12 Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables

From generation to generation, Aesop’s fables have been read, taught and sung about. At one point or another you would have heard of at least one of Aesop’s fables. Some of our favourites include “The boy who cried Wolf”, “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Lion and the Mouse”. For years, children have the learned the importance of being kind, selfless and giving. We have rounded up 12 Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables, which we believe are the most important in today’s world!

Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables:

1. The Tortoise and the Hare: Never Give Up!

First on on our list of  Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables is the one that everyone knows!

The Story: A Hare is boasting about his speed in front of the other animals and challenges any one of them to race him. A Tortoise accepts his challenge. At first the Hare thinks it’s a joke, but the Tortoise is being serious. So, soon after they begin the race. The Hare runs full speed ahead and to make fun of the Tortoise, he decides to take a nap. The Tortoise keeps slowly going and going. When the Hare wakes up, he notices that the Tortoise is near the finishing post and fails to win the race.

Life Lessons From Aesop's Fables_ the tortoise and the hare quotes

The lesson: Slow and steady wins the race. Sometimes in life, it might look like other people are racing ahead of you. But you never know what obstacle could stop them in their tracks. It is important to keep moving forward and one day you will get there.

2. The Ants and the Grasshopper: Work Hard and Play Hard!

Next, on our list of Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables is the one that I like!

The Story: A Grasshopper spends his summer singing and dancing, while a team of Ants have worked hard all summer collecting food for the winter. He doesn’t understand why the Ants work so hard. When winter comes, the Grasshopper finds himself dying of hunger and see’s the ant serving up food to survive. He then understands why the Ants were working so hard.

The Lesson: There’s a time for work and a time for play! Just because you don’t think something is important right now, doesn’t mean you should ignore it or put it off. It’s okay to have fun, but make sure your work is done before! Always be prepared for what’s ahead!

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3. The Dog and the Shadow: Be happy With What You Have.

The Story: A Dog is walking home with a piece of meat in his mouth. On his way home he crosses a river and looks into the water. He mistakes his own reflection for another Dog and wants his meat also. But as he opens his mouth, the meat falls into the river and is never seen again.

The Lesson: It is foolish to be greedy. Everyone wants more! Of course we always strive to be better and have bigger things. But it’s important to reflect on the things you do have and not take them for granted. Because one day you might end up with nothing but regrets of things you could have done.

Life Lessons From Aesop's Fables _the dog and the shadow quotes

4. The Crow and the Pitcher: There’s always a way!

The Story: A thirsty Crow comes across a pitcher, which had been full of water. But when it puts beak into the mouth of the pitcher, he cannot reach the water. He keeps trying but then gives up. At last he comes up with an idea. He keeps dropping pebbles into the pitcher, soon the water rises up to the top and his is able to quench his thirst.

The Lesson: Little by little does the trick. When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Persistence is the key to solving any problem. If your first solution doesn’t solve the problem, think of another solution. Keep trying until you get the answer. After all, it’s better than doing nothing at all!

Life Lessons From Aesop's Fables _the crow and the pitcher quotes

5. The Bell and the Cat: Ideas Are Good, But Execution Is Better!

The Story: A family of Mice has been living in fear because of a Cat. One day they come together to discuss possible ideas to defeat the Cat. After much discussion, one young Mouse gets up to suggest an idea. He suggests that they put a bell around the Cat’s neck, so they can hear it when it approaches. All the other Mice agree, apart from one wise, old Mouse. The old Mouse agrees with the plan in theory, but suggests “Who will put the bell on the Cat?”

The Lesson: It is easy to propose impossible remedies. Having lots of ideas is good for problem solving, but having ideas that work is even better. It is never a good idea to boast about an idea, until you know it’s going to work. Remember people want straight-forward solutions, not more problems.

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6. The Two Crabs: Lead by Example!

We’re halfway through our list of Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables and this one is really important!

The Story: Two Crabs, a mother and a child are walking across the sand. The mother Crab scolds her child for walking wrong and tells him to walk more gracefully. The child Crab explains that he doesn’t know how to and asks his mother to show him. The mother Crab is unable to walk right herself.

The Lesson: Example is more powerful than precept. Nobody likes it when you ask them to do something that you can’t even do yourself.  Before making unreasonable demands, it’s a good idea to be able to do that thing first. Then you won’t feel stupid for making people do something that’s impossible.

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 7. The Gnat and the Bull: You’re Probably Not That Important.

The Story: A Gnat settles down on the horn of a Bull. After a while the Gnat decides to fly off. Before leaving he asks the Bull if it’s okay for him to leave. The Bull didn’t even notice the Gnat, so replies “I did not know you had come, and I shall not miss you when you go away.”

