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COMMENTARY: Spiritual resilience

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Over the last several weeks I have been exploring the intersection between the mind, body, social and spiritual life. Last week we touched on how our social connections impact our mental health. This week I want to focus on how the spiritual is the glue that holds all of them together. First, let me remind everyone that when I say “spiritual” I’m not necessarily talking about God or a Divine Being. That could be what it is for you, or maybe not. When I say “spiritual” I’m talking about a larger sense of purpose, meaning and calling. I’m talking about the sense that it is not all about you; that there is something bigger than you at work. To have this sense is to have the connecting tissue required to hold all four components of resilience and health together.

What is your purpose? What is does life mean? Why are you here? What impact are you making, not on the world in general, but on your immediate surroundings in particular? These are spiritual questions. How you answer them may depend on your religious background or understanding, or a personal philosophy, or just lived experience. But these questions do need to be answered. Perhaps your calling or sense of purpose come from serving or having served in the military. Perhaps it is your role as a father, husband, mother, wife or parent. I challenge us this week to ask yourself these questions. We must ever be vigilant not to derive our meaning in life from what we do. You are more than your job, your role or your career. You are even more than your title of wife or husband or parent. Take away all of your titles and accomplishments and what are you left with? The answer to that question is the key to spiritual health and resilience. Everyone’s answer will be different, but everyone must have an answer.