Challenges and difficult circumstances impact us all. When we become busy, just enduring tough times and trying to keep our heads above water, it seems like the realm of possibilities disappears.
For military families, deployment creates a huge impact on many different levels. Those left behind must endure by keeping households together and carrying on without their loved one. In the midst of these hard times, is it possible to go beyond "just enduring"?
Sean Meshorer, an inspirational and spiritual speaker, coach and author, says a resounding "yes" to those possibilities and more.
His groundbreaking seminars and book, The Bliss Experiment, couple real-life stories from all kinds of people who engage in finding happiness and bliss through key learning, scientific evidence and easy-to-put-in-place life practices. These elements help people find peace and thrive.
Meshorer practices what he teaches and is no stranger to life's difficulties. He endures chronic pain 24 hours a day. During some of the worst times, he learned something vital when it came to his spouse and what she, too, had to endure.
"I learned about what my wife went through as a caregiver," Meshorer said. "The spouses are affected. It can take an incredible toll, one of which may not fully be seen or acknowledged yet. ... Spouses suffer just as much; it's just in a different way."
With that in mind, Meshorer has made it a point to keep up on the studies about issues that affect military families, such as deployments. Bringing his research, experiences and practices together, he has some simple, yet effective, tips that offer support for those at home.
"Start by being aware of and acknowledging the stress and fear itself," Meshorer explained. "While we have a tendency to admit the stress and fear to ourselves, we sometimes feel it may be inappropriate to tell others.
"In the case of the deployment, the spouse may feel like they don't deserve that kind of attention, as it is their loved one that is in harm's way. This kind of thinking, while noble, exacerbates the situation and ends up hurting families. We all have the right to have feelings and emotions. Reflect on these fears and create that awareness. Talk to a friend for comfort. Use a journal. The key is awareness; you can't fix what you won't admit is broken."
The next step is to reframe negative thoughts and emotions. Using fact-based data and statistics, go through the exercise of actively disputing and contextualizing danger.
"It's easy to let our thoughts run away from reality," Meshorer said. "For example, recent data has shown that 2.5 million military members have served or are serving during the 12-year war on terror. Of that 2.5 million, 6,700 have been killed in action. That comes out to .00027 percent."
Additionally, when reframing thoughts, it's critical to balance negative and positive feelings.
"Take a minute or so each day and practice gratitude. Find one thing that is going right in your life and think about that," he said. "There is lots of scientific evidence that this simple exercise helps counteract the runaway train of negative thoughts."
Meshorer is a believer in practicing active stress reduction techniques. His research shows that breath control and meditation help to radically drop stress, anxiety and fear levels as well as help people gain more control over their minds.
"There are tons of practices out there to learn these techniques," he said. "Find what best works for you and give it a try."
The next key component is to make social connections.
"When one is under a lot of stress and fear, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves and close in on the ranks of life," Meshorer said. "People may stop leaving the house and stop communicating."
"Even if it is hard, leave the house for some kind of social connection or event. Join an organization, pursue a hobby or take a class. Social relationships help us cope with stress. They pull us up. Women don't want to feel like they are pulling people down. However, evidence shows us that warm social interactions elevate us and help us feel lighter."
Finally, he recommends an environmental approach - don't watch too much media or news in daily life.
"Scientific evidence has shown that too much media immersion, especially television with its images, social media, and talk radio, which stirs up anger and negative emotions, can hurt us, especially in the cases where our own loved ones can be part of the news cycle," Meshorer said.
"In the wake of the bombings in Boston and tragedy in Oklahoma, studies indicated that 90 percent of what was first reported was false or only half true. Viewers in turn then put themselves on this emotional roller coaster, none of which was necessary."
Meshorer recommends disengaging, if possible, or limiting news to one time per day, 30 to 60 minutes, then shutting it off.
To learn more tips, practices and about other resources, visit Meshorer's interactive website at www.theblissexperiment.com.