What is Spirit?

People often use the words “spirit” and “spiritual” without a clear understanding of what they mean or why they matter. In this article I give my definition of the word “spirit” and explain the reason that I believe spiritual growth to is the most important of all areas of personal development.

The word, “spirit”, comes from the from Latin word spiritus which means “breath” (the Greek word Pneuma means much the same thing).

But what is it?

When talking about a human beings, it is usually understood as the non-physical part of a person. There is no universal definition: some writers equate spirit and soul, whilst others understand the two terms as having different, perhaps overlapping definitions.

Your Spirit Is the Wind in Your Sails

The definition that I use on this site (which is not necessarily the same as the definition used by authors that I quote) is that your spirit is the part of you that determines your basic motivations and values.

The things that matter to you are the ones that give your life purpose and meaning. As a result, you spirit is the part of you that gives you an answer to the basic question of “why?” in your life. In short, it provides the reason that you get up in the morning.

Your Spirit is a Source of Energy

When you give “a spirited performance”, that would suggest that your performance is motivated. When your spirit is healthy, your days are full of life and vigour. Your spirit is the source of your vivacity because it is the source of your motivation.

Your Spirit Guides Your Actions

The things you truly value are the things you actually invest in. If you want to know what really matters to a person, rather than what they say is important to them by observing where they invest their life, as represented by their:

  • money
  • time
  • energy
  • talents

Your true values and motivations are the ones that drive you when nobody else is looking

Your Spirit Determines Your Direction

Your spirit gives your life direction, and your direction determines our destination. As a child, much of our experience of life is about what happens to us. As we mature, however, we take responsibility for our own life. We make choices which have consequences, and our world is increasingly shaped by those consequences. The place we have in this world is determined, to a large extent, by our own actions.

Because so many of the choices you make are based on your values, the state of your spirit is a key component in determining what you get out of life. If your spirit is in good health, your life will tend to become meaningful and fulfilling. If it is damaged or unhealthy you will tend towards meaninglessness and despair.

Your Spirit Underpins Your Growth

Because your spiritual energy determines so much about the way you behave, your spiritual well development underpins your growth in other areas, too. It is foundational to:

  • the friendships that you develop
  • the things that you think about
  • the way that you behave

If your spirit is is poor health then your development in each of these areas will be hindered. However, if you’re prospering spiritually, you will grow socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically as well.


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