Have You Got Your Priorities Right?

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the professor and his philosophy students before, but it’s a good metaphor for discerning what is important and what is unimportant in our lives. Let’s have another look at this story that’s traveled the world a thousand times over, yet its message still rings true.

A professor stood before his class with a few items on the desk before him. One of them was a huge glass jar. He proceeded to fill the jar with golf balls. When it was filled to the top he asked the class was the jar filled. The students answered “yes.”

He then proceeded to pick up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the glass jar. The pebbles settled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the class whether the jar was full. There were more nods: yes, the jar was full now.

Suddenly the professor pulled out a container full of sand and carefully poured the contents into the jar. The sand filled the spaces between the golf balls and the pebbles. Once again he asked the class whether the jar was full. Now there was a unanimous “yes!”

Then the professor picked up a jug of water and poured the contents into the jar. He then proceeded to teach his students an important lesson.

“The golf balls are the important things in your life: your family, your friends, your children, your health, your personal ethics. All those things that really matter. If everything was taken away from you with the exception of these things, your life would still be good.

“The pebbles are the things that matter less, but are still important. Things like your house, your job, and your physical possessions.

The sand and the water are just the trivial, unimportant things in your life. But if you put the sand in the jar first, that is, if you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff like worrying about whether your house is painted in the latest colors, whether your appearance is perfect, whether your kids are outperforming your neighbor’s kids, you will never have room for the really important things.”

The message behind this entertaining story is that it is important to pay attention to the “golf balls” in your life. Make sure you keep in close contact with loved ones, look after your health, nurture your friendships, nurture yourself, keep communication open and relevant with your growing children and your aging parents.

In short, be clear where your priorities lie. The rest is just sand.

Visit our forums to discuss this article

Back to Articles on Stress Management

Return to Home Page