Friday, January 5, 2007

A New Year

I have always been a list maker. So when Jan. 1 rolls around I always make my little list of things I want to do and accomplish that year. There's always been the obligatory "exercise more, eat healthier, save money, etc." Not that those things are bad goals, but they often just never panned out the way I wanted them too, and I would end up feeling frustrated with myself for not trying harder and accomplishing more. This year I decided not to make my annual list and instead just try to be content with my life in the present. I still would love to make certain changes in my life, and I want to always continue to grow emotionally and spiritually as a person, but I also feel like I need to learn to not just look towards the future all the time (which I have a horrible habit of doing), but appreciate that I have a wonderful life just as it is, and any goals that I accomplish this year are just an icing on the cake.

I came across this wonderful story today that really illustrates what I've been thinking lately.

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, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded 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 them 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, your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions - and 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 business and/or job, your house and 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 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. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play games. There will always be time to clean the house - it's a never ending job anyway! 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."


Amy said...

Aaaaahhhh...I love this! I especially like the coffee part:) Everything is so true. We sound very similar--I'm ALWAYS looking to the future and the next best thing and I often miss out on what is right in front of me. I've made progress this past year, but I'm still working on it. Thanks for sharing!

andi said...

Its so fun to find out that you have a blog too! They are such a fun way to keep in touch and get to know family better.

I love lists too. And I really liked your list of 50 favorite things! It sounds like we have a lot in common! I'm looking forward to visiting your blog often :)

xoxo Andi

andi said...

I don't know why Blogger didn't give my blog link, but my address is

P.S. This is Erik's wife, Andi. I just kind of assumed that you knew that :)