EIGHT CHARACTERISTICS COMMONLY KNOWN TO PEOPLE WHO SURVIVED DISASTER
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Surviving a disaster doesn’t just come down to fight or flight. Circumventing danger is more complicated than that. However, there may be one way to gauge if you have what it takes to make it out alive, thanks to a study that proves this. Do you possess the eight shared traits of survivors?
I’m A Survivor, I’m Not Gonna Give Up
They say you won’t know how you’ll respond to a catastrophe until you’re faced with one. A study published in PLOS One in July 2015 set out to clear up that mystery. What does it take to survive? The researchers interviewed and surveyed survivors of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster to get closer to what fuels the power to live in these scenarios. More than 1,400 survivors received the questionnaire, which included 40 items, each pertaining to one of three classes of characteristics: personal traits, attitudes, and habits. Drumroll please… here is the list of eight traits that were shared among the survivors of that disaster:
This represents the attitude or habit of gathering and organizing people. You may possess this trait if you strongly agree with these statements (taken from the questionnaire):
I take initiative in talking to other people.
Sophisticated words that move other people come out of my mouth.
This represents the attitude or habit of endeavoring to stay calm in difficult or strained circumstances. You may possess this trait if you strongly agree with these statements:
When something happens, I try to stay calm and not panic.
During difficult times, I endeavor not to brood.
This represents awareness of the meaning of one’s life from a spiritual perspective. You may possess this trait if you strongly agree with these statements:
I am aware of the path and teachings I should follow as a person.
I am aware of the role I should play in society.
8. Active well-being
This refers to the daily practice of maintaining or improving one’s physical, mental, and intellectual status. You may possess this trait if you strongly agree with these statements:
In everyday life, I endeavor to find opportunities to acquire new knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
In everyday life, I have habitual practices that are essential for relieving stress or giving me a change of pace.
What Would You Do?
Reports of disasters tend to mostly touch on the big figures — the billions in damage, the dozens of lives lost, the hundreds of injuries — and the details can get lost. But studies like this humanize these very real, human experiences. Identifying and fostering these potentially life-saving traits in yourself could help you in a sudden crisis, and during the aftermath.
But all the preparation in the world can’t prepare anyone for the unimaginable. Smithsonian Channel’s “Make It Out Alive” series revisits some of the past century’s most unthinkable catastrophes to share the firsthand accounts of people who were actually there. Take a cue from real-life survivors, and ask yourself: “What would I have done?”