For Labor Day: Work Smarter, Not Harder

I love the idea of working smarter and not harder. I grew up in a working class small city in Massachusetts. Most people I know held (or hold) multiple jobs. During middle school, high school and college, I always had a job or two myself. We are raised, down in Fall River (where I am right now!! :)) to be resilient, tough and hard working – and mighty proud.


Imagine my surprise when I learned that it isn’t always the best method. It’s easier to make progress when the goals are reasonable and achievable. The limits we set in our mind as to what is possible (and what we deserve!) often stunt our growth. We absorb the beliefs of the people around us and the message I got was…


Girl, you gotta hustle. In order to deserve more, you need 3 jobs and a non stop schedule. You can have more than now, but not too much. Too much makes you selfish, snobby and generally separate from the rest of us.


I want you to stop right now and think about that for a minute. Then, think about how that may have an influence on the way I treat my body. We usually use the same mode of thinking for different areas of our lives without even noticing. Think about how the above could translate into good health = hard work + hustle. Ugh. NO IT DOESN’T.


Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good squat or plank challenge as much as the next girl but when it comes to your overall wellness, there’s an easier way to do it. The first step, as they say, is awareness. Awareness of what you might ask? Awareness of who you are as a person, what your body needs most and what you are capable of. Chinese medicine has a great way to look at this. It consists of 5 pieces – Earth, Fire, Wood, Metal and Water.


Each one of us has a primary ‘element’. Most of us have a pretty strong secondary element as well. If we get to know those elements in ourselves, it is easier to formulate a plan for self care that is simple to follow and generous in it’s results. Below, I’ll give you a quick overview of the elements. After you read through, let me know which element you think you are!




Earth’s primary concerns and needs are related to community: friends, family and food.


In the body, Earth relates to the Spleen and Stomach. The Spleen and Stomach, in turn, are responsible for digestion in Chinese medicine. A strong earth has a large ability to ingest. Earth people tend to have an easy time gaining weight. Because they enjoy the comfort and richness of life (and food), they also tend to have digestive issues, especially bloating.




Fire’s primary needs are talking, laughing and playing.


In the body, Fire relates to the Heart. The Heart is responsible for circulation of blood and the expression of emotion. A strong Fire element makes someone very expressive. Think about the typical Italian gesticulation stereotype. That’s fire. Circulation issues and ‘oversharing’ will be common for fire people.





Wood’s primary needs are being active, competing and being successful.


They love doing. In the body, Wood relates to the Liver. The Liver is responsible in Chinese medicine for storing the emotions and nourishing the tendons and ligaments. A strong Wood element makes someone a natural born leader. Their issues will come up as a volcanic temper (that may blow infrequently, but when it does… watch out!) and issues with tendons and ligaments.




Metals’ primary needs are: control and space.


In the body Metal relates to the Lungs. The Lungs are responsible for our ability to fight off colds and the circulation of energy (by way of the breath) throughout our bodies. A strong Metal element makes someone who needs control and order. They love pure white kitchens. Metal people tend to sinus issues, colds, flus and breathing issues.




Water’s primary needs are being, thinking and philosophizing.

In the body Water relates to the kidneys. In Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are responsible for the strength of our genes and reproduction and they rule the low back and knees. Strong water types are physically resilient, they tend toward high fertility and long lives. Their issues tend to be: low back pain, knee pain and hiding emotional hurts deep below the surface (as if at the bottom of an ocean).


What element do you resonate with most based on the above info?






  1. Cara

    Hmmm, I relate to parts of several of those, but the Water element–reproduction/high fertility and hiding emotional hurts resonates with me. Maybe I’m Water?

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