the rest is just sand

I posted this in Sept. 2013 … but I think it’s about time to re-post. Personal I just love this story.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle when 24 hours are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee:

Mayonnaise jar - funny-pictures.feedio net

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. Again he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

golf bolls - allday2 com

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a 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.

two cups of coffee - aleqt com

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 like family, children, health, and other things that are passionate in your heart. – Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained – would still be full, your life. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.

rocks - meyerturner com

If you put the sand into the jar first, he continued, it is not possible to make room for the pebbles or the golf balls. So it is with 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.

So, pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another about what makes you passionate. Always be time to clean the house and other things that are less important. Take care of the “golf balls” first – the things that really matter. Restore what is most important in your life. The rest is just sand.

sandhand1 - priyanto tk

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled and said,-I am glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.

cups of coffee - soundcloud com

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”
Mother Teresa

Note; this story is written by Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932 – 2012), an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker. (text;

Stephen_Covey - wikipedia org

Photos provide by and thanks to;

115 thoughts on “the rest is just sand

  1. I almost felt like you were telling or teaching me something. I loved reading this. It was excellent. I am going to reblog this so others can learn from it also

    • Terry, I was thinking of you when I wrote the post – it’s a truly great story … glad my friend sent it to me. Had forgotten about it. Many years since I last read it.
      Thanks for reblogging – I can see that some of your friends has read it … and clicked like. I think we should have this in mind all the time, because we concentrate too much on the sand.

    • Dia, yes I start to get excited now … but I’m worried about how my “sorry ass” will handle the trip – but that problem we have to deal with when it comes.
      Not any better .. and nothing from the hospital.

    • Yes, it truly is …. I had totally forgotten about it. Many years since I read the first time.
      Wonderful September for you too. Marina … my has started with rain for 2 full days.

      • Okay .. but I think this is the original version – as Stephen has told it and practice it, but it doesn’t matter so long as the message is there … and the end the cardamon is the same – as my grandma said.

      • It is certainly a great message Viveka. And I can imagine being in that classroom saying YES every time. Until he poured that coffee in. 🙂

        You may want to shake your head at me, but I had to look up “cardamon”. 🙂

      • Cardamom???? I spelled it wrong – I’m surprised you couldn’t figure it what I meant. Sorry for the misspelling. Colleen, shit happens every day *laughing.

      • I didn’t notice I spelled it wrongly, but my hands are quicker than my brain. Also it’s not a spice that we use very often, expect in Indian food.

    • Yes, it’s truly is … and we put too much afford on to the sand. Before my cancer treatments I drank coffee constantly – living on it, but during treatment it tasted terrible just like metal and I didn’t drink coffee for 3 months, now I only drink one massive mug in the morning, but that is a MUST. So I’m with you on the coffee.

    • Thank you so much for your comment and for for reblogging this post – it many years seen I read it last time – but a friend sent to me in Swedish yesterday and I translated it. Something we all should have in mind – that so much that we worry about is just sand.

    • Yes, it’s a truly wonderful story – just found out who had written it so I added the details.
      Julie, I was thinking of you and Terry, as I was working on this post.

    • Thank you so much for your reblog …. we needed to be reminded more often about what is really important in life – we are too stuck in the sand at times.

  2. As a golfer who never makes time to golf anymore, I see another message! But thanks for this great reminder.

    I’m trying something this month: not going to read one word about craft (marketing or writing) and will spend the freed-up time on producing new fiction. Cool, huh?

    • Hi there, Lynn …. you are going to be a busy lady with your mission. Good luck to you! And less golf again that will bring.
      Thank you so much for stopping and for commenting … this story has been around for many years, but it landed in my inbox yesterday in Swedish .. so I knew what to do.

