As a survival instructor, I’ll have to admit that I watch many of the survival shows on TV. Even though Hollywood’s version of survival is far fetched at times, I always seem to learn something I didn’t know. And although skills are a big part of staying alive, I’ve noticed that there’s a common attitude amongst the people who succeed, even the ones with a camera crew.

Everyone remembers the story of Aron Ralston who managed to survive for five days in the desert trapped by a boulder that pinned his arm. After amputating part of his arm, he managed to walk out and find rescue. If you’ve ever imagined cutting off your own arm, you can’t help but wonder how anyone could do that. Most of us would have surely given up.

And who could forget what happened in 1846, just up the road from my house. The famous Donner Party got stuck in the Sierra snow and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. How much will to live do you have to have to succumb to eating your friends? I can’t imagine!

Then there was the story of the Polish cavalry officer who escaped from a prison camp in 1939. He and six other prisoners managed to walk over 4,000 miles through the Siberian tundra, the Gobi desert and over the Himalayan mountains, finally reaching British India. Who does that?

When I was in the police academy we had a lot of mock scenarios that simulated real-life dangers. One scenario was having a guy twice our size attempt to take our gun away. If someone’s crazy enough to take a cop’s gun, he’s crazy enough to kill him. There’s a saying in law enforcement that every cop lives by: “Never give up.” Life and death scenarios are all the same no matter what they involve and giving up usually fatal.

One of my favorite books is about extreme athletes overcoming incredible odds and surviving. It’s part mystical and part scientific but the point of the story is that we all have the ability of reaching these “heightened” states of awareness that enable us to make it through experiences that could kill us. One common thread that all the survivors seem to share are their attitudes.

It is quite clear to me how important attitude is in survival. Of the years I’ve been on the search and rescue team and the people I’ve known who have been to the edge of death, they all had an incredible will to live. It seems that somehow when you adopt the “Never give up” attitude, something helps keep you going. Many folks think of it as a spiritual encounter when they reach these heightened states and I can honestly say from a few experiences of my own that I agree.

Whatever it is really doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is that it is possible to overcome great odds when you make a decision to keep going no matter what. Attitude is everything when it comes to survival and as long as there are people venturing out into the wild (or anywhere for that matter), there will be stories of people who make it out alive.I believe that nature is an ally when we truly decide to trust her and she will always provide opportunities to learn.

It appears that in extreme cases, people somehow receive intuitions from nature that help them make life saving decisions. I also believe that if you go out in the world with the attitude that there are forces beyond our understanding that are there to help you, you have a better chance of making good decisions. I’m sure that Aron Ralston and the Donner’s would agree that attitude is truly everything.

© Lilittas1 | – Man Traveler bearded standing alone outdoor