Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power. – Covey Stephan

“What a toxic week! Unexpected things keep on filing up and my time is not enough …” says an infuriated friend. “Can we meet at Stressa ?”

Off I went to Stressa, a 15 minute drive from where I live. It’s my favorite hiding place from the chaotic lifestyle in Milan where I work.


While waiting for my friend, I decided to walk around the lake shore of Lago Maggiore mulling over the subject: are 24 hours not enough? are there too many things in life that are impossible to bear?

Suddenly, I saw a woman carrying a big empty jar. Eureka! That’s it! How could I’ve forgotten it? A tiny film in my mind begins emerging from the dark corners of my memory bringing me back to my adolescent years.

I see my grandfather holding a big empty glass jar instructing me and my cousins to gather some pebbles and big stones; sands and to bring glasses of “buko” (Pilipino for young coconut) juice,  agreeing to meet him by the shore afterwards.

We all like our grandfather. He is funny, has lots of stories to tell and behind the many creases on his face lie a thousand wisdom.

Playfully gigling around our “lolo” (Pilipino for grandfather), we lay down the stuffs he asked us to bring. He starts filling up his jar with big stones and he then asks us if the jar is full. “YES!” we agree laughingly!

Then he asks my cousin to pour the pebbles from his sack into the jar. Shaking the jar lightly, the pebbles roll in between the spaces of the big stones. “Puno na ba itong garapon?” (is the jar full?) he asks us again. “Opo!” (polite term for YES) .

He nudges my other cousin to pour the sand into the jar and voila and it fills up every spaces. Same question, same answer.

Without any sign of approval, he pours inside the jar two glasses of coconut juice and in effect, filling everything there is. Looking at our eyes and trusting our worldly minds, he serenely speaks:

“I want you to remember that this jar is  similar to your life.

The big stones are the important things; the pebbles are your secondary choices; the sand is everything else: the minor ones.

If you put the sand into the jar first there is NO room for the pebbles or the big stones. It holds true for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the minor things, you will never have room for the important ones.

Try to select carefully which are critical to your happiness: close family relationships, health and well-being, meaningful work, long term friendships, supportive community, creative pursuits, travel and adventure, financial freedom, spiritual life, etc

Take care of the big stones first – the things that really matter. Focus on your top five priorities and every 6 months, evaluate how much attention are you giving them.

List your priorities. The rest is just sand.

Don’t let anything come between you and what truly matters most to you!

Raising up my hand I ask: what about the coconut juice? Smiling he says: “No matter how full your life may be, there’s always room for a  glass filled of coco juice with a friend.”

Here comes my friend now, a cup of cappucino will perk us up like my grandfather’s “buko” juice story.

 My life and its contents

NEXT:  Priorities Quotes



  • People first, then money, then things. – Suze Orman
  • The necessary has never been man’s top priority. The passionate pursuit of the nonessential and the extravagant is one of the chief traits of human uniqueness. – Eric Hoffer
  • Success is only another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be. – Harry Lloyd
  • Action expresses priorities.  – Mahatma Gandhi
  • Treasure the love you receive above all. It will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished.  – Og Mandino

  •  Life is for one generation; a good name is forever.  – Japanese Proverb

  • Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. – Albert Einstein

  • Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing. – Albert Einstein

  • What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?  – Mark 8:36

  • Nothing will content him who is not content with a little.  – Greek Proverb

  • Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Learn how to separate the majors and the minors. A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things. – Jim Rohn

  • To put the world in order we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. – Confucius
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom in life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. –  Lin Yu Tang

  • Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.  -James W Frick


  • The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.  Stephen Covey
  • Don’t be a time manager, be a priority manager. Cut your major goals into bite-sized pieces. Each small priority or requirement on the way to ultimate goal become a mini goal in itself. – Denis Waitley
  • We realize our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically a problem of priorities. We confess, We have left undone those things that ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. – Charles Hummel
  • Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work. –  H.L.Hunt
  • You can’t merely snap your fingers and get great faith in God, any more than you can snap your fingers and get great musical ability. Faith takes hold of us only when we take hold of it. The great psychologist, William James, said, ‘That which holds our attention determines our action,’ and one of the unfortunate things in life is that we sometimes focus our attention on the wrong things. –  Sterling W. Sill

  • Keep in mind that you are always saying “no” to something. If it isn’t to the apparent, urgent things in your life, it is probably to the most fundamental, highly important things. Even when the urgent is good, the good can keep you from your best, keep you from your unique contribution, if you let it. – Stephen Covey
  • When I get a little money I buy books, and if any is left I buy food and clothes. – Erasmus


