Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is Your Life Overfull?

Sometimes our lives are so hectic, so full of shoulds and musts, that we lose track of our priorities and go into a tail spin. That happened to me recently. Next day, I received one of those forwarded email stories from a friend. I started to skim before deleting, but stopped when I realized what it was saying. I'm posting it here because I think we can all use a mayonnaise jar in our lives.


A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

Next, the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, " I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things- family, children, health, friends, and passions. Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.

The sand is everything else - the small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.




(Image credit, zaveqna on Flickr)

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the timely reminder.

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  2. If I had a helicopter, I could be with you in a moment for that cup of coffee and a huge hug, Jeanne. Virtual just doesn't cut it with so many things in life!

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  3. Beautiful. I love it! And such a wonderful to make it clear.

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  4. Dawn R. Morris27 October, 2010

    What a beautiful story! I don't think there's anyone one the planet who can't take something away from it. We could all use a reminder to focus on the big picture, rather than all of the little distractions life certainly brings our way. I think anyone who's trying to improve education could benefit from reading this post too! Thanks, Susan.

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  5. This is excellent! Great way to think about keeping our lives in perspective - thank you so much for this post.

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  6. Me too, Kelly! Sometimes a graphic representation like this stays with us much longer than words alone.

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  7. I'm glad you like it Dawn!

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  8. I agree, Lisa. I seem to need constant reminders!

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  9. You know it's funny Chook but the second I started reading your post I knew which `forwarded email story' you meant! I have seen it before in my travels and the analogy appealed to me also! I forwarded it to many (which I don't often do) and had many grateful replies. It certainly is a timely reminder!

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  10. It certainly is, jdowling!

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  11. Great reminder and you know I am taking it to heart!

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  12. I'm so pleased to hear you say that, Kelly! You work so hard, and are so generous with your time, but it's vital to keep a balance.

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  13. This is delightful, thank you for sharing! I sent it to my favorite golfer. :-)

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  14. Chris, I am sure Golf is up there with those very important things!

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  15. Carole Poustie03 November, 2010

    Love this, Book Chook! :)

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  16. Wish I could claim it, Carole!

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  17. I've read this before, but it always has the same effect on me! Thanks for the reminder! I needed it! :)

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  18. You and me both, Tif!

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