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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 Beers.

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 was.

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 a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two Beers 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 children, 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.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with 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 inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.' The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

author unknown -- happy to attribute if somebody knows

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474 comments
 
Amusing and something to live by.
 
how tall the person must be who filled the top 2/3's of the board behind the prof
 
Read this last week make you think all right, interesting concept on how full is full
 
wow this is amazing, one blackboard can write many contents, hopefully it will not cause "information overload"
 
I remember that story from college about 25 years ago...however, the version then had a student pour beer into the jar and say, "there is always room for beer."
 
WTF i have one question when in life would we use this??????????:/
 
Priceless, but only for those with the intellect to get it.
 
Excellent, I think I'll have a beer....
 
uuhm can you sir repeat the part where you said 1+1=2 , I didn't got that part...^^
 
That is so awesome mind blowing actually
 
My genius daughter says the answer is 4.
 
Wait, I thought life was like a box of chocolates?
 
How can he reach the top of the chalkboard lol
 
how did the professor get to the top of that board? it'll be a bitch to erase that board...
 
Remarkable how few people are familiar with ladder technology.
 
Wow. Much needed info. This will help me prioritize my life better. Thanks for the lesson. I can't afford college.
 
Great stuff...Stephen Covey talked about this in 7 Habits...read it!
 
Not that I don't appreciate and agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly, because I do, but I've come to dislike these sorts of anecdotes, primarily because they fill up my inbox and usually involve a fresh-faced Christian student showing up his hunched old atheist professor or a wise conservative father making mincemeat out of his naive daughter's liberal political beliefs.
Pablo B
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"Mind the things that are important to you" thanks prof...
 
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.' The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.
 
What joke of a university is this where professors are allowed to bring alcohol into the classroom. If anyone knows please tell me so I can enroll. 
 
I dont think i like school enough to studie all that
 
Teacher is great, there is no doubt, but students must be great.
 
how the heck did they write on that board on the top!
 
I can't believe how many times I've heard this in the last year. It's everywhere I turn.
Ram J
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Awesome
Gus K
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He poured beer into the sand? That's alcohol abuse.
 
Good story. If he stood in front of a kindergarten class and asked the same questions where would it have gone? 

Professor (After placing golf balls into empty jar): Is the jar full? Children: "No".

What is it with philosophy students?
 
The Objects never change, but do shift as more is added or removed.
 
Inspiring! Well said!
 
What a fantastic story, definitely a great read and outlook.
 
It is the second time I see this analogy misrepresented. The largest items (rocks or golf-balls depending of the specific version of the analogy) are NOT the 'important' things or the 'family and friends' category, but they are the time intensive big tasks. This is originally not a philosophical analogy, it is about time management.
 
It does not necessarily follow. An analogy is not a proof.
 
i never look black board like that
 
Very profound message
Translate
 
This student comes back to class next day drunk
 
If everyone took the time to remember what's important to them like family, friends, health, relax and don't sweat the small stuff.  If you can change it.  Do.  If you can't.  Unnecessary stress and worries will only get in the way. 
 
So true. It is why humans can never be rich enough. We always want more. We are trying to fill an insatiable appetite for increased social status and class. We love our families so much that we also want to give them the world. Gettimg richer and getting more things satisfies all of those desires, or so we think. Truth is they are usually just happy to have us. We cant imagine being poor, but being poor does not mean you cant live a full life
 
Looks more like a Physics class.
Gus K
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Actually, you might not want to have a life that's as inflexible as a mayonaise jar. Maybe you should seek how to be content in whatever situation you find yourself... even without all the golf balls, pebbles, sand, and beer.
Hari MP
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too good, the final line..
 
I liked it thank u for sharing
 
Ok prof i will use the rest of my life wisely..thank you..:D
 
If u have to ask it's too early or too late
 
Oooh rehash of seven healthy habits.  How creative.
 
iranian class on nuclair fusion :P
 
Gosh, I will fall a sleep, when attend such kind of lecture!
 
