I love reading inspirational stories and parables, like any good story they have the power to ‘switch our thinking’, to expand possibilities and to zero in into the important things in life. I’ve collated my favorite parables that I’ve read on Quora and where possible the original authors have been cited. So without further ado – four great parables that have left me inspired and I hope will do the same for you. Enjoy!
Life is Like a Cup of Coffee
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit 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 have been 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.
Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.
Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
The Two Wolves
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Source: Appears to be an old story from the Cherokee Nation oral tradition.
The Elephant and the Hummingbird
One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air.
“What are you doing?” asked the elephant.
The hummingbird replied, “I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall.”
The elephant laughed cruelly. “Do you really think,” he said, “that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?”
The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose as he replied, “Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do.”
Source: Chinese Parable
The Businessman and The Greek Fisherman
A businessman took a short vacation to a small Greek coastal village. Unable to sleep he walked the pier. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked and inside the boat were several large tuna.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” he asked.
“Only a little while” the Greek fisherman replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” he asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Greek fisherman said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But …. What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman looked up and smiled” I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a nap with my wife and stroll into the village, where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends”.
The businessman laughed “Sir I am an MBA and can help you. You should fish more, and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. In no time you could have several boats with the increase haul. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Then instead of selling your catch to the middleman, you could sell directly to the consumers. You could control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal village and move to the city to run your expanding empire.”
The fisherman asked “But, sir, how long will all this take?”
“15- 20 years, 25 tops” said the businessman.
“But what then?” asked the fisherman.
The businessman laughed and said “That’s the best part, when the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions”.
“Millions? Then what?” asked the fisherman.
The businessman replied, “Then you could retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a nap with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your friends.”
The One Armed Judo Fighter
A 10-year-old boy decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.
The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. “Sensei,”(Teacher in Japanese) the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” “This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied.
Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.
This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. “No,” the sensei insisted, “Let him continue.” Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament.
He was the champion. On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.
“Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”
“You won for two reasons,” the sensei answered. “First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”
The boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.
Hey, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these parables.
If so I’d appreciate you leaving a comment, sharing this post or perhaps even sharing your own.
Until Next time…