Feb

6

 An interesting article is "Deep Survival, who lives who dies and why" written by Laurence Gonzales. These 12 survival techniques are most definitely appropriate for these times of struggle for many:

The 12 Rules of Survival Laurence Gonzales, Based on his book Deep Survival (W.W. Norton & Co.)

As a journalist, I've been writing about accidents for more than thirty years. In the last 15 or so years, I've concentrated on accidents in outdoor recreation, in an effort to understand who lives, who dies, and why. To my surprise, I found an eerie uniformity in the way people survive seemingly impossible circumstances. Decades and sometimes centuries apart, separated by culture, geography, race, language, and tradition, the most successful survivors–those who practice what I call “deep survival”–go through the same patterns of thought and behavior, the same transformation and spiritual discovery, in the course of keeping themselves alive. Not only that but it doesn't seem to matter whether they are surviving being lost in the wilderness or battling cancer, whether they're struggling through divorce or facing a business catastrophe–the strategies remain the same.

Survival should be thought of as a journey, a vision quest of the sort that Native Americans have had as a rite of passage for thousands of years. Once you're past the precipitating event–you're cast away at sea or told you have cancer–you have been enrolled in one of the oldest schools in history. Here are a few things I've learned that can help you pass the final exam.

1. Perceive and Believe. Don't fall into the deadly trap of denial or of immobilizing fear. Admit it: You're really in trouble and you're going to have to get yourself out.[…]

2. Stay Calm – Use Your Anger In the initial crisis, survivors are not ruled by fear; instead, they make use of it. Their fear often feels like (and turns into) anger, which motivates them and makes them feel sharper. […]

3. Think, Analyze, and Plan. Survivors quickly organize, set up routines, and institute discipline. […]

4. Take Correct, Decisive Action. Survivors are willing to take risks to save themselves and others. But they are simultaneously bold and cautious in what they will do. […] They handle what is within their power to deal with from moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day.

5. Celebrate your success. Survivors take great joy from even their smallest successes. This helps keep motivation high and prevents a lethal plunge into hopelessness. […]Viktor Frankl put it this way: “Don't aim at success–the more you aim at it and make it a target,the more you are going to miss it.” […]

7. Enjoy the Survival Journey. It may seem counterintuitive, but even in the worst circumstances, survivors find something to enjoy, some way to play and laugh. Survival can be tedious, and waiting itself is an art.

8. See the Beauty. Survivors are attuned to the wonder of their world, especially in the face of mortal danger. The appreciation of beauty, the feeling of awe, opens the senses to the environment. (When you see something beautiful, your pupils actually dilate.) […] When Saint-Exupery's plane went down in the Lybian Desert, he was certain that he was doomed, but he carried on in this spirit: “Here we are, condemned to death, and still the certainty of dying cannot compare with the pleasure I am feeling. The joy I take from this half an orange which I am holding in my hand is one of the greatest joys I have ever known.” At no time did he stop to bemoan his fate, or if he did, it was only to laugh at himself.

9. Believe That You Will Succeed. It is at this point, following what I call “the vision,” that the survivor's will to live becomes firmly fixed.[…]

10. Surrender. Yes you might die. In fact, you wil die–we all do. But perhaps it doesn't have to be today. Don't let it worry you.[…]

11. Do Whatever Is Necessary […].

12. Never Give Up […] If you're still alive, there is always one more thing that you can do.

Survivors are not easily discouraged by setbacks. […]

© 2005 Laurence Gonzales Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Laurence Gonzales is the author of Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why (W.W. Norton & Co., New York) and contributing editor for National Geographic Adventure magazine. The winner of numerous awards, he has written for Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, Conde Nast Traveler, Rolling Stone, among others. He has published a dozen books, including two award-winning collections of essays, three novels, and the book-length essay, One Zero Charlie published by Simon & Schuster. For more, go to www.deepsurvival.com.

Kim Zussman writes:

Studies of characteristics of survivors suffer from survivor-bias; ie, you don't get to interview those who didn't survive, and thus cannot compare traits which favor survival. Even if there are traits which improve survival, they could be wholly or partly inherited: in which case you should feel purpose in your demise for enriching the surviving genome.

Dr. Frankl's observations come close (who fared better in concentration camp), but his own biases ("logotherapy") come out in the book. Here (wiki source) are tenets of logotherapy:

Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering

Not all philosophers will agree with these, and most biologists will say that the motivation for life is to project our DNA sequence into the future.

So when you're down 300%, you have to keep going to pay your daughter's tuition so she can become a desirable mate - and attract good DNA to mix with the bit of yours she has, to salt future clouds with your legacy worthiness.

Marion's study on risky mice and men shows the value of genetic risk-takers in both complex and immoral animals. Certain mice who venture out of their local habitat (meadow, log etc) risk death by starvation or predation - but may possibly find better sources of food, or more nubile mates. That a high % of such adventurers die trying isn't important in comparison with improving the species, and improving survival chances for future generations.

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