The Preparedness Lifestyle can be a bunch of different things for people. To some, it may mean having a well-stocked pantry and a survival kit in case of an emergency. To others, it may mean being self-sufficient and living off the land. And to still others, it may mean being prepared for anything, from natural disasters to economic collapse. No matter what it means to you, the Preparedness Lifestyle is about being ready for anything that life may throw your way.
But within the preparedness lifestyle, there are some mind shifts that people need to make. These mind shifts are important and beneficial for anyone wanting to live a self-reliant or prepared lifestyle. The five mind shifts that I share below are mind shifts that I wished someone would have shared with me when I first started down the journey. But like they say, it’s never too late to learn something new!
Preparedness Lifestyle Mindshift #1 – Pay Attention to How People Around You Respond in a Crisis.
This mind shift is important because it’s important to know how you respond in a crisis. You should be practicing and training yourself to handle a crisis. But it’s just as important to know what other people are going to do and how they’re going to respond. Because people can respond in crazy ways that throw a whole wrench in everything that is going on. And then, you are not only dealing with the crisis, but now you’re dealing with a crazy person that’s doing something stupid and adding to the crisis, all because they don’t know how to deal with stress in an emergency situation. So, watch how people deal with a “regular” crisis right now.
I say “regular” because regular could be a flat tire. Regular could be you’re at work and the power goes out for an extended period of time. How do the people around you react?
You could be at work and your supervisor says, “Our Internet is down and we’re not able to process your checks.” That would be a big deal for many people! I mean, you deal with someone’s money and that’s a big deal. How would the people around you respond to something like that?
So, watch how people respond to “regular” crises now at home, at work, with money, in your family, and in your neighborhood.
Watch social media. If you have a neighborhood Facebook group, watch the Facebook group and how your neighbors respond just online. That can tell you a whole lot about some people. You’ll get an idea of what will happen when you’re around a “real” situation or a “real” crisis. You want a little warning if people around you are going to lose it. So, it’s important to get a gauge right now of how people will respond.
One of the things that I think is valuable, is when you read articles from people that have really gone through big crises, like Selco over in Bosnia or Fernando Aquirre in Argentina.
I’ve had Fernando Aguirre on the podcast and I usually watch a lot of his videos because he talks about how things happened when he went through the collapse in Argentina. Fernando still has a lot of family members and friends there, and he responds to things that are still going on there and other things that are going on all over the world. It’s a different perspective than many Americans have.
Fernando responds in a very sensible and logical way. I really like to get his take on events. And his books are really great books. If you are really looking for something to read and to beef up your survival skills. I think his books are no-brainers.
Then there are the different collapses that have happened, like in Russia and Greece. Finding survival or survivor stories on how people reacted and responded in those situations kind of gives you a little insight into the psyche of people and what they will do and how they will react.
And then you have some cultures, like the Japanese when Fukushima happened. The Japanese were a little bit calmer and they were able to go through the crisis a little bit smoother.
So, you have to look at your situation. How would it go down in your area? How do people around you respond in a crisis? It’s important and valuable to have that kind of information. And you can use a “regular” crisis to pay attention to how people will respond in a bigger, more involved crisis.
Get Confident About Your Skills, Abilities, and Preps and Bring Your Family Along
Get confident so you don’t panic in an emergency. Then help your family to do the same!
When you feel confident about your skills, then you’re able to face the crisis more easily. You need to be able to have that confidence in your skills to move forward. Be confident in your plan, be confident in what needs to happen. Be confident in what to do, and what not to do.
This only comes with practice!
You can’t practice when an EMP hits! You can’t practice nuclear war!
But you can go through some scenarios. You can turn the power off over the weekend.
You can actually practice it if your family is on board with it. That would mean turning off the water, turning off electricity, doing all those kinds of things. I mean, some families would be into that, and others probably not so much. Many teenagers wouldn’t give up their phones for the weekend! The thing about family here, is you really have to be purposeful about bringing them along.
This is a very sensitive thing because if they’re not into it, you’re going to push them away. And I’ve seen that not only in families, but I’ve also seen that happen in organizations as well, where the owner or someone who is in charge wants to help people get better prepared, so they start going into scenarios and start throwing it out there and it freaks out people, and people start pushing back on it. You really need to be careful about how you do it.
I absolutely love that my kids, including the one that’s married and lives in his own apartment, know how to prepare! They’re paying attention like when we had the last freeze, Winter Storm Uri. They were better prepared than most of their friends their age. They were better prepared with water and other supplies! They were better prepared by being able to cook and not being able to use their electric stove. When hurricanes come or big storms are coming, they’ll be better off.
And a lot of that is because I’ve talked about it so much and they see the benefits of it. Even during Covid, they saw the benefit of being prepared and having toilet paper and other supplies! They actually got a bidet instead of stocking up on toilet paper.