The Lesson: Some men are of more consequence in their own eyes than in the eyes of their neighbours. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you are insignificant. But sometimes the things you may say, can make you look like a fool. It is therefore important to be yourself and not to expect everyone to notice your presence!

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8. The Hart and the Hunter: Don’t Underestimate Yourself!

The Story: A Hart is drinking at a river, admiring its beautiful antlers. He then notices how small and weak his legs look. Just then out of nowhere, a Hunter approaches and shoots an arrow. The Hart runs away into the woods and realises that it was thanks to his legs that he survived. While he is looking at his legs, his antlers get caught in the trees. The Hunter Catches up to the Hart and kills it.

The Lesson: We often despise what is most useful to us. For example I have always hated being quiet. I disliked speaking up in public or hanging out with friends. Later on, I realised that being quiet means that when you speak, more people listen to your ideas. And in actual fact people prefer hanging out with quieter people, due to the closer relationships you can form with them. So you see, our greatest weaknesses can also be our strengths. A way of us fitting into the world.

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9. The Lion, the Ass, and the Fox: Learn from the Failures of Others.

The Story: A Lion, Fox and Ass are all hunting together. They all gathered a huge amount of food and now had to decide how to divide it. The Lion asked the Ass to divide the food. So the Ass chose to divide the potions equally. This made the Lion, the king of beasts angry and with his paw he killed the Ass. The Lion then asked the Fox to divide the food. The Fox wasted no time. He quickly gave a huge heap to the Lion and only kept a small portion to himself. The Lion asked the Fox, who taught you to divide so fairly? The Fox replies, I learned from the Ass.

The Lesson: Learn from the misfortunes of others. Failure in life is okay, as long as you learn from it. Take a look at the mistakes of others and take note. It’s always important to reflect on what you could have done better or what steps you could avoid in the future.

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10. The North Wind and the Sun: kindness Wins People Over!

Tenth, on our list of Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables is a beautiful one!

The Story: The Wind and the Sun are arguing over is stronger. Suddenly they see a traveller coming down the road. They decide to settle to argument over whoever can get the traveller to take his coat off. The Wind blows as hard as it can, but the traveller tightens his coat up even more. Then the Sun softly shines its rays on him. The traveller suddenly feels hot and finally removes his coat. Declaring the Sun, the winner.

The Lesson: Persuasion is better than Force. A kind, gentle manner like the Sun is always better than cold threats and force. So, if you ever need something from someone, it is best to be kind and humble over yelling at them. As you might find, that they will respond better.

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11. The Lion and the Mouse: No act of kindness is Ever Wasted.

The Story: A Lion is fast asleep until a Mouse wakes him up. The Lion opens his big jaw to swallow him. But the Mouse begs the Lion to think again, as he may become useful in the future. The Lion laughs the idea off and lets him go. Sometime later, the Lion is caught in a trap by some Hunters. At that moment the same little Mouse walks by and notices the Lion trapped. He walks up and chews the rope to free the Lion. The Mouse smiles and says, was I not right?

The Lesson: Little friends may prove great friends. You never know who will prove to be useful in the future. It is best to maintain great relationships with everyone and to be kind to all. You never know where your kindness could lead you!

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12. The Wolf and The Crane: Don’t’ Always Expect A Reward.

Last, but not least on our list of Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables.

The Story: A Wolf has a bone stuck in his throat. He hires a Crane for a large sum of gold, to put her head in his throat and remove the bone. When the Crane removes the bone, she demands her reward. The Wolf smiles and replies, surely you have been given enough reward by me not eating you.

The Lesson: Don’t expect a reward when serving the wicked. If you help someone, it is out of the kindness of your own heart. Therefore if you are not rewarded for your good deeds, be grateful that your situation isn’t worse. It is selfish to think you will be rewarded in all situations of kindness. Sometimes it’s about building a positive relationship with that person and not the reward.

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Anymore Life Lessons From Aesop’s Fables?

Looking for more life lessons from Aesop’s fables? We highly recommend buying these wonderfully illustrated Aesop Fable books. Both books include morals to all the famous (and some un-famous) Aesop fables (affiliate links to Amazon):

What do you think of our list of 12 life lessons from Aesop’s fables? Do you have any other examples of life lessons? Share them in the comments below! In the meantime why not check out our other posts on inspirational quotes from children’s books?

Have these life lessons from Aesop inspired you to write your own fables? Use our online story creator to write your own fable!

12 life lessons from aesops fables_imagine forest

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