IBS: The Story of the Stones


A few years ago when I was still struggling with IBS, I discovered “The Story of the Stones”. It is a simple but thought-provoking story that will challenge your priorities this New Year and help you get more of what you really want in 2022.

The story of the stones

A consultant arrived at a company for a meeting with a group of managers. They all sat down and looked perplexed as the consultant put a large glass jar on the table.

First, the consultant took a bag of large stones and placed them one by one in the jar. He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar.

Lifting his gaze to the managers, the consultant  then asked, “Is the jar full?” The managers replied, “Yes”.

He then paused for a moment, and replied, “Are you sure?”

stones and pebbles: the story of the stones

Next he took out a bag full of pebbles. He carefully added some pebbles and slightly shook the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones.

He then looked up and asked, “Is the jar full?”

One manager replied, “Apparently not…”

“True”, replied the consultant, now taking out a bag of sand. He slowly poured the sand into the jar. The sand filled up the small spaces between the stones and the pebbles.

Then he asked once again, “Is the jar full?”Beating IBS: water

Without hesitation, all the managers replied, “NO!”

So he picked up the water pitcher, served himself a glass of water, and then proceeded to pour water in the jar until it was absolutely full.

“Is it full now?” he asked.

“YES!” replied the managers in unison.

He then looked up and asked, “What great truth can we learn from this demonstration?”

One manager quickly replied, We can always improve time management. Even if our schedules are full, we can always find a way to do more.”

Not exactly”, replied the consultant. “The great truth that we can conclude from this experiment is:  If we don’t put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit them in.”

The managers suddenly fell silent.

the story of the stones

So what are the large stones in your life?” he continued.

“Is it your health? Your family? Maybe your close friends? Doing what you love? Fighting for a Cause? Taking time for yourself? Beating IBS

“Once you have thought about this deeply and have the answer, be sure to put these in your pot first. If you start with pebbles and sand, your big stones will never become your real priority and you will never get what you want.”

With a warm wave of his hand, the consultant bid farewell to the managers – then left the room. 

How to get more of what you want using the story of the stones?

The first step is by realising WHO is choosing YOUR priorities.

Without realising it, I was filling up my time with what other people expected of me: my boss, my colleagues, my family, my friends. 

Finally I came to realize that the problem in my life was just that.

I had put everyone else’s stones, pebbles, and sand in my jar but few of my own and I had no air.

So I wasn’t getting what I wanted – and this frustration contributed greatly to my IBS.

The second step is by deciding how you can get closer to the life you really want.

What are the big stones you will put in the pot first?

How would like your life to change this year?

What do you want the most in 2022, and what do you NO LONGER want?

What action are you going to take to get what you want this year?

Get more of what you want (reverse IBS?)

The Story of the Stones is adapted from a Chinese tale, also known as the “Jar of Life”

Spread the word