But I love it when I hear them talk about being better prepared. All my kids do that. But if your family is not, then you’re going to have to go into stealth mode.
And I’m not saying that you need to be sneaky and keep things from them, but instead gamify it. For example, if you write things online and you use the extension Grammarly, Grammarly will tell you every so often, “Hey man, you’re a pro. This week, you wrote 10,000 words.” Ok, not in those words, but you basically get this ego boost because you reached some achievement. All it does is make you feel good about using the extension, but it is a number that many people look forward to in their emails. It’s a conversation starter for some people around the water cooler.
Audible does the same thing. If you have Audible, it’ll send you a notification and say something like, you hit this milestone or this achievement.
So if you can gamify being prepared, it will definitely help. Let me give you a couple of ideas here.
One of the things that we always talk about is camping to practice preparedness. Let’s say you plan a family camping trip where you introduce various survival skills such as setting up a tent, building a fire, identifying edible plants, and navigating using a compass.
And the thing is, you frame it as a fun adventure rather than formal training. So you call it a treasure hunt. So you go to a campground and at some point, you set up a treasure hunt. The treasure at the end is everyone goes and gets ice cream or whatever. Or you stash the ingredients for s’mores along the way and the prize is S’mores at the evening campfire!
The point is, you plan this camping trip adventure. You bring out a map and practice map skills and all the other things you set up like fire starting, cooking over a fire, etc..
Of course, you have to know your family and how much they’ll go for something like that. But that’s something that you can start to introduce and you just gamify it. How can you make it fun to be able to move forward?
Another thing that’s kind of similar to that is scavenger hunts. Organize a scavenger hunt in your backyard or your local park that incorporates elements of survival skills. For example, you can hide items related to first aid, navigation, and emergency supplies, and provide clues that lead to their discovery.
Or, there are families that love breakout rooms. If you’ve ever gone through one, you know it consists of a series of things that you need to get through, and if you get through the puzzles you need to solve and all these other clues you get to take a picture and celebrate that you “broke out.” Sometimes they help you out by giving clues and sometimes they don’t. But you can create a breakout as a fun adventure and incorporate preparedness into it!
But whether it’s a scavenger hunt or a breakout that you’re creating, you’re doing it for your family to help them with preparedness. You’re dropping little survival things in it. It might not be full-out and full-on training, but you’re dropping little scenarios and little things in there little by little.
Maybe you’ve created an emergency binder. And one of the things is you throw the emergency binder down and that’s part of the puzzle. And they got to find in the emergency binder a secret or a clue that gets them to the next stage. Those are the kinds of things that would be very helpful.
Another idea is just cooking lessons, teaching cooking skills while incorporating survival knowledge like talking about food storage and the fact that you’re cooking from scratch and have these basic ingredients. You bring out bulk flour, bulk salt, and sugar and they might start asking questions like, “Why do we buy it in bulk? Why do we have it this way?” You might respond, “Well, it’s cheaper and we have a lot of it. Also, remember in the pandemic, we weren’t able to get some things? Well, we can make bread if we want to make bread this way.”
While you’re cooking, you can incorporate things like water purification and different ingredients that you would need to make in case of emergencies. You can encourage them to prepare meals using limited resources like, “Hey, let’s make a meal using these items. Or let’s make some bread just using these three ingredients and let’s see what we come up with.”
You don’t even have to talk about survival. You don’t even have to talk about preparedness. But you’re teaching them how to do something and it’s fun and it’s easy.
And they get to eat it! And that’s a form of gamification!
Not only that, you’re helping kids learn a valuable lesson in cooking that many people today don’t. And I think that’s great. My son has learned a lot of recipes just by looking at TikTok and social media. I don’t have TikTok. I don’t like TikTok. I’m not an advocate of it, but the young people are.
He has learned cooking and different recipes and enjoys cooking because of it. I kind of count that as a win.
Another thing you can do is just do nature walks. You might not be able to go camping or do a scavenger hunt, but you can go out and just do a nature walk or a hike. And you’re taking the family into natural settings while you’re doing that. If you are into foraging, you can point out different plants. Imagine walking on a trail and you see something that’s edible and you get your kids around there and you’re like, “Hey, I wonder if that’s going to be any good to eat.”
And they’re like, “Oh no, I wouldn’t eat it.” And you just pick it up and you put it in your mouth and you eat it. Can you imagine? They’re like, “OH, that’s gross.” And then they realize a little bit later on you don’t keel over and die. Like, guys, “that’s edible. This is something that grows in nature that people don’t even realize. People think it’s a weed, but you can actually eat it if you really need to.” You can talk about things like that. You can talk about poisonous plants like, “Okay, I eat this one, this one’s good, but this one over here, don’t ever eat this one. This one, you’ll really get diarrhea or you’ll die from this one.”
