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Perpetual Optimism

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This article was sent to me from my current organization and I loved it so much I thought I would republish it.   “PERPETUAL OPTIMISM”

By Ch, Col Shon Neyland, AFMC Command Chaplain

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard

work.” --Secretary Colin Powell

In this season of festivities and holiday settings, dreams often come to mind as we begin to think

about the past year and the way ahead. It is during this time of year (closing out the old and beginning

with the new), we begin to dream, if you will, of what can change in our lives. We dream about what

can become better. Perhaps we dream about our careers improving or reaching the next level; maybe

we dream of having better relationships and/or family life; we dream of changing our living conditions in

one way or another; or we dream about what’s the next step after the military. In the end, as Secretary

Colin Powell stated, a dream doesn’t become reality through magic (even though this a time of magical

thoughts and feelings in terms of the holiday season) it takes “sweat, determination, and hard work.”

To have a dream shows that we are looking ahead, we are 

planning for the future, and we are trying to reach certain goals

in life. But what do we do when our dreams seem unreachable?

I submit to you we turn to Perpetual Optimism. Secretary Powell

also said, “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

relationships, legal, financial, or work-related.

Secretary 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, Secretary Powell would rise to highest military

and national levels and served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander of the US Army

Forces Command (1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter

position during the Persian Gulf War. Secretary Powell retired as a four-star General from the US Army

and went on to serve as the 65th US 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.

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 optimum, meaning "best." Most have

heard the phrase, “The best is yet to come!” This phraseology points to optimal thinking. It does not

mean you ignore problems or tough situations, but you believe that a positive attitude will enable you to

go forward and future conditions will work out for the best.

There are 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. 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 and maximum assurance that 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 in life, and reach the highest levels in our

lives and careers.