Philosophy of Life

The Mason Jar

A philosophy professor stood before his class at the end of the year with a table full of somewhat odd items.  He began class by filling up a very large, empty mason jar with rocks from a sack on the table.  As he topped off the jar, with some rocks spilling over the side, he then asked the students if the jar was full.  They all answered that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar, shaking it lightly to allow the pebbles to meander into the open spaces between the rocks. He asked again if the jar was full.  They again agreed it was, but some, sensing he wasn’t quite done, said “Well, not really.”

The professor then picked up canister of sand and poured it into the jar until all the openings between the rocks and pebbles had been filled.  “Now you could say it’s full”, said the professor. “And I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.  The big rocks are the important things: your family, your spiritual practice, your partner, your health, your friends, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still seem full.” 

The pebbles are the other things that matter, such as your job, your home, your car.  The sand is everything else.  The small stuff.”

“Now think of this: 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, space and energy on the smaller stuff, you will never have room for the things that should truly matter to you.”

“So be attentive to the things that are crucial to your happiness.  Play with your children and spend time with them.  Don’t neglect your health.  Take your partner out dining and dancing.  Be there for your friends.”

“There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, run errands, and fix the disposal.  Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”

The students were speechless and all agreed it was a great year-end lesson.

But suddenly one student asked about the bottle of beer still on the table.  “Ah,” the professor smiled and poured a bottle of beer into the jar.  It went in just fine, being soaked up through the sand, and truly made the jar full. “It’s here to drive home the point there’s always time for a cold beer with friends.”

Always remember, it is never to late to re-prioritize 🙂 ~Rach


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