Have you heard about the teacher who took an empty jar and put in a handful of big rocks till it wouldn’t hold any more? Full? he asked his class. Yes, the students replied. Then he took a container of gravel and poured it into the jar. What about now, he asked? Next he added several cupfuls of sand, then a pint of water. Yes, there was room for that too.
The lesson wasn’t how much can you fit in–the metaphor being the jar equals your life–but in what order. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, then there simply isn’t room later.
The toys, the tools, the house, the cars, the clothes, the gadgets, the things we own are the gravel, sand, and water in our lives. They exist to serve us, but are they really where happiness comes from? I would have to say, I hope not.
Yes, our possessions can improve our lives. They can make our life easier, give us more time, provide entertainment. At least that’s what we tell ourselves when we’re considering ownership. I know, I do it myself.
But what do we really want as human beings? What makes our hearts sing? Love is the first thing that comes to my mind. Who are your top ten, the people–or animals, they count too–whom you love more than stuff? Way more than stuff? Where do they fit into your world? Is there room for them?
Look around. Is there space in your world for something other than stuff? Counter tops or table tops with wide open space, not full of things begging for your attention? A garage you can park your car in? Room for guests in the guest room? Clear, uncluttered physical space gives us more time and emotional capacity to love. First ourselves and then our dear ones.
Make space in your world for the people you love. They are the big rocks. Put them in first.
How do you fit in the big rocks? We would love to know!