12/18/2012 07:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Is Spirit?

By Elizabeth Berg, with other teen contributions. Originally published in KidSpirit Magazine's Roots of Spirit issue.

If you look up the word "spirit" in the dictionary, you will find about five or six meanings. Spirit can be a ghost. Spirit can be a part of you that controls thoughts and feelings. Your spirit can be like your soul. Spirit can be your enthusiasm or determination. It can be your mood. There are many, many definitions.

The way you understand the word "spirit" could depend on your background. It also has a lot to do with your culture or your religion. The word "spirit" has different meanings for people and could have a special meaning for you.

KidSpirit asked middle school students what the word "spirit" means to them. As we enter the holiday season, we wanted to share some of the profound messages we were sent about what it means to be human. Here are some of their responses:

"Spirit: yourself and your dreams. Your core self."

what is spirit"A place inside yourself where you don't have to be anyone or have an image"

"Spirit is being centered and having a connection with everything around you."

"I think spirit means having confidence in yourself even if other people don't have confidence in you. I also think it means to have pride in yourself."

"Spirit is not being in a quiet place with no work and no stress -- it is being in the midst of these things and still being able to feel peace."

"I think spirit means a person's flair: what gives each person their personality and makes everyone different from each other."

"To be free or let go of something."

"To not give up and to find the light in anything you do. To believe in life and yourself and anything you attempt."

"An unseeable force that causes energy and happiness in one being."

"Spirit is being true and devoted to your commitments, even if you're embarrassed."

"I think spirit means joy and excitement."

"The essence of life itself, your whole inner being. Often you will be reminded of someone and think of their face. Their face or body is merely your soul's temporary house. I also believe that a soul will live on, even when your body expires."

"Expressing yourself! What makes you what you are. You are spirit!"

"I think spirit means always believing in what is important to you, no matter how bad the odds are."

"When someone believes in something they show spirit. It might not mean getting out your pom-poms and rooting for your favorite sports team, but it means showing compassion in your own creative way!"

"Spirit -- loyalty to the heart."

"Living your life the way you know is right and respecting the Earth and all its creatures."

"Spirit: being yourself."

"The inner 'LIFE' of your body. The thoughts, feelings and the choices you make."

"Spiritual -- the indescribable feeling of connection with everything and nothing. True bliss, sprinkled questions and the journey to find the answer. ... Flying, and yet a deep connection with the ground. Beauty that is seen with no eyes and felt with no hands. ... The unlimited question and the undefined answer: the Journey."

"Spirit is a compound mixture of all emotions. It is the liquified love and hatred poured into the bowl of life, along with compassion and carelessness. It is mixed with the spoon of grief, and served into the glass of passion. Spirit is life and life is spiritual."