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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

{ 678 comments… add one }
  • Jasmine May 15, 2012, 5:22 pm

    I like all the stories but my favorite two are ‘my mom has one eye’, and ‘the blind girl’. It was so interesting to me.

  • Solomon Ndungu May 15, 2012, 12:55 pm

    I love it men. All the same life entails even the trivial things in life. This is what makes it complete. Lets not forget that friends are equaly important. We get families out of friendship.

  • Sushmita May 11, 2012, 5:12 am

    This story helps us to set our goals and priority wise. Start from Home and continue till rest.

  • SUNITA LALWANI May 6, 2012, 9:42 pm


  • Anshul May 6, 2012, 8:09 am

    It’s really wonderful, inspirational & motivation story.

  • Navya May 5, 2012, 2:24 am

    Very true, nice inspiration for humans …..

  • Manju April 24, 2012, 8:43 am

    True fact about life, everyone should adopt.

  • Deepika April 23, 2012, 1:03 am

    Wonderful story…

  • Jing Er April 22, 2012, 9:51 pm

    Nice story =)

  • Jack April 22, 2012, 9:39 am

    It gives us the inspiration how to enjoy our life. It is small but effective story. It can change our emotion to our relatives. Thanks for this refreshing story.

  • Rakesh April 17, 2012, 10:08 pm

    Very good story.

  • Micalet April 16, 2012, 1:34 pm

    Even before the professor filled the jar with rocks, I thought that the jar was already filled. Of course, not in a literal sense, but the jar was already filled with air. This air maybe your spirit, your soul, or even God who is our divine creator. So if ever you were to lose everything including your rocks (i.e. family), you still have God who loves you and who will take care of you regardless of your current circumstances.

  • Ahn1405 April 15, 2012, 5:36 pm

    Take care of the rock first then turn to small stones. It’s a significant wisdom.

  • Shravan April 15, 2012, 5:15 am

    Short and sweet! Such an inspirational story.

  • Bhimu Deokar April 15, 2012, 1:58 am

    The story is very interesting & our life is the same as it is told in the story… it’s really outstanding… thanks to the author!!!

  • Muhammad Faisal April 12, 2012, 1:10 am

    The real secret to have a happy life… Great…. Thanks…..

  • AKSHAY PANDEY April 8, 2012, 4:04 am

    Wow! Quite good story…

  • Siva Gem March 30, 2012, 1:28 am

    It is nice to read such a good story, off course everyone thinks for better and the best ones. As I believe this is good one for coming to know what is important thing in our busy lifes… I sincerely want to read this story to my dear one.

  • Amazin Grace March 24, 2012, 3:25 pm

    A story that has a lot of thinking to do… very very educating.

  • Siluvai March 22, 2012, 12:32 am

    It’s very inspirational story. Very good.

  • Milan Chaudhary March 12, 2012, 10:33 am

    In deed life is like that. It’s important to keep the balance between life and work.

  • Rani March 11, 2012, 2:31 pm


  • Niki March 8, 2012, 2:06 am

    Very beautiful & touching story for everybody. I enjoyed it so much.

  • Ara March 7, 2012, 4:38 am

    Inspiring. Makes me think and realize that everything is important but the question is what are my priorities… my happiness and joy depends on what aspect … hhhhhmmm

  • Shanmuganathan Jothikumar March 6, 2012, 12:07 am

    Essential story for software Engineers like me..

  • Mullaiselvan. M March 5, 2012, 12:43 am

    Nice … Thanks for the wonderful story…

  • Benjamin February 25, 2012, 11:52 am

    I’ve read some terrific things right here. Worth book-marking for revisiting. I wonder the amount of efforts you placed to create such a amazing beneficial web-site.

  • Twinkle Kar February 25, 2012, 10:53 am

    I love my parents
    they mean me a lot
    My parents will come first in my life then their dreams then my sweet friends
    As this persons mean a lot to me in my life, they r like crayons needed by me to fill up my life picture

  • Limonlisha February 25, 2012, 10:42 am

    I love morality, and it is obsulately favor of me
    I love my family the most…….. they r my life n i think the life is only for them so they r first then rest as this story is
    In my opinion if any thing is to be done then it must be with truth hrt full of love and cares~!@#$%^&*
    if to love, I love my parents
    if to serve, I serve my parents
    if to eat, I eat my igoness n angry
    if to wear, I wear the clothes of goodness
    if to live, I live to the fullest and enjoy it with my PA n MAMA

  • Rahul Singh February 25, 2012, 12:43 am

    Thanks. It’s a very good relative observation of life.

  • Muthu February 24, 2012, 9:57 am

    Great thought and I changed myself now 🙂

  • Dhananjaya February 23, 2012, 8:34 am

    It’s very cool and informative………. for our life we should plan properly…..

  • Amit Medhekar February 23, 2012, 1:26 am

    Truely Insightful story….Thanks

  • Santosh Bhosale February 22, 2012, 1:42 am

    I like it so much!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Okafor Emmy February 17, 2012, 12:52 am

    A lesson 2 learn

  • Colette February 8, 2012, 1:52 am

    I love this. Wish to be a part of it.

