The mayonnaise jar and the golf balls

A philosophy professor was standing at the front of his classroom with a few objects on his desk. Once the class had started, he took a large, empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls. He then asked his students if the jar was full. They all agreed that it was.

The professor then took a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar gently and the pebbles filled all the spaces between the golf balls. He asked his students if the jar was full and again they all agreed that it was.

Next the professor took a bag of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled the spaces left between the pebbles. The professor asked his students again if the jar was full and they unanimously agreed that it was.

Finally, the professor reached under his desk and brought out two cups of coffee which he poured into the jar. The coffee filled all the spaces between the grains of sand. The students laughed.

When the laughter finally stopped, the professor said ” Now, I want you to imagine this jar represents your life. The golf balls represent the big important things: your family, your children, your health, your friends and the things you are most passionate about. These are the things that, if you lose everything else and are left only with these, your life will still be full.”

“The pebbles represent other things that are important to you, like your job, your house, your car. The sand represents all the other small stuff.”

“If you put the sand in the jar first,” said the professor, “then there is not enough space for the pebbles or the golf balls. It is the same in life. If you spend all your energy on the small stuff, you will never make place in your life for the really important things.”

“Pay attention to your critical moments of happiness. Play with your children. Take the time to see your doctor and get a regular checkup. Invite your sweeheart to the restaurant. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house or fix the garbage disposal later.”

“Take care of your golf balls first, the things that are really important. Re-evaluate your priorities; the rest is just sand.”

A student then raised his hand and asked what the two cups of coffee were. The professor smiled and said “I’m glad you asked. The coffee is just to remind us that no matter how full our life seems, there is always room to share two good cups of coffee with a friend!”

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