The Mayonnaise Jar and Wine


        When things in life seem almost too much to handle, when twenty-four hours in the day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and wine. The story goes that a wise martial arts master stood before his adult class and had some items on a table in front of him. As the class sat on the floor facing the master, they anxiously waited for some philosophical words of wisdom to come out of his mouth.


        Silently, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. Next the master picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full? They agreed that it was. The master next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full? The students responded with a unanimous “yes.” The master then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured them both into the jar, effectively filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students laughed. When all was again silent, the master said, “I want you to see that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things-your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions-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 to you, like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, 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. Create some playtime, there will always be time to clean the house or to mow the lawn. 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 asked what the wine represented? The master 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 glass of wine or two.”     

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