May 18, 2011

The Mayonnaise Jar Experiment

I saw this e-mail "forward" posted at the lovely Nelson Diaries and wanted to pass it along to all of my 'golf balls'. :) Read on...

The Mayonnaise Jar Experiment

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,
When 24 hours in a day is not enough;
remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class
and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly,
he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
and started to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full..
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again
if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand
and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded
With an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table
and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things - God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions
Things that if everything else was lost
and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and 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 golf balls.
The same goes for 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 time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time
to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

'Take care of the golf balls first --
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand
and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.

'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'


  1. Aw, I forgot about this awesome little story! Hadn't heard it in a while. Too cute. And thanks for sharing!

  2. Cute analogy - and a great reminder about the important things in life :)


  3. I love this. It is so true and definitely something I needed to be reminded of today. Thanks.

  4. I used to have that printed out at my old job. I read it when the days were bad and the people I worked with were nasty. I needed a reminder.

  5. I've heard this before but its still so true and relevant

  6. Hi there! Thanks for stopping by! I love your blog, it is so great to see so much motivation and it definitely was needed for me to see your lists today as sometimes it is easy to focus on what one can't do as opposed to what one can!!! i will be here more often :-)
    ps congrats on ur engagement! omg, i loved our wedding day and told my hubs that we should get married again and again and again. this makes me a total romantic slobby mess when it comes to other people planning their is so exciting!!!!

  7. Such a good post!!! Thanks for sharing!!!


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