The Mayonnaise Jar and the Two Beers

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, think about this story that is often quoted on the internet.  (If you know the author, please tell everyone by commenting.)

A professor stood before her philosophy class and wordlessly filled a large, empty mayonnaise jar with golf balls. When she asked the students if the jar was full, they agreed it was.

She then poured pebbles into the jar and shook it until the pebbles fell into the spaces between golf balls.  She asked again if the jar was full. The students agreed it was.

Next, the professor poured sand into the jar and the students were unanimous that it was now entirely full.

Finally, she produced two beers and poured them into the jar, which absorbed the liquid easily.  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—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and 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,” she 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. Take your spouse out to dinner.  Spend time with your loved ones and friends. Take time to get medical checkups. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and get the appliance fixed. 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 his hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked.  The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”

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