You can talk about animals and how to respond to encounters with different animals in life if you’re out in nature, especially those of you that live in places where you have bigger animals like bears.
Another thing is movie nights. You can watch a survival-themed movie or documentary and engage in the discussion afterward, just asking different questions. And sometimes you don’t even have to ask questions. They’ll come up themselves. They’ll be like, “Hey, well, what about this? Or what about that?” It encourages them to be able to think through things.
I remember when NAT GEO put out American Blackout. I had all my kids sit around and watch that docu-drama. They were into it because it was a drama and it had all elements of drama but also talked about survival. I didn’t even have to say anything. I was like, “Hey, I want to get your opinion on this show.” I was doing a review for National Geographics for Prepper Website at that time. And they got into it. I was really happy about that.
You can find movies for kids too. There are kid movies that you can use to talk about survival and different themes along with survival and preparedness. You can play role-playing games. Organize role-playing scenarios where family members take on different roles and act out emergency situations. Maybe you do charades and it’s all like preparedness-type stuff, but you don’t really say that it’s going to be preparedness.
You can do DIY projects. Again, you can engage in do-it-yourself projects that align with survival skills. You don’t have to tell them that it is about preparedness.
You can talk about basic woodworking. You know how one of the biggest fads right now is burning wood for home decor, giving it that burn look? I know a lot of the time they use torches, but you can go old school by building a fire first and then using that. And you can incorporate that into your DIY.
You can build something solar-powered or create something with cheap solar lights. You can create a basic shelter in the backyard, setting up a tent, using ropes and knots. Heck, you can just use a sheet to set up a tent in the living room. That would be just an easy way of teaching them how to set up using knots and then creating a shelter that way.
There are a lot of little DIY projects like that.
You can garden. You can use story time if you read to your kids. There are books that you can read that have survival or preparedness built in. Not too long ago, I was discussing one chapter a week of Little House in the Big Woods, the first book from the Little House on the Prairie series on the podcast. You can use that to discuss how they lived in those times. And that’s not one of those scary survival stories.
You can get into community involvement, engaging in community programs or volunteer work, but things that help in disaster preparedness. You can get them out there participating in local emergency response drills and supporting organizations that promote safety. Get them involved with the fire department when they outreach to your neighborhood. You might even sponsor that. A lot of the time, they get fire alarms or smoke alarms and give them out. Maybe you can be in charge of sponsoring that for your neighborhood or for your street and get your kids involved with that and talk about how important it is for fire safety and knowing how to get out of a home when it’s necessary.
There are many ways to learn and get confident in your skills, but when you bring your family along, it is a force multiplier!
Think Through and Plan Emergency Scenarios Before They Happen!
We always talk about having a plan! You need to envision the scenario and imagine how you will respond in your head. This is very important. There is research that your mind does not know the difference between what you’re thinking through and what you’re imagining and, what is real.
“Mental rehearsal involves imagined, mental practice of performing a task as opposed to actual practice. That is, when engaging in mental rehearsal, one imagines performing without having to actually do anything. (Insert your favorite consultant or management professor joke here.)
As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” Yes, practice can cause improvement, but “perfect practice” can lead to better results than practice full of failures. Because mental practice is perfect practice, it is also a confidence-booster. Experiencing success increases confidence, even if that experience is imagined.
Basketball fans recognize the old cliché that goes something like, “Free throw shooting is 90% mental, 10% physical.” It’s true that a major determinant of a free throw shooter’s success is his or her mental activity before taking a shot and through the process of shooting (I’m not sure about those percentages though). Focus and concentration are very helpful. Accordingly, mental practice seems to assist mental preparation for the process of shooting a free throw.
A limitation, of course, is that one also has to have a certain degree of knowledge and skill for performing the activity in order to be successful.” Source
Have you ever had a scary dream? This is your mind going through a scenario. You are dreaming, wake up and find yourself sweating and your heart beating fast. You feel anxious and then realize it was just a dream. The fact is that your mind didn’t realize it was a dream.
It’s the same idea when you are thinking through emergency scenarios.
You should try it out! Close your eyes and think through that emergency. What would you do if, fill in the blank.
What would I do in case of a fire? What would I do in case of an earthquake? What would I do in case of a blizzard that’s rolling in? You can then start to play that through your mind and maybe you’re writing things down as you’re doing it. Maybe you have the plan already and you’re just trying to solidify it in your mind. But that is a very powerful thing to do.
You see this happening during the Olympics when you see the divers or even the skiers, put on their headphones, close their eyes and they’re just thinking through the flip or they’re thinking through their turns in their mind. They’re envisioning their dive or run down the mountain. Sometimes you will see skiers actually leaning and that helps them to be a little bit better prepared. We can use this same technique to our advantage.
It’s helpful to run your family through these scenarios and the plans as well. Because when you do that, they’ll feel more empowered or secure. This is the case if your family is on board with preparedness.
