Who among us is not challenged by the times we live in if not the adversity of a life circumstance?
I received a recent call from a dear friend freshly diagnosed with breast cancer. A brother in Michigan struggles with one of the most depressed economies in America. I visited yesterday with a Northern Cheyenne friend, one of the few survivors of a genocidal war that reduced a once populous people to around 35o remaining, before the US Government was pressured to grant the survivors a small piece of their former homelands for a now impoverished reservation. And who did not see the dramatic photos of the recent US AIR plane crash with survivors standing on the wings of the metal bird floating gratefully in the Hudson River? And then there are the droughts and floods and wars and… our challenges are daily and they sometimes seem and are enormous.
The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life, is a recent book and web site providing tangible help and support for people facing adversity and challenge in their lives. Popular topics on the web site include alcoholism, breast cancer, foreclosure, job loss and more. The web site includes a survivors ‘personality profile’ readers can take, though I have no knowledge of its validity.
I discovered The Survivors Club through a 15 minute interview with author Ben Sherwood by Charlie Rose. The recommended interview is online here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10088. I also suggest you watch with someone in your support circle for the conversation and explorations that may be provoked.
Sherwood speaks during the interview regarding the science, the genetic component: i.e. an identified gene you can be tested for. Here are some other observations and strategies he explores:
The value of community and support. People living in isolation are in greater risk of numerous kinds.
The will to live, “a fighting spirit,” is related to the quality of our lives… however its absence, hopeless and helplessness, are correlated with a reduced chance of survival.
Maintaining your relational and spacial points of reference are key to handling “a dislocation of expectation.” (Another term that might be applicable here is “economic melt down,” or try “social collapse”….)
Practice and plan for crisis. Chaos does not have to induce panic. Ten percent of us respond to crisis as leaders; Eighty percent of us look for and to authority for how to respond; Ten percent of us do the wrong thing. Survivors have a plan for what to do when things go wrong.
Situational awareness: Sixty percent of us pay no attention to the safety briefings on airplanes or to where the exits rows are. Holding an accurate world view, facing the facts, is vital.
We all carry “a mentality” inside us as resource for dealing with tough times, even if “we don’t know it.”
There is also a body of knowledge regarding thrivabiltiy we can acquire that will improve our survivability, and knowing our own personality and strengths is important too.
See How to Improve Your Disaster Personality on this blog. This post was inspired by The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster and Why, by Amanda Ripley.
Deep Survival: Who Lives and Who Dies, and Why , by Laurence Gonzales, I consider to be a classic in this field.
The Shock Doctrine, by Naomie Klein, explores the practice of ‘disorientation and exploitation’ as a political strategy of achieving and sustaining power. An essential orientation of awareness for resilience in today’s political environment.
Fyera!/HeartMath, a valuable resource for accessing the power of the heart for healing and engaging with life and adversity.