THE MAYONNAISE JAR
When things in your life seem almost too much to
handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough,
remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of tea.
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 then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a bowl 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 then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next 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 then produced two cups of tea 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: your family,
your children, your health, your friends and your
passions, the things that give your life meaning and purpose -- 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, but not as important as the golf balls, like your job, your home, your car, saving for retirement, etc. 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 your first priority each day is to take care of the small stuff and you spend all your time and energy on that, you will never have room in your life 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. Devote time to taking care of your health, your spiritual well-being. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. Do one more run down the ski slope. Take that yoga class. Meditate. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. 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 tea 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 tea with a friend."
But, of course, sometimes you just have to get the job done. Keeping things in balance is my biggest challenge.