What are your golf balls?

December 22, 2008

Friend of mine just forwarded me one of those circular emails, this one is meaningful requiring deep thoughts.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

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. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the 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 Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

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 favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘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 important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

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 inquired what the Beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

I do go out with friends once in a while but not for a couple of beers for me instead I take Coke or lemon water. I don’t play golf at all so I started to learn jogging due to the findings from routine medical checkups. The philosophy behind an analogy like the above can be easily understood but the trouble is that when it comes to choosing your golf balls for life most people have a misconception that his mayonnaise jar is infinitely large and couldn’t tell sand from golf ball.

There is however one dimension that the above analogy has omitted, i.e. time. The Jar doesn’t last forever don’t believe that you may have a second chance to replace the pebbles or sand with golf balls you like later on.

The ability to pick between golf balls, pebbles and sand depends largely on one’s value system and life experience. If the above was really taught in philosophy class (we don’t have this in our education system) students will still be putting the wrong stuff into their jar believing that they could always turn his/her jar upside down and start again.

How many times you could turn your life upside down and start again?

One Response to “What are your golf balls?”


  1. […] (應該, 有用的他們又不教),課本得到的百份一在工作上都用不著, 不管碩士或博士(除非你去教書), […]


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