Shaping of My World View

My world view has been shaped by my family, my education and my experiences in the United States Navy. For me, life has four important components: health, family and friends, career advancement, and faith and spirituality. Every person has to measure his or her success in an individual way. I believe success has little to do with material wealth, but it everything to do with one's physical and mental health, job satisfaction, and meaningful relationships with family, friends, and a higher power.

Without physical and mental health, one cannot enjoy life to the fullest. When one is blessed with good health through genetics, I believe it is a personal responsibility to do everything within one's power to continue to take good care. There are many things that an individual can do that do not cost a great deal of money. In fact, abstaining from alcohol, cigarettes and recreational drugs actually saves money. It is important to eat right, exercise and get enough rest. There are a number of print publications and web sites that can assist an individual in planning a healthy lifestyle.

Mayo Clinic's website is a free, reputable source of information about all matters of health. By linking to the Health Lifestyle page, one can read about healthful meal planning and access hundreds of recipes, including those for specialized fare such as vegetarian or low-sodium. The link to fitness includes a wide variety of articles on fitness topics, including strength training, aerobic exercise, and stretching and flexibility. There is also a link to articles on stress management, which can help an individual function more effectively during the day and enjoy more restful sleep at night. According to the Center for Sound Sleep, it is important to get enough quality sleep at night for optimal health. People who do not sleep well are said to have "sleep fragmentation." Such sleep fragmentation "interferes with the replenishment of the immune system, the production of growth hormone and the regulation of glucose metabolism, among other things."

Another good resource for information about a healthy lifestyle is WebMD, which features an a to Z. guide on topics from ab exercises to the Zone Diet. There are links to special sections on men's health, where one can get expert advice through articles and discussion forums. The advantage to WebMD, as with Mayo Clinic online, is that one can access information anywhere, at any time. It is a good way to maintain focus and motivation for living a healthy lifestyle, which, in my view, is one of the keys to a successful life. For someone seeking a good, basic print guide to living a healthy style, one can look to the U.S. Navy SEAL Guide to Fitness and Nutrition. The guide was developed especially for SEAL trainees to help them prepare for the rigorous duties they will be required to perform.

Any good book or website can provide the guidance once needs to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle. There is much information currently available to anyone who wants it. It is the responsibility of the individual to take control of his or her own health. The tools are available for anyone who is determined to make the commitment.

Good relationships with family and friends are also important to one's sense of well-being and satisfaction with life. I was fortunate enough to visit my father's family in Ethiopia four years ago. I stayed with his family for one month. It was an extraordinary experience.

Ethiopia is a country of extremes, from tall mountains to some of the world's lowest points below sea level. Since the 1970s, the country has seen a number of governmental systems. In the 1980s, the country saw widespread famine and civil wars; hundreds of thousands of people died. The country is slowly recovering but life is still quite hard for many people. Fortunately, my father's family is middle class and lives well. They have their own home and enjoy good meals of meat stews and vegetables. The Ethiopian people are hospitable and generous, and it is this nature that enables many people to find happiness in a country that has suffered so much in recent history and even today continues to be somewhat fragile politically. Relationships with family and neighbors are important. The Ethiopians are genuinely friendly people, as a whole, and it is important to them to build and maintain bonds of family and friendship. One does not have to have much in the way of material goods when one has the safety and security of these close relationships.

Career and job satisfaction is another important component of a happy and successful life. I began a career with the U.S. Navy. In just two and a half years, I advanced in rank from an E-1 (Seaman Recruit) to an E-5 (Petty Officer Second Class). It was important to me that I do well in the Navy. I performed my job to the best of my abilities, I maintained a high level of physical fitness, and I made certain that I was prepared for my exams. During this time, I also received two Letters of Commendation for the excellent performance of my duties.

There are a number of advantages to a military career. I found that the Navy prepared me well to deal with life's challenges. Hard work was required, but with it came success and the satisfaction in a job well done. The military is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, and I believe it is an enormous advantage to have the opportunity to interact with a variety of people. One can really appreciate other groups of people after learning about them and working side by side. I believe that if more people in the world could have a similar opportunity, it would be easier to get along. So many problems, I believe, are borne of ignorance and fear of the unknown. In addition to working with different kinds of people, I also had the opportunity to meet different people and experience different cultures as I traveled the world with the Navy. Again, I believe it is important for everyone to understand and appreciate different customs and cultures.

The lessons I learned in the military about the benefits of hard work served me well in the civilian sector. I currently work as a store manager at Office Depot. I was promoted in 2010 at the age of twenty-eight and I am one of the youngest managers in our region, which includes one hundred forty-four stores. Office Depot is the global leader in office supplies and business solutions. It is an excellent company to work for because of opportunities for advancement. It is a company that values diversity. Part of their vision of corporate responsibility includes a commitment to "creating an inclusive environment where all people are valued and respected" (Office Depot, 2008).

The company established the Office Depot Disaster Relief Foundation in 1994 to assist victims of Hurricane Andrew. The Foundation was restructured in 2006 and continues to provide relief to disaster victims. Office Depot has also made taking care of the environment part of its mission by reducing the company's overall carbon dioxide emissions output and offering an ever-growing catalogue of "green" products for customers. These are two ways that the company demonstrates its social responsibility. It is important for a company to do this and I am proud to be associated with Office Depot's efforts toward making the world a better place. It is a company that is good for me personally, as it offers opportunities for advancement in a career that I enjoy and which will enable me to help provide for my family. It is also a company that is good for the United States and good for the world, as it provides needed products and services while setting a positive example of corporate responsibility.

The fourth component in shaping my world view is faith and spirituality. I am not a religious person. I do not believe that one must be associated with a particular faith, nor must one participate in prescribed rituals in order to have a strong and personal relationship with God. I do not criticize anyone who takes part in formalized religion, but it is not the path for me.

I believe in the power of prayer; I define prayer as having a conversation with God. It is intensely private and personal. It is important to take the time to do this and to really reflect on the other aspects of one's life, health, relationships, and career, and consider how I can use them to grow closer to God and to live a life that is more meaningful to me and to those around me.

I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I also believe that God expects us to put forth our best efforts and take good advantage of opportunities that come along. I believe that God provides for us, but only insofar as…