  • Lougene February 5, 2012, 1:26 am

    Wow! very touching and remindful 🙂 Yeah, most of the time, we are preoccupied with so many thoughts and activities which are of less importance to the extent that we already had set aside our supposed to be PRIORITIES in life like GOD, our relationship to HIM and to our loved ones. However, GOD created “every new day” in order for us to be given a chance to rectify the mistakes done in the past and to change for the better. It is just a matter of taking a moment to ponder and to seek HIM deeper.:)

    so let us pause… pray… and be blessed…:)

  • Ashish Thakur February 3, 2012, 11:35 pm

    No doubt its a very nice piece of lesson.. in my opinion most of us have become so much materialistic that somehow we forgot the fundamental of living and became so much pretentious….. A very thanks for sparking up….

  • Chioma C Onuike January 30, 2012, 4:00 pm

    Thanks to the author for that great motivational and touching lesson. I think this should be a must read for people that need changes in some areas of their lives.

  • NinaLaZina January 30, 2012, 8:34 am

    This may be true, but no man is an island. You can make as much time as you want for your family but if it is not mutual and you are the one doing ‘family things’ then it still cannot work. So there should be a jar to give to each family members and explain to them the moral of the story.

  • James Nathaniel January 28, 2012, 6:22 am

    Of course one’s parents, partner/spouse, health, child/children are all very important… but most important of all is God… ‘The important things of life’ are: God, our parents, health, partner/spouse, child/children…. while the others just mattered…..

  • Kelvin January 26, 2012, 9:54 am

    Nice one

  • Arti Sunar January 24, 2012, 7:27 am

    Ya, it’s true we should give more important and time to our family than on other stuff. 🙂

  • Yaswanth January 19, 2012, 6:48 am

    Very nice

  • Kamal January 19, 2012, 6:16 am

    This story is so nice and teach about life’s greatest moral value…

  • SHAH FAISAL FROM PAKISTAN January 15, 2012, 2:34 pm

    The story explains the importance of families in man’s life in a very comprehensive and attractive manner. The writer of the story is appreciable in a real sense.

  • Khobair January 11, 2012, 8:34 am

    Surely, it’s a thought provoking story. It will make a reader think about his/her life once again.

  • Ramesh, Vellakovil January 8, 2012, 12:16 am

    It’s nice…..

  • Dinesh Verma January 5, 2012, 7:13 am

    The story was really heart touching……
    keep it up….

  • Chirag Patel January 5, 2012, 5:19 am

    This is one of best stories of my life. Such an inspiring story should be followed by young generation.

  • Brian Low January 4, 2012, 1:57 pm

    Awesome, I learned something new today 🙂

  • Shiva January 3, 2012, 7:17 pm

    I like this story and this site…

  • Zeina January 3, 2012, 12:38 pm

    We, unfortunately, live in a world who doesn’t see something as usefull as school -> university -> education -> knowledge -> job -> money -> house -> life -> family <- at the end !

  • MANGAL RAI December 22, 2011, 5:21 am

    Nice story for students of todays era.

  • AMOL December 21, 2011, 4:37 pm

    Wow so beautiful story… tells us about life and hats of this narrator.

  • Kajal December 12, 2011, 6:48 am

    One of the best stories… where we come to know life’s importance and our priorities…

  • Ifedimma December 10, 2011, 9:33 pm

    BEAUTIFUL!! when I become a teacher, I am going to do the exact same thing!

  • Wunmi December 10, 2011, 7:42 pm

    Thank u for this food 4 thought. God bless u

  • Harish Jaipal December 8, 2011, 11:10 am

    Inspiring story, I would like to tell it to my all friends.

  • Preeti Kalra December 8, 2011, 5:00 am

    Awesome story… everyone should manage their life like this.. thanks 4 this story.

  • Roselyn December 3, 2011, 10:52 am

    This changes my insights..

  • Satish December 3, 2011, 1:56 am

    This is not a story, decades before human being lived like these principles, they gave important all like this story. This story came from our life, but now this story teaches how to live…. We forget to give family importance before money.

  • EDEN December 1, 2011, 6:29 am


  • Masooba November 26, 2011, 6:41 am

    A very inspiring story…i absolutely agree…small things don’t matter, what really matter is our family…without family life is incomplete..

  • Pastor Amit Tandi November 26, 2011, 4:11 am

    Since I am a pastor and I share and preach in the church, I need new stories to make people not bored and moral stories are great to relate them or fill them in between massage. Great praise the Lord.

  • Rajesh November 23, 2011, 11:22 am

    Awesome story for those who is confuse about life… Thanx for share..

  • Shabd November 21, 2011, 5:25 am

    Keep such stories in mind and give them importance… Seriously, I am impressed with this inspirational story.

  • Rajitha November 21, 2011, 12:01 am

    Nice story ………………………………

  • Suresh November 17, 2011, 8:26 am

    This story is really inspring… Remind us to care for our family.

  • Michael November 13, 2011, 10:55 pm

    Question : How can the jar be full when you can still add something to it ?

  • Mor November 2, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Great story. Time is everywhere make good use of it!

  • Anshu Shaw October 19, 2011, 5:42 am

    Very nice.

  • Ankur October 14, 2011, 10:28 pm

    nice story …

  • Mhy October 12, 2011, 10:52 pm

    nice inspiring story…

  • Esese Emman October 12, 2011, 9:56 pm

    Love it. What should form the basis of our priority should not be treated lightly.

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