I can’t remember where I found this great story. It is so “zen” to me, and laced with a little humour. I think it puts things in order. I really want to share it because this sort of stuff is invaluable.
A professor stood before his Philosophy 101 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 then asked the students if the jar was full?
They all agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full.
Again, they agreed it was.
The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He then asked once more if the jar was full.
The students responded with an unanimous – yes, there’s no room for anything else!
The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar.
The students, surprised and astonished, laughed loudly.
“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… your family, your partner, your health… your children, your friends, your favourite 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, your car.
The sand then is everything else – the small stuff.”
“If you put the sand (the small stuff) into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your 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 dancing. Play another 18 holes of golf. There will always be time to go to work. To clean the house. To give a dinner party and fix the garbage disposal.”
“Take care of the golf balls first. They are the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.
The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked”, he said.
“It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.”