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The important things in life

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – 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, 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 rocks. The same goes for your 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. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

Author Unknown

{ 677 comments… add one }
  • TOMYAILA May 5, 2011, 7:11 am

    yayaya–i learnt a lot

  • fouzia begum May 4, 2011, 8:22 pm

    awesome sotry……

  • Priyal Shenoy May 1, 2011, 3:56 am

    The story is simply wonderful .

  • chandra April 29, 2011, 4:15 am

    yes, i agree with this.

  • Janice April 28, 2011, 1:06 am

    It was indeed very inspirational. I’ve got something for it.

  • Rajal April 27, 2011, 1:55 am

    loved it!

  • Sebastin April 22, 2011, 5:44 am

    Fantastic story.

  • doctor subhash April 22, 2011, 3:14 am

    It is the need of the ‘today’ that we must give priority to our family o/w we will be nowhere in future.

  • shoaib April 22, 2011, 12:38 am

    This story is a motivation for life.

  • udhayan April 18, 2011, 1:09 pm

    very nice

  • satish April 18, 2011, 10:59 am

    And then the good professor turned the jar upside down. all the pebbles and sand fell out but the rocks didnot ,having been stuck with each other and the jar walls. GOT IT .

  • karhik April 16, 2011, 12:00 am

    very nice…. no words to express

  • Amit April 14, 2011, 7:16 am

    Awesome story. I liked it very much. He proves the importance of our own family by simple way.

  • apple April 13, 2011, 2:22 am

    I like the story!!!!
    It was indeed inspiring!!

  • Anusha March 31, 2011, 11:51 am

    awesome great explanation about the life… ‘thanx’ !

  • narayan March 29, 2011, 3:23 am

    wonderful i love this story i also tell to other people.

  • Mehdi March 20, 2011, 5:05 am

    Surely, it is true to say something has higher priority than others, but the more important issue is that which one is more important, for instance “health” in some cases would be in dangerous if you wanna follow your other important things.

  • bsn2bsm March 19, 2011, 2:32 am

    Good story….i think this is the simple & best story for the people who being wrong don’t want to take responsibility for their family.
    inspiring story…

  • Govinda pd Acharya March 16, 2011, 5:44 am

    Gr8 story… I learn a lot to teach my student

  • mani March 11, 2011, 5:22 am

    its a great story bt one realizes it only when things are out of hand or getting out of hand…

  • Dilip Souner March 7, 2011, 8:04 am

    Great , heart touching story……will help every married couple to strenghthen their relationship…

  • kishore radha March 3, 2011, 6:04 am

    Fabulous story. It makes me inspire lot

  • MD Life March 1, 2011, 1:13 am

    Great Story It will help me and everyone..
    We should apply it..
    thank you for sharing with us..

  • javed warsi February 28, 2011, 1:59 pm

    excellent story with a fabulous moral.

  • hareem February 27, 2011, 4:59 am

    beautiful story

  • yammy February 27, 2011, 1:41 am

    Love this story… I hope I get to read it every morning as reminder of how to set my priorities right!!

  • Nita February 24, 2011, 7:05 pm

    love this story…i hope i get to read it every morning as reminder of how to set my priorities right!!

  • vasundhara February 24, 2011, 2:53 am

    very heart touching stories

  • suwetha February 16, 2011, 12:00 am


  • sawan February 12, 2011, 12:21 am

    It is sounds good,
    I really like this story, i also share it with other fellows.

  • abhay chauhan February 5, 2011, 2:46 am

    it’s a nice story for the children and youth as they are forgetting the difference between rocks and sand !!

  • Harini February 4, 2011, 9:43 am

    Sooo sweet.

  • Moni January 27, 2011, 10:44 am

    I like this story I believe that the most importnat thing in our life is the time that we give for our family.

  • Renu Chopra January 27, 2011, 12:24 am

    Awesome post!!! We all should care for our loved ones and set the priorities in life πŸ™‚ Take care of rocks….dont run after sand

  • Richa Sharma January 25, 2011, 11:13 am

    This is really an inspiring story and the best method to teach.

  • Irene January 24, 2011, 12:25 am

    This is so beautiful! I realized a lot of things after reading it. Thank you so much for posting this. πŸ™‚

  • Meenu Priyadharsini January 13, 2011, 4:16 am

    Enjoyed each and every word in this story. So good. I will share this story to everyone. Thanks a lot for such a true story which we need to know in our life.

  • Pratap January 11, 2011, 5:03 am

    So sweeeeeeet.

  • Parimala January 10, 2011, 2:19 am

    It’s a true story about ur lives sooo like dis story only we have to control our life.

  • Tawanda Chingonzo January 7, 2011, 5:26 am

    What a nice and captivating story. I will tell the pupils that I teach this one. They will learn a lot.

  • Ankit January 6, 2011, 11:53 pm

    I support dis story bcoz I valued first my family then friends then rest.

  • Harikaramm January 6, 2011, 3:00 am

    It is the story to be learnt by every individual to realise the importance of important things in life.

