Prepper with backpack using a flashlight in a field

Wilderness Survival: Keep a Survivor’s Mentality

An excerpt from The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook

The art of survival doesn’t begin when you start building a shelter, or light up a fire. It really begins as soon as you address your mental survival game.

Look at any real-life survival story and you’ll find that there are some key mental elements that most survivors have possessed. These mental elements are exactly the things that we will need to make it through an emergency. They are so important, in fact, that I either begin or end most of my classes with this topic. These are just three of the amazing survival tools that you already possess, a gift from our hardy progenitors. Thanks, ancestors!

Watch Your Attitude
Just because “positive mental attitude” is in every survival book, Scout manual, survival video and wilderness class – don’t discount it as cliché or lip service.” PMA” is a real necessity. I would go so far as to say that it is a critical survival priority. A positive attitude in the face of adversity may be one of the most important skills to master. It is also one of the hardest skills to master, but it is worth the trouble. You can also use this attitude every day, not just if you get lost in the snowy woods or get stuck in a wintry disaster.

 In grim situations, you’ll need motivation to maintain your attitude and mental toughness.
In grim situations, you’ll need motivation to maintain your attitude and mental toughness.

Exude Mental Toughness
We’re not talking about physical toughness, how much stamina you have, how many calluses you have, or how much pain tolerance you have. We are talking about the strength of your will and the toughness of your mind. This is all in your head. To be mentally tough, you must tolerate the intolerable – you must suffer through the insufferable – and you must overpower your own weakness and your desire to give up.

Stay Motivated
What motivates a person to stay alive when everything has gone wrong? Many survival stories speak of the survivor’s devotion to their religion, or a higher power, that motivated them and gave them hope. Other survivors have told of their intense desire to get back to family, friends and loved ones. And a few folks have even stayed alive despite the odds because of their burning desire for revenge. It’s time to ask yourself, “what would motivate me to stay alive in a survival emergency?” It doesn’t hurt either, to bring something inspirational – like a photo of loved ones, Bible or meaningful memento.

These tips, and many more survival skills, are available in MacWelch’s books:

The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook

How to Survive Anything

Prepare For Anything

Hunting and Gathering Survival Manual 

And if that’s not enough, you can:
Follow Tim on Twitter @timmacwelch

Take one of his survival classes at
and check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles at Outdoor Life Magazine’s survival site, The Survivalist ( link )

And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.


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