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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 }
  • Sairam October 8, 2011, 10:17 am

    Very nice story… Thank you.

  • Renu September 29, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Nice 1…

  • Akhila Reddy September 28, 2011, 1:01 am

    Outstanding inspiring story….

  • Satish September 21, 2011, 2:38 pm


  • Tanya Gupta September 16, 2011, 6:07 am

    Very Inspiring Story. Everyone should read this.

  • Olive September 13, 2011, 10:20 am

    Inspiring story….kudos to the author of the story…

  • Milad September 12, 2011, 8:47 am

    Wonderful…really wonderful!

  • Srinivas Kamath September 11, 2011, 9:43 am

    This is a fact to be applied in our life .

  • Maria September 7, 2011, 9:40 am

    I agree with the story. We have to care of the important things that we have in life as the family friends, because they always going to be supporting us. Something has higher priority than others.

  • Geroge1 September 7, 2011, 9:34 am

    I think it’s a great story, cause it made me think about how important is my family and friends. and that they are more important that small things in life.

  • Joaquín September 7, 2011, 9:32 am

    I agree, people forget what really important in life. You have to give priority to your family, because they are always support you in your life. This show me a lesson, we dont have to spend time on the small stuff.

  • Ana September 7, 2011, 9:30 am

    This story is wonderful. If we read this story well, we can know that family is impotant to everybody… We have to be more consider with important thing in our life… First do important things.. and then we will do wathever we want to do. Also this story help us to understand what important is family, love, job..

    We have to be more consider and more interesting in priority thing in our lifes.

  • KS5 September 7, 2011, 9:27 am

    This is a fantastic story, I believe that the philosphy teacher did an amazing job on that analogy, showing his students that sitting your priorities in life is one of the, if not the most, important things in life, simply because if we don’t set our priorities we will never be able to complete anything we propose.

  • Karina Castillo September 7, 2011, 9:27 am

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

    This quote has really marked me, because I was the kind of person that used to spend her time with sand, little things in my life, things that sometimes doesn’t even matter and then i felt my life was empty and i didn’t realize that i was leaving behind the most important things… so now i know what and who really are the “rocks” in my life.
    This reading was really important, we need to focus our life in something that really matters, and then we are gonna realize that “rocks” are the stronger thing we have and in we trust more.

  • Yaroslav September 7, 2011, 9:26 am

    Great story, the teacher is right we SHOULD prioritise our family and friends, small things does matter but we first need to fill our lives with rocks

  • Marina September 7, 2011, 9:25 am

    People have to give priority to family before the other things.

  • Chih! September 7, 2011, 9:24 am

    I love this story. We always have to remeber that if we want have happyness life, so we have to take care the most important things in our life like the profesor said….. 🙂

  • Massiel September 7, 2011, 9:22 am

    It’s a great example of the most important things in the life..!!!

  • Adriana September 7, 2011, 9:21 am

    This a Excellent story! It’s great to learn about the important things in our lives, this story is good to learn that our family is firt about another things and we have to care that rockies that are in the life!

    We have to have time to everything, Family, friends and job, because we need a balanced life 🙂

  • Sunil September 6, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Wonderful story. The way professor made the students understand about the importance of family is appreciated. Thanks to d author & other engaged in making it online.

  • Ashok Ganar September 4, 2011, 2:14 am

    Wonderful and good moral story that every student must read this and follow the same path in his / her own life.

  • Rajiv.singh September 2, 2011, 12:04 pm

    A good story to make the fools out there, understand that priorities are must to be set in life……… and why don’t you shove up that attitude in your A** …… this is the perfect one

  • Rajneet Kaur September 2, 2011, 8:26 am

    Wow What a wonderful story it has pulled the curtains of ignorance from my eyes…..heartily thank to the author of this story .keep publishing ………….

  • Erika Robleto August 31, 2011, 4:37 pm

    But the small things doesn´t necessary have to be negative, sometimes a little tiny thing can make a huge difference or a big change of the way you see things, for example: little things like that moment when you talk to someone you were interested in and it changes the image that the person might have had of you, because you might be starting a new friendship

  • Jilma Sequeira August 31, 2011, 4:18 pm

    I think it was great …..this kind of moral storie should be read everyday by all of us cause is very important to remind us whats the most important things in our life, to pay attention to our family and friends, and making things that makes us happy 🙂

  • Jeithan Espinoza August 31, 2011, 4:15 pm

    I think that life is too short to worry about problems, we have to trust in God that everything is going to be ok tomorrow!! so worry about important things! and live your life because you only live once!

  • Sridhar August 29, 2011, 12:01 am

    Most inspirational to everyone who loves to have a peaceful way of life and satisfactory EXIT….
    Thank you very much.

  • Honey August 22, 2011, 1:06 pm

    It is just the same as our life… in my opinion moral is outstanding…thank u

  • Varsha Kamble August 22, 2011, 3:09 am

    It’s really true!!!!!!!!!! This is the exact fundamental of happy life which everyone should apply in his/her life ……….. thanks to author!!!!!!!!

  • Raj August 20, 2011, 7:59 am

    I am really sorry for saying like this, here the professor supports to selfishness to people because people gives important to their family’s correct, so automatically the people are become to selfish. so people should be think like family means the entire earth.

