Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

AED sign

One thing that differentiates urban survival from wilderness survival is the availability of technology.  If you find yourself in a situation where you need to help a loved one or you just want to be a Good Samaritan, would you know what to do?

You can certainly take a great CPR course….

If not, you can at least try out this great AED simulator.  Thank you to my friend Ted who sent this to us.

So, go ahead…..give it a shot……. AED Simulator


Since I began this blog, I have been fortunate to receive a great deal of support.  In honor of the new year, I thought I would share these words of inspiration I received in 2012.  Happy New Year!

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air,

but only for one second without hope”


courage quote

It has been a rough couple of  weeks in the big bad city.  Sometimes you just need to stop and be in the moment in order to recharge.   If you are having a tough time, I hope this helps you to be right here right now. Whatever battle you need to fight can wait 5 minutes so you can recharge.  Thanks for sending it Ted, it arrived right when it was supposed to 🙂

Ode to Joy….

I know you are out there.  You sacrifice.  You work hard to provide. Most of all, you love your children with all of your heart.  Today, on Father’s Day you will not get the recognition you deserve. It may be because of the lingering negative effects of divorce or maybe because the economy forces you away from your children.  Whatever the reason, please know that I know you are out there and I know you are doing your best.  It is the easiest thing to give up, but you don’t.  Don’t ever give up…… Happy Father’s day!




the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship.

We left off in part one talking about perspective in our decision making process.  We looked at adding the perspective of a third-party, thus adding another dimension to our perspective.  This additional perspective will help us make better decisions when in conflict.  But, is there a way we can still increase our perspective?

Let’s just say that while in conflict, you were able to stop time for a moment and fly up higher to the edge of a ridge overlooking your conflict.  Would your perspective change?  Yes, of course.  This perspective will allow you to see your opponent, your BFF, a greater sense of the terrain around you and it will also allow you to see in the distance.  If you are able to see in the distance you can see threats before you see them on the ground.  In effect you will be able to see in the future.

The intent of almost all decisions is to predict the future. Great!  If only we can freeze time, climb up on hills, we will greatly increase our ability to make better decisions while in conflict.  We can’t literally do that, but there are ways we can gain better perspective in conflict.

1.  Accept that there is uncertainty in conflict, but that uncertainty is true for all.

Often times we are in conflict in areas that are uncommon for us.  The MMA fighter has no problem getting in the ring but fears the courtroom the same as the lawyer has no problem in court but fears the octagon.  When we are in areas that are unfamiliar to us we feel less certain of the outcome.  Fear can be blinding and hinder our perspective. Accept it and move on. Uncertainty will have no bearing whatsoever in the eventual outcome of your conflict unless you let it.

2. Know your own strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.

It is said that in physical fights we revert back to fighting the way in which we fought our last fight.  For instance, if you are 30 years old and the last fight you had been in was in 6th grade, you will fight like you are in 6th grade.  If we consciously take an honest mental accounting of our strengths and weaknesses we can then plan a strategy for defense or offense. Let me emphasize you must make an HONEST accounting of your strengths and weaknesses.  I have in the past overestimated my weaknesses and have paid the price.

3. Have short-term goals and long term goals and act accordingly.

Ask yourself, what do you want and when do you want it. Looking at short-term and long-term goals forces us to make decisions on a time continuum.  Often we are concerned with specific bits of time.  Today, tomorrow, ten years from now.  Instead we should be thinking of time as a continuous flow. As you move along in the conflict things will change, it is inevitable.  Those changes will not be so dramatic; they may ebb and flow or increase or decrease.  Keeping a clear set of short and long-term goals will give you a better perspective of time and help you decide when to change a strategy, if needed.

4.  Pick a course of action based on 1,2 and 3 and plow through, if it doesn’t work change your plan and plow through.

This is harder than it seems.  If you are fearful (see#1) then you are also hesitant in your actions.  Make the best decision you can make given all of the information you have at the time, then plow through.  If you see that you need to change your actions based on your strengths, weaknesses, goals, changes as a function of time (people get older, tired, etc.), then change your actions and plow through.

I remember when I was going through my horrific divorce.  I was scared I was going to lose my kids, I did not know how the system worked, I had no confidence in my attorney, I was literally frozen and getting battered. I decided to take a break and went on a retreat to a Buddhist monastery.  While there, I asked a  monk what I should do.  He said that I should make a decision, then put all my energy in that decision.  No doubts or worries.  Just plow through.  So, I’ll add…..Fight and when you’re tired, rest.  Then fight again until you are successful.  Acknowledge and appreciate each victory, learn and move on from each defeat.  It’s a matter of survival.

Are survivors born or made?

Why is it that some people jump out windows when they lose some cash, when others who have suffered some of the most horrific abuses one can imagine trudge on?  When discussing urban survival, this question comes up a lot.  I say that the questions posed are not really on the mark.  The questions should be:  Why do some people jump out of windows when they lose a ton of cash and others who lose similarly do not?  And….Why do some people who suffer some of the most horrific abuses trudge on and some give up?    Resilience

What is resilience?