  • Suresh December 31, 2010, 12:27 am

    Yes… it’s true…

  • Anonymous December 27, 2010, 7:33 am

    It’s really indeed beautiful story but there’s one thing the story forgot to give a part of the jar which very important of all for me the jar holds in everything so the jar represents the GOD which is holding us we are all go through him.

  • Kavish Sahni December 23, 2010, 11:55 am

    Rocking & interesting for all.

  • Sara December 21, 2010, 8:45 am

    This story helps us how to set priorities and rank to spend a wonderful life….!!!! But there is no place for values and emotions ……is that placed in extra stuff……..my question is would u prefer ur values or family.

  • Disha Jindal December 21, 2010, 2:13 am

    Awwwwwwwww so sweat. Really inspirational πŸ˜€

  • Nisid Jena December 18, 2010, 8:55 am

    Really it is awesome and fabulous to life. It is indeed a booster to prop up life. Thanks 4 publishing.

  • Sweety December 17, 2010, 3:57 am

    A very…very…heart touching & inspiring story….Life will be full of joy if one realises the same!!!!

  • naveen December 13, 2010, 7:04 am

    when i finish reading this story i feel good and got great strength and urge to turn my eyes on to the big stuff which i wish to accomplish in my life.

  • Ossam December 8, 2010, 12:22 pm

    Wow! What a great story

  • Rakesh Bhawtankar December 4, 2010, 6:40 am

    This is really important for everybody in true sense. We have to know – ‘What we are doing and For what we are doing, LIFE & NON LIFE’.

  • Jasintha November 25, 2010, 9:51 pm

    A very good life lesson for me after the loss of my beloved eldest son. Thanks for your inspiring words.

  • Byneni revathi November 24, 2010, 5:51 am

    wow,it’s really very nice moral regarding to our life.I really felt very happy to get this link.Thanks for giving this type of motivation comparing our life with pebbles in a jar. Finally a very special thanks to your website for giving this type of best inspiration.

  • Pallav November 23, 2010, 11:12 am

    A story that I haven’t read earlier. So inspiring and truth of everyone’s life. It helped me a lot. Superb story! Fantastic! Wonderful! Flawless!!!

  • Caroline November 22, 2010, 9:29 am

    Wow, I really like this story. I think I am more of the sand firs. I didn’t really realize that rocks comes first cos I always thought they are always there and nature will provide them if they are really meant to be. From this story…I now know just what to do. Thanks for this site and the story writer:).

  • Er. suvendu November 17, 2010, 12:57 pm

    This the great moral story having more inspiration. This kind of story is essential for developing new world in which there is no more obstacle.

  • Dheeraj November 4, 2010, 6:28 am

    Great story. Short but a lesson of life. We have to learn from stories like these. Examples like these actually help some1 who are serious to improve his/her life. Friends I am happy to see people publishing these motivational stories.

    Thanks & Regards. Dheeraj Anand.

  • Nikhat October 31, 2010, 1:14 am

    A really good one…..which help us to live a full life.

  • Anuja October 30, 2010, 3:18 am

    It really gives a good moral…awesome one…

  • Sharmila October 23, 2010, 6:03 am

    It is a good story..explaining importance of family in our lives..when everything goes off the family stays with you no matter watever you do to them. as said in the story one should always make time to spend with family..

  • Maria Ines October 21, 2010, 2:31 am

    Then he took out a jug of water and poured it in then said “and the water means God and all the good unseen things in life, we can pour them in first or last, it should always be a space for them in our lives.”

  • Sophie October 10, 2010, 5:48 am

    I agree with Mehboob.

  • Praveen September 30, 2010, 9:40 pm

    There is always a space in life no matter how full for regrets and a memory of the past. Doesn’t mean you fill it up with alcohol.

  • Aristark September 29, 2010, 9:57 am


  • Partho September 28, 2010, 10:31 am

    This story really touched my heart. Thank you sir.

  • Mehboob September 25, 2010, 9:40 am

    Then the professor poured some honey in the jar. Surprisingly it was also accommodated. Howsoever we might be full, til brim, with our family, friends and work… there is always a scope to be sweet to others.

  • Subhasmita Satapathys September 22, 2010, 10:03 am

    Thax to the writer for such a wonderful story… infact no can can be happy without a family…its a gift given by god…..so every person should first of all give importance to his family and then think about other things….

  • Gladz September 22, 2010, 1:29 am


  • Vivi September 20, 2010, 5:31 pm

    This is so True… Most people believe that they need to take care of everything else so the people they care about will be happy but what happens if they just want to spend time with you??? πŸ˜€

  • Johann September 14, 2010, 4:16 pm

    This story is so simple, but its analogy with life is magnificent. According to other comments, story is very understandable and truthful. But also a little pathetic, like somebody already commented. The story also sounds familiar to many people. But, people, if you didnt know that family and kids are your greatest priorities in your life, then…Oh…Where have you lived!?

  • Ravi Bhatia September 10, 2010, 7:26 am

    If anyone follows can change his life style.

  • Leena September 6, 2010, 9:23 am

    It was very nice and very true, thanks for that. It is for all age. Once again thank u very much.

  • Christy September 1, 2010, 6:12 am

    Nice story………Very important to understand the life to lead.

  • Deepthi nv August 30, 2010, 5:09 am

    I think it’s superb.

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