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Rose-Colored Combat Goggles: A Veteran's Guide to Optimism and Perspective

Updated: Apr 29

Life after service can be a bit of a mixed bag. One minute, you're enjoying a free meal at Applebee's on Veterans Day, and the next, you're trying to figure out how to fold a fitted sheet like a normal civilian. But fear not, my fellow warriors, for we have faced greater challenges than deciphering the inner workings of a suburban life. Today, we embark on a new mission: Operation Perspective and Optimism (aka "How to See the World Through Rose-Colored Combat Goggles").

Step 1: Embrace the “Civvy” Life

Gone are the days of waking up at the crack of dawn to the sound of reveille or shoveling down an MRE in record time. In the civilian world, mornings are for sipping coffee, not dodging bullets. Embrace the mundane and find solace in the fact that the toughest decision you'll make today is whether to wear the red flannel or the blue.

Step 2: Channel Your Inner Drill Sergeant

Remember that guy who screamed in your face until you could do push-ups in your sleep? Channel that intensity and use it to motivate yourself in your new life. Approach every task with the same level of commitment and drive that you used to conquer basic training. If you can survive a 20-mile ruck march, you can definitely manage the office coffee maker.

Step 3: Find the Humor in Everything

You've spent years developing a dark and twisted sense of humor that only your fellow vets can truly appreciate. But now's the time to bring that wit into the light and find the humor in everyday life. Traffic jam? Pretend it's a convoy, and you're leading the charge. Neighbors having a heated argument? It's just like listening to two privates bickering over who has to pull KP duty.

Step 4: Gratitude Is Your New Battle Buddy

Sure, your days of jumping out of airplanes and rappelling from helicopters are over, but that doesn't mean your life is any less exciting. Take a moment each day to appreciate the little things, like sleeping in a bed instead of a foxhole or being able to walk through the grocery store without wearing body armor. Gratitude is a powerful weapon in the fight for optimism.

Step 5: Be a Master of Adaptation

Veterans are no strangers to adapting to new situations. You’ve been thrown into unfamiliar territory more times than you can count, and you’ve always come out on top. Embrace your innate ability to roll with the punches and find creative solutions to life’s challenges. Who says you can’t use your camo netting as a decorative throw for your couch?

Step 6: Surround Yourself with Allies

No soldier goes into battle alone, and neither should you. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who share your sense of humor and understand your unique perspective. And when you find yourself in the trenches of a particularly difficult day, remember that your fellow vets are just a phone call or text message away.

Step 7: Reframe the Mission

When you were in the service, you had a clear mission, a purpose that kept you focused through the toughest times. Now, as a civilian, it's time to find a new mission, something that brings meaning and direction to your life. Whether it's starting your own business, mentoring young recruits, or rescuing kittens from trees, let your newfound purpose be the driving force behind your optimism.

Step 8: Deploy Your Communication Skills

You've survived countless briefings, debriefings, and PowerPoint presentations that seemed to last for eternity. Use those well-honed communication skills to forge connections with the people around you. Share your unique perspective on the world, and you'll be surprised by how many new allies you can recruit to your cause of positivity.

Step 9: Enjoy the Spoils of Victory

As a veteran, you've earned the right to enjoy the finer things in life – and by "finer things," we mean the peace and quiet of a Saturday morning without artillery fire in the background. Savor those moments and use them to recharge your mental batteries. Remember, optimism isn't about ignoring life's challenges; it's about finding the strength to overcome them with a smile on your face.

Step 10: Reinforcements in the Form of Hobbies

Every good soldier knows the importance of having a well-rounded arsenal, and your new life as a civilian is no exception. Develop hobbies and interests that bring you joy, whether it's mastering the art of woodworking or perfecting your salsa dance moves. These pursuits not only provide a welcome distraction from the stresses of daily life but also serve as a constant reminder that there's more to life than dodging metaphorical bullets.

Step 11: Pay It Forward

You've been through the wringer, and you've come out stronger for it. Use your experiences to help others who are facing similar challenges, whether it's through volunteering, mentoring, or simply lending a sympathetic ear. There's no better way to boost your own optimism than by making a positive impact on someone else's life.

So there you have it – your 11-step battle plan for transforming your perspective and embracing a life of optimism, all while maintaining your sharp wit and sarcastic charm. Life after service may not be a walk in the park, but with the right mindset and a hearty dose of humor, you'll be able to conquer anything the world throws your way. And hey, if all else fails, at least you'll never have to eat another MRE again.

In conclusion, seeing the world through rose-colored combat goggles is all about embracing the quirks and challenges of civilian life with the same gusto and resilience that made you an unstoppable force in the military. So, strap on those goggles and prepare to march headfirst into a brighter, more optimistic future. After all, you didn't fight for our freedom just to spend the rest of your days wallowing in pessimism. Semper Gumby, my friends.

Image provided by Midjourney (April 2023). Retrieved from

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