1. The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.
2. The property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Or put another way, it is an individual’s capacity to handle stress and not become dysfunctional because if it.

Urban Survival requires us to continually build our resilience.  An event that requires one to employ urban survival techniques is a set-back from your daily routine.  So, is resilience something you’re born with or can you learn to be more resilient?  The answer may save your life, or at least maybe your sanity.

Yes!  Thankfully, you can build resilience!  You just have to go seek challenges out and survive  them.  In a 2000 study in Biological Psychiatry, the authors showed that immediately after a military training exercise, soldiers showed higher levels of a stress buffering hormone called neuropeptide-Y (NPY).  NPY works on the prefrontal cortex of your brain and helps keep you focused on tasks under stress.  The higher the NPY, the more resilient you become.  The offshoot is that with higher NPYs you will actually perform better when stressed…. a highly sought-after ability during times of crisis.

What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger…..or maybe not

So what to do….. Do you have to walk alone at night in the projects wearing your Birkenstocks and hemp sweater whistling show tunes to challenge yourself and build resilience?  Nah….I think we can come up with better and safer ways.  How about a challenge like the Bataan Memorial Death March?  Or maybe a climb or experience that you have on your bucket list.  Whatever you do, it must challenge you.  It also must give you the opportunity to fail, which will then give you the opportunity to recover from your challenge, thereby building resilience.  If you succeed at your challenge… great!  That builds resilience also.  Just don’t wimp out and choose something you know you can do.

Okay folks, go out and challenge yourself.  I would love to hear about it!  If you have a story of something you experienced in the past that helped build your resilience, I would love to hear about that too!

Hello all.  First, let me say that if you have subscribed via email, your email message usually does not contain the whole post.  To see the whole post you may have to go online.  Usually I put the most relevant information at the end after a some nonsensical jokes or something …like…. this!

Recently, I happened to come across two of my colleagues talking about how long it would take to respond to various scenarios such as some of the scenarios you may have read right here on the Urban Survival Blog.  Specifically, they wanted to know how long it would take to respond to an unforeseen threat.  The problem of course is once you tell someone you are going to do something it becomes impossible to really catch them off guard.  Nevertheless, they wanted to give it a go.  So they had to come up with a way to “test” reaction time to an event (stimulus for those egg heads out there).  Now most people would choose to do this by, I don’t know…… dropping a ruler and seeing how far the ruler drops before the other person catches it.?  You can find this very intuitive experiment here:

Well….. that’s for namby pamby 7 year olds!!  Not Urban Survivalists!  They decided they wanted to try something more realistic.  So they agreed they would test if one could block a slap in the face.  One person would slap the other.  The person being slapped would try to put his hand on his cheek to mitigate the slap. To be fair they would take turns slapping each other. It kinda looked like this:

So folks what have we learned?  Well…… no one likes getting slapped in the face. When you think you were hit just a little harder then you hit, you make up for it and voila!  You get a slapfest. Okay…. I really did not want to post a video of a slapfest but I couldn’t help myself….  for those too high brow to watch two people slapping each other just skip the next video 🙂

Okay, now that we got that out of our system, let’s talk human reaction time.  We all have different reaction times.  These times are dependent upon the stimulus, our own physical condition, our mental/emotional condition and of course, the environment.

Believe it or not there is a lot of science behind the study of human reaction time. Think about if a 100 yard runner could react to the sound of the starter pistol 100th of a second faster.  That may very well mean the difference from obtaining a gold medal rather than a silver medal.  But what would happen if there was a slight incline in that person’s lane?  Would that affect how fast that runner could run?  If that runner had a big bowl of egg foo young the night before and is feeling that wonderful queasy eggy side effect?  Would that impact how fast that runner would hit the finish line?  Lastly, what if that runner heard some devastating news the minute before the sound of the gun?  Would that effect the runner’s start time?

Makes sense.  In the world of Urban Survival, reaction time can mean the difference in making it and not making it.  So what do you do?  Can we do things that will potentially improve our reaction time in the event we are faced with a life and death situation?  The answer is yes!  My colleagues, although funny to watch actually got better at protecting themselves as time went on.  Now, I don’t suggest you grab your friend and start slapping each other (if you do please post the video here).

There are fun and easy ways to improve your reaction time starting right now.  One simple way is to be in better physical shape.  Exercise more.  You cannot respond if you are gassed out.  Second, be in better mental/emotional shape.  Practice meditation, and practice mind enhancing games (see below). Lastly, be aware of your environment at all times.  You can read the post on situational awareness here:

To start you off,  here is a fun reaction time game my friend Bill sent me.  I warn you, it can be addicting!  So get to it!  Thanks Bill for the game and the inspiration for the post.