I picked up a book at the library the other day called The New Toughness Training For Sports; Mental, Emotional, and Physical Conditioning. I’ve enjoyed reading it, and think that it applies to survival and outdoor living.
Mental and emotional toughness are crucial in survival, but also in bushcraft, camping and probably every other arena of life. The woods life has been glamorized by the tv “experts” so much that the average person doesn’t realize there are bugs, sleet and physical labor testing your resolve regularly. You can’t control them, and they’ll always be there. You can only learn to control how you react to these stresses. This is where mental and emotional toughness come into play. Training the mind and the emotions to work for you, not against you, is crux of this “toughness”. It isn’t denial or false bravado, but learning to know yourself on a deep level and understanding how negative thoughts and emotions can quickly multiply and sabotage a good time, safety, and a group dynamic. It’s about more than just keeping a positive mental attitude; it’s about creating and training mental and emotional processes that can help you create and maintain a positive mental attitude when things are incredibly challenging. If you’re considering attending one of our courses or going off on an expedition of your own, you should become familiar with the concepts the book addresses.
One hundred and six years ago Stewart Edward White summed up this idea of mental and emotional toughness in this quotation from The Forest:
In the woods you must expect to pay a certain price in discomfort for a very real and very deep pleasure. Wet, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, difficult travel, insects, hard beds, aching muscles–all these at one time or another will be your portion. If you are of the class that cannot have a good time unless everything is right with it, stay out of the woods. One thing at least will always be wrong. When you have gained the faculty of ignoring the one disagreeable thing and concentrating your powers on the compensations, then you will have become a true woodsman, and to your desires the forest will always be calling.