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If a disaster struck right this moment, would you be ready? Would your loved ones be ready?
September is National Preparedness Month, and while I’m usually pretty critical of how our government plans for, prepares for, and reacts to disasters, I do like the fact that they dedicate the month of September to preparedness awareness. Anything that increases awareness and causes people to think about how they would react during a disaster is a good thing.
During the month of September we are going to do everything we can to help raise that awareness, and we want our readers to do the same thing.
This is a good time to help those stubborn friends and family prepare. By using National Preparedness Month as a way to connect with those that would normally laugh at the idea, you can help your loved ones better prepare themselves to face the very real dangers that are out there.
It’s unfortunate, but most people these days won’t take action unless everyone else is taking action; so let’s use the month of September to raise awareness, and start some conversations with those that we care about.
Talk about the most likely disasters they will face – This is not the time to start talking about World War Three, Doomsday Bunkers, or Doomsday Preppers. Unfortunately the media likes to portray preppers as a bunch of crazy lunatics who are all obsessed with the end of the world; don’t help perpetuate that stereotype.
Start Small – The last thing you want to do is overwhelm someone who’s new to the idea. Start slow, and ease them into the idea of preparing for disasters.
Give them the Gift of Preparedness – Every year around Christmas, I usually talk about giving the gift of preparedness. While it’s a little early to start giving out Christmas presents, you can use the National Preparedness Month as a reason to give someone the gift of preparedness.
When I lived in Southern California years ago, I would often take the “Cajon Pass” out of the LA Basin onto the desert. For me, it was the start of one of two trips: Either to see my in-laws in Utah, or heading for the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains for an adventure, usually with my children, sometimes the whole family.
When I took the turn off that would lead me to Lone Pine and the trails and camps of the Sierra, the traffic dropped tremendously. Likewise, going into Las Vegas, or Lost Wages, as I used to call it, cars were bumper to bumper even across the open desert. But exiting Las Vegas, I often had the wide interstate almost to myself heading north.
Obviously, a lot more people were heading to Vegas for the various things they do there than were heading for the mountains. And while the campgrounds and trails of the Sierra would fill up on holiday weekends, I rarely had a problem finding a campground spot, and even in the middle of summer, would often find myself camping alone by a backcountry lake. On one backpacking trip, our party of three went nearly three days without seeing another human being. Very cool
So what is the point of all this? Only that when the inevitable emergency comes (Earthquake in the case of SoCal, other places can fill in their favorite hazards), a lot of people are only going to have the skills and supplies that they have cultivated over the years driving to Las Vegas, or Atlantic City, or Branson, or another resort town with comfortable beds and well stocked restaurants. Far fewer will know how to cook over a fire, sleep in a makeshift shelter, or stay dry and warm in a downpour. How many fewer? Since 2006, the percentage of Americans who camped in any one year fluctuated between 16% and 12%. The overall trend was flat to slightly down. That’s a lot of people with minimal outdoor skills. Especially when you consider that the one sector showing growth was people renting cabins. Tent campers, RV campers, and bless their hearty souls, people who sleep with the stars for a roof and only carry a tarp in case of unexpected weather all showed slight declines.
As one might expect, Westerners camped more than Eastern folk. The ability to drive to high mountains and get away from the summer heat might have something to do with that. Women preferred cabins and RV ‘s, while the men were more likely to stake out a tent or just throw a pad and bag on the ground. Some of the fluctuation is pure demographics. Teens and young adults camp the most, so the 60’s and 70’s, when the baby boom was coming of age was the golden era for growth in outdoor sports. The baby bust that followed saw a corresponding drop in campers, and most large zigs and zags since then have tracked the number of teenagers and 18-24 year olds.