  3. I’ve always adored teachers like that. I kind of grasped the idea after the first trial but even then , it’s such a surprise to read about the things, because being surprised so many people in my neighborhood in general hell bent on the “golf balls” I’ve just resorted to all the small things to make me smile easy . Almost forgot (:

    • Some years ago .. somebody some me this in practice – and then I read the story – and it’s amazing how much you can get in the jar will golf balls and rocks.
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment .. and for visiting my world herr.

  4. Reblogged this on mamacormier and commented:
    Viveka’s post today put a new perspective on my so called problem. This is a great message for anyone who thinks their life is too busy. It’s all about priorities. The post also has the best Bob Dylan song I’ve ever heard.

  5. Kept me captive all the way through, Viveka, and then I remembered that I’d read it before. The truth always bears repeating. 🙂
    Is it your NYC trip soon? Going to be difficult? You need a hug AND some cushions.

    • Yes, on Saturday … have some lucky pills in my handbag – I’m sure it will be okay and in New York I don’t have planes to sit on my ass that much. I’m bit worried about the flight between LHR and JFK, but I’m a Viking. *smile

    • Thank you so much, the story is fantastic and we should be reminded more often, the song is a one of my forgotten favorite.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Barbara, you are always welcome to stop .. nice to get a visit from you now and then.
      I think we all need to be remind about it – that we put energy on things that is not of any importance.
      Thanks for the visit.

  6. Wow, that’s awesome. I love that story and the lesson it teaches.
    When I was looking on my reader, your music started playing and I didn’t know where it was coming from! It totally freaked me out until I found your post. lol

    • Leanne, thank you so much … you are not the first one that have wondered where the music comes from.
      Sorry, I didn’t know it was playing in the reader. I hardly use it, I go by the emails I get. Had no complains that it annoy people, yet. Yes, it a story that we should remind ourselves with often. When I worked I was sometimes so stucked in the sand.
      It’s quite an old story, and I seen it in pratcie too – but that was years ago. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Welcome back.

    • Saida, thank you for stopping and for commenting – it must be at least 20 years since I first “met” the story and even show in practice.
      It’s a fantastic story .. that we should be remind of more often.

  7. This is a great story! Thank you for the research so I finally know the origins of it. I usually tell this one year two, at schoolstart, in my classes. When the classes are mostly consisting of young men I change the coffee into beer!

    • A-C, great idea …. *smile – I think the story is so great and we should be reminded more often. Yes, I din’t know who had written the story, but I found out with help of goggle, of course.

  8. I remember it too, Vivi. Such a good lesson 🙂 🙂 How are you this bright and cheerful Sunday? Sad for some people, isn’t it always? I just listened to Boots of Spanish Leather and now Coffee is playing with my breakfast toast and marmite. Beautiful!

    • Marmite????!!!! Terrible stuff *smile … I’m now going to jump into the shower – I cut half a finger off the other day, cutting lettuce – so I’m a bit handicapped. After that I will have a cup of milky coffee and toast with cheese and jam. My favourite treat. Have a lovely Sunday. Showerhug.

      • Yes, somebody said a while again that .. it comes with age. And I replayed that everything comes with age, except the money. *smile Wasp sting???!!!!! Have you been too close to nature??? Monday hug with sunshine.

      • Vron’s funeral today but I will be with her family and friends and there will be lots of hugs. I had a hand like a suet pudding and a knee the same! Better today. Life! 🙂 🙂 But, as you always say, the alternative… not so hot!

      • I’m sure you will find some comfort in your friends funeral with her family and friends and I’m sure it will be a beautiful day even if there will be sadness. But it’s also a closure. So sorry to read about your hand and … the knee. Yes, you say … it’s life – and sometimes there can be too much of it at once. My thoughts goes out to you.

  9. Oh, I love that professor! It’s a brilliant story about getting your priorities right…and don’t sweat the small stuff…. At work we used to talk about 80/20…..

    • My pleasure, I think …. we all need to take part of it more and more often those days. Today I bought Bill’s lemonade here in Landskrona … a budget shop stock them … but under the French name. Bought 6 bottles for £2.80 each. Happy days!!!!

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