The Parable of the Mayonnaise Jar
When his class began, a teacher picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The teacher then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the areas between the balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The teacher 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 resounding yes.
The teacher then produced a beer from under the table and poured the entire bottle into the jar thus filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
‘Now,’ said the teacher, ‘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—and if everything 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 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 make you happy.’
‘Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit your grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.’
‘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 asked what the beer represented.
The teacher smiled and said, ‘The beer shows that no matter how full your life is, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’