A professor stood before his Philosophy 501 class. Wordlessly, he picked up a huge, empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with rocks. “Is it full?” He asked the class. They agreed that it was.
So the professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. “Is it full now?” They agreed it was.
The professor poured a box of sand into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if the jar was full.
The students said yes. The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and emptied them 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 rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, and your favourite passions, things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.”
“The pebbles,” he continued, “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, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. 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.
“Take care of the rocks first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
At this, one student raised his hand and inquired what the beer 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 beers.”