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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

{ 691 comments… add one }
  • Chaplain Danny September 21, 2012, 1:51 pm

    I read this story today before making my patient visitations. The story helped me to see life in greater perspective. The patients were inspired by it as well. Thank you. I will also be sharing this during our hospice team meeting.

  • Prudvi Raj September 21, 2012, 1:42 am

    This is my first daring step to comment on a story. My thoughts are similar to the moral the story described in this blog. To have meaningful and energetic life, we need to give importance to things which are actually required so there is a room for your growth in flourishing and developing society.

  • Chanu September 21, 2012, 12:16 am

    Great. It’s really inspiring to me.

  • Jyoti September 18, 2012, 9:26 am

    Really a heart touching story.

  • Aniket Tambadkar September 18, 2012, 6:35 am

    Very heart torching and lovely story. It teaches how to live a good life.

  • Virgiemae September 17, 2012, 9:46 pm

    True.. what matter most is that you have time with your families, relatives, and friends…

    Money is only a thing which can make you happy for a single moment but the true happiness comes together with your loved ones…

  • Naveen September 14, 2012, 12:59 am

    I read this story and it was very useful to me. I now reliased my family is improtant……….. I am happy after reading story …..


  • Jaya September 13, 2012, 2:27 am

    Nice!!! Fact that everyone has to be known.

  • Deepak Singh September 12, 2012, 7:46 am

    This is one of the best stories I have ever come across.

  • Komal September 10, 2012, 10:17 am

    I am in a very good mood now after reading this story. Thank you.

  • Ugyen Wangchuk September 9, 2012, 10:01 pm

    I real get inspired by this story. Indeed, this taught me about management for my life.

  • Geetha September 9, 2012, 12:39 am

    Nice story.

  • Emmanuel Mutua September 5, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Realy nice stuff, I think with such knowledge, many will lead a happy life knowing how to prioritise things. Lesson learnt.

  • Aswini September 3, 2012, 11:33 am

    Yea….a nice one…

  • Mory August 25, 2012, 8:12 am

    Thanks a lot.

  • roso August 25, 2012, 1:09 am

    It is really a touching story, and you can learn a lot from it.

  • Rachna August 24, 2012, 5:26 am


  • Stellah Namusoke August 24, 2012, 2:29 am

    This is very interesting, it gives you the real meaning of life, at times we ignore rocks and put much emphasis on pebbles which can always perish anytime……..thanks alot for this story.

  • Rohan August 23, 2012, 7:32 pm

    It’s really fantastic and inspiring story.

  • Abbas August 17, 2012, 6:05 am

    Still, there is a space for water in that jar…

  • Ashish Kumar August 16, 2012, 12:25 am

    A wonderful site….really awesome 🙂
    I was looking for such site for a long time and now I got that 🙂
    Will be a regular visitor at the site and will try to contribute from my side

  • Hung August 15, 2012, 11:33 am

    Thanks for a value story

  • Arindam August 15, 2012, 11:26 am

    Very inspiring & good story.

  • Rashel August 14, 2012, 12:18 am

    It’s a very touching story and I can relate to it.

  • Ajinkya August 12, 2012, 7:39 am

    Thank you for the wonderful site

  • Sweet August 8, 2012, 2:21 am

    Thank you so much we have this site. I’m going to share this story and the other stories in my program. God bless us all!

  • Margaret August 7, 2012, 9:43 am

    It is an important lesson to make me a better person.

  • Charles Chavula August 5, 2012, 10:34 am

    Thank you very much, is touching and encouraging to look back.

  • King Harry August 4, 2012, 12:47 am

    keep it up.. good story ^_^

  • Jonathana August 1, 2012, 9:41 am

    Wow.. I need a change fastly..

  • RIshabh July 31, 2012, 7:34 am

    Ya, really I realized my mistakes so thanks to the author.

  • Camille July 30, 2012, 8:29 am

    This was said in such a profound way!!!! Indeed live is such….. this was really heart felt and much thanks is given to the author!!!

  • Hannah July 29, 2012, 1:31 am

    A very Inspiring Story…. I LIKE IT…………… 😀

  • Emjay Madrigal July 25, 2012, 3:50 am

    Very nice story. It touches the heart and mind of the readers.

    I was inspired and now I know what are the things that we must give priority in our lives…..Thanks and God Bless……

  • Avinesh July 22, 2012, 3:00 am

    Nice one Sir

  • Vicky July 19, 2012, 11:35 am

    This is really true! Thank you!

  • Tawfick July 17, 2012, 12:36 pm

    It is very amazing to me or all of us.

  • Aditi July 16, 2012, 9:49 am

    Thnx awesome story which gives valuable lesson

  • Arun July 11, 2012, 2:59 am

    Very nice and motivating story.

