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Survival Mindset: Preparedness as a Way of Life – Part I

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Survival Mindset: Preparedness as a Way of Life – Part I

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Prepping, survivalism, emergency preparedness, disaster readiness – call it what you will but having the mindset to take care of yourself in good times and bad is the focus of Backdoor Survival.  That plus a healthy dose of living strategically and sustainably while having a bit of fun at the same time.

Today I would like to explore the survival mindset and preparedness as a way of life and as a path to self-reliance and independence.


We live in uncertain times.  Natural disasters are escalating at an alarming rate, global economies are failing, terrorists are threatening the security of the common man and climate change is affecting the ability of our food chain to provide adequate supplies to the populace. Add to this questionable politics and sneaky corporate policies and we have a recipe for crisis on our hands.

Survival Book 200(Custom)The solution, for many, to these woes is to embrace survivalism. The term “survivalism” is a word that has been around for eons.

Survivalism: An attitude, policy or practice based on the primacy of survival as a value.
. . . from Miriam Webster

Survivalism: The policy of trying to insure one’s own survival or that of one’s social or national group.
. . . from New Oxford American Dictionary

And the person who practices survivalism? That person is typically referred to as a survivalist.

Mention this term to your typical man or woman and you may be looked at with disdain and confusion. After all, aren’t survivalists those Rambo types that live in the woods wearing camouflage clothing and carrying rifles the way the rest of us carry a wallet or pocketbook?

Somewhere along the line, the words Survivalism and Survivalist became dirty words.

To overcome this perception, a more modern term has been coined. A kinder gentler term and one without negative connotations: Prepper.

What specifically is a prepper? Wikipedia defines a prepper as an “individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances or lifestyle without significant reliance on other persons or without substantial assistance from outside resources.”

More simply stated, a prepper desires and strives to enjoy self-sufficiency without the need for outside assistance, especially from government agencies or authorities.


Let me relate the tale of two fictional families living close to each other in a fictional neighborhood.

Family #1 consists of a husband, a wife and two children. They are a two income family and the children, teenagers, do not work – not even performing home chores – for their generous allowance. The family has about $20,000 in savings, and a mortgage that uses up 60% of their combined take home pay. They eat out 3 to 4 nights a week, have a housekeeper and gardener and live a comfortable life.

A peek inside their pantry will show you a few canned goods but mostly cookies, chips and snack items. They rely on a weekly trip to the supermarket for food and even then, they don’t require much since they eat out a lot.

Family #2 also consists of a husband, wife and two children The Mom has a part time job doing something she loves: arranging flowers at a flower shop. The pay is not great but she enjoys both the work and getting out of the house. The family has a modest mortgage of about $75,000 and savings of $100,000. The two teens have part time jobs; one tutors kids with reading problems and the other flips burgers at the local fast food joint. Both the husband and wife enjoy cooking and prepare home cooked meals. They know how to take less expensive cuts of meats and use them in stews, stir-fry’s and other nutritious meals.

A look inside their pantry will show lots of dried goods including beans, rice, oatmeal and pasta, as well as cases of canned goods they have purchased at a discount at their local cash and carry warehouse store. Everything in the pantry is dated with the newer items stored near the rear and in the difficult to reach areas.

In the middle of one winter night, a huge snow and ice storm hits the town where both families live. Their neighborhood is especially affected because a utility company transformer has blown and the power is out. Trees have fallen and the roads are blocked. Typically there is not a lot of snow in their area so snow removal equipment is scarce.

Family #1 is cold, hungry and distressed. They have a few snacks on hand but other than that, very little food. They always meant to buy some candles and now the batteries in their flashlights are dead. As they stumble around in the dark, they are cold and desperate. They need help but the authorities are nowhere to be found. Without a battery operated radio or a wired phone, they don’t know what is going on and they are scared.

What about family #2? The wood stove is providing warmth plus their oil lanterns are providing an abundance of light. The family had a picnic around the fire consisting of canned stew, canned veggies and some canned peaches for dessert. Using the wood stove as a cooking surface, they were able to pop some popcorn while enjoying a board game around the glow of the stove and lanterns.

Their crank radio was fired up and they learned that there was a likelihood that the roads would be blocked and power out for at least 48 hours, possibly longer. They deemed this an adventure, secure in their knowledge that they had plenty of food and would be nice and toasty in their home.

Two stories.  One is a family that survives and the other is barely scraping by with handouts (if they are lucky) from sympathetic neighbors and relatives.


Natural disasters can happen anywhere and anytime.  Manmade disasters, civil disobedience, pandemics and terrorist attacks may or may not happen.

Even so, how would you deal with these events if they happened in your home town? Would you have food? Would you have water? Would you have readily accessible first aid supplies? If the transportation system around you was disabled for a period of time (a day, a week or a month), could you cope? What if fuel for your vehicle or to heat your home was not available? In the case of an emergency, how would you communicate with loved ones?

