Overflow: The six cups

Dr. Asha Fields Brewer

“My cup overflows…” 

Is Psalm 23:5, ESV, your truth? Or do you instead feel like you are constantly pouring from an empty cup? Busy and overwhelmed people are often burdened by burnout, because we haven’t been taught how to use stress as God intended. It’s time for that to change. So, here is the first in a series of articles discussing your overflow, with excerpts from the book Overflow: Six Strategies to Beat Burnout & Reclaim Your Abundant Life. 

To truly embrace our overflow, it is important that we first understand six strategies that were demonstrated by the Woman at the Well in John Chapter 4. She is the epitome of someone who is desiring overflow in one hand, while pouring from an empty cup with the other hand. (Sound familiar?) 

For our conversation together, we will interchangeably refer to these six strategies as the “Six Cups,” which are defined as follows:

Physical Cup-Caring for your body through rest, exercise, quality foods, and proper hygiene. 

Spiritual Cup-Connecting with your values and beliefs.

Mental & Emotional Cup (ME Cup)-Acknowledging your feelings and the feelings of those around you.

Intellectual Cup (I Cup)-Engaging in activities that expand your knowledge and/or creativity.

Social Cup-Nurturing healthy relationships.

Career & Financial Cup-Operating in your skills, gifts, and passions and building a financial legacy.

Dr. Bill Hettler co-founded the National Wellness Institute. His Six Dimensions of Wellness approach outlines similar areas, and both motivate us to go beyond food and fitness in our pursuit of life abundantly. These six areas are the foundation of our life experience. They motivate us to live lives of holistic wellness, as we pour into our core self (Spiritual Cup and Physical Cup), take in the world around us through our inputs (Mental & Emotional Cup and Intellectual Cup), and engage with the world around us through our outputs (Social Cup and Career & Financial Cup). These Six Cups set the stage for beating burnout and reclaiming our abundant life. 

Also key to understanding our overflow is to note the number of strategies: six. However, we should not be surprised by this. After all, the Bible demonstrates that Six is the “Number of Man.”  Man was created on the sixth day (Genesis 1: 27, 31). Man is to work six days and observe the seventh day as a holy day of rest (Exodus 34:21). The Well Woman even encountered Jesus at the sixth hour (John 4:6)! 

We also see how the Number of Man appears in our flesh and blood experience. If you fracture a bone, the standard minimum for a cast is six weeks as the bone and soft tissues heal. Then if you are prescribed physical therapy, it is common for this assignment to be six weeks minimum, as your body re-learns how to appropriately function. Personal trainers even encourage their clients to hang in there for at least six weeks, as the body adapts to the regimen. 

As human beings, we are bound to the mortality, incompletion, imperfection, and vulnerability of the number six. (Which contrasts with the perfection, completion, and wholeness of the number seven.) Therefore, in order to beat burnout in this mortal experience, we must pay careful attention to the status of our Six Cups. 

We will dive into the meaning, purpose, and value of each cup as we continue this series. If you’d like to jump ahead, grab your copy of Overflow at doctorasha.com/books.


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