Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers – A Lesson on a Balanced Life

Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers - A Lesson on a Balanced Life
Photo Credits: CongerDesign @ Pixabay

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

As the class began, he calmly 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 all 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 empty spaces between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full again.

They all agreed that it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the rest of the available space.

He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two pints of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty gaps between the minute sand grains.

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 favorite passions; 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 like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“Look, 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. Spend time with your loved ones, take the time to get fit, master a skill, kick a habit, see the world. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the faulty pipes. Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities, because the rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled and replied, “I’m glad you asked. The beer just illustrates that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”