+Manuel Armijo You miss the point of the beers, Even with everything else, always time for your friends...Trust me, when all those other things file up your like, you'll find out real fast who those friends are.  F.Y.I. Professors can bring almost anything into class, what he couldn't do was drink those beers with the students or be drunk in class.
 
dats a big board man...how can he write ol dat??
 
i like cheese!!!!!!! o wrong post. Awesome stuff
Cu Lu
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Awh. thats so true:)! Thx for sharing ! Like it !
C Solis
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I loved reading this! Great anecdote. 
 
beautiful art on the chalkboard O:
he must be a great artist :>
 
+Charles Batchelor I am sorry my sarcasm was lost on you and honestly I am a little wiser than most and in the end even friends are fleeting unfortunately when it all comes down your really only left with family and even then no one can do things for you but you.
 
I think there is a guy in there that is thinking..." what just happened"
 
i love this and having had a family raising six kids ifind its true.
 
I've actually seen this used in a discussion, sans the beers and sand! Glad you shared it here!
 
How true that's f@#kn awesum
 
Jordan (+Jordan Arseno), Hmmm ... I worked at Hassayampa Golf Club in Prescott, AZ, and we kept our golf balls in large wire baskets, and the random interstice was largely occupied by bark scorpions, coral snakes, and golden tarantulas. Regards, Randy
 
I love this, my sister sent it to me in written form a few years ago. Always wanted to "see it" thanks
 
awesome advice in a great way . Way to go  prof u rock !
 
The Mayonnaise Jar and Coffee or Beer, which is original?
 
What a GIGANTIC whiteboard. He would need a ladder (and a big one as well) to write down stuff towards the top. For him it would be physics and gymnastics at once.
 
how did he write so much items on the board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
I will remember the jar and the balls. Thanks!

 
Excellent piece, nicely put. I am glad I came across this.
 
that is what live is all about. Enjoy while  u can.
 
The moral: The bigger your balls, the better your life.
 
XD it's like my classroom...  flunked that class  :-)
 
Well timed article. I needed to read this one today.
 
true, and well said
 
wtf that is a lot of writing on 1 board
 
I am sorry to say that I was actually surprised at how good it was.  I personally like the part about the beers with a friend.
 
Good advice, all I need is just an hi-res camera that could cover all over that board.
 
That guy must have one huge ladder...
 
Wonderful post. Nice to have such an elegant visual of priorities. The challenge now is to keep it in the forefront of focus.
 
While the professor was pouring the beers into the jar, a belated student, out of breath, burst into the room saying, "A well-done explanation, but there m-u-s-t be another important thing the professor might have missed in his illustration!" Though water -- and anything liquid -- can penetrate room between solid particles like sand, another substance can penetrate water -- AIR and its relatives -- gazes, he went on.

All the class turned to him as if he was the real lecturer when he commented, "For instance, without Oxygen in unpolluted water, fish and other aquatic and overland living things, even human beings, cannot live or have their existence on earth, and we all cannot write, read or say anything now."

He continued,"It is those substances of lower and lower density that are perching over our life -- the Whole Globe. What about the problems of Global Warming? Who are responsible for, and who are to suffer from, these problems? AIR is everything and polluted AIR means Death. It penetrates all that exists -- our body (blood, brain ...,) words, mind; all substances -- solid and liquid alike, etc. I mean OUR GLOBAL COMMON CAUSE IS THE ROOT OF LIFE AND HAPPINESS ON OUR PLANET EARTH." (Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia)
 
ape nme kmu nie..aq x blajo cm nie pown,,gile la..kmu nie..
 
'Play another 18' is definitely not one of the important things in life. Duhhh. Might as well say 'Play Call of Duty, buy more crap, hang out at malls, spend all your money on a car, only eat pizza'.
 
