her then and now was in varying degrees through Facebook, even though we lived in the same city for years.) She had posted pictures of fat people, mocking them for being fat. She posted pictures of herself with captions from youtube videos with song titles like “Young and Beautiful.” There were a lot of other examples of that kind. Basically, if she wasn’t my own sister, I would have defriended her. (She had already defriended me years prior.)

    I suddenly let go of all hurt and anger, because I realized it was never my fault she was so cruel to me. Unfortunately, my beloved, baby half-sister grew up to be just not a nice person. I tried to influence her when I encountered her again as an adult, but it was too late, and I understand no one appreciates that kind of interference. I only did it, because I still saw her as a child. I wish she could have grown into a woman who could be my friend and love me back, but that isn’t the reality, and it’s not my fault. Seeing people more clearly and not taking their behavior to heart (for the sake of my baby) has been just another blessing of becoming a mother.

  • Oh, and P.S. Sorry! It was the second story I was referring to in what I (probably over) shared :).

  • Sometimes we need inspiration, not motivation, in order to get things done.

  • This was really a good post..
    here’s a similar story to the #3..
    it’s a story about an young elephant which was caught by a circus master and was tied to a hook with a rope. the elephant when young tried all possible ways to get rid of the chained self only to discover that his efforts arent gonna give any fruits and thus give up. when grown up the elephant might have knew that now he’s capable of breaking the chain on let go but it’s the past experiences that were holding him back.
    so I would just like to add up that time is never late to let go. all you need is the courage.. :)
    and thank you for your wonderful posts..
    keep doing what you do..
    you inspire millions of lives..

  • As I read the comments after the wonderful stories, I read Tristan’s. how I wish I had the guts to do the same thing she did.
    My husband is a good provider, we have never lacked anything in our house, but he is not very sensitive and is very demanding of me and the children. I live a stressful life just trying to make sure he does not scream at me or my children.

    I liked how one of the comments said that it is better to be alone then to be lonely and THAT made me realize what my biggest pain is. I AM lonely yet with someone. I d not have the emotional support I am looking for and lacked for all my life. I do not have that laughing relationship where both of the ones involved laugh about something stupid the other said (that other being me most of the time). I am always the stupid one, the one that knows nothing and the one to be put down all the time. I am so tired of it but I cannot leave, I could not support my children by myself with a teacher’s salary, he won’t leave, and so here I am, stuck, now for almost 20 years! I still have two young ones that I hope will grow soon and I can finally leave and be happy ALONE!
    Your posts give me hope, strength and happiness while keeping me company in my desolate world.
    Thank you!

  • @SW
    This is my first time visiting the site and I feel so compelled to comment on your post. There are several concepts from Stephen R. Covey’s ” The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that I think could help you ’see’ your situation differently.

    I empathize with your difficult situation. It must be so tough to deal with day to day. Don’t give up; look deep inside yourself for the path forward, instead of being controlled by your current circumstance, your husband and your current paradigms!

    A very well known psychologist Viktor Frankl experienced horrible torture and the deaths of almost his entire family during the holocaust. He survived it by realizing no matter how bad life was he always had the power to choose his response. The Germans, through all of their torture and all of the unspeakable indignities, could not hurt him because he made the choice not to allow them to. The Germans had more ‘liberty’, but Frankl still had more ‘freedom’.

    You have the freedom, the power to choose. I hope that you choose a better life. I hope you choose to act, rather than be acted upon. I wish for you the courage to attach your future to your limitless potential rather than your limiting past.

    Please don’t give up! My thoughts are with you, so you can find comfort knowing that in the road that lies ahead, you will never be truly, lonely.

  • I really love your site. it’s giving me a courage and inspiration. Thank you, keep doing your work.

  • Amazing how such short stories have a huge impact on us which many long essays are unable to have! Great work… kindly keep posting.

  • Lately everything in my life seems to be falling apart. From the guy I love leaving me with no explanation, to working at a company I detest, things are at an all-time low. Reading your blog has given me the inspiration I have been needing these past few months. I genuinely feel hope and joy and this feeling of everything will be alright. I am forever grateful to you both. Thank you. :)

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