This little metaphor story is a simple but powerful way of getting the point across to people who are anxious and wound up about things.
The metaphor points out in a simple and memorable way how you should live your life, and how decide what is valuable and what not.
The story has been around for many years in different forms, so don't be afraid to change it to suit the needs of a particular therapeutic outcome.
A metaphor for living life well
|A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, without saying a word, he picked up a very large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with different colored 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 them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly until 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 the sand into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'|
|The professor then produced a jug of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the sand.|
|He asked if the jar was full now. The students again had to agree that it was full.|
|But the professor then produced a jar of sugar, and dissolved spoonful after spoonful into the coffee liquid. The students laughed, realizing they had been fooled again.|
|"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 - family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions – things that if everything else was emptied out and only they remained, your life would still be full.|
|The pebbles are the other 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 actually important.|
|So... Pay attention to the things that are important. Play with your children. Keep yourself healthy. Take vacations. Take your partner out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the fence."|
|"Take care of the important things first - the golf balls - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just filler."|
|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 to sweeten your relationships and have a cup of coffee with a friend."|