Also, camping has a high churn rate. Some people go once, discover that the backcountry is not Disneyland, and just never go again. Even a lot of people who describe themselves as outdoor enthusiasts will rise early for a dozen mile hike or a day on the river fly fishing, but insist on a chef-cooked meal and a hotel bed with soft sheets that night. One of the emerging trends in the outdoors is called “glamping”, with tents and campgrounds that while ostensibly outdoors, rival a Hilton in amenities. Not to mention that all meals are catered. It also says a lot that the number one “luxury” item requested by campers is….a shower and washing facilities. My only comment is that a lot of dirt hating Americans are going to have a hard time when their daily ration of water for ALL uses drops under a gallon. I read a letter once sent ahead by Napoleon returning from a long campaign to Josephine, his wife. The letter stated that he would be home in three days and was eager to embrace her again and that in the meantime, she should not bathe. But I digress. Hygiene is and will be important in any situation, but our definition of what constitutes good hygiene in an emergency may require some revision.
The low percentage of Americans preparing themselves to live off what they can pack in a few minutes and run should do two things. First, give us an incentive to ensure that our ability to live away from home for several days needs to be honed and sharpened-or begun, if you have not yet.
Second, remember that many of our family and friends are going to be woefully unprepared. This is both a threat and an opportunity. You may need to alter your food requirements to be ready to feed other mouths not as smart as you. Or you may need to include in your emergency skills the ability to go stealthy and not alert others of your presence until normalcy returns. A tough challenge either way.
Note: While I drew on several articles and my own experiences and observations for this post, major portions of it come from information contained in a 2013 Study of Camping Trends done jointly by the Coleman Corporation and the Outdoor Industry Foundation, and I thank them for the information they provided.
I’ve been trying to put together the perfect bug-out bag for a long time now.
I kept taking things out and replaced them with lighter, smaller alternatives.
Some of them ended up back in, because I realized they were better and safer, and my family`s safety comes first.
However, I`m still not over trying to shave off as much weight as possible, looking for ways to save space to fit in more crucial items, while keeping it light enough to carry around without breaking my back.
In time, I learned that there are certain techniques you can successfully use to save maximum space while keeping everything necessary. Here are 6 of them:
Take boots for example. If you`ve got a pair of spare boots in your bug-out bag, fill them up with other items, whatever you can get in there. Roll underwear and socks tightly and shove them inside your shoes.
Better yet, you can use them to protect fragile objects. Roll the fragile item in a piece of cloth (that you can use further, such as a bandana or a shemagh). Put it in the boot, make sure it stays fixed and, eventually, if there`s more room, cover everything with a pair of rolled socks, just to make sure it`s fully protected.
Here`s another tip. If you pack duct tape (and I strongly suggest you do!), unroll it off its original carton and roll it on a pill container or a bottle. Another way to save space with duct tape is to remove the carton and smash the duct tape on a flat surface. Simple as that!
In case you don`t know what space bags are or how to use them, here`s a video that shows you every step of the way, as well as what you should and should`t pack in them:
These bags saved me a whole lot of space in our bug-out bags. And I do mean a WHOLE lot. But here`s the problem with them: once you open them, everything in there is going to get back to its regular size. Therefore you won`t be able to pack it back up when you don`t need those clothes anymore, because you`d need a vacuum to reseal the bags.
This is a downside that I`m not happy about, but I decided to use space bags anyway. It`s better to carry around some extra clothing when I`m not using it, than to suffer from cold or wear miserable clothes simply because I have no other change in my bug-out bag.
Now, it`s your choice whether you use space bags or not. I suggest you try them out and see if it`s convenient to you. You can`t really make the decision until you see just how much space you can save.
There`s a bunch of reasons why you should take (mostly) freeze-dried food with you when you bug-out. Here are the most crucial 3:
– It takes up little space and it`s extremely light-weight
Freeze-dried food loses 98% of its water, so it literally cannot get any lighter than that!
– It lasts up to 30 years
However, you have to take temperature into consideration. If you store it at high temperatures or subject it to brutal temperature changes, it will spoil sooner.
– It offers variety
This is my favourite thing about freeze-dried food: it`s diverse. I can pack the ones my family loves and offer them the meals they`re familiar with, even in stressful times of disaster. This is the kind of comfort that everyone needs when SHTF.
And when I say multiple-use gear, I`m not referring strictly to those knife + fork + spoon + compass + whistle sort of tools. Those are great if they`re good quality. If they`re cheap, don`t bother to buy them. They won`t save space, just the contrary. They`re absolutely useless, so why carry useless things with you when you could fill that space with items that could actually save your life? My advice is to invest in a good multiple-use tool or not invest at all.
