Armchair philosophy—mayonnaise and beer

This grandfatherly (or grandmotherly) advice had made the rounds on the web over the decades. We rediscovered it in our paper files from about 20 years ago and thought it worth republishing. Author unknown. Comments in [brackets] are ours.

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 two 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. […or not. Consider alternative means to staying healthy. But if you really need their services—as I just did for the gall stones—then, by all means, do so, …and have a big prayer team behind you.]

  • 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 beer with a friend.”

Please share this with someone you care about. I JUST DID!


[This message brought to you by Bud Light—just kidding, of course. 🤣]

(Bud Light that won’t sell, stacked up at our local supermarket. Photo by James Bruggeman)


October 6, 2023

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