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 2 cups of coffee.
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 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
The professor then picked up a box 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 an unanimous
The professor then produced two cups of coffee 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 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,” he 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. Play with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit
with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse
out to dinner. Play another 18. 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
coffee 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 coffee with a