Wow amazing and inspiring thank you
 
Sooooooo, did anyone ask why a philosophy teacher had a board of equations the size of the green monster?
 
Yes it is ...always take time to enjoy the little things in life!!!
 
I think that yes you always need to have time to enjoy little things in life!
 
If I walked into that class I would just turn around and leave after picking my jaw off the floor 
 
One the best post ever!!  UPLIFTING!!!
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Huh. I was expecting something different, but more in the sense of a science class. As he kept filling the jar with smaller and smaller things, I was expecting him to challenge the students' notion of what "full" meant: "You thought it was full when I put in the golf balls, but I was able to add more to it. It wasn't full then, was it? Do you think I could put something more in this jar? Would you think it was full then, or could I still add something more?"
 
Ive heard this before as well....yet still a valuable lesson.
 
This story puts into words the way I feel about life.
 
wow, thx for sharing this. you sir made my day.
EA MF
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This is what i was looking for
 
Wow!!!! I really need to work on the golf balls. I have to stop F-ing with the sand. If not for me then for Jr. 
 
wow. thank u so much!!!!
 
OMG guys what an idiot, he soooo forgot to carry the '3' in the quantum molecular structure equations!! DURRRR!
 
I spent 5 minutes to get a whole year worth of inspiration, awesome!!!! 
 
Excellent way to explain the simplicity in life!!!
 
yup skipping  college math 
 
Great Life lesson, wish I'd had a Professor like that back in the day...
 
So why did he put so much homework on the board.
 
You would not catch me in that class. Look at all that on the black board. Smh
 
I think that professor seems really cool i want to take his coursel lol
 
这是怎么写上去的啊?!
 
I decide to call my mom afte this post..it's been a while. Time for the golf balls.
 
Great way to put things into perspective. 
 
Awesome..Great Teaching performance ..thanks for sharing this outstanding piece 
 
I love this. It has made a lot of sence.
 
do the students really understand all that are on the board..????
 
this course is so cool ! i like it !
 
Especially at 10 feet up in the air...
 
The jar and it's contents example does a great job at pointing out what should be our priorities in life.
Sometimes we tend to stress on things that in the long run mean very little.
We all want security in life and always search for more money, that really nice car, our favorite sports team to win a championship, stature. All these things are good but not at the expense of what's most important which should be family, friends, and good health.
It's all about balance.
 
Now on to another Q. Is there a ladder for the professor to stand on cause that chalk board is really big.
 
What a wonerfull quote it was and still is a great way to explain what is truly important in our life. Thank you.
 
Great post!  Really makes you think about the "golf balls" of life.
 
He needs a ladder or something to write that high up
 
I will +1 this out of spirit but will not re-share it out of impractical unrealistic terms.
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This is greatness
 
Amazing Analogue..~~shd ply more wd golf balls!!
 
Just want to say, before the comments hit the cap - thank you all for the +1s and Shares. We hit the top of G+ me thinks. Hope there was a valuable lesson learned to all. Circle me for more gold. Cheers all!!!!!!
 
I am suspect of most allegories because they can be incomplete. This one I like, though.  Still I wonder, did someone write to the top of that blackboard? How?
 
Like his way of putting it,bet he's a great Professor.
 
I love this parable, as an old friend of many years shared the same story years ago and now he is finally realizing the true meaning of the jar. It is never too late to gain a new understanding...Amen! 
 
***I'm assuming that there was air in the jar...it's full.
 
is this picture from the movie "a serious man?"
Rob G
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I think I've redd this somewhere.... yes defiantly redd it somewhere else.
Ryan S
 
The diagrams on the chalkboard have nothing to do with philosophy.
 
I'd hate to be the guy caught not paying attention and have to clean the black board
 
im not sure i get it .....?!?
Paul B
 
It's 69 kids

Translate
 
It is so true! As common sense as it may seem, so many of us are missing it and end up realizing it too late in life when not much can be done to make up for the lost time. 
Translate
 
You might have asked Douglas - but it's too late now!
 
