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Self-sufficiency – noun: the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective independence.

Survival – [sərˈvīvəl] – noun: the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.

In our day to day world there are varied degrees of survival that are required of us. This is true simply because there are wide-ranging degrees of threat that we face.

And in today’s economic death spiral of Keynesian Economics, politically corrupt leadership and a war torn world, many are already beginning to experience the peripheral edge of a “deep survival” state because of those same threats.

There are more at that edge than I think we care to admit. Government figures of non-participation in the labor force and welfare rolls alone support this. We can look at the high percentage of millennials still at home and the lack of savings they have. And let’s not forget the fact that one out of five families does not have anyone working in them.

I am sure we can all point out a myriad of other examples. We could even make them an entire topic of conversation in and of themself. The point is that an honest interpretation of the financial side of “civil order” tells us that we are in real trouble as a society and a Nation.

While most are not fully engulfed in a deep survival mode at present, many do exist in a heightened state of survival with darker days on the horizon. Just the pressing threats of civil unrest, natural disaster, financial collapse, world war and terrorism are enough to raise the Spidey senses a few notches. And it is forcing people at all levels to find new ways to survive day in and day out. It is sort of like being the frog in a pot of water and being boiled at a slow roll.

Unless we want to be the boiled frog we need a strong mind, body and soul that can assess threat, plan a defense and then execute it. Plus, when it comes to defining “survival”, it is important to remember that survival and sufficiency are learned and earned over time.

That is to say that a man cannot easily walk from his 9 to 5, three kids and a wife into a deep survival mode overnight and expect there to be some automatic switch that is going to make him able to perform and act under pressure of threat without preparation and training. Not for long at least.

No different really than the person who buys an AR platform. They take it home, show it off a bit, and then shove it in a safe, or the closet. Expecting that in a time of real threat they will be able to use it effectively without proper training and muscle memory. Sorry it is just not happening.

Or like the couple that has a pile of seeds and never grows anything. While you may have the seeds you don’t have food unless you can grow them! Let’s not even mention storing the food for long term use.

Deep survival is not something you pull out of a 72 hour pack or the garage when the coming storm makes landfall. At least not without ever carrying the pack or cooking out of the #10 cans it isn’t.

Much like an athlete doesn’t just sign up, put on the uniform and run on to the field to play. You don’t just prep and play. No, there is practice in between each game. And those that practice with purpose become sufficient in the game and excel. And similarly those who “prepare” but do not live the preparation by nature have less of a chance of actually using those preparations to their maximum benefit and self-sufficiency.

We all need training just like the athlete. However, you and I are not training for a game. You and I are training for our life and the life of our family.

It is important to remember that successful and measurable survival is lived at some level not stored in a pack or closet. And our chances of success in a deep survival scenario increase dramatically the more we have a tuned mind, body and soul to complement our physical and operational preparations.

So live your survival before you get there and it will be livable when it arrives.

The Mind

Without a sharp and well healed mind we are less likely to make thorough decisions, take action and effectively offset threats. It makes it even more difficult for us to see the threats on the horizon when we do not have good mental clarity and focus. If we are not thinking, planning and acting ahead, well then, we are falling behind.

It is for reasons like this that we must keep our mind in tune. In a deep survival situation critical thinking skills are vital and will provide a higher degree of certainty that we are living through it, not just surviving in it.

Survival tip #1 for the mind (All Levels): Crosswords, Sudoku, Reading, and Poker.

Who needs Luminosity when we have these rudimentary exercises that really can be fun? These exercises can be challenging and they require you to focus thought in one place for an extended period of time. This will help you improve your mental focus over time.

It will also provide you with knowledge and experience and an opportunity to research and learn. Believe it or not, when these exercises are done with daily regularity they will help you in your ability to make quicker and more targeted decisions.