But besides these tools, there are plenty of other items with multiple purposes that can save a lot of space. For example:
– Bandanas or shemaghs (cover your head if it`s too sunny, prop a broken limb, protect your airways from wind and dust, stop the bleeding etc)
– 550 cord (you can make one of those 550 cord bracelets and wear it around your wrist, not in your bug-out bag)
– Potassium permanganate (water purification, wound sterilization, fire starter)
Warning: I do NOT suggest this method during the cold season!
Replacing a tent with a tarp may be the most clever thing you can do to shave off weight off your bug-out bag. A tarp is a multiple-use item, it`s light-weight, resistant to wind and rain and it`s very easy to carry around.
You can spread it on the ground if it`s wet or muddy. You can make a perfectly secure shelter if you want to protect yourself from rain or sunlight. You can use it as a wind stopper. You can sit down on it to eat with your family. You can also wrap other items in it to prevent them from getting wet. You can make a stretcher so you carry injured people around. Or you can even wrap a tarp around a person, to maintain body heat.
However, replacing tents with tarps is not the best idea during cold season, as tarps do not offer full isolation. That`s why I only recommend tarps in spring and summer.
What’s your take?
Do you have your own tips and tricks that shave a few pounds off of your B.O.B.?
Feel free to share them below.
Today I’m going to talk about improvised armor, or maybe in some circumstances “augmentation armor”. Most body armor on the market today (including ours) is geared for shooting situations. Not surprising, since they are designed to withstand bullets. Some styles however, are also knife resistant.
This is the only short-fall I have come up with for our soft plate, as they are not rated against knives at all. The steel plates, obviously, will stop a bladed weapon.
However, in *most* shooting situations, the attacker is most likely to place his shots in the “center mass”, or chest. Several reason for this, such as when a person who is lacking in training and/or experience in a firefight starts pumping adrenaline, he aims at the person.
Not any particular point on that person, and that means (usually) the torso. Most of our vital organs are contained in the top 12 inches or so, which is why the standard plate size is 10X12.
Would a hit below your plate still be lethal? Could be, but with medical help available, it’s much more likely to be survivable then a hit to the chest. All this to explain why most body armor is confined to the upper torso.
Now, if you’re planning for a firefight, that’s all well and good. If what you’re trying to be prepared for is a situation where you may need protection for a trip to the grocery store, maybe a street fight setting, there is (in my mind) a glaring short-fall.
A common weapon in street fights is a knife, and most knife fighters don’t thrust at the top 12 inches of your chest. They aim for the lower torso, where there are no ribs to hinder their blade, or they slash at your face and arms.
So what do we do about that?
Well, there are a whole host of knife resistant materials out there, some of which I’m looking into for manufacturing a line of knife protection. Still in the works though.
But let’s assume for a moment that you don’t have any of this protective gear. Maybe it’s too expensive, maybe you just didn’t think you’d need it, or whatever reason you may have.
Now we’re in a situation where you’re worried about being knifed on the way to work for the contents of your lunch box, or for the gas in your car, the shoes on your feet, or whatever.
Use your imagination.
What can you do? In it’s earliest forms, armor was designed to repel bladed objects. All of our modern stuff is really just designed to match the threat of advancing fire-arm technology.
You want to protect against a blade, just get back to basics.
The basics of blocking a knife, is that you just need enough between it and your skin to absorb the force of the attack. And let’s face it, in this sort of scenario, if your attacker suddenly finds his best weapon in-effective and you show a bit of resistance yourself, he’ll probably move on for a “softer” target.
So what can you use? Well, as I said, one of the most vulnerable places in your abdomen. So put something under your shirt. Got a piece of wood? No? Go take the fronts off your kitchen drawers, they’ll work nicely.
Appropriately sized cookie sheet? Nice place to start, although some of them are a bit thin. We’ll come back to that.
How about doggy chews? I mean the real raw hide ones?
Some of the earliest armors were made of leather or raw hide, depending on the goal of that particular piece. I have a pit bull. He likes the big raw hide rolls that are roughly 8 inches across. If you soak one of these in water, unroll it, maybe form it a bit of you want to get fancy and let it dry.