True ! yes there is always a room for Couple of beers , hmm... friends matter
 
if only people followed this the world would be a better place
 
A whole class full of morons... j/k..... great post.... where do yo people find this stuff
 
Wish there was a share to Facebook option. I have a few friends that could benefit from this.
 
Na Uhh u guys im gonna taddle on you if u dont stop that. im telling on you
 
Oh yes! I had this professor! I failed
 
I really like this awesome inspiration words...>>>
 
"author unknown" - so then where did you hear this from?
 
Oh yea! I had this professor! I failed :)

 
This is absolutely true. Great story. :)
 
Great Learning 
Must be adopted in life also
Good Morning to all :)
 
Stephen Covey had a similar metaphor in his renowned 7-habits book
 
+James Clark: on facebook -- author was not attributed there either. couldn't find it on Google - again, happy to update author if someone's got it.
 
Itzzz really gud point conveyed by the professr fr thz new generation......thnkx a lot my dear friend
 
Funny to watch the comments from those that are overwhelmed by this and those that get it.
 
worth the read...thanks for sharing.
 
"And the complete solution to the problem is left as an exercise for the student."
 
I don't like it is Big Blake boat !!!!!!!
 
 
Its more of a digital kinda thing here...
 
Real philosophy of happy balanced life. Laboratory example to a good evidece based unforgetable idea.
 
so everyone...y = length x width.....now do you understand?
 
Awesome and I wish every teacher teaches the way he did.
 
Whilst reading you get the impression you know this, but it should be read more often non the less.
 
He could have poured the beer first. Just sayin'.
 
Good things to learn and share with my friends

 
I always love it when this story pops up because although it's been posted to death, the meaning is still one worth acknowledging and being reminded of.

For anyone curious, that image has nothing to do with philosophy. In fact, it is from a black/dark comedy drama called A Serious Man (2009). The data on the board is meant to represent the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics[1]. Here is an excerpt from the clip that the picture is from: A Serious Man (5/10) Movie CLIP - The Uncertainty Principle (2009) HD

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[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle
 
very true abd good one for a recap..
 
good message, but i find it hard to believe a prof would tell his students job/school is not one of the golf balls
 
life would be so much more interesting by filling the jar only with alcohol!
 
This is the shit that I live for! God bless 
 
abe itni uper chad k likha kaise
 
if you look from right bottom then look right cross to left top you get something out of all that i got the number 2
 
Anytime I walk into a lecture hall with the professor lecturing in front of a blackboad that looks like that... i am all ears... i would imagine the prof has put much time and effort to pass on his knowlege to his pupils with a simple analogy... i like his style and he definitely makes a lot of sence to me... all the money in the world can't buy happiness... family, friends, finding your passions, finding yourself.. setting your goals and doing the best you can to achieve them is key.. it can be tough but with a little perseverence, hard work and faith.. it can happen... and thats where the "self esteem and confidence comes"... "I'ts all about self esteem" Wow i love philosophy...
 
I like that! It makes a lot of sense... Kudos to the author!!!
 
This is a quantum physics class, not philosophy...
 
I don't about the rest of the comments in this post but I see the Flux Capacitor!!!!!!
 
Thats so cool, we should all live by that and things would be sweetxxoo
 
Thank you all for the +1s and Shares. We hit the top of G+ I think. Hope there was a valuable lesson learned to all. Look after your golf balls & circle me for more gold - Cheers all !!!!!!
 
There is no real life application of this concept. It is an idealistic view on life, clever yet impossible to live by for anyone who is not independently wealthy. 
 
Thanks for this wonerful story, it adds something new to my life
 
Good stuff. Too many times we concern ourselves with stuff that we can't change or that just doen't matter. Live-Love and make a difference.
 
Everything else is fine but just tell me how the professor in pic wrote on top of this black board... :P
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