Jar of Life: On the important things in life and creative thinking

I’ll start with the story. This is a famous allegory, I couldn’t find a definitive origin. It has several versions, and it goes something like this:

A teacher came to class, put a big jar on the table, filled it with rocks he took out of a bag, and asked his students if they think the jar is full. They said yes. He then took out a bag with pebbles, and emptied it into the jar, shook it a little so the pebbles adjusted themselves between the bigger rocks. He then added sand to the jar, shaking it again. The sand settled between the other stones. Everything fitted in nicely.

The jar represents Life. If we fill it first with the smaller pebbles and sand, there is no room for the rocks. If we fill our lives with everyday tasks and things that are of little significance to us, there is no room for the bigger, more important things.

The lesson of the story:
Don’t forget what’s really important to you in your life, and give it precedence. Otherwise our lives will be filled by those mundane, insignificant things, and we’ll not have enough room for the things that do matter.

Only by giving precedence to the things that are most importance to us, can we later fit in the rest.

Inspired by this, I created a new printable for my Etsy shop. A very clean, simple design of a jar, with outlines of some rocks and pebbles, for people to fill in themselves.
My initial design is deliberately minimal. The whole purpose is for people to write down their personal “rocks” in life, and to color and decorate it with doodles to make it their own sort of mission statement, to be inspired by, and reminded of what matters most to them in their lives.

I’m a big believer in visual, non-linear thinking. While sometimes a clear, logical, textual list works, other times I believe a different sort of thinking can be more effective. If you let your hand draw and doodle, if you focus on the colors and lines, ideas and insights can all of a sudden surface. It’s a more subconscious, creative thought process. I noticed that I personally employ this method many times, and I find it very helpful. I intend to dedicate a post to this creative thinking process.

Anyway, the Jar of Life printable is meant to encourage exactly this kind of thinking, leading you there with basic shapes and forms, aesthetically pleasing, rather than a full-fledged form-like list with lines and numbers.

It is probably not a coincidence that this idea came up right in time for the new year and its new year resolutions. I think the two go hand in hand.

Wishing us all a great 2015, of growth and compassion!

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