The Professor of Psychology began his lesson with some objects in front of him. Without saying anything, he took a large jar and started filling it with tennis balls. When no more could fit, he looked at his students and asked them if the jar was full, and they said it was packed. Then the professor took some gravel and started pouring it into the jar, waving it, and they filled the gaps between the balls. When there was no more gravel, he asked the students if the jar was full, and they, somewhat bewildered, said it was. Then the professor took sand, threw it in the jar, and filled all the gaps between the gravel. He asked the students again if the jar was full, and they answered with a “Yes!” voice. Then the professor leaned over and took under the desk two cups of coffee and threw them in the jar, while the students were now laughing in laughter.
“Now,” the professor said, “I want you to imagine that the jar is like your life. Tennis balls represent the most important things in your life, things that, even if all is lost, can fill your life. Gravel represents things less important and sand even less important. If you fill the jar first with sand, there will be no room to put the gravel and tennis balls. The same goes for your life. If you spend your time and energy on small things, you won’t leave space, and you won’t have time and power for the biggest and most important. Take care of the tennis balls first, then the gravel and the sand end.”
A student raised his hand and said:
“You forgot the coffee… What does it stand for?”
“Coffee represents pleasure. No matter how full your life is, there will always be room for a coffee with a friend,” the professor said with a smile. “When in your daily life the indivisible happens, remember the jar and the two cups of coffee.”
In life, it is necessary to set priorities. If we go through periods of stress, it is enough to think about the things that matter most to us.