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself. They are practical questions with infinitely useful answers once you take the time to define survivalism in your own words and under your own terms.

Once you do that, you will have created a survival mindset.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Backdoor Survival on Facebook to be updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.

In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin: Here are some things that will make life easier if you are forced off grid for awhile.

Kaito Electronics, Inc. Portable Dynamo & Solar-Powered Radio and Cell Phone Charger: This one has it all and a very reasonable price given its features. It will operate from any one of four different power sources including hand crank and solar and includes a radio, lantern, cell phone charger and more. It can be used with 3 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter. It is perfect for receiving NOA alerts and the LED flashlight on its side turns into a flashing red SOS for emergencies. There is even a USB port for charging a cell phone.

Cyalume SnapLight Chemical Light Sticks: Read all about light sticks at Lighting Your Way With Chemical Lighting.

Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of Paracord for very affordably. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.

EcoZoom Versa: This rocket-type stove burns both charcoal and biomass. It is easy to use and fast. I recently cooked a pot of rice, start to finish in less than 20 minutes.

Fiskars Axe: A lightweight axe is an area where you can spend a little or spend a lot. This axe from Fiskars is highly rated.

Gerber Portable (Folding) Shovel: You don’t know that you need a shovel until you really need one. The particular shovel from Gerber has an easy push-button slide mechanism and is powerful, and easy-to-use. It features a telescoping joint on the handle for folding down to a perfectly portable and compact size.

Fiskars Hatchet: The Fiskars products are easily sharpened and will last a lifetime. Oh, and while you are at it, you might also like the Fiskars Axe & Knife Sharpener .

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: The sky is the limit when it comes to survival knives. For the beginner, or someone on a budget, a decent quality, all purpose knife is what you need until you have a chance to use it and learn what you you like and don’t like, feature-wise, before you invest in something more pricey. This Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife is highly rated.


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7 Responses to “Survival Mindset: Preparedness as a Way of Life – Part I”

  1. The entry comment I’d like more information and guidance for is a mix of two problems in one. Being Diabetic, having food storage info/products to fit this growing National condition is needed, and since injuries won’t heal easily, having a prepper’s list of refrigerated/non refrigerated antibiotics that have a long shelf-life would be a true lifesaver.

    Thank you,

  2. If I look at just my family, I am so worried for most of the people in this country. I am the youngest of seven, Im 50 yrs old. I am the ONLY one who is prepping, well I have one sister that is, sort of…half heartedly.. Even my nieces, nephews, and cousins arent. So by just using that little section of my family thats 1 in say 150. People look at it as craziness. But in reality, our ancestors did just exactly what we are doing now. Storing away food was the only way to survive, there were no grocery stores. I liked your analogy of the 2 families. It really is a mindset as you mention in your next post. When I go to the store, sure I buy snacks, what would taste good right now, at this time, but more and more I find my grocery cart containing foods that will store well, looking for the longest “use by” dates on cans. Twice in the last 8 years, we have been forced to live off my storage, the first time my husband had changed jobs and went for quite a while without a paycheck. 3 years ago he was hospitalized and was off work for a month. What a difference it made, having a very full pantry! Yes we were late on our rent (savings need to be worked on), but we survived, and didnt need to look for help. I am in constant search for information and more/better ways to be self sufficient, and rely on no one but ourselves. I watch family members rely on their freezers, with no back up plan in sight. I rarely buy anything for my freezer anymore, unless its something I plan to can or dry soon. I do love the fresher taste of veggies that are frozen over canned, but I look at it this way, you should “Eat to live. Not live to eat” Extra money in this house goes into preparedness. I feel so much better knowing that while I am not at 100% of my goal, I am well on my way. I feel peace.

  3. I could not agree more. People need to be prepared for most situations. The main ones that people most people such as myself are preparing for is: No Power and No water.

    Everything else is secondary, power and water are the two most important survival thoughts in my area.

  4. I live in California and laugh at the people in other state who are always surprised when something happens in=near their homes. At least here we expect it and a surprising number of people prepare. Outside of the big cities this is a very conservative state.

  5. I have lived in NJ for over 40 years … and I can’t tell you how many people look at the earthquakes in California, the flooding or droughts in the midwest states, the wildfires and so on and said, we don’t get that kind of stuff here.

    Fast forward to hurricane Sandy … and all you need to do is live here to watch the unprepared foolishness and at times violence occur over the basic necessities people can’t get during a time of crisis.

    That was a wake up call for me. I always thought I was prepared, turns out I was not as prepared as I thought I was. Now I am constantly preparing, saving, storing, staying ready. One event like this is enough to keep me on the ready, if you will.

  6. I have lived all over this country. People will say that nothing will happen here and then it does. I live in western North Carolina and nothing happens here, in the past 15 years we have had earthquakes and tornators, hurricanes. You must be ready.

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