golf balls, sand, coffee, and life

October 24th, 2012   |   Think About It

This morning I received a thought-provoking story from a friend that I thought I’d share!


When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

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 fills 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 box of pebbles and poured it 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 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 – God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.

“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…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. 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 and said, “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 friend.”


story source



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  • Chervelle Camille


  • Michelle {LiveLoudly}

    I’ve always loved this one! Thank you for sharing it again and if you don’t mind I’m going to share it with my ppl. :)
    -Michelle {LiveLoudly}

  • Lamisha

    I needed that so much this week. Thanks Jess for reminding us what is important in life!

  • Chelsea

    Love this Jess, thanks for sharing!

  • Dara

    That’s lovely. Thanks for the reminder!

  • olivia

    That just helped my afternoon big time :)

  • Allyssa

    Great story! Thanks for sharing!

  • erin

    One of my favorite stories… thanks for the reminder today :)

  • nextbestfriend

    Thanks for this, love it!

  • Arianna Belle

    Great story! Reminds me of Stephen Covey’s “put first things first” :)

  • Ilaria

    Thank you for sharing this! It’s so true…

  • deeapaulitan

    so good! needed that today. thanks, jess!

  • Jennifert

    Thanks for sharing. This was a wonderful reminder.

  • Alyssa

    Thanks for sharing this Jess! My grandpa (who is also pretty much my idol) read this story at my graduation dinner and made everyone at the table cry. I’ve had it pinned up in my office ever since.

  • SapphireLindsay

    I really needed to read this today as I’ve been assessing how to balance marriage, relationships, full-time job, grad school, blogging, and the rest of life. This is such a great reminder for me.

  • Ana

    Aw, this was sweet ^_^ .

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  • the zhush

    obsessed with this! love this! sharing this! so great..hope you are well! :)

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  • Nomita

    has been my favorit read ever since the chain email days…

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