PACAF command chaplain: Perpetual optimism

Chaplain (Col.) Shon Neyland, Pacific Air Forces command chaplain, speaks with Master Sgt. Kristen Allen, PACAF religious affairs, in his office at Headquarters PACAF, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 5. Neyland is writing a series of commentaries and appearing in videos about the importance of resilience. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Donner

Chaplain (Col.) Shon Neyland

Pacific Air Forces Command Chaplain

In this season of change and transition with new PACAF leadership, it is natural to think about what was and what is to come.

We welcome a fresh vision and mission vector that is complete with an examination of who we are as a command and what we bring to the readiness spectrum in our day-to-day lives often causes us to examine our personal lives as well.

Perhaps we dream of what can change in our lives or what can become better. Some may think about reaching the next level in their careers; maybe we dream about what’s the next step after the military or our civilian government employment.

In the end, as Secretary Colin Powell stated, a dream doesn’t become reality through magic or waving a wand with smoke and mirrors, it takes “sweat, determination and hard work.”

To have a dream shows we are looking ahead, we are planning for the future, and we are trying to reach certain goals in life. It calls for us to be innovative, agile and resilient.

But what do we do when our dreams seem unreachable or unfulfilled? We turn to perpetual optimism. Powell also stated, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Perpetual optimism is the ability to see through the most challenging and difficult moments while pursuing your dreams and not giving up. Let’s face it, we will all face challenges in life, whether it is relationship, legal, financial or work/career-related.

Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, would rise through the military ranks to reach pinnacle offices and positions in his illustrious career. He would shape national strategic policy in America for several decades.

With an elite military career as an Army Ranger, Combat Infantryman, and member of the Air Assault Division, Powell would rise to the highest military and national levels.

Specifically, he served as national security advisor (1987–1989), as commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989– 1993), holding the latter position during the Persian Gulf War.

Powell retired as a four-star general from the U.S. Army and went on to serve as the 65th U.S. Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. It is an amazing American story, yet not free of trouble, despair, tough times, or even failure, but a story of perpetual optimism and continuing to dream of what could be.

Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor will be positive and favorable. The term derives from the Latin word “optimum,” meaning “best.” Most have heard the phrase, “The best is yet to come.” This phrase points to optimal thinking. It does not mean you ignore problems or tough situations, but you believe a positive attitude will enable you to go forward and future conditions will work out for the best.

The reare many different things that can give us optimism in the midst of tough times. I personally rely heavily on the Comprehensive Airman Fitness domains (physical, social, mental, and spiritual).

Like many of you, it is the spiritual domain along with the mental domain that are very important and critical for my life. My faith sustains me through the most difficult times. Additionally, a positive mindset helps me to see encouraging outcomes no matter how demanding or challenging it gets.

For others, it may be the social domain or connection with family and friends that gives you the greatest sense of optimism.

Perhaps it is the physical domain that gives others strength through exercise and release of tension that gives us maximum assurance things will get better.

Studies suggest a strong link between optimism and psychological well-being. Those who are optimistic tend to be less stressed, more secure, and emboldened with resilience.

None of us are perfect, but may I encourage you to strive to live a life embodied by perpetual optimism. It is through perpetual optimism that we can dream again, experience confidence, and reach the highest levels in our lives and careers.

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Category: News