  • To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. – Confucius
  • It’s good to have money and the things money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy. – George Horace Lormier
  • Recreation is important, but in many cases we have allowed it to literally root out of our daily lives the study of the gospel and the scriptures. No doubt our challenge is not so much a lack of time as it is the perpetual rat race which smothers us under a virtual tidal wave of tantalizing trivia. – W. Cleon Skousen


  • Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. –  Goethe

  • The older I get the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first. A process which often reduces the most complex human problem to a manageable proportion. – Dwight D. Eisenhower 
  • I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things. – Benjamin Franklin

22 Responses to “Priorities in life”


    Great collection of quotes!

    I’ve heard the stones in a jar story before but not quite as poetically as you relayed it with your grandfather. Kudos to you. 🙂



    Hello Shawn,

    your comment is one way of motivating me to continue on my blog. I’m still on my 15th day, nothing much to see here.

    Grazie! Thank you for passing by.



    i love this post of yours, it made me think back and reflect if i’ve filled my glass with just sands…though i’m sure it contains lots of the “buko juice”…

    sometimes it makes me sad that i tend to forget the important things in my life and become utterly confined with the mundane…



    Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing. – Albert Einstein

    OUCH!!! Will you stop reminding me my dysfuntional family?!



    § JC,

    thank you and welcome to my site. Don’t worry, You are not the only one drinking your glass filled buko juice leaving those big stones behind 😆 minsan mabigat eh!




    hahah…blame Einstein for reminding you about your family! How’s the brainstorming going with diwa and chuva?

    Is it a part of our “big stones?” 💡



    hello, ross. dumaan lang po at nakibasa at na-inspire.



    Ros, tnx for texting! Yeah, I’m still awake, actually still doing laundry while visiting your site…can’t help it…that’s the blessing of multitasking!

    Priorities in life….what may be important to one is nothing to another…

    Most of my priorities are not tangible…




    baka mabasa yan site ko at jan ka pa sa harap naglalaba!! 😛

    me lake dun sa taas, malinis yun, pwede kang mag banlaw dun!

    About priorities, everyone has her/his own hierarchy of values …

    kaya sabi ko din: “Try to select carefully which are critical to your happiness…” 😉




    I appreciate what you’ve said, if my post inspired you…I’m just being an “instrument” of His hands 🙂



    Ros, gising pa ako!!! 😀 pasado midnight na! kwago na ako! taz gigising pa ako ng 4:30am…makainom nga ng kape ng makatulog na!



    Grabe! Patagal ng patagal!!! Di ako makaalis sa mga blogs na toh!!! 2:22 am na!!!!



    It is very true! I love this post as well.

    Right now, my stones, and sand are in the jar already… I’m still trying to pour the ‘buko’ juice… and having a hard time with it.

    He-he! But you know what, it is still going – – I do have more space after all.

    Great site move — and the re-direct is awesome! 😀




    you are a treasure, a heaven sent!! You are NOT just my “buko” juice but my Dom Pierre Pérignon as well..

    thank you for helping me out 🙂




    😆 tagal mong gising ha! 1 hr na lang sleep mo…



    ang gaganda ng mga qoutes!

    ang ganda naman yang isla na yan!

    aba sa Milan ka pala? nakita mo ba jan sila Piolo at Claudine noong shooting? :mrgreen:



    I would like to go that that heavenly island on the picture above and take a stroll. It must be serene and relaxing.

    Don’t worry Ross, one of these days – when our blogs start to climb that 6-figure mark – – we will visit you. When we’re there, I would like to visit that tiny island.

    Your site is getting better and better everyday! More power! 😆



    Dumadaan…makapitik nga…




    thank you, na appreciate mo yun quotes. Yun ke Piolo, I didn’t hear about it. Nasa Manila lang ako nun nalaman ko kasi sinabi ng sister ko. 🙂




    yikes, are you still going to wait for that 6digits to come over? Pag daan mo sa greece, stop over ka d2 heheh



    how are you? How’s the internet withdrawal? It seems it lasted for 8 hours lang ata? 😉

    Thank you sa fitiks!



    Yup Ros, can’t stay away too long…and that 8 hours is just toooooo long 😀 salamat din sa mga pilantik 😀 naka 1.9 din ako, di ko alam kung sa yo lang yun o kung may iba pa 😀 humina tayo ngayon eh. Sige, mamamalakol ako sandali… 😀



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