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Stress Management

November 19, 2010

As the holidays are upon us, it seems appropriate to take a moment to think about what is truly important in life.  Below is a story that was shared on website, that many may have heard, but is certainly worth reflecting upon:

One morning a professor of philosophy stood in front of his class and wordlessly began to fill a very large, empty, mayonnaise jar with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor picked up a box of tiny pebbles and tipped them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly allowing the pebbles to roll into the open areas between the golf balls before asking the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

Next the professor poured a box of sand into the jar filling up all the remaining space and once more asked his class if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.” The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, 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; your family, your children, your health, your friends and your passions. In other words, all those things that if everything else was lost, and if only they remained, your life would still be full.

The ‘pebbles’ are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car, holidays, etc. The sand is everything else, all the small stuff.

Now 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 truly important to you. So pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness, play with your children, take care of your health, make time for your friends, and go out to dinner with your partner because there will always be time to clean the house and fix the car.

Set your priorities and take care of the ‘golf balls’ first, for they are the things that really matter. All the rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and asked, “What does the wine represent?” The professor smiled, “I’m glad you asked. I was also showing you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things that “have to be done” during this time of year.  My encouragement to you is to remember what is really important and focus on those things.    Here is a great stress management tool you can use (Source: – examples modified by me):

First list your top 5 “Golf Balls”the most important things in your life
Next list your top 5 “Pebbles”the other things that matter
Finally, list your 5 “Sands”the things that cause you the most stress, but matter the least

Now, write a target for each item in each category – make each target SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bounded)

Golf Ball:  On the way home today, I’ll pick up flowers for my beautiful wife (hint, hint 🙂
Pebble:      After I’ve made her day, I’ll get the Christmas tree down out of the garage.
Sand:          After that is done, I’ll sweep up the mess that the dogs made on the porch (where did that cardboard come from anyway?)

In less than a week, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day here in the States.  If someone were to ask you to list the 5 things you are most thankful for in your life, would they also be the things that you are making your top priority? If you are filling your glass with the sand, there won’t be any room left for the important things (except the wine – there’s always room for the wine, but you won’t have anyone to share it with, and what fun is that?)

So remember as this year comes to an end, try not to get bogged down in the trivial matters – after all “it’s just sand”…

Happy Holidays!


4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2010 12:26 am

    I have a problem with the overall premise of your article but I still think its really informative. I really like your other posts. Keep up the great work. If you can add more video and pictures can be much better. Because they help much clear understanding. 🙂 thanks Fujita.

  2. November 22, 2010 4:24 am

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  3. December 1, 2010 11:51 am

    Nice content. Thank you for your information.

  4. April 14, 2011 5:08 pm

    Thank you all for your wonderful feedback. I appreciate that although opinions may differ, we still can enjoy the conversation. Hope you’ll enjoy some of our future posts!


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