[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he most obvious benefit of prepping is improved chances of survival in a given crisis. One might also say that a greater state of readiness for whatever life throws your way, in general, is also a tangible benefit. This readiness will mean a certain amount of “occurrence independence” or relying less or even not at all on the resources of others, be they government or citizen.
All of that is more than enough to justify adapting your lifestyle to one of preparedness and self-sufficiency. But there is more to life than just preparing for disaster, and much more to the good life than seeing everything as a box to be ticked on a checklist or problem that needs to be solved.
Luckily even the most hardcore prepper can enjoy significant perks resulting from their activities that they might just overlook if they don’t take the time to stop and appreciate it. The best part is much of these perks are part and parcel to your short-term or long-term preps in and of themselves. With a little change in attitude, you and your family can enjoy them for what they are.
In this article, we’ll be exploring a few of these perks to hopefully give you a better appreciation for your choice to prep, as well as ideas on how to gently and painlessly turn what might be irksome practice or rehearsal sessions into practice disguised as fun activities. And if you are reading this and have been on the fence about prepping, hopefully this will help you round the bend and make the jump.
What’s All This about Perks and Fun? Prepping is Serious!
Yes, it is. But why are you prepping? To be glum, glaring and intense all the time? No! Come on, don’t act like the cliché some hateful people want you to be. We are all prepping to protect what is most important and, ideally, make sure that good life is still waiting for us over the hill after the rubble is swept away, even if we have to rebuild it from scratch. I know this may seem a little esoteric, but please bear with me; I promise this is all germane to what I am trying to teach you in the article.
I’m challenging you to lighten up a little. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the process. Laugh at your failures. Learn from your mistakes. Let resentful or resistant family members come around on their own terms. I promise if you there is some element of prepping that, presented with a playful and pleasant attitude, will be their “gateway drug” into readiness; something that speaks to them on a personal level, creative or otherwise.
Let that seed take hold, and all you’ll have to do is water it with regular “fun” activities.
And for your own sake, too. As serious as you might be about prepping, is it a crime to enjoy yourself, and your craft? Does every practice session need be stern-faced and glowering? I say no. You will not be doing yourself any disservice from enjoying your practice. By no means should you cheat yourself by skipping or omitting any pertinent procedures or steps, but you will still be learning and honing your skills if you are enjoying it.
Sometimes you should test yourself, and others. Intense discomfort, strain and stress will certainly be a part of enduring and surviving a severe crisis. But there is a time and a place for that. Don’t let your preparations against a future that may not yet come to pass rob you of joy to be had in the present.
It’s All about Presentation
Perception is reality, more or less. Keep this in mind when presenting any activities to your would-be prepper family or friends, and also when monitoring your own self-talk. Would you prefer an invigorating and adventurous night in the deep, shady forest, far from the gibbering distractions of modern life or an exhausting slog through the woods, only to finally fall down exhausted on a little pad and sleep fitfully if at all, in preparation for a calamitous event that may never occur?
Well, both of those are essentially hike-in camping, and an essential component of bug-out preparation or generalist outdoor life skills for many, but one just sounds like a fun challenge and one sounds like Hell on wheels. The point is you should caution yourself not to make everything a super-intense, life or death drill. Not for you, and certainly not for others in your family who may not be as gung-ho about the gritty details of survival.
First, good luck selling the latter to the unenthusiastic and resistant. Second, even if you can force someone else to participate on your level, you cannot force them to learn if they resent it. People are much happier and willing to learn when they are enjoying themselves, or a complex task is structured as a game, or an adventure.
They may be having the time of their lives, but so long as you are involving them in learning and practicing the right skills, they will be doing the work, so to speak.
5 Lifestyle Benefits Made Possible By Prepping
1. Getting Fit
Serious preparation is hard work. Many skills, drills and other activities that are commonplace in a prepper’s regimen involve physical activity, or at the very least not being deskbound. More than a few preppers finally found their motivation to get fit and stay that way, the simple, unalienable truth that a fit, strong body is in all ways more useful and durable than a squishy, blown-out one.
Hiking, rucking, combat training, scouting and more are all calorie burning activities par excellence, and done regularly will strip pounds of flab off your body. Hard manual work practicing primitive survival skills like building a fire or shelter, or working land on a garden or homestead will sheathe your body in muscle born of hard labor. The fact that the body is the chassis of the mind, your first toolset and first weapon serves as ample motivation for some preppers to maintain it as they would any other lifesaving apparatus.
If you aren’t putting in the sweat equity somewhere as a prepper, I’d wager you probably aren’t practicing at least a few critical skills.
