Take care of your golf balls!

Philosophy Lesson

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A philosophy teacher was standing in front of his class. On the desk in front of him were a number of objects. When the lesson began, without saying a word, he picked up a large, empty maionese jar and started to fill it with golf balls. When he had finished, he asked the students if the jar was full and they all agreed that it was.

Then the teacher took a box of pebbles and tipped them into the jar, shaking it so that the pebbles slipped into the spaces between the golf balls. When he had finished, he once again asked the students if the jar was full and they all agreed that it was.

Next the teacher lifted up a bag of sand and poured it into the jar. Naturally enough, the sand filtered into the remaining spaces. Again the teacher asked the students if the jar was full, and again they replied with a unanimous ‘yes’.

At this point the teacher took two glasses of beer out from behind his desk and poured them carefully into the jar, filling it to the brim. His students started to giggle.

“Now”, said the teacher as the laughter gradually died down, “I want you to imagine that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the fundamental things – your family, your children, your friends, your health, your favorite hobbies. If everything else disappeared and only these things remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are other important things – your job, your house, your car, your holidays and so on. The sand is all the rest – the smaller, less significant things in life.

“If you start off by filling the jar up with sand then there will be no space left for the pebbles and the golf balls, and that also applies to your life.

“If you use up all your time and energy on the smaller, less significant things in life, you’ll have nothing left for the things that really count.

“Think hard about what is really important for your happiness.

“Spend time with your parents and your children. Visit your grandparents. Go out for dinner with your loved ones. Have fun! There will always be time to wash the dishes and mow the lawn.

“Above all, take care of your golf balls – the things that really matter. Get your priorities right. The rest is just sand.”

At this point one of the students raised his arm and asked about the beer.

The teacher smiled. “I’m glad you asked that,” he said. “The beer is to show you that no matter how full your life may seem to be, there is always a space for a couple of beers with a friend.”

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