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Keep the Golf Balls and Fill the Sand With Coffee

May 14, 2010

Busy woman with girl

Our lives today are busy– we like to think that they are busier than ever. We have ful- time jobs, our kids have karate, playdates, ball practice and homework. The house has to be cleaned, dinner needs to be cooked, the lawn has to be mowed, the garden needs weeding and the dirty laundry is stacking up by the washing machine. Most everyone I know has an iPhone, Blackberry, Droid or some other smart phone. How many times do we marvel at how we ever got along without these little devices to help organize our time?

 We have learned, it seems, to multi-task our multi-tasking. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop, slow down, maybe have a cup of coffee with a friend? It would be nice, but who has the time? There is no time for coffee or chit-chat. We have a schedule to keep.  Our days are filled to overflowing.

Or are they?

Perhaps some of you have read this story before, I personally got it in an email. I couldn’t find its origin, but who ever you were, Thanks.

Golf balls falling from sky

 On the first day of class, a university professor stood in front of his philosophy class with an empty jar.

Without saying a word to his students,  he filled the jar with golf balls. When no more golf bars fit he closed the jar. He then asked his class, “Would you say that the jar is now full?” His students observed the jar and concluded that the jar was indeed full.

The professor then opened the jar up and started putting marbles into the jar. The marbles started to fill the gaps between the golf balls. After closing the jar, he asked his class again if they thought the jar was full. The class concluded that the jar was indeed now full.

Next, the professor opened the jar  and started pouring in sand. Obviously, the sand started filling the gaps between the golf balls and the marbles. When he had closed the jar for a third time, he asked his class again if the jar was full. His class chuckled and replied in unison, “Yes, it is now full!”

The professor opened the jar and emptied two small cups of coffee in the jar. The liquid easily  filled the gap between the golf balls, the marbles and the grains of sand. Now he began his lecture.

“Life is very much like this jar. The golf balls represent the important things in life, like God, family, loved ones, health, things that you care intimately about. If we lost everything else in life, our lives would still be ‘full’. The marbles are the other things in our lives that are important, but our happiness shouldn’t depend on them. These are things like our work, our house, our car, etc. Finally, the sand represents everything else; the small stuff.

“If we were to have filled our jar up with sand first, there we wouldn’t have had enough room for the marbles or the golf balls. If we use all our life and energy on the small stuff, we won’t have any room for the important things.”

Close-up of a cup of coffee on a cabinet

And the coffee? Well, the coffee shows that, no matter how full our days seem, there is time to have a cup of coffee with a friend. The story is a good reminder that we should fill our lives with the important things first. Everything else will fill in the gaps.

And most importantly, there is always time for that coffee with a friend, a quick snuggle with our kids, or to hold a door for a stranger. Being busy is no excuse. The time is there, the question is will we try to fill it with more sand or will we have a cup of coffee?

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