If you really want to be sure of it, go for multiple layers, but there’s some serious stopping power in raw hide. Regular leather works well too, but it needs to be thicker, since it’s softer. If you have a way to layer the tanned leather with the raw hide, with an adhesive, then you’re really gonna be talkin’.
Another thing that you probably have in abundance: Paper. Yes, I said use paper to thwart a knife attack. The ancient Greeks used linen, and they had to stop spear thrusts, from trained warriors. Not just a knife jab from a street tough. The key is layers.
If you don’t trust me, go get your phone book (if you have one) and try to stab through it.
Back when I was young and… Ok, youngER and MORE foolish, some friends and I were messing around with a Dirk, trying to stab it into a ream of paper. I can attest to paper’s resistance to stabs. And you don’t even need a whole ream of paper under your shirt.
Grab a couple issues of Southern Living, maybe tape them together.
At the VERY least, you’re talking about reducing the energy from a knife thrust so you get very limited penetration in your wound. Best idea yet? Get a composite put together, using paper, leather, raw hide, whatever you can come up with.
Get yourself a knife and to some experimenting. Now, briefly (since I’ve covered the different materials already) let’s talk about other areas of your body you might want to “harden”.
First one that comes to my mind is your fore-arms. Face it, someone slashes at you, a pretty good instinct is to block it with your fore-arm. Even with no armor, you’re better off taking a slice to the arm than to the neck or face. Better yet is if you’ve had a bit of defense training and can avoid the blade all together. But sometimes you get cut, and you don’t need to.
Especially if you have reason to prepare for trouble ahead of time. All of the materials I listed above for your abdomen can be used on your arm. Ok, the drawer fronts might be pushing it… Drawer sides are a bit less awkward… Laugh all you want, but a board strapped to the outside of your fore-arm will protect you, awkward or not.
Obviously though, if you expect trouble, less awkward is better.
None the less, samurai used wooden bracers for their armor. Smaller pieces, strapped together so they can form around your arm. They don’t have to be as thick as a piece on your belly, we’re not talking about the same amount of force being applied.
Slashing attacks are quick and not intended to penetrate deep into the victim. Raw hide would work well here, and could be formed to your arm very well indeed.
Anybody seen World War Z?
That’s when Brad Pitt wraps the magazine around his wrist to protect against zombie bites? Yeah, works here too.
Really desperate? If you can get away with it without the wife taking your head off (kinda defeats the purpose of what we’re talking about here…) You can use the flat-ware, taped our bound together in some fashion around your arm.
Odd? Yeah. Ugly? Yep.
Stop a knife slice and keep you alive? Sure will.
The bottom line is, your imagination is really your only limit in this endeavor. If you’re really serious about it, create a system and test it, just like any other emergency prep skill. Best learned and tried BEFORE you need it.
Oh, just don’t test it while you’re wearing it. Please? I don’t want angry letters blaming someone’s injuries on me cause I told them to test their armor. But that’s the basics of “hardening” your body against knife attacks.
Hopefully next week I can start talking about hardening your house!
Several months ago, I started wondering about Body Armor. Let’s face it, one of the things you can expect in a post-collapse society is people willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want. Or to have a bit of “fun”.
Having Body Armor would give you a valuable edge in such a situation, and I think we can all agree, we want every edge we can get. So I started shopping around online, looking for bullet proof vests. When I started to find them, they were the full chin-to-shin set ups for buku duckies, and quite frankly, not what I was looking for.
Then there were the ones called “carriers”, priced anywhere from $50-$150, and I thought “there’s no way it’s that cheap”. I finally realized that these were nothing more than vests with pockets that you can put armor plates into.
I was disappointed.
I was looking for just a basic bullet proof vest, and no-one seemed to carry them (I have found some since, but I’ll discuss later why they got a thumbs down). Then I got a belated Christmas present from my dad. He had pre-ordered the Survival Summit webinar, a copy for himself, and one for me. I highly recommend this resource, it’s put out by The Prepper Project, at www.theprepperproject.com.
