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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 }
  • Debopriya October 8, 2020, 9:06 am

    actually he could still add water and that would fill in too🙂☺just sayin

  • Fr. Francis Thaniyath July 25, 2020, 8:18 am

    Thanks a lot for this inspirational story
    Am too late to redefine my priorities in my life.

    • Edwin August 5, 2020, 2:21 pm

      No you are Not late..Its never late

      • Debopriya October 8, 2020, 8:59 am

        ya i agree can never be late if you truly want something

  • Naomi Ekeh June 14, 2020, 4:27 am

    This story is wow.I love it, it is interesting.

  • Uma Maheswar Nakka May 31, 2020, 10:12 am


  • RAghu March 3, 2020, 10:57 am

    Best Motivational….

  • Sai Santhoshini .k February 22, 2020, 4:10 am

    True always,because family is the first gift from the God. So we agree with the story

  • Juvie Dianne Casinto November 26, 2019, 10:49 pm

    Nothing is more important than our family.

  • Kellyn Thomas October 21, 2019, 1:31 pm

    This is a deep, important, penetrating analogy! so true Family First!

  • Denis kipruto June 19, 2019, 12:17 am


  • fikrte April 11, 2019, 2:14 am

    wow!! help to see the bright side of life

  • Oliver Legandin April 11, 2019, 12:16 am

    It’s so very nice i like it.

  • md March 19, 2019, 11:36 pm

    story is desirable

    i like this very much.

    it can change my story.

  • Sany March 1, 2019, 12:06 pm

    Simply true and all the more relevant in the modern society, thank you very much

  • Kavya January 21, 2019, 11:35 am

    It inspired me a lot l luv

  • abelardo December 29, 2018, 8:38 pm

    Yes, it is true. we need to prioritize our family first. Sometimes, in our life, we are succumb on the happiness from outside and eventually could not escape. (that is the sand, the jar eventually full with sand, and there is no more space for the rock which is our family).

  • Phil Hackman December 9, 2018, 2:50 am

    Wow….such a great piece! Just discovered this website and will definitely be visiting often.

  • Goodinfo August 22, 2018, 1:50 am

    Very nice Story. Truly inspiring. I must say it is not only good but it is best story I ever have read

  • Danish April 30, 2018, 3:22 pm

    good story to follow our life and to focus on important things .

  • Suban Limboo January 18, 2018, 9:05 pm

    Actually I was searching for the moral stories for my students, byluck i entered this website..and the rest is wow & wow & wow..
    Good and great story.

  • Siranjeevi January 16, 2018, 12:30 pm

    It’s awesome..In these simple short stories you just showed what is life..

  • Ebenezer December 6, 2017, 11:56 am

    I agree

  • Krishnaveni September 24, 2017, 8:36 am

    Well said. A crisp way of setting priorities

  • Elizabeth Ndanu September 11, 2017, 8:32 pm

    Nice piece. Everything has a procedure in order to come out as perfect as it is, have learnt a lot through the story.

  • Sindhu mani September 11, 2017, 7:38 am

    Woww.. It’s really a nice story… Good morals… Are said. In wonderful way… Really i lov it. I won’t forget it life long.

  • Sukra Lohani September 8, 2017, 3:04 am

    Very nice story. I have given some of more example to my students using this story. It has helped me in teaching also. Thank you Author.

  • Samuel Clark Kofi September 4, 2017, 4:16 am

    I love this story, is always true to put family first in all things we do.

  • GOPI KRISHNA August 18, 2017, 4:19 am

    A very good story to the present generation, especially those who know little as to how to deal with life.

  • Ajay Kumar August 14, 2017, 3:36 am

    It’s very nice story and heart touchable.

  • Charmaine July 27, 2017, 6:26 pm

    Really inspiring, thank you for all these stories.

  • Kathiravan vijay July 8, 2017, 11:46 pm

    It’s a very motivated story. I can follow this story . This story is very beautiful.

  • Deepak July 2, 2017, 2:22 pm

    Good Story, We all know importance of family but the way of explaning is great, I like it so much

  • RedHood June 26, 2017, 2:28 pm

    I in fact believe this has touched my skin! I have never thought to think of life as a mason jar filled with grimy dirt and sand, topped of with some cheap beer. Really makes you broaden you outlook on the URGENT and IMPORTANT as that one “Dr phil wana be”” was philosophizing about in the comments previously. Plus if you think about it we all only live once with short life’s at that. So go find a mason jar and take long hard elimination inside it. You will then appreciate everything in life compared to the droppings you have in your reconciled jar.!

  • Keshav June 9, 2017, 1:21 am

    Very good and inspirational story

  • Jioko June 2, 2017, 11:54 pm

    I really like this story! It really just Came to me!

  • Henry daniel May 26, 2017, 9:23 am

    I realy appreciate de writer he make me realized that their is something we need to care about what a great story i just seen in eye i have read maney story i have not seen such story is realy great and lovely.