One catch, no phone, tablet, kindle, PC, laptop or digital screen please. Use the real thing like a crossword or puzzle book, a novel or a field manual. And when you play poker, try and do it with real people at a real table with real cards and chips. Maybe even some real beer!


Turn off the virtual screens and pick up a pair of weights for your mind. These exercises will help you think ahead and make decisions based on potential future outcomes. They will teach you how to find answers to things you do not know. They will help you in assessing your threats. They will give you skill in concentration. These exercises will help round your knowledge base and make your mind a sharper weapon.

Survival Tip #2 for the mind (All Levels): “Draw It”

A cohesive team is always an advantage in deep survival scenarios. One of the foundational principles of team cohesion is communication. The clearer, faster and more concise you can communicate with your team the more agile and effective you are both as a leader and a team member.

This exercise should be done with some frequency to sharpen your skills and will require some maintenance and upkeep along the way.

You will require the following for the exercise:

  • (3) Different color crayons or markers. You will share these.
  • (2) Pads of paper. One for each of you
  • (2) People

Step One:

Without the other person seeing what you are drawing, Draw (4) four shapes in a way that at least (2) two of the shapes overlap one another. Keep the shapes empty at this point, do not fill them in. Use at least (2) two different colors if not all of them in your drawing.

Step Two:

With the other person still facing away from you, hand them your crayons or markers then turn with your back to theirs. Now begin to instruct them on replicating what you have drawn on your pad of paper. Remember, the other person is not to see what you have drawn. Guide them step by step until you are sure they have the same picture as you. All the while not looking at what they are drawing either!

Step Three:

Compare !


This is actually a fun exercise for kids of all ages and helps build communication skill. Good Communication skills are needed for effective leadership and team interaction. Good communication lends to making our work a day world easier and us more effective in it as well.

Good communication skills are also required to relay information up the ladder to those that may need it from us. Our ability to communicate up and down the ladder is vital to our ability to live a deep survival scenario.

This exercise will help you learn how to give direction to others in a way that expresses exactly what you mean and want them to do. It will also allow you the opportunity to receive some instruction as well.

Alphas can have a real hard time on the “receiving” portion of this exercise. However, a wise alpha will use the opportunity to be on the receiving end and evaluate their “instructor”. They will listen to them and learn. That way they will know what to expect from them in a pinch!

It can also allow you the opportunity to know which team members are effective communicators and those that are not. No need to be threatened heroes!

Mental Health

Physical Health for the mind is equally as important as exercising it. Like our body, if we have an unhealthy mind there will not be much exercise. We must make sure that we are not taking with great excess or frequency those things that alter and damage our mind and cause us to lose focus.

There are also foods we can eat daily and place in our preparedness food shelter which will aid the biological make up of our physical mind. This topic is a book in and of itself. And there is a very large selection of reading available for or purchase to help navigate you in that direction. A brief mention here should serve as discussion for the purpose of moving on.

The Body

Our body like our mind is a very important element in the process of survival. It is our engine in the physical world, our work horse.

The stronger we are and the healthier we are, then the more effective we are to our family and ourselves. No one is suggesting that we all be washboard rippled, stubble faced paratroopers (HOOAH). However, a certain amount of mobility, strength and stamina is vital when applying survival techniques in a deep survival state.

When we talk about physical health, gym memberships are out for many of us. They either cost too much or we are simply time restricted from going. Besides, we are not trying to be Arnold; we are just trying to be healthy and mobile.

Survival Tip #1 for the body (All Levels): “Walk”

If you have a “Bug out Bag” or carry a 72 hour pack in your vehicle, strap it on and walk! Walk like your life depends on it, because one day it may. Even if you are the pillar of physicality, do it!

There are several reasons for saying this. If you have never tried walking a distance, say three miles for starters, with a fully loaded pack, well, you are in for an awakening. And probably some blisters.

You use different muscles than are utilized every day too. Especially once you strap fifty pounds on your back and take a walk for three short miles.