One of the topics discussed was Body Armor!
This is where I got my basic understanding of modern Body Armor, and I’ve managed to expand my knowledge somewhat since.
Turns out, vests are pretty much a thing of the past. The ones you can get are, by necessity, constructed of flexible materiel, such as Kevlar or something similar.
This gives the vest the ability to move with the wearer, but limits it somewhat in stopping power.
I haven’t found any soft armor vests that are rated above a IIIA, and those are precious few and pricey. Most of them tend to be level II, and I wanted at least level III. Ok, let’s back up.
What does Level IIIA mean?
These are ballistic ratings, established by the National Institute of Justice. The following link is to the NIJ publication on Ballistic Resistance Standards. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/223054.pdf They start at the lowest rating, IIA, and progress through II, IIIA, III and IV.
Basically, to be a IIA, the armor has to stop 9mm, and .40 caliber, Level II has to stop 9mm and .357 magnum. IIIA has to stop all the above and up to .44 magnum. So far, these are all pistol rounds. To make the jump to the higher velocities of rifle cartridges, you have to go to Level III, which is rated to stop anything up to and including 7.62mm (rough equivalent to .308) FMJ rounds. Level IV is rated for .30 caliber Armor Piercing rounds. Now you start to see why I passed over the Level II vests earlier in my search.
My understanding of things thus far, is that there are very few Level IV plates capable of stopping multiple hits, and they are very expensive. We’re talking $250 for one plate, at the lowest price I’ve found. And so, I was left debating between a plate that can take multiple hits of *almost anything you throw at it, or something that will stand up to an AP round, then be pretty well worthless. I decided the probability of facing an AP round was fairly low, so I looked at Level III armor.
There are basically three types of armor out there, steel, ceramic, and flexible. There’s lots of different flexible plates out there, and not all are created equal. I happen to think the one’s offered by AR500 armor (my supplier) are not only an excellent value, but at the forefront of the industry.
When it comes to steel vs. ceramic, there are several things to consider. First in my mind, ceramic plates have a shelf life. That’s right, even if they never take a hit they eventually wear out. This has mostly to do with the material used to contain the ceramic tiles that make up the plate, and bind them together. T
hey also are susceptible to high temperatures. So if you’re a police officer who keeps an “active shooter vest” in the trunk of his squad car just in case, you may need to check it every once in a while, or there’s a good chance it could fail you when you need it. The other big problem with ceramic plates is cost. I have not been able to find a ceramic level III plate the falls under $200.
Maybe that’s no big deal for you, but for me, it’s definitely a factor.
Oh, one more thing about ceramics. Remember I said they were made up of tiles? Well, that’s how they dissipate the energy from the round. The specific tile hit shatters, resulting in spent energy absorbed from the bullet. So now you have a vest with a spot approximately 2″ square that is unprotected. Maybe you’re not concerned with multiple hits, but for me that’s a problem. The plus side to ceramic is that it’s extremely light.
I’m talking, floats in water kinda light.
*Edit – since publishing this article, I am informed that the floating plates I saw were not ceramic, they were a modern type of polyethylene. This is a new type of armor to me, and I am currently researching it. Ceramic plates usually run about 5lbs*
Ask any LEO you know, wearing armor gets hot and heavy, so for you, it may be worth it to have a vest that won’t weigh you down. On to Steel. ar500 is not just the name of the company for whom I am a certified dealer, it’s a quality rating of steel.
When people go to the range and shoot steel targets, they are made of ar500 steel. This steel is crafted and tempered to such a high strength that a bullet cannot penetrate it. (Ok, not all bullets. See the balistic ratings above). It is multi-hit capable.
The only times I’ve seen penetration by anything short of an AP round was when a test placed two .308 round virtually on top of each other at 20 yards, which just isn’t a likely real life scenario.
There are two major drawbacks to steel armor.
One is the weight. Where ceramic plates are light enough to float, steel plates usually weigh around 8-9 pounds each.
The other big problem they have is called Spalling, or Fragmentation. Essentially, when the bullet hits a plate harder than itself, the energy of that projectile is spent by the bullet itself exploding, and turning into shrapnel flying out in a 360 degree pattern, roughly on the plane of the plate it struck. Now, take a moment, stand up from your computer and take a stance like you’re holding a rifle. Or pistol.
