In the July 2004 “In the Spirit” column, Editorial Director Susan L. Taylor says, “In a culture obsessed with money and power, we can lose touch with our soul’s purpose and confuse performance with worth.” She offers these affirmations to help shore up our self-esteem.

Make this a daily mantra: “I respect and love what God made.” Teach it to the children. Our value resides within us, with the Presence, not in what we do or how we look. We are made in the image of God, so nothing about us is accidental or deficient.

Create your own expectations.We’re not here to do what others want. You’ll get lost using someone else’s map. Follow your own and you know where you are, where you’re heading and how to get there.

Be real. We’re human, we make mistakes. Accept that and take a giant leap toward peace. Things don’t have to go our way for us to be happy. We can choose how we respond in every instance. Otherwise we’re at odds with ourselves and others, which causes suffering.

Resist negative talk. Putting other people down is unkind, and putting yourself down is unhealthy. These two bad habits travel together. Challenge yourself to talk more about what you want than what you don’t want. We all want positive lives, healthy families and a strong community. Negative talk will not bring these to fruition.

Don’t let your backbone slip. Slouching says we feel afraid and unworthy. Stand up and speak up for yourself and our people. Remember your middle name-survivor-and walk with dignity.

Have faith. Don’t challenge life on its creation: Love how God made you. Keep stepping up, mining your unique gifts and talents, and you’ll find strength and joy in giving to life what can only come through you. With confidence, take your next step as part of God’s unstoppable force for the greatest good.

For more on how to create your own happiness, pick up the July issue of ESSENCE.