Unless you are fairly young, chances are your great-grandparents already have passed on. But if they were around in today’s tenuous times, our great-grandparents might have a few words of advice for us.
Survival was something most of our ancestors did well, and a few tips from their success could make a real difference in our lives today.
Our great-grandparents probably survived hard times due to a combination of the right skills and knowledge, the right priorities, and the right attitudes. Here is what they might say to us if they could:
Skills and Knowledge
1. Be able to acquire food by multiple means. Learn to grow vegetables, tend fruit and berry orchards, milk dairy cattle and goats, keep laying hens, raise meat animals, and hunt for wild game.
2. Know how to preserve food for leaner seasons by way of canning, smoking, drying and root-cellaring.
3. Learn to make all of your food from scratch, from bread to butter to noodles to jerky to cheese. Even if you do not do all of it annually, develop and keep up the skills.
4. Be able to repair and maintain what you use. Furniture, buildings, engines, equipment, shoes, toys, kitchen utensils—you name it. It is important to take meticulous care of your belongings and fix whatever needs fixing until it is beyond repair. Buy less, fix more.
5. Know how to treat minor injuries and illnesses at home. Sometimes seeking professional medical advice is the best course, but in a survival situation it is valuable to be able to assess and treat problems yourself if needed.
6. Learn to provide as many of your own basic needs as you can. Hiring a pro might be the most sensible way to go nowadays, but it does not need to be the only option. If tough times come along, knowing how to clothe yourself and your family, heat your home, care for sick animals, provide home defense, and use alternative means for transportation will be useful skills.
7. On most days, put work before play. There is one caveat: It works well to combine work and socializing. In days of old, people worked together with their households and communities on projects like construction, food preservation, quilting and livestock management. Putting work first in a way that builds, creates and nurtures camaraderie is still a great idea.
8. Focus on goals that make a tangible difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. Remember that in a survival scenario it will be more useful to be able to feed, shelter and protect your loved ones than it will be to chase imaginary electronic characters.
9. Develop mental toughness. Tell yourself you can do what you have to do to get by. Even when you want to curl up in a corner and let the world pass by without you, know that it is not an option.
10. Be independent. Do not rely upon the government or wait for some other entity to take care of you. Do not let others make decisions for you about whether or not a place or activity is safe — but do not assume that there will always be someone to rescue you if you make poor decisions. Be smart, and be in charge of yourself.
Whether or not your great-grandparents are still around to cheer you on, use these words of advice along with your own image of what they were like to live a life that would make your ancestors proud of you every day. And if you ever find yourself in a survival situation that may or may not be similar to what they went through, remember to heed their sage words to help you survive and pass along the wisdom to another generation.