Let's start with the basics.
Stories -- traditional stories, archetypal stories -- are about protagonists who go through difficult circumstances and who change or resist change because of those circumstances.
The change can be positive or negative. The protagonists can be heroic or villainous. The circumstances can be dramatic or humorous. Sometimes the "change" isn't so much a change of nature as it is the gradual unveiling of true character and motivations. But while there are exceptions, the sweeping statement above covers most stories pretty well.