I've had a pretty rough couple of months, one way and another, with my health, enthusiasm, self-worth and energy taking a beating in a number of areas in my life, all at the same time. So when this parable was related to me by a colleague who has experienced more than his own share of setbacks, it certainly struck a chord. Apparently it is known as "The Pickle Jar Theory of Time Management", but I think it has a wider application in terms of keeping balance in life, and "not sweating the small stuff" (another useful cliche).
Here's how it was explained to me:
He asks the class if the jar is full, and of course they reply that it is.
He then picks up several handfuls of pebbles and adds as many as he can to the jar. The class again agrees that the jar is now full.
Next, he pours in some sand. Quite a lot of sand, in fact, until it reaches the top of the jar. "Is it full now?" "Yes!!"
But no, because he picks up a big jug of water and proceeds to empty it into the jar.
I'm sure you get the point: make room for the big things in life first (health, happiness, family, friends etc). Less important things will just have to fit around them, and if there ends up being enough room for some of the really unimportant stuff, fair enough.
But if you start with the sand, there simply won't be room for all those rocks.
And now those cartoons I promised, either or both of which may or may not apply to me.