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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

{ 697 comments… add one }
  • ASANTE HAONGA October 20, 2015, 10:43 am

    Touchable story, thanks author for inspiring us God bless you!!

  • Sumit Ganwir October 7, 2015, 3:53 am

    Exceptionally Good..!!

  • Gerica Silades September 29, 2015, 2:32 am

    It’s great.! I agree with you:)

  • Ashay gawande September 28, 2015, 11:23 am

    Really very nice and heart touching story give the name of author

  • Siale September 21, 2015, 1:04 pm

    Nice story..short but full of lessons

  • Rose September 11, 2015, 12:02 am

    Thumbs up! The best way to invest in life is not on material things but to people you love. That will make your life complete. 🙂

  • K. September 10, 2015, 10:46 pm

    …and the jar is your heart. If it’s big and open then more you will have.

  • Sanjay Kumar Behera September 3, 2015, 2:13 pm

    Really it was lovely story. …..

  • HOP July 9, 2015, 4:23 pm

    Really useful !!!

  • Francisca A. Bajenting June 20, 2015, 1:32 am

    Wow! wounderful story.Thanks God! This lesson illustrates what really motivates us at home and in the workplace..

  • Tshepiso Nhlanzie April 28, 2015, 7:36 am

    Very interesting and educational story for every1. Thanks for the site

  • Joseph April 26, 2015, 3:35 am

    Very beautiful story. Just do not read and keep it aside, apply it in your life, Thankyou.

  • Lhay April 17, 2015, 12:39 pm

    Pretty wonderful story! Actually, it didn’t just give the readers the main idea but with a twist by the use of the illustration. It is in reality that we need to balance or set up our priorities properly because if not, we will have great mistakes in our life although those wrongs give us lessons. Thank you author cuz you opened my mind to things I needed to see

  • Ravikumar April 5, 2015, 11:47 am

    This is the 1st story we’ve to learn in our life

  • Uday March 28, 2015, 12:06 am

    Really it is a self help towards priorities of life.

  • Anindita Banerjee March 24, 2015, 3:15 am

    Very motivational story, simple words but had tooo weight and so nicely explained and showed important things in lifee!!!!!!!!! Awesome

  • Mangala March 20, 2015, 12:39 pm

    It is a great service to fulfill the human mind

  • Isabelita pagcaliwagan February 23, 2015, 1:31 am

    The story was good and great! I just want to add that putting God first before our family because apart from God we can’t do nothing! amen…

  • d.n.pande February 17, 2015, 11:38 pm

    I liked the story

  • Maxry February 10, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Its a truly good story

  • Suvena shetty February 1, 2015, 1:01 pm

    this story means a lot to one’s own life

  • Nazneen January 19, 2015, 4:15 am

    It is true about our life, Thank you very much…..

  • Aung Chaw Mong January 7, 2015, 12:10 am

    Excellent! By reading this article I am very much inspired and motivated. I appreciate you immensely.

  • Vaibhav January 5, 2015, 12:59 pm

    Emotional, inspiring story that changed my life

  • Vasudha tiwari December 30, 2014, 8:36 am

    A good story to realize the importance of family and understanding priorities in life.

  • Vindhya singh November 11, 2014, 3:05 am

    I just love d story,.. having great moral and inspiration to all of us……

  • Keerthana September 25, 2014, 12:31 am

    It’s a very precious story

  • Nagabhushan,kinnal September 17, 2014, 11:47 am

    I am very happy for these brainy stories. I am getting some kind of valuable thoughts from this site.thank you for this site creators,

  • Rhythm September 8, 2014, 8:49 pm

    Awesome story! It was very motivational and inspirational.

  • Uma Maheswar Nakka September 5, 2014, 10:20 pm

    Good Morning
    Excellent stories from you.
    Thanks for sharing these jewels.
    God bless you.
    My regards and blessings.

  • Richard Davison September 3, 2014, 6:36 am

    This is beautiful. I would add to the top of the list…God. I think the professor was very wise. Thank you!

  • Rajini August 23, 2014, 5:31 am

    It’s a heart touchong story.

  • Vikraman August 1, 2014, 1:11 am

    Excellent story

  • Sarah July 22, 2014, 10:35 am

    I liked this story. It is worth telling to today’s children as the bondage is lessening.

  • Sidra July 2, 2014, 12:25 am

    It’s a wonderful story.

  • Vishal Sungkur June 25, 2014, 12:01 pm

    I believe if you do for the helpless (helpless is a broad word.. maggots, man, woman, dogs, donkeys). Don’t expect anything. Please don’t fear god, demon, anyone. Be fearless and just help any time, anywhere whoever. Please don’t fear. Just help yourself bro/sis. You have been selected for this Life. JUST HELP THE HELPLESS. NO FEAR.