2. Exposure to New Activities and Hobbies
Let’s face it, there are a whole bunch of activities and tasks that do not fit into squarely into the “recreation box”, but make darn fine hobbies and pastimes. And conversely, some hobbies that are pastimes or nothing more in kind times may actually be entirely relevant, even vital skills after the SHTF.
In the former group, things like austere or minimalist living, electronics tinkering and salvage, amateur botany and wild plant foraging make for fun hobbies to the right person, while also being valuable skills in a crisis of any duration. In the latter group, pastimes like hunting, fishing and camping are, really, just that in the modern world. But in the long running aftermath of a catastrophic event, all of them take on new and vital importance to sustaining life.
You never know where things will lead you when you are a focused and well-rounded prepper. Your practice of primitive fire-starting may see you attempting to while away the hours by your freshly lit campfire pursuing that classic camping task of whittling a spoon from a branch. Pretty soon your mind wanders to the first spoons. How did spoons become? How were they made? You keep working and working on your own spoon.
Next thing you know you are quite adept at repurposing and making from scratch small tools you use out of all kinds of things, a sort of tinkering hobby taken up from prepping that remains a viable skill in your repertoire.
Your drive to be ready for many possible contingencies will see you learn at least passably all kinds of things you never before sought to attempt, from first aid to sewing, all in pursuit of self-sufficiency. Who knows what will really speak to you on a personal level?
3. More Chances to Bond with Family and Friends
This sort of dovetails with the previous entry. If you have a group of like-minded or even just curious people in your social circle, family or friends, including them in your activities and practice sessions can make for great memories and strengthen relationships if handled properly. Doing novel, fun and exciting things with people you care about is important to reinforce positive feelings and build affinity for one another.
This could take the form of letting one of your kids help you build a fire in the backyard from scratch, showing them how to shape the main fuel around the smaller kindling and tinder. You can make it a game to see who can get the most just right sticks. Camping is of course a perennially popular activity with many families. If you take care to try and limit the carried equipment to what you could actually haul on your back or in the car, you can start to reinforce the ideas of making due with less.
Even if your camping trip does not turn out that way, you are all together, and more importantly safe, in the wilderness. Just getting acclimatized with outdoor living as “ok” is a big step for some people, and should not be discounted. Adult friends will probably enjoy a little skill-building session on something they have never tried before, from vehicle maintenance to land navigation.
The rule of thumb is to simply enjoy the time you are spending with the ones you care about. If you maintain a good, upbeat attitude, you’ll find it is infectious more often than not, and the learning will take care of itself, even if your friend cannot tell it is happening.
4. A Greater Sense of Overall Well-Being
With prowess comes a sense of calm confidence. Knowing that there is little the world or mankind can throw at you that you cannot handle, or at least get a vote in the outcome, is a major stress reliever. Furthermore, a good sized cache of food, water, clothing, tools and other equipment, all bulwarks against loss and lack, will do a great deal for your psyche; life is good when you have a surplus of food and water to go with your shelter.
Knowing you are as ready as you can be for something does much to quiet the mind of any lingering uncertainty and doubt about the future. Having trained and tested yourself across a wide variety of possible mishap and mayhem, you will be able to enjoy your day-to-day life without dreading what the future holds.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll be fulfilling your sacred duty as a leader, protector and provider for your family and loved ones. People with resolute courage to face adversity will be needed to help the less bold, the weak and ill-prepared weather the storm.
5. You’ll Travel More Often
Be it on scouting forays for possible evacuation routes and lines of detour, or searching for the perfect bug-out location, prepping seriously will see you traveling for all kinds of reasons. Much of this travel can even be spur of the moment: what’s down this road? Have I tried all the less known county roads to and from home and my workplace? Should I get a feel for neighboring towns? The answers to all of these questions are valuable, and should be answered.
Another cause for travel could be networking with like-minded family and friends in other areas in or out of your state (even country!) to collaborate on plans and procedures you will all undertake when things get dicey. Trips to swap meets, gun shows and training classes will see you hit the road in search of gear or knowledge. Relationships you form at those events, if any, could lead to even more opportunities for interaction and travel.
Prepping can protect and enrich your life in so many meaningful ways. Making the lifestyle change to become a serious prepper will net you more than a basement full of beans and bandages and a nice woodland camo boonie hat. Prepping with the right attitude will introduce you to new opportunities: making new friends, improving your family culture and finding enjoyable and rewarding new hobbies first among them.
Don’t get so caught up in getting ready for The End of the World that you forget to stop and smell the roses.