Think about what is in the plane of your chest plate.There’s the major arteries in your biceps (remember your first aid class where you found that pressure point to stop the bleeding? It can work the other way too). Also, and maybe even more important, your neck (if you have good shooting form) may be forward of your chest.
That’s scary. Needless to say, the problem of spalling as a BIG problem. This is what a box looks like when you shoot a bare steel plate inside of it.
Enter modern technology. There have been many attempts to mitigate the spalling effect off of a steel plate.
Some of the more basic ones are nothing more than trying to beef up the construction of your plate carrier, in the hopes that it will contain it. I even saw one guy that puts a light gauge metal plate over the top of his steel plate. The theory was that the fragments will lack the energy to pierce the sheet metal, since they will have less energy than the whole round. Seemed to work well enough. But there are a few companies that have moved to a type of plastic coating.
Really more of a really stiff rubber. The coating is strong enough to catch and contain all bullet fragments from multiple hits, effectively dealing with the spalling.
In my opinion.
You can see the bulges where the coating contained the fragments of all the bullets. And so, these are some of the basics of Body Armor, along with some of my reasoning about what I shop for and what I sell.
It’s almost surreal now to listen to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech praising Islam and stressing what America can learn from it.
Today we’re proud to present another DIY project from a fellow Doing the Stuff Networker. Jamie Burke is a master at repurposing trash and junk. His latest project shared on our DTSN Facebook Group not only saves money, but would be very useful both now (free is always good) and after a SHTF event.
If you’d like to see more of how he and our other members are Doing the Stuff, join us on our journey to self-reliance and preparedness!
Here’s Jamie’s down and dirty tutorial…
This process only requires: Two buckets, a drill (or stabbing weapon), piece of wood (or bottom of another bucket), kinda a custom drill bit, water. + your TRASH!
Out of all of the physical spam you receive in the mail, leaves you rake, dead foliage, paper towel rolls, paper plates, napkins, beer boxes, egg cartons, etc., etc., etc., (any biomass material you can think of) – why not turn it into useable logs for your furnace, campfire, or cooking? Just don’t use the plastic coated things.
I’ve seen ‘devices’ you can buy that makes ‘newspaper logs’, but they never seem efficient, require you to pre-shred, take way too much time and the logs are not very solid. This is a much better method and doesn’t really cost anything.
Get two 5 gal buckets. $3 each at walmart. Drill a lot of holes in it, about 2 inches down from the lips and around 3/16 size-ish. I used a soldering iron. You can use a screw driver and stab holes all in there. Go around all the bucket and on the bottom. [Todd’s note: Buckets can be had for free at bakery’s and construction sites]
Place the holy bucket inside the other normal bucket. Start putting your papers, leaves, bio material in it. Add your water and fill’r up. Doesn’t really matter if you have too much water. You can leave these buckets of water setup by the mailbox, then just walk by and toss stuff in.
You need a custom drill bit, which I have. A good thing to do is find an old table saw blade and weld it to s shaft of steel. This is “the hardest” part of this setup. Drill away and in seconds you will have a nice pulpy wet mess.
Next, pull out the holy bucket and let it drain. I put the draining bucket on top of the other bucket to save the water – you can re-use the same water many times.
You should have a press that goes far down into the bucket to press out the remaining water. I found a bucket that someone cut the bottom off.. well perfect. But you will probably want to place a bucket down on some wood, trace around the base and cut out that piece of wood to use as a press.
Set your press inside the bucket over the pulp. Then I set the re-used water bucket inside of that bucket (because water is heavy). That will work over time. I also sat on it.. put my anvil on it.. and stood in it. It’s pretty quick. whatever heavy you have for the top.
Now once most the water is pressed out – take it out to a sunny/dry place. Turn over the bucket and tap on the top. It will take some time to dry, depending on your location. We live in the desert so this will happen fast. If you want it to dry faster, cut these logs as you would a pizza, into sections.
Once dry, these will burn a long time.. and cost you ~ nada.
