The other day somebody told me a story they had heard about a philosophy professor and an exercise she performed for her class. I thought it so good I would share it with you.
A philosophy professor had a jar filled with 3 large rocks. She asked her students if the jar was full and they replied, “Yes.” The professor then took some small pebbles and poured it into the jar. The pebbles began to fill in the spaces between the rocks. She again asked her students, “Is the jar still full?” They replied, “Yes.” Finally, she took sand and poured it into the jar. The sand quickly filled in the remaining cracks and spaces. She asked her students, “Is the jar still full?” The students once again replied, “Yes.” The professor then began to translate the story behind filling the jar.
The Rocks are the Foundation
There were just a few rocks in the jar but they still filled it. They represented the most important, fulfilling, and meaningful things in life like your values, character, family, and health.
The pebbles were smaller but filled in the open spots left by the rocks. The professor explained these were things like job and hobbies. They provide additional fulfillment and meaning but should not be the “rocks” or foundation of your fulfillment.
The sand represented everything else in life such as favorite TV shows, places to go, social media, etc. They occupy your time but do not add a significant amount of meaning or fulfillment to your life.
After telling the story, the professor asked the students what would happen if she started with the sand? Would the jar be filled and would the pebbles and rocks have room to fit? The students replied, “No!”
I loved this story because it represents life in such simple terms. If you want fulfillment and a sense of belonging, you need to start by filling your life with the right foundation. Take time to think about the core of your being and fulfillment. Are these your rocks and are they your priority? Are the rocks the foundation that helps you feel you belong and fulfilled or the pebbles and sand?
Spend some time thinking about how you fill up your life. Where does the majority of your time and effort go? Does it go toward the sand, pebbles or the rocks?
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