I recently finished a great book written by Laurence Gonzales call Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why (2003). The beginning started off a little slow, but picked up, as most books do and took me through several amazing stories of life, death and the physical and physiological reasons your body reacts the way it does in risky situations. Gonzales covers some of the ways you can attempt to gain control over those biological elements and save yourself in a situation you think you’ll never get out of. Keeping what he calls a Positive Mental Attitude is key. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in gaining a new perspective of your own self. Being aware of it may save your life someday!
When confronted with a life-threatening situation, 90% of people freeze or panic, says Gonzales in this exploration of what makes the remaining 10% stay cool, focused and alive. Gonzales (The Hero’s Apprentice; The Still Point), who has covered survival stories for National Geographic Explorer, Outside and Men’s Journal, uncovers the biological and psychological reasons people risk their lives and why some are better at it than others. In the first part of the book, the author talks to dozens of thrill-seekers-mountain climbers, sailors, jet pilots-and they all say the same thing: danger is a great rush. “Fear can be fun,” Gonzales writes. “It can make you feel more alive, because it is an integral part of saving your own life.” Pinpointing why and how those 10% survive is another story. “They are the ones who can perceive their situation clearly; they can plan and take correct action,” Gonzales explains. Survivors, whether they’re jet pilots landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier or boatbuilders adrift on a raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, share certain traits: training, experience, stoicism and a capacity for their logical neocortex (the brain’s thinking part) to override the primitive amygdala portion of their brains. Although there’s no surefire way to become a survivor, Gonzales does share some rules for adventure gleaned from the survivors themselves: stay calm, be decisive and don’t give up. Remembering these rules when crisis strikes may be tough, but Gonzales’s vivid descriptions of life in the balance will stay with readers.