  • Ankur August 17, 2011, 10:57 am

    Our family comes 1st then rest because they alway support us without any demands

  • Raj August 17, 2011, 5:53 am

    Really this is one of the most moral stories which help to set priorities when stuff situation occur in life and how to free from that also.
    Thanks a lot again.

  • Cool August 11, 2011, 9:46 am

    That was a cool story

  • Indu August 8, 2011, 4:32 am

    Heart touching story!!! inspiring.

  • sumit August 4, 2011, 9:21 am

    nice story

  • Jose Antony August 2, 2011, 3:33 am

    if u feel deppressed tell it to a suitable person only not every one

  • Vijay August 2, 2011, 2:00 am

    Its very nice & adoptable moral story

  • Raj July 31, 2011, 1:03 pm

    Nice one, rocks are your support… sand may erode.. rocks alwz stand (family always with you)

  • Abhishek Jain July 30, 2011, 7:41 am

    This is a really nice story, we all understood but forget this just after few seconds of reading .. don’t we….

  • Sneha July 27, 2011, 11:31 am

    It is very good & interesting. Thanks for such an inspiring and heart touching story.

  • Surbhi July 20, 2011, 1:21 am

    Yup… I agree, it has been great for me… but confused with some sort… of liquid can not easily fill the space… can we compare it with our partner???

  • Danquah Mark July 18, 2011, 3:37 pm

    I am really touched by this wonderful story…. I always think about the pebbles are the most important…. Thanks very much for this inspirational advise… am BLESSED

  • ABHILASHA July 18, 2011, 6:08 am

    I liked the story, its wonderful…………still there is place for water what do we relate it with……….???????

  • Narasimha July 15, 2011, 10:57 pm

    The story is very simple, but it has huge meaning….

  • Nazarane franklin July 11, 2011, 11:46 am

    Adorable. lovely.

  • Venkatesh July 10, 2011, 12:45 am

    It was true in real life.

  • Apoorv July 4, 2011, 10:38 am

    Nice and meaningful story.

  • Sathish July 4, 2011, 5:02 am

    Yes… it’s a really good story for the students and everybody…

  • Teresita July 3, 2011, 8:42 am

    Touching story. Beautiful lesson for any age.

  • Duke July 1, 2011, 2:27 pm

    This story was really very touching. It was an amazing story with lots of valuable things and a deep moral. The fact that the story brings along it is so important and awesome and contains a close to heart meaning 🙂

  • Shweta July 1, 2011, 4:02 am

    It’s a very good story and inspires me.

  • Vasant Sonawane July 1, 2011, 2:21 am

    I like this story.

  • Susheel. Y June 30, 2011, 11:04 pm

    Ya.. right… one of the best small stories… which makes you think big….

  • Sethu June 30, 2011, 11:09 am

    Very, very super story.

  • Nagireddy G June 30, 2011, 7:38 am

    Yes, the moral of the story is excellent. I understood now what i missed in my life, thank you so much for posting the story.

  • N. Jayachandran June 29, 2011, 8:11 am

    Of course, it’s a fantastic story to all, shows priorities we need for uplifting standard of living. Thanks to the author and this website.

  • Anwesha June 28, 2011, 9:02 am

    I like this story.

  • Ashok June 28, 2011, 7:59 am

    It’s a superb story. I would like to thank the author, thank u very much.

  • Kanika June 28, 2011, 6:08 am

    A wonderful story I have ever read. Thanks to the author and this website…

  • N.Kurma Rao June 28, 2011, 4:46 am

    Yes, it is a really fine story, useful to the teachers. Taking one scientific fact, a good story created.

  • Ramakulai June 22, 2011, 12:33 pm

    Yes, it is a really good story. The moral of the story also tells us how to utilise our valuble time in a day. If we consider the jar is 24 hours in a day, what would we do in 24 hours? First we can do whatever the important works there is, finish the work first. Then do whatever unimportant works.

  • Alidu June 14, 2011, 10:22 am

    Very heart torching and lovely story for every serious persons.

  • Mashroor Alam June 6, 2011, 8:58 am

    OMG!!! What a brilliant story to tell! Very touching and thoughtful……. I love it!!!

  • Carmela June 2, 2011, 7:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story. It inspired me.

  • Kanzi May 27, 2011, 6:42 am

    So sweet

  • sara May 27, 2011, 2:24 am


  • RA-Jo May 26, 2011, 11:17 pm

    It’s a good story…. It will change so many people mind and thoughts…… All the best to everyone….

  • vaishu May 26, 2011, 5:28 am

    very nice story about relation of sand pebbles and rocks

  • Tosha May 22, 2011, 8:22 am

    Very touching 🙂

  • Dinesh May 22, 2011, 5:17 am

    Thanks for nice inspirition theory.

  • Victor May 20, 2011, 4:25 am

    This is exciting and inspiring…. Thank you..

  • Anusha May 18, 2011, 6:21 am

    Its simply rocks…Everyone in the world have to think about this.Then we can understand what we are losing in our lives and we get realized.!!!

    Very good story….!!!!! I like it.

  • Yash Verma May 12, 2011, 11:19 am

    A really sensational story!!!

  • deeps May 12, 2011, 10:25 am

    Nice story, being a lecturer I will convey this to my students.

  • Manu May 12, 2011, 8:23 am

    Really a beautiful story!!!

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