There's an old story about a motivational speaker's
illustration of life's priorities and the quest for
happiness. In front of a large audience, the speaker was
alone on stage with a table covered with a cloth. Promising
to show the audience the secret to success, fulfillment and
a great life, she pulled out an old-fashioned pickle jar,
set it on the table and said that the jar represents your
She then pulled out a bucket with some fairly large rocks
and proceeded to fill the jar, and asked the audience if
the jar was full. Naturally, most responded that it was.
With a sly grin, she then asked if they were sure and
reached for a second bucket that had small pebbles in it.
With care, she managed to get a couple dozen pebbles to
drop down in the spaces between the larger rocks and again
asked if the jar was full. Again, most of the audience
agreed that it was, although with some hesitation.
She then pulled out a bucket of sand and carefully poured
several pounds of sand into the jar. Asked if the jar was
finally full, the audience was doubtful and cautiously
answered, "Probably not." The speaker then pulled out a
bucket of water and slowly poured most of the bucket into
Finally, she stepped across the stage and asked what lesson
was to be learned, and a confident young man called out,
"That you can always squeeze more in!" The speaker agreed
that was good, but suggested there was a far more important
She then said something I've never forgotten. "To get the
most out of life, you have to put the big pieces in first."
If you allow your life to be filled with water, sand and
pebbles, you'll never have room for the "big pieces." Never
allow your life to be consumed with the "small things."