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Earth: Overcoming Laziness and Scarcity Mindset

June 13, 2021 | by Rabbi Shlomo Buxbaum

Three tools to rise above the downward pull of our physicality.

Some people seem to always be exploding with energy and enthusiasm. They are so full of life any room they enter becomes electrified by their presence. Their zest for life is like a magnet; everyone wants to be around them. What's their secret?

The key to attaining this energy lies on our mastery of the element of earth, which represents the physical body, our survival instincts, and the need to feel secure. This is also the root of sluggishness. Just like earth, which is stable and dense, the earth element of the nefesh, our life force, is not naturally inclined towards action, spontaneity, or risk but rather about making sure that there is stability and security in our life.

These survival instincts can lead to insecurity and sadness rooted in that primal concern that the world cannot provide for all of us. No matter how much we have, there is always a voice inside of us that creates concern about what the future will bring and makes us feel insecure with who we are and what we have. This makes it harder for us to be present, enjoy the life that we have, and open our hand to give freely to others. And when we see someone else doing well, it creates a sense of jealousy. We feel like everyone else is moving past us in life and we are just stuck where we are.

Here are three tools to rise above the downward pull of the earth element:

1. Movement and Outer Displays of Joy

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto teaches:

One who perceives a quickening of his outer movements… conditions himself to experience a flaming inner movement through which longing and desire will continually grow. If, however, he is sluggish in the movement of his limbs, the movement of his spirit will die down and be extinguished.1

When one uses their outer movements in a way that displays life, joy, and excitement to be alive, this creates “a flaming inner movement,” feelings of energy, vitality, and happiness. In Hebrew, this is called zerizut.

Energetic outer movements can include physical activity, like adjusting one’s posture, increasing the pace that they are moving, doing exercise, singing and dancing, laughing, and even speaking about joyous subjects. Even if these actions are not coming naturally, pushing oneself to do these things will completely uplift a person’s mood. As the saying goes, “Motion ignites emotion.” When one smiles or laughs, feelings of inner joy are immediately ignited. There are even different therapies that exist where groups of people gather for the sole purpose of laughing together…about absolutely nothing!

The Hebrew word for face is “panim.” The letters are actually the same as the word “p'nim,” which means the inside, or essence, of something. A person’s face is a window into what is going on inside that person. Feelings of pain, sadness, worry, or joy all display themselves through the various facial expressions. When a person smiles, their whole face expands, which means their inner world is expanding as well. So just pushing oneself to smile, even if it isn’t coming naturally is the first step to changing a person’s inner state.

2. Daily Routines

Just like earth, which is stable and doesn’t move, our inner earth element looks for stability and consistency in our life. Our emotions, thoughts, and motivations come and go, but the habits and routines that we institute in our life are perhaps the most dependable aspects in our life.

Without routines and habits, we start feeling insecurity and anxiety, which leads to sadness and sluggishness. This is why people whose lives lack structure, either because of an unstructured job or lack of a job, are advised to institute set routines throughout their day to give them a sense of structure. When schools and businesses shut down due to COVID-19 and the whole world felt disrupted and insecure, the most common piece of advice given was to create strong routines so as not to slide into a feeling of constant worry and fear.

One of the most important routines to develop revolves around the most crucial part of the day: our mornings. The morning is a time when the element of earth is the strongest. This is why the slogan of many high performers is: “Conquer the morning. Conquer the day.” The very opening words of the Code of Jewish Law is: “One should strengthen himself like a lion to get up in the morning to serve his Creator, so that it is he who awakens the dawn.”

3. The Abundance Mindset

Because the earth element is always creating a feeling of insecurity inside of us, part of rising above it is developing the correct mindset to live with. Many studies have shown how the mind shapes reality, and what we believe to be true will manifest itself in our life. Therefore, part of the mindset that we are supposed to develop in this lifetime to rise above all the anxiety is that there is an abundance in the world that is available to us.

The Almighty has all of the resources necessary to provide for the entire world. The success of others does not in any way minimize the potential for one to be successful. On the contrary, when we see someone else’s success, it should open our eyes to the great abundance that God has and is ready to give, of which we too can be the recipients.

If our mindset is focused on scarcity, then it is scarcity that we will manifest. If we are always worried and anxious because we believe that there is a shortage of resources, money, and success to go around, then that is what we will experience. However, if we internalize and live with the belief that there is an abundance that is available to us, then we are attracting that abundance and blessing toward us.

One who becomes accustomed to moving with energy, develops strong habits and lives with the abundance mindset will gain the ability to move through their day with explosive energy, moving from task to task with precision and capitalizing on every moment. While most of society is sluggish and counting the minutes until they could have their next coffee break or check their social media, the one who masters the earth element will have a bounce in their step from the moment that they wake up until the moment that they go to bed.

Based on the new book Four Elements of an Empowered Life A Guidebook to Discovering Your Inner World And Purpose. Click here to order.

  1. The Path of the Just, chap. 7.


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