  • Zodwa May 5, 2017, 10:53 am

    Very interesting story.Luv it!

  • Mounika April 4, 2017, 2:47 am

    Very good story

  • Manas March 28, 2017, 1:16 pm

    These stories should be translated in all the regional languages of the world so as they can reach far and wide. Ill be happy to translate all these to Hindi.

  • dimple arora March 28, 2017, 7:12 am

    it was very nice….we always crying for small things.

  • Eleazar March 13, 2017, 11:03 pm

    This story taught me the most valuable that family is rather than spending time with other stuff. I liked this story so much. A big thank to the author of this story.

  • Tejas borkar March 5, 2017, 2:35 am

    Its most wonderful stories

  • Pawan February 19, 2017, 10:51 am

    Realy inspirable

  • Diallo wabak February 8, 2017, 8:59 pm

    Very true

  • benjamin Etindi February 6, 2017, 2:28 am

    wow, am encouraged. MATTHEW 6:33-Seeking first the kingdom of God. amen

  • Biswamitra Bej January 27, 2017, 11:17 am

    This is beyond my expression Sir,
    This is a story that really need for everybody’s life ……….Thaks a lot …….

  • Tipu Sultan January 26, 2017, 8:20 am

    Yes, this story is reality basis and it’s heart touching.
    but, a very persons follow in their life.

  • pia arora January 5, 2017, 10:58 am

    M vry touched.. Vry inspirational story I jst luv this story..N agree with this…parents r the first priority… Thnx

  • Sarika December 14, 2016, 12:56 am

    I love the story

  • Liz December 8, 2016, 4:46 pm

    @Daniel cheers to your comment! 😀 😀 indeed!

  • Sabita rai December 1, 2016, 4:15 am

    Yes, 100% right….If there is no family then we feel like alone and a family is indeed we honestly need their help at all times. Thank you for the nice and with good moral story.

  • charis quainoo November 17, 2016, 8:02 am

    Thanks for this site

  • prakashkumar September 27, 2016, 11:58 pm


  • Subhajit September 24, 2016, 11:27 am

    It is one of the best stories i have read.

  • Masego September 22, 2016, 10:56 am

    No matter how much I stress about work, the important thing is my family. They are my support structure all the time

  • Masego September 22, 2016, 10:54 am

    This is what I needed at this moment in time, thank you dearly

  • Narrthana Ganesini September 9, 2016, 10:59 pm

    This story really good and interesting

  • Arathy August 19, 2016, 8:23 pm

    I liked it. Truly inspiring story…normally people go in search of small stuff, which will not give peace and happiness in life..the thing is..always our family is our backbone..without the support of our family ,we cant achieve anything in our give them space in your life rather than the less valued small stuffs..

  • Kiboi.R July 25, 2016, 3:34 am

    Amazing story on how to live life.Thanks

  • Nwadibia Igwe Abraham July 23, 2016, 3:21 am

    The Prof. Is really a motivational being, Am really touch with this.

  • Isaac June 30, 2016, 7:18 am

    I liked it.. not only liked, I will follow this in my daily life.. thanks for the writer..

  • R. S. Karunaratne June 26, 2016, 4:46 am

    When young we gave priority to sand, pebbles and then to rocks. As adults we reverse the order: rocks, pebbles and sand. The story is well wrought out.

  • Yash June 25, 2016, 3:43 am

    Very valuable and touching story

  • Maxwell O Boahene June 21, 2016, 12:45 am

    Very very inspiring story.

  • Pankaj June 11, 2016, 9:27 am

    I got some lessons on this Story.

  • Pavani yadav May 6, 2016, 8:49 am

    Very good

  • Ankit Sanghvi May 6, 2016, 1:09 am

    Thanks Great one…simple & nice

  • joji April 28, 2016, 2:12 pm

    I too like the story..
    Good explanation

  • Rocky April 8, 2016, 10:45 am

    So simpler and easier-seeming to just fill your life with sand… Perhaps if once the jar is full, your life is up, then filling up with sand would be less tempting cause it would finish a lot faster! Also note if you know where to place them, you can fit more in by adding some pebbles and sand at the same time as adding the large rocks.

  • Saholey Odiwuor March 30, 2016, 12:50 am

    The story is true. Without no shadow of doubt, there are many of impecable birth and they end up misusing their prowes just because they take less important things to occupy the largest percentage of their lives.

  • vishal kumar arya March 20, 2016, 11:25 am

    I fell this is reality but this type of life spending every people…….
    beautiful story really…..

  • Prince Skimmer March 2, 2016, 7:47 am

    I love this story men

  • Chileshe wallace February 14, 2016, 1:18 pm

    Nice and educational story

  • Kuneyi Rhakho November 4, 2015, 3:12 am

    The story is really good and inspired…..

  • Lyla October 21, 2015, 11:36 am

    I was told this in S.S class on Friday and kids were throwing their phones away.

  • Vaishali October 21, 2015, 6:08 am

    The story is really very inspiring. It gives the lesson of which things are more important in our life.

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