Survival Traits – What Qualities Help Us Survive


Survival Traits – Characteristics – Qualities – Attributes.

I believe some survival traits are learned, while others tend to come natural for some people.

I’ve brainstormed a list of survival trait characteristics that I believe are important to survival. I didn’t look up some textbook or whatever. Instead these come from my life experience and opinion. I welcome yours as well.

They are listed in no particular order of importance.

What Qualities Help Us Survive?


The ability to adapt to a changing situation. I did say this list was in no particular order. However “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome” immediately popped into my head. It may be the #1 survival trait of all…

To adapt. This survival trait by itself goes hand-in-hand with additional characteristics, abilities, knowledge, experience to draw upon, know-how, critical-thinking, “can do” attitude, “thinking on your feet”. