OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea — Air Combat Command defines the spiritual pillar as strengthening a set of beliefs, principles or values that sustain an individual’s sense of well-being and purpose.
The Air Force initially fueled my sense of purpose and gave me a foundation. For many years the simple act of wearing the uniform and repairing aircraft was enough.
As I got older and had to deal with a personal issue I learned more about myself than I thought I ever would.
In 2006 I was overweight, depressed, watching my second marriage fall apart and spending more time at the bar than I was at home.
I was stationed overseas and most of my friends had recently PCS’d. Additionally, I was in a quality assurance position that because of its supervisory nature made it difficult for me to make new friends that worked on the flightline.
By December 2006, I was legally separated from my wife and on an emotional rollercoaster as we would come together only to split up again. I hit my low point over the winter holiday while fighting with my estranged wife and drinking myself into a stupor, wallowing in my own self-pity.
When I began a new job in January, all of the stressors in my life made my behavior erratic. I put down the alcohol because that only made my depression worse. Without the alcohol my mind began to clear and I looked back at my life and the many poor decisions that got me to where I was.
Emptiness is the only way to describe how I felt. I was lost and wasn’t sure where to turn. A former first sergeant of mine reached out and helped me. I will never forget what he did for me and how it changed my career; at that moment, I found my purpose and became a first sergeant.
Today, the opportunity to lead, guide and mentor Airmen motivates me. I wake up every day feeling like I am a part of something bigger than myself. More importantly I don’t turn to drinking to deal with problems. My current marriage; my close friendships and even my dog connect me to this world.
It doesn’t necessarily take rough times to find a sense of purpose but it does take some introspection. Psychology Today lists a few guidelines to find a sense of purpose. The first is “learning from your choices and way of life.” The second is” look for resonance”.
“Look at your longings, your inner vision and predilections that you may be trying to express through your outer life.” The third is “Infuse all of your actions with a spirit of giving, of service; in effect, with love for what you are engaging in.”
A journey of self-discovery is never easy and trying to find our purpose in life can be difficult. However, as we deal with the mundane and life’s tragedies, knowing our purpose and our beliefs can sustain us.