Pillars of Resiliency: Warren teaches Airman to be spiritual

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
*Editor's note: This article is the last of a four-part series that will cover each of the four pillars of resiliency.

The pillars of resiliency are designed to provide balance to one's life. There are four pillars: social and family, physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual. Each pillar has separate key concepts, but all add together to create a checklist that can help one drive toward success.

"Sometimes we hear that being spiritual means following a religion, but that isn't always the case," said Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Tilley, 90th Missile Wing Chaplain Office chaplain.

The main idea of the spiritual pillar is having a sense of purpose.

"The most important piece of the pillar, to me, is that life has a meaning," Tilley said. "Without a purpose or belief system, you can feel directionless. It is easier to fall victim to hopelessness or to struggle without a goal or direction in your life. We need an anchor in our lives, something that keeps us moving forward. For some it's serving god, for others it might be serving family. Once we understand what that is, every other piece of the pillar falls into place."

Living for family, friends, or even life-long goals can help achieve this portion of the pillar.

"'Life has a meaning' means having something in your life that is worth striving for through all the hardships and the struggles," said Glenn Garcia, Mental Health Clinic outreach program manager. "Living for something helps ease the pain and suffering you may face and creates a feeling of accomplishment when you overcome an obstacle."

Having a sense of faith is one of the categories with-in the spiritual pillar that is designed to help manage the pillar, Garcia said.

For some, this means following the teachings of a religion; for others, having a moral code that helps keep balance to one's life through the actions they take.

"We all have a sense of faith; it's what drives our actions every day," Tilley said. "If not religion, it is a set of core beliefs that motivates us and gives us a sense of purpose. It's what drives every decision we make in our lives."

With a sense of faith comes congregating with people with similar beliefs. Congregating on a regular basis is one of the categories in the spiritual pillar.

"Going to church or congregating with people helps us build our social lives with a check and balance system," Garcia said. "People with our same beliefs give us balance in our lives by holding us accountable for our actions and being a source of information on how to better our lives. By hanging out with people of similar values, we build stronger bonds and friendships."

Through congregation with others, one learns how to live their life in a more virtuous way, another piece of the pillar.

Living a virtuous life allows one to grow beyond their personal self, Tilley said. People learn skills such as helping others, remaining truthful or the ability to forgive others from the people they congregate with.

Another major piece of the spiritual pillar is hope, or having a feeling that everything will get better.

"Hope is intertwined with faith and having a meaning in life," Tilley said. "When all hope looks bleak or seems lost, ultimately, it's that calling for something better that keeps you up. That feeling or motivation is what pulls you out of the darkness and into the light."

Hope is a powerful idea that gives us a goal toward a better future.

"Losing hope leads to losing our will to live," Garcia said. "Without hope comes a sense of dread. With hope, we have a feeling or a sense of brighter days ahead and it helps to keep us pushing forward and working to see those days."

One of the main reasons someone loses hope is when they are hurt by others. When this happens, it is the ability to forgive that helps bring back balance to the spiritual pillar.

"People are going to hurt us, whether purposely or unintentionally," Garcia said. "We have to be able to forgive those who hurt us in order for us to move past it and continue on with life."

The ability to forgive is a major piece of all four of the pillars of resiliency, Garcia said. It is a major piece in life that without it, we would not be able to move on with our lives.

"Failing to forgive someone doesn't affect the other person," Tilley said. "The only person that gets hurt is ourselves. Forgiving someone isn't an easy or simple process, but it helps us remain un-bitter in our day-to-day life."

Another way to bring a purpose to one's life is through serving others, the final category of the spiritual pillar of resiliency.

"Regardless of who you are, what you do or where you're from, helping others must stem from a personal choice," Tilley said. "You must want to help, not force yourself to. Doing something for someone else must be a mindset and that mindset can help you live a happier life."

The pieces of the spiritual pillar are about practical applications, Tilley said. Some try to make the pillar about becoming enlightened or finding religion, but its whole purpose is having practicality built into your life.

"Find a way to add value and meaning to your life," Garcia said. "Live for someone or something, find a way to help others with their everyday struggles, live your life the same in and out of uniform, and never give up hope.