  • ManoZ June 16, 2014, 6:14 am

    This is a concise examlpe of prioritizing values in everyday life in terms of a small beautiful story, which significantly differentiate values, life and values of life!!!

  • Arvind rajawat June 12, 2014, 11:48 pm

    So sweet story about our life.

  • TRIVIKRAM June 9, 2014, 2:19 pm

    Excellent moral inspired a lot will really be helpfull 2 me and my friends

  • Hadi June 8, 2014, 3:00 pm

    I look that the story is a moral and nice

  • Hadi June 4, 2014, 2:12 am

    Moral and exciting story

  • Smiju May 25, 2014, 9:32 am


  • Surendra Prasad May 20, 2014, 6:50 am

    Great story and is the truth of life. Putting his family first one would find enough space for pebbles and sand. But in reverse order , nothing is left for family.

  • Gemma May 17, 2014, 9:18 am

    The rock for me always represent solid or foundation. The family is the foundation of our being, without them living is lifeless. As of now, people are too much busy coping to their own needs, this means for materials but it takes only minutes or hour we can laugh, eat together with our family, simple gestures that makes us fulfilled. Sometimes we don’t know which is meaningful or meaningless. That’s why appreciate that your family is with you. And that’s bring you FULL of LIFE.

  • Godfrey May 15, 2014, 9:28 am

    I like it very cute sweet nice stories from this blog.

  • Stephen May 1, 2014, 9:44 pm

    Hi Barbara,

    Yes, please feel free to. Take care.

  • Barbara May 1, 2014, 9:33 pm


    I have enjoyed this site for quite some time. I am currently writing a book to help young ladies. There are several stories on this site that I would like to utilize in my book and I would like your permission to do so. I will credit your site for any story used. Are you okay with me doing so?

  • Mohammed Arif April 7, 2014, 1:42 am

    Stories are really awesome I am very dignified and much inspired.

  • Siddhant kate April 3, 2014, 4:17 am

    Oh, that is really true fact in life…….! I like it very much.

  • Agila April 2, 2014, 2:07 am

    The story was really amazing

  • Mckenzie March 31, 2014, 4:20 am

    Really gave me a good lesson

  • Arun Bajaj. March 30, 2014, 10:47 pm

    A very simple and valuable story has very priceless lesson

  • A.Mrudula March 30, 2014, 1:34 am

    Beautiful story..With this story people will come to know the importance of the family…beautifully described…!!!! 😀

  • Jian March 25, 2014, 1:18 am

    Good things for life

  • Emiey March 23, 2014, 10:09 am

    What did the professor use to symbolize life?

  • Hoang March 18, 2014, 10:52 am

    It’s is a touching and meaningful story! I’m going to share with my friends.

  • Sreeja March 3, 2014, 3:40 am

    This is a interesting and superb story. Thanks for the story.

  • Katerina Voreadis March 1, 2014, 11:33 am

    A very touching story, makes us not forget our priorities in life, which is very important so we can be really happy!!!
    Thank you very much.

  • Jesan February 24, 2014, 9:40 am

    Wow! Wonderful story.

  • Shyam sivamram February 16, 2014, 12:36 am

    Very nice story and good motivational also… Thanx to author…

  • Mimi February 13, 2014, 2:32 am

    This story is very meaningful.

  • Vaibhavi January 15, 2014, 2:49 am

    I liked it. Many things to learn in life full of values.

  • Dare Ogunniran January 12, 2014, 3:54 am

    This is the true sense of life, thanks for the world of wisdom.

  • lvsrao January 1, 2014, 5:25 am

    Excellent Story. Most aptly stated.

  • Harshal Bhojane December 29, 2013, 10:59 am

    It’s a very nice and heart touching story.. I became very happy after reading this story.

  • Triptikumari December 25, 2013, 10:58 pm

    A very heart touching story I loved it so much ….

  • Oluwafunmise December 12, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Rocky, it tells us to prioritize… first thing first before the second.

  • B.kalyani November 30, 2013, 11:13 pm

    It’s very good moral story.

  • Yashwini Chaoda November 27, 2013, 8:02 pm

    This story is excellent. I shall tell everyone whom I meet, which gives inspiration in their life, by planning priorities wise. Good Story. I liked very much. Thank you.

  • Sunil November 17, 2013, 8:03 am

    This is a truly inspiring story.

  • Aslam November 15, 2013, 11:54 am

    Wow! Wonderful thought in your mind, thank you…

  • JOHN Q November 12, 2013, 1:12 am

    Thank you!

  • Hira November 6, 2013, 7:20 am

    Nice and touching story with teach the lesson to all those people who mess up their professional and personal life and forget the importance and value of the people and the things they have in their life.

  • Priyansh Mishra October 29, 2013, 11:12 am

    Amazing story to know about real world….. Thanks for inspiration.

  • Md.farook October 26, 2013, 2:13 am

    Really a heart touching moral story…….want to kiss the hands of the writer.

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