Step One:

Get your family and their packs, get in the car, and take them for a hike in the woods, in a park or even around the block, with the packs on! And remember to bring them back!

Step Two:

At the end of your family hike eat some of the food and drink some of the water you carried along the way. Use the maps and navigation you have in your kits to get you where you are going. Try not to use outside resource you may not otherwise be able to find in a deep survival mode.

(To offset the expense of consuming your supplies, use a recreational expenditure like pizza and a movie as revenue in the budget for replenishment of the supplies. You do not have to eat from your kit each time either. )

Step Three:

On one of your expeditions, plan on pitching a camp. Do it solely with the supplies you have for shelter and warmth at hand in your bug out bag or 72 hour kit. Then, camp! Even if it is on your roof top or in your backyard, test your systems and yourself.

No family? No Problem! Make it a date night or go solo!


Make sure you have a debriefing after your exercises. Nothing fancy, just talk about the walk and camp, the food and the overall experience. Try to get what worked well and what didn’t out of everyone. I can tell you from experience it will be easier to get what didn’t work out of everyone much easier in the beginning. Don’t be discouraged.

Who knows you may actually find you are lacking something you thought you had covered. Better to know now than when you need it to perform and stay alive.

Be sure to listen more than you speak. Replicate those things that worked for you and others. Remove or learn how to use, the things that did not work. And be honest. Was it the ware that failed or your knowledge of using it that made it less than efficient?

When this is done with some frequency, and self-honesty, you will gain physical strength and refine your bug out bag. You will also build skill as a unit/family and begin to experience the reality of your preparations. You will begin to live survival!

In terms of keeping fit, I have never found great success in “work out” programs except basic training and advanced Infantry and Airborne training. Today, I have had the best success with just being physical in what I do. It keeps me “in shape”, and remaining healthy.

When faced with stairs or an elevator, take the stairs. When faced with parking upfront or out in the north forty – take the north forty. Perform no less than (10) ten solid minutes of calisthenics each day twice a day. Refine your diet and drink water instead of a soda. Eat a single burger instead of a double.

Taking simple measures and pushing your normal level of physical activity now will insure that in a time of distress or deep survival you will be able to rise to the physical challenge when it smacks you upside your head. And it is going to smack us up side our heads!

The Soul

Far be it from me to instruct another on the development of their soul. That is not my leaning. The soul is solemn and it is each man’s alone. The soul is a place that no one other than you and your God may see the true depths of its making.

The soul is our collection of experiences. It is the place we hold the truth of self. We build the very foundation of our being in our souls. It costs us nothing to inspect our soul. It costs us nothing to question our principles with boldness. It costs us nothing to nourish our soul in deed.

Our soul enables us to be light in the darkness. That very light can give others a place to move towards instead of over the edge with the rest of feudalists.

By continuously strengthening the caliber of one’s soul and nourishing it with deed and honor through self-honest reflection and action, we have the ultimate tool in our bug out bag!

I will leave the spiritual tips to the chaplains of the world. I can only speak to what works for me. I really would love to hear from you what works best in your journey.

There is a saying that goes something like this; “Whatever you have with you when the shtf, is all you have when the shtf.”

So up your arsenal and refine it every day by doing something that will strengthen your mind your body and your soul. It does and will complement your arsenal of wares and weapons.

That way no matter where you are, or what you have with you and no matter what happens, you will be armed, better prepared and more aware.

A deep survival state is something that requires a greater survivability than our daily survival as men. Therefore those skills required in a deep survival state are going to be more foreign and untried for many.

For others that have attained a level of survivability through practice they will know what to do when faced with a state of deep survival.

And for those that have attained a level of self-sufficiency through survival. They will know what to do, when to do it, and who to do it with.

While there is still time to stick your toe in the water, you should really get a feel for living even just a small part of a deep survival state modality. If you are already there take the next step. But be careful, you may just find yourself on a track to self-sufficiency, the ultimate prep!