Get Prepared by Doing What Works for You!
You might not ever plan on going out to the wilderness and surviving, but you could get tips on what works in your situation. Create or tighten up your emergency plan and get tips for that! They might be what works best in a suburban or urban scenario. Focus on those types of skills and tips.
Stock up and create an inventory of essential supplies. And think about what would be important for your scenarios, your situations. Don’t go off of some YouTube video that you saw, some article that you read, some podcast that you heard. Get what you need for your situation.
Learn basic first aid.
Store water and figure out a plan on how you would get more if the tap wasn’t running. Because water is going to be universal to every survival situation no matter what! If you have stored water, that is great, that’s important. But then what if the tap runs out and you can’t get water anymore? Do you know what you would do in your scenario? Do you know where you would go?
You might have heard things like, “I would go to abandoned buildings.” Have you ever gone to a building to try to get water from them? Now, if they had security and things like that, they might not let you. But have you walked the perimeter? Is it as easy as you think it will be? You might think, “I’m going to go to this pond or I’m going to go to the river?” Have you gone down there? Have you hauled water up from the pond or the river and brought it back? Have you used your filtration system or your purification systems to be able to drink that water? Or is it just something that you think you can do?
You might not run out to the wilderness, but securing your home is a preparedness project you definitely need to do. And what else can you do in that kind of situation? Know your neighborhood, drive around your neighborhood. That’s a preparedness tip that you definitely need to be aware of. If you come in and come out, and that’s all you do, especially if you’ve lived there for a while, you might miss some big changes in your surroundings.
Has your neighborhood or your community changed? Have you seen things going downhill or are they getting better? What about establishing a network of other people that are like-minded and maybe that work with you or go to your church?
What about learning self-defense techniques? That’s a helpful skill that is not wilderness survival.
Do you deal with blizzards where you live? Because I’m in Houston, I’m not going to go through a blizzard. But I am going to go through heat. So, what do I do if the power goes out and I have excessive heat?
These aren’t end of the world type things, but they are real world prepper tips that would be very helpful.
And how do you stay informed of what goes on around you? Do you use Twitter? Do you subscribe to news alerts? Are there specific apps that you use to stay informed?
Have you ever thought about creating a communication plan for your family or for your workplace or even for your neighborhood that people would be able to communicate with? That’s a prepper tip that might come in very handy! Have you ever practiced your communication plan?
Another prepper tip would be practicing how to blend in. You would need to know and understand your community so you could blend in there. In some places, wearing camouflage is not something you want to be doing to blend in. But in other places that might be what people wear. And if you’re not wearing camouflage, people might look at you weird. Learning how to blend in is a prepper tip that you definitely want to learn.
Understand that a Lot of Preparedness is Perspective
A lot of it is being prepared to act and to know what to do. It is not necessarily a ton of gear that you have to buy. Although there is gear that you need to buy, that’s not where you start off. And that’s the biggest mistake that a lot of people make, buying stuff and not going through the necessary mind shift and the understanding of why they need it.
You need to have that long term perspective, but you also need a short-term perspective. Preparedness is both/and! You can always have an emergency that is short term. You lose a job or the electricity goes out or you have a blackout. But then there is the long-term perspective. You need to wrap your mind around what things would look like if TEOTWAWKI really happened!
Embrace the idea that preparedness is both short-term emergencies and long-term emergencies. You need to be prepared for all the challenges that might come in the future. And this shift involves recognizing that preparedness is an ongoing process and requires consistent effort. You need a proactive approach.
If you adopt a proactive approach, rather than a reactive mindset, then you’re able to respond much better. When you have that reactive mindset, you won’t make good decisions. And you don’t want to wait for the crisis to happen to come up with a plan.
That’s why we talk about plans so much. It’s important in helping to have the prepper mindshift.
You need to think, “I want to be proactive. I want to be prepared. I want to have a plan. Whenever a situation goes down, I’m ready to move. I know what I need to do.”
In closing, develop self-reliance by acquiring skills and knowledge that help you to navigate the different situations that you’re going to be involved with independently.
You don’t want to be dependent on the government or someone else during a crisis! When times are good, the government MIGHT come through for you. Or, there might be other organizations that are able to come through for you. But do you think that will always be the case?
Making these shifts, means taking responsibility, personal responsibility for your own well-being and not leaving it up to anybody else. Throw some extra kudos for yourself if you can get involved in your community, or your church. Preparedness goes beyond just you and your family. And when you can help others out, you get them on your side. And having people on your side in an emergency is a good thing!
Not everyone’s going to embrace preparedness like they’re ready to go and buy six months or a year’s worth of food storage. But you can be involved out there and help out as much as possible. And in the meantime, when you’re doing that, you get to know other people that are like-minded and maybe help them shift their thinking towards preparedness too!