Who doesn’t want to feel fulfilled?
Nobody, that’s who.
But despite the fact that everyone wants the same things -to live a healthy, happy, meaningful life- many of us still don’t feel satisfied.
And there’s a simple reason for that.
Most people focus too much energy on one or two parts of their lives, usually the ones they feel are most lacking, at the expense of other parts of their lives.
So, for example, someone who doesn’t like their body might start spending hours at the gym every day and keep putting their career goals on hold until they feel “good enough” to go for that new job.
Someone who doesn’t feel important might start burying themselves in work and neglect all of their relationships.
Someone who doesn’t feel loved might enter a string of dead-end relationships and start eating emotionally whenever things don’t work out.
But if you don’t nourish what Chinese medicine practitioners call the 5 Phases (or Elements) of your life, then you’ll never feel fulfilled.
So what are these magical 5 Phases that you need to nourish in order to feel fulfilled?
Let me explain.
Each Phase is named after one of the elements that the ancient Chinese believed in, and each Phase comes with a whole bevvy of symbolic associations that can be applied to all sorts of different situations in your life.
Each Phase feeds into the next, so if one Phase is deficient or excessive, the other 4 become imbalanced as well and you end up feeling less than awesome.
We each need all of these Phases in different amounts in our lives in order to feel fulfilled, and the right amount varies from person to person and throughout the Phase cycle.
A Phase cycle in its most literal form lasts a year.
So in the autumn, for example, you’ll want to nourish Metal more, because it’s related to autumn, and then move on to nourish Water more in its associated season of winter.
But Phase cycles also happen on a smaller scale every day, every week, every month, and in any activity where there is a beginning, middle, and end.
This means that while your emphasis on one Phase or another can and should shift during the associated times, you still want to nourish all 5 Phases within any Phase cycle.
Only you can really know where you might be lacking, or where you might be focusing too much energy.
As you read through the Phase descriptions, ask yourself if you feel fulfilled in each of these areas, or if you need to give that Phase a little extra love and attention.
Wood is the exciting part of life, where new plans are made and new things start to grow.
It’s related to spring, when all the sprouts are pushing past rocks and roots and other obstacles in the soil to make themselves known in the world.
Wood is all about drive, growth, excitement, planning, and creativity.
When you don’t nourish your Wood Phase it’s impossible to make a good action-plan to carry you through the other Phases and reach your goals.
Most fitness programs act as though the invigorating energy of the Wood Phase will last forever, but once the Phases turn, it’s impossible to keep up that level of energy. That’s why most programs inevitably become more difficult to keep up with as you go along, and eventually you end up right back where you were before, unhappy with your body and feeling like a failure.
Fire is the exuberance of life.
It is related to summer fun and the busy buzz of nature when the weather is warm.
Joy, gratitude, and love are all in the realm of the Fire Phase.
Relationships, connection, and playfulness are also in the realm of Fire.
If you don’t spend time cultivating your Fire Phase you will have a hard time being truly happy and feeling that you are living a meaningful life.
Earth is the foundation of your well-being.
It’s related to harvest time, or the transition from one Phase to another.
Home, security, food, metabolism, your ability to absorb nutrients, and the strength of your muscles are all related to Earth.
This is where most diets begin and end, but there’s a whole lot more to consider if you want to have a body and life you love.
Earth is the groundedness you need within you in order to grow and transform into the person you want to be, but you can’t nourish that part of yourself if you’re overly focused on what your body looks like.
You’ve got to tap into what feels like to be in your body in the first place if you want to have a healthy glow about you.
Metal is related to autumn, your career, appearance, possessions, boundaries, and lifestyle.
The Metal Phase is all about finding your own value, living a rich life, and making an impact on the world around you.
Just as the trees drop their leaves in autumn, Metal is the space in which you let go of whatever it is that no longer serves you so you can make space space for new things to grow/for new aspirations to come into your reality.
If you don’t know how to create Metal Phase boundaries and be decisive, you will constantly be living your life on other peoples’ terms. That means you can never get where you want to go in life, and you can never feel comfortable in your body, either, so it’s vitally important that you nourish Metal if you want the freedom to love your body and life.
Water is the Phase related to Self-cultivation, spirituality, ritual, practice, stress-management, and flow.
Associated with winter, the Water Phase is like seeds gathering energy underneath the soil, or animals resting in hibernation so they’ll have the power to do what they have to do when spring rolls around.
The Water Phase is where you recuperate your inner resources so you have the energy to do all the things you want to do in life.
If you don’t spend time nourishing your Water Phase you end up feeling overwhelmed by stress, stuck, and unable to tap into your intuition, which means you end up blocking out exactly the things that your body needs to feel and look good.
Unfortunately, most diets and fitness programs end up depleting the Water Phase over the long-run instead of nourishing it, which is one of the reasons why they are so unsustainable.
If you want to break out of your rut and actually transform your body and life, you’ve got to learn to nourish all 5 Phases.
There are specific foods and lifestyle strategies that nourish each of these 5 Phases, and you have to integrate each of them into your life in the right way if you want to have a body and life you love.
Now I’d love to hear from you.