What Do You Mean, “Spirit”?
The word “spirit” means different things to different people. To some, it is synonymous with “soul.” For others, it is the breath of the Divine. But for our purposes, it is something only slightly less mystical: Spirit is that intangible but essential core of all living beings that is associated with ideas, emotions, attitude, enthusiasm, engagement – energy.
The opposite of “spirited” is “dispirited” – it is a state of listlessness, dejection, “low spirits,” or melancholy. It is a lack of passion; it can be a soul-sucking state of gloom or an unrelenting case of “the blahs.” Without spirit, it’s hard to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. You may not have a real choice, but it feels impossible to muster any interest in the outside world.
Spirit is a state of mind. It is the force of will. Spirit is the motivating principle underlying action.
Is this a Religious Thing??
Not really. But for faithful Christians, a lack of spirit is a sin. Yes – a sin. Sloth and laziness are not just an unwillingness to work hard – the real meaning of “sloth” is apathy. It is a dispirited state of carelessness and a sluggish lack of interest. It is a wasting of the talents and abilities with which we have been endowed.
This is not a religious blog. Regardless of your faith or religious belief, apathy leads to nothing good, and waste is waste. Even if you believe in a beautiful afterlife, it is good to be mindful of the present one – to focus on doing all you can to make this life full of spirit and worthwhile.
How Do You Spark the Spirit?
Did you know that the word “inspire” means “to breathe life into”? To inspirit. What is it that makes you feel alive?
It’s important to most people to feel they have a purpose. A goal.
And the spirit – the motivating principles behind any successful goal are a sense of purpose, a passionate interest, and commitment. Without a sense of purpose, it’s easy to drift around from idea to idea, without ever really formulating a clear goal or end state. Without a passionate interest, it’s hard not to drift towards apathy. And without commitment, it’s easy to give up when the going gets tough.
The following passage crossed my desk about the time I was truly good and ready to quit smoking, nearly five years ago:
‘But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’
— W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951. (From http://www.goethesociety.org/pages/quotescom.html)
I printed that quote and pinned it to my cork board on December 8, 2006. And I haven’t smoked a cigarette since then.
Haven’t suffered even the tiniest craving, either. Because all of the puzzle pieces had fallen into place. I wanted to live – for my husband, my kids, and me. My mom had died after a long bout with COPD, and I didn’t want to put my family through that. I didn’t want to put ME through that. I wanted to save money; I wanted my clothes and hair to smell better. But most of all, I was done with hesitancy – as Master Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no ‘try.’”