You can determine your chances of surviving any critical crisis, emergency or catastrophe by developing what you WILL need *then* - NOW.
How? By increasing your "survival probability" quotient through the habits, attitudes, and mindset you choose today.
Let me explain... Have you watched some of the survival shows on TV where you just know that the person with all the mad survival skills is going to be the one to crush it….and how rarely that is the actual outcome? It isn’t just practical survival skills that matter but what is going on in your head and how you are accustomed to approaching life! Habits don’t get developed easily. On the other hand, habits die hard - which is a good thing when you are thrust into an unexpected survival or crisis situation with some great habits established. Let’s look at some lifestyle disciplines - or habits- you might want to develop.
#1 - Intentionality
One of the best choices you can make when considering how to live out every day is to choose to live intentionally. So MANY people live in a random fashion as if the forces of life are out of their control. Then, frustrated and maxxed out, they disappear into the oblivion of hours of media input only to emerge, rubbing their eyes and wondering where all their time and energy went and feeling depressed because nothing of personal significance seemed to get done that day beyond the “must-do’s” of life.
I know the New Year’s resolution thing is widely bashed but *whatever* time of year it is when you realize you are living “less than”, is a GREAT time to sit yourself down and get intentional.
Assess the past. Where did you fail? Where did you grow? What did you totally rock? Why? What is one area of your life that most needs for you to get a plan and be intentional? Nations are not won without a strategy nor relationships, jobs and daily events. In a survival situation, you would most likely be entering into a big unknown - a situation where all elements may be completely foreign. Without a habit of intentionality and the ability to make a plan, you would surely succumb to the pressures and stresses of the unknown.
#2 - Focus
Have you ever tried to communicate with a child who simply is not “able” to be still enough to hear what you are trying to communicate? My response is usually to get on their level and say, “So and so, I want you to stop and look into my eyes with your eyes.” Inevitably I gain a moment of their focus and a piece of calm enters into the chaos.
We live in a culture where we are literally bombarded (!!) with sensory stimuli on every side and our jobs and relationships are ordered to play into this paradigm of chaos. Cell phones and computers are requirements for life to carry on! Aaauugghhh! How many of us have said we want to run away from it all? I have! How can we accomplish the incredibly important goals of our intentionality if we are lost in the swirl of the chaos around us? It is so important to determine what it is we want/need to accomplish and be able to set those goals as our priorities for living even when that means that good things get pushed to a lesser priority. It’s hard stuff.
“The sun’s scattered rays are too weak to start a fire, but once you focus them with a magnifying glass, they will bring paper to flame in seconds.” “If everything is important, nothing is.” and so on….Let’s look into the eyes of our own souls and determine what it is that we will intentionally focus on this coming year and determine to walk in that place of purposeful calm in the midst of everything else clamoring for our attention. In a survival situation, you have to be able to assess priorities based upon your specific scenario.
Do you get shelter taken care of first,or fire or food or water? Trying to do everything without a plan and a focus just might cost you your life. Having developed this skill in your day to day living will set you up to operate in a survival scenario with composure and confidence - a quality that may also bring others around you out alive.
#3 - Self-Control
We all want what we want when we want it. Isn’t that something we are cultivated to believe is our right and inheritance in this world? Yikes. McLife, as it were. I will refer to children again as I use the example of childishness lack of self-control and the reasons why a good parent will train a child to develop self-control. A child without self-control is unruly, usually self-centered, unable to think past the present want or demand, hurtful, lacks the ability to think about consequences of their actions on themselves or others around them, are high-maintenance, cannot say no to things that are not good for them that they want, and the list goes on…. Well, guess what? All those things are true of adults who lack self-control as well!
As the list above highlights - developing self-control not only is a benefit to ourselves, but a great benefit to those around us as well. I like to use food as a means of continually developing my self-control because it’s an area where I can get to feeling really entitled, so I know it’s also an area that should really be kept in check. I will decide to do a month of raw foods only or a year of no sugar or grains or whatever I feel is something that will also benefit my health conditions at the moment. So not only do I develop a personal discipline of being able to say no but it is also something that is bearing exponential benefits in my life as I feel better and function better, etc.
It might be something different for you, but a good question to ask to determine where you can develop some more self-control is: Where do I feel entitled, like this is my right to enjoy such and such? Ouch. Now there is another angle to self-control dealing with the deeper realm of our inner man: If you deal with anger or other emotional manifestations of a lack of self-control, may I encourage you to read David’s page on The Ultimate Survival Tip? There are some areas of our lives where we really need what only God can give to help us change. As a Christian, self-control is considered a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s refining power in our lives. So why would self-control be important in a survival scenario? Being in a habitual pattern of doing without is such a key when you must do without. Knowing you *can* flourish without the things you think you must have is very liberating.
When I did my student teaching in an elementary school umpteen years ago, I got very high marks for my ability to be flexible with unforeseen changes in the day. I think being a parent also trains you in this discipline. Considering flexibility as a discipline seems a bit like an oxymoron, and allowing yourself to be interrupted seems contrary to intentionality and focus, but think of it this way - life happens. Are we going to fritz out when it does? Or are we going to be able to adapt our intentionally planned focus to be able to flow with the things we cannot control - because, let’s face it - life is full of things we cannot control! So the key here is not throwing out our intentionality or our focus (or our self-control!) but adapting them into whatever scenario we are forced to live within. These are the little mini-survival scenarios of life, people. Leaning into the wind and putting one foot in front of the other, continuing to head toward that goal. This is where the guts of life are developed.
Who hasn’t had the unspeakable thrown at them when they least expected it? Do we curl up in a ball and give over on everything we are pressing toward? I think of the palm trees left standing after a hurricane. Deep roots hold them fast in those crazy winds. The ability to hold one’s wits about oneself and continually revise a plan toward a goal is key in any survival situation. Being in an unfamiliar circumstance in every way will surely require the ability to be able to adapt to the unexpected. So these are just a few things I am thinking about today as I look over my past year and into the one coming, seeking to live purposefully and redeem the time, but there is just one more I want to add which is, I think, perhaps the most important and that is….
#5 - Thankfulness
Rehearsing the things around you that are GOOD is such a “super vitamin" for being able to thrive in a difficult circumstance. And there are *always* things to be grateful for! When you make a practice of looking intentionally for these things daily - even multiple times a day if life is really hard- it is like reestablishing a plumb line for your emotions and mental health.
Have you ever been around someone who is continually critical, condemning or complaining? It just sucks the life right out of everyone around them. It is toxic. Simply put, you cannot survive very easily with such toxicity either coming from your own heart or someone else’s with whom you have to share space. A person like this in a survival scenario can be more lethal than a crouching predator. If *you’re* that toxic one, shut that voice up with speaking out those things that are good and keep it up until that toxic root is dug out completely and the desire to complain is neutralized.
Good Luck and Best Wishes as you enter into a season of endless possibilities!