Todd’s note: Hope you enjoyed Jamie’s tutorial. He’s a fine example of people who have traded theory for ACTION! Come check out all the other folks busy Doing the Stuff!
If you try it yourself, we’d like to know how it turns out.
Keep Doing the Stuff of self-reliance,
P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…
First the definition:
“The ability to work hard and respond resiliently to failure and adversity; the inner quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals.”
Now the word:
Senior Airman Tony R. Ritter, U.S. Air Force
The definition of grit almost perfectly describes qualities every successful person possesses, because mental toughness builds the foundations for long-term success.
For example, successful people are great at delaying gratification. Successful people are great at withstanding temptation. Successful people are great at overcoming fear in order to do what they need to do. (Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t scared — that does mean they’re brave. Big difference.) Successful people don’t just prioritize: They consistently keep doing what they have decided is most important.
All those qualities require mental strength and toughness — so it’s no coincidence those are some of the qualities of remarkably successful people.
Here are ways you can become mentally stronger — and as a result more successful:
There’s a saying often credited to Ignatius: “Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.” (Cool quote.)
The same premise applies to luck. Many people feel luck has a lot to do with success or failure. If they succeed, luck favored them, and if they fail, luck was against them.
Most successful people do sense that good luck played some role in their success. But they don’t wait for good luck or worry about bad luck. They act as if success or failure is completely within their control. If they succeed, they caused it. If they fail, they caused it.
By not wasting mental energy worrying about what might happen to you, you can put all your effort into making things happen. (And then if you get lucky, hey, you’re even better off.)
You can’t control luck, but you can definitely control you.
Mental strength is like muscle strength — no one has an unlimited supply. So why waste your power on things you can’t control?
For some people it’s politics. For others it’s family. For others it’s global warming. Whatever it is, you care … and you want others to care.
Fine. Do what you can do: Vote. Lend a listening ear. Recycle and reduce your carbon footprint. Do what you can do. Be your own change — but don’t try to make everyone else change.
The past is valuable. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the mistakes of others.
Then let it go.
Easier said than done? It depends on your perspective. When something bad happens to you, see it as an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know. When another person makes a mistake, don’t just learn from it — see it as an opportunity to be kind, forgiving, and understanding.
The past is just training; it doesn’t define you. Think about what went wrong but only in terms of how you will make sure that next time you and the people around you know how to make sure it goes right.
Many people — I guarantee you know at least a few — see success as a zero-sum game: There’s only so much to go around. When someone else shines, they think that diminishes the light from their stars.
Resentment sucks up a massive amount of mental energy — energy better applied elsewhere.
When a friend does something awesome, that doesn’t preclude you from doing something awesome. In fact where success is concerned, birds of a feather tend to flock together — so draw your unsuccessful friends even closer.
Don’t resent awesomeness. Create and celebrate awesomeness, wherever you find it, and in time you’ll find even more of it in yourself.
Your words have power, especially over you. Whining about your problems always makes you feel worse, not better.
So if something is wrong, don’t waste time complaining. Put that mental energy into making the situation better. (Unless you want to whine about it forever, eventually you’ll have to make it better.)
So why waste time? Fix it now. Don’t talk about what’s wrong. Talk about how you’ll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself.
And do the same with your friends or colleagues. Don’t just serve as a shoulder they can cry on. Friends don’t let friends whine; friends help friends make their lives better.
No one likes you for your clothes, your car, your possessions, your title, or your accomplishments. Those are all “things.” People may like your things — but that doesn’t mean they like you.
(Sure, superficially they might seem to like you, but superficial is also insubstantial, and a relationship not based on substance is not a real relationship.)
Genuine relationships make you happier, and you’ll form genuine relationships only when you stop trying to impress and start trying to just be yourself.
And you’ll have a lot more mental energy to spend on the people who really do matter in your life.
Take a second every night before you turn out the light and, in that moment, quit worrying about what you don’t have. Quit worrying about what others have that you don’t.
Think about what you do have. You have a lot to be thankful for. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?
Feeling better about yourself is the best way of all to recharge your mental batteries.
This is part 2 of the 7 Habits of People With Remarkable Mental Toughness series.