The Mayonnaise Jar

The Mayonnaise Jar 

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked his students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. 

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He again asked the students if the jar was full and 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 once more asked if the jar was full and the students responded with a unanimous “yes.” 

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the sand. His students laughed. 

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that the 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, 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. Play with your children. Take time to get medical check-ups. Play another 9. Meet the people you love for dinner. There will always be time to clean the house, rake the leaves and fix things. 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 about the two cups of coffee. He replied, “It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple cups of coffee with a friend.”