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The past 100 years have given us higher degrees of apparent prosperity, but there is always a downside and a price to pay for this greater affluence. People are certainly under more pressure these days, especially young married couples. In order to feed the always hungry lifestyle, a greater amount of responsibility has had to be taken on in the workplace. This means the people are putting in less of an appearance at home with their spouse and children.

Unless this is checked and kept in perspective, it will tend to have a detrimental effect on the overall balancing act between life and work. Step back now and then to see where you are spending your time and reset those switches.

More than ever, in our modern and fast paced society, it is important that we slow down now and again to take stock of what is really important in our lives. The following anecdote was relayed to me by a friend, who happened to hear it on the radio some years ago.

One day a very successful entrepreneur in his mid forties was being interviewed on the radio and was talking about all the millions he was making for the company he worked for, how busy he was, and all that he could buy with his salary.

The telephone rang at the radio station and a caller asked him did he ever hear about ‘the marble jar’? The caller said it was proposed to him when he was 52 years old, and it went like this……

The average male lives until he is 75, and with 23 years left this was about 1000 weeks. He went into town, bought 1000 marbles and placed them in a large jar. Each Saturday he threw one out. As the contents of the jar began to go down he became more focused on the important things in life such as his family, their health, and making time for his friends and other important stuff like that. Today was Saturday and he had just thrown away the last marble.

The radio interviewer asked the man what he was going to do that day. He said that he was going to bring his wife a cup of tea to wake her up and then later they would go out for some breakfast, do some shopping, meet some friends for lunch, have a nap at about 3pm, and afterwards go into the garden to smell the flowers, listen to the birds and do a small bit of gardening. That evening he would read the paper, have dinner, and hopefully God would wake him up again the next day.

It is important that we watch the marbles go down in the jar and focus in on what is really important to us. Life does not last forever and sometimes we have to be visually reminded of this fact. Pull on the brakes now and then, step back, take a good look around, enjoy what you have and make the most of the time remaining.

Of course, if people concentrated on the really important things in life, there would be a shortage of fishing rods!

‘Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time’ – Voltaire.