The mentality of someone capable of surviving extreme situations is often the primary reason for that person’s survival. Skillsets, physical capabilities and resources are important on a situational basis, but one common thread unites all true survivors: mindset.
The mindset of a survivor can be broken down into three primary categories.
- Positive Mental Attitude (PMA): The strongest survivors, particularly those who have taken on leadership roles in survival situations, are capable of maintaining a positive mental attitude under extreme duress. The ability to stay positive when circumstances seem bleak is key to executing a plan that can change the situation for the better. PMA is not synonymous with naivety or a “head in the clouds” way of thinking, it is cautious optimism utilized as a tool to achieve goals.
- Adaptation: Everything is a resource, somehow. That old saying of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” sits at the core of an adaptive mind. Survival is, almost by definition, a state in which one must overcome obstacles by any means necessary. A great deal of the time, that means thinking outside of the box and using what is in front of you in unorthodox ways. Be it adapting certain items to create shelter, or finding a more effective way to communicate with a member of your party who has become difficult to deal with, the ability to adapt and do so quickly is a key element of the survival mindset.
- Indomitable Willpower: Although power is often perceived as a matter of size and strength, the majority of people who have survived extreme circumstances are not giant muscle-bound athletes. You may have heard the old timers say that true power and strength exist within the mind. They’re correct. Willpower is what they are referring to. More specifically, indomitable willpower, which is genuine power because it paves the way for all other things to be achieved. A true survivor has a “never-say-die attitude,” that simply refuses to quit or give up.
While many purists feel that a survivor’s mentality is something a person is simply born with, it is an indisputable fact that the traits a true survivor possesses are things that can be honed and achieved through practice. Here’s how:
- Put Yourself in Uncomfortable Situations
Most people shy away from discomfort. This is a reality of modern-day, particularly in the First World where people seek to create a lifestyle that is as comfortable and worry-free as possible for themselves and their families. But the thing is, adversity and discomfort create strength that is needed to survive in difficult situations. To practice perseverance and strengthen your survival mindset, try putting yourself in uncomfortable situations where you must accomplish a goal. Start small. For example, don’t put on that extra layer of clothing, let yourself be cold the next time you go outside to work on a project or take the trash out. Then, increase the level of discomfort as well as the goal. Bring less food than you normally would on your next day hike, force yourself to be a little hungry on the hike home. Plan a longer canoe trip than you normally would, where you know you will have to paddle harder against deeper water. The options are limitless, but the goal should remain the same. Seek discomfort (safely) and persevere. It will do wonders for your willpower.
- Do Something You Are Bad at for 20 mins a Day
Everyone has a weakness. Unless you are some sort of super human you most likely have more than one. Weakness may come in many different forms, and chances are you seek to avoid or hide from that weakness whenever possible. While this is completely rational, as most of us don’t really want to spend time focusing on what we are bad at, it hinders the survival mindset. In a survival situation, you will likely encounter circumstances that force you to be as versatile as possible. That means one of your weaknesses can easily come into play as something you need to face.
To strengthen your survival mindset, set aside twenty minutes a day to do something you know you aren’t good at. It can be anything. Are you terrible at doing puzzles? Make yourself sit down and work on one. Is reading and retaining information hard for you?Make yourself read for twenty minutes and write down what you learned afterwards. Is running hard for you? Take a 20-minute jog. Scared of the dark? Sit in a room with all the lights out. The goal is to strengthen yourself in your weakest places, as this will help you to become more adaptive when you need it most.
- Self-Reflect and Point Positive
Self-reflection is a tool used by leaders and some of the most productive, ambitious people in the world. That’s because self-reflection is a tool that allows a person to become more aware of the way they perceive, and respond to the world around them. Try taking 10 minutes every day, alone, to reflect on the day. Think about the events of the day, the things that were a struggle, the things that were frustrating, and most importantly the things you did with ease. Then, point positive. Simply put, this means finding a way to see growth in your struggles, or give thanks for the way things turned out. It can even be as simple as realizing that far worse things could have happened to you on that day. Maintaining this practice can help your survivor’s mentality by strengthening the ability to maintain a positive mental attitude, regardless of the situation you are facing.