Photo Illustration: What is spiritual fitness? It's about having a sense of purpose and meaning. It's having hope. It's about defining and sticking to your values. (U.S. Air Force Graphic)
By Airman Jared Trimarchi
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. - With each new year, resolutions are made and new habits are formed.
For some, losing weight might be part of their goal to become physically fit. For others, learning to cope with stress and becoming mentally fit might be their resolution. Others vow to become more active in their community, becoming socially fit.
Physical, mental and social fitness are three of the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness. The last pillar, spiritual, ties all of them together. At Joint Base Charleston, CAF is not just for airmen, but for all service members.
How to become spiritually fit is not something that can be narrowed down to one easy answer.
"Spirituality means something different to every single individual," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Brown, 628th Air Base Wing chaplain and senior chaplain of Joint Base Charleston. "There is no one standard answer that fits all."
Chaplains agree that being spiritual doesn't necessary involve belonging to a specific organized religion either.
"Spirituality is more closely related to faith than to the actual rigors of keeping a set of religious rules," Brown said.
On a basic level, there are three concepts associated with spirituality, according to Brown.
"The first is to discover meaning in your life and a meaning that transcends anything in the physical world," he said. "Some find that through a higher power, creator or God."
The second concept is living out that purpose, Brown said.
"Seek purpose in the context of all your relationships, both physical and spiritual," he said. "Honor your life by fulfilling some type of purpose or service to humanity."
The third idea encompasses a person being at peace with his or her life no matter what stage of life ... childhood or adulthood, he said.
But according to the chaplain, spirituality goes beyond the individual. It affects the society as a whole.
"In society, spiritual beliefs undergird moral and ethical behaviors," Brown said. "In the military service, we protect human life and provide aid during times of disaster or war. Those acts of human service are based on moral and ethical behaviors. It's a way that society forms its laws."
The Air Force core values are closely related to spirituality, according to the chaplain.
"It's easy to tie the values of integrity and honesty to some religious scriptures," Brown said. "Our core values promote how we treat each other and how we treat each other's property. Integrity means we are honest enough with each other and we tell the truth. It serves well for our mission to have pride in what we do and to turn out a product that is excellent."
And much like the physical world, a person must "exercise" to become spiritually fit, said Chaplain (Lt. j.g.) John Quay, Joint Base Charleston Weapons Station chaplain. Spiritual well being benefits overall health.
"Your spiritual fitness affects your overall attitude and the way you respond to adversity," he said. "It helps you become a more resilient individual."
The path is narrow, Quay said. A person has to be disciplined and be willing to seek, study and learn.
"If you want to have wholeness as a person, you can't neglect any one area," Brown said. "To live life to the fullest, to have joy in your life and to be satisfied, you have to be physically, mentally, socially and spiritually fit."