I just skimmed through an intriguing article on why some people survive disasters against all odds versus others who perish. It was written by John Blake for CNN. Give it a read.
The common traits of these survivors, according to Laurence Gonzales (who has studied this question at length), are:
- Refusal to be a victim. Survivors are not whiners. They don't complain about the bad things that are happening to them and sit around waiting to get rescued.
- Survivors are not stuck in denial. Most people freeze and deny that something bad is happening. Survivors get through that phase quickly and accept the evidence of what is happening around them.
- Survivors are not necessarily ones who appear most skilled, strongest, or most experienced. These traits can actually lead to carelessness in disaster situations. Survivors are humble and humility keeps them out of trouble.
- Survivors are independent thinkers. Many of the people who died in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001 were told to stay put and wait for rescue by security.
- Survivors have strong family bonds. The desire to see someone they love again helps them endure hardships.
- Survivors pay attention to their intuition. If an activity doesn't "feel right", survivors won't do it.
- Survivors keep their wits about them even when everything else is falling apart.
- Survivors don't give up. They use emotions, like anger, to push them through. They also have a clear and solid vision for the future.