  • Letu July 10, 2012, 7:42 am

    Very much motivating, I learned something new today…

  • Tom July 8, 2012, 5:35 pm

    Great Story! Makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

  • Athul Surendran July 5, 2012, 9:32 am

    Oh outstanding moral keep it up……..

  • Pravi July 5, 2012, 2:49 am

    Awesome story !!!

    Touching story !!!

    Each and every individual should know this.

  • Bala July 4, 2012, 11:10 am

    Good story for better understand

  • Vinay July 3, 2012, 8:46 am

    It’s a good one. I liked it.

  • Ramesh July 3, 2012, 5:48 am

    This story made me to realize what I am losing in my life. Having realized that, I will definitely rectify my mistakes.


  • Jai July 2, 2012, 12:43 am

    Thanks. This is true. First is family but sometime we change the priority. If we do work with this story, we wil never go wrong and disappointed.

  • Nipuna July 1, 2012, 11:12 am

    Thanx. This is an excelent work you are doing for the whole world.

    – Sri Lanka

  • Ahmed Mahmoud June 29, 2012, 8:31 am

    Nice one, I am listening to classical music while reading this to cause a more profound effect, and the sad thing is, I ignored my mom so I can read this and did not even listen to what she is trying to tell me. The fact that this story made me realize that suggests that it does indeed have a good morale.

    Love your mom, love your family man, the rest is all f***ing sand.

  • MonikaGupta June 29, 2012, 6:30 am

    It really works for me because today I have to decide about my job, which does not suit me and my family. Everything is disturbed so after reading this story I really get the point about the importance of present rather than future which we do’t know. Thank u very much.

  • Poonam June 28, 2012, 9:23 am

    It’s very nice ….. I have learned much from this story …

  • Aashish June 19, 2012, 6:13 am

    It is very, very good story… we are really inspired with this story and we have clear in our mind about the important thing in our life …. thank you author for teaching us a beautiful thing about life…!!!

  • BingDG June 18, 2012, 10:23 pm

    The story itself is so simple but implants deep moral values for us. Life is indeed so complex, if we don’t know how to set priorities in our lives then we could not live life to its fullest. The rocks, pebbles and sand must go hand in hand with GOD, which the jar represents.

    Thank you very much for this great story that is emotionally overwhelming. God bless.

  • Priti Sharma June 18, 2012, 1:40 pm

    The story is so heart touching.

  • Yamini June 17, 2012, 8:42 am

    It really seems good to show important things of our life ……..thanks 2 the author for such a good story.

  • Mohan June 16, 2012, 6:11 am

    It’s really cool….

  • Umesh Pant June 16, 2012, 2:01 am

    Very, very touching and inspiral short story. It teaches us how to live LIFE ! I am very much impressed with this story.

  • Nihar June 14, 2012, 7:32 am

    Real true!!!

  • Sufia Khan June 14, 2012, 12:50 am

    Interesting story.

    Need to fix this in mind and accordingly give the priority to the things.


  • CARTER June 13, 2012, 12:24 pm

    Thank you very much for this beautiful Inspiration.
    God Bless You.

  • Smit June 11, 2012, 10:56 am

    It’s good.

  • Anand June 10, 2012, 4:47 am

    One who reads it never denies priority of family in their life.

  • Sameera June 9, 2012, 11:42 pm

    Really Good one


  • Felix June 9, 2012, 7:29 am

    Great story. Communicated a lot to me.

  • Santosh June 6, 2012, 3:38 am

    Really awesome and need to understand.

  • Maria N. Porras June 4, 2012, 12:24 am

    Very nice. I’ll share it with my esl students. Thanks!

  • xian June 2, 2012, 4:09 am

    ** life matter most.. enjoy while we have it..

  • Short Story Lover June 1, 2012, 2:14 am

    Perfect in every way. Nice story.

  • Praveen May 31, 2012, 3:27 pm

    The story was really heart touching… The beloved ones are more important in our life then anything else…..

  • Lintolouis May 28, 2012, 9:26 am

    Excellent story……… interesting

  • Subbiah perumal May 26, 2012, 1:55 pm

    I like this story because of saying some important things of our life and the person who written this story he felt about human being nature

  • Siva Prasath May 25, 2012, 2:31 am

    I like this story very much. It teaches me how my internet games consuming all my valuble times for the worst.

  • Ankit May 23, 2012, 1:52 am

    Rock, pebbles and sand make sense!! Are you with me friends? Thnks!!!

  • Sumbul May 21, 2012, 8:25 am

    I like the story very much. Yes, sometimes we give too much importance to the things which are not very important.

  • Anil May 19, 2012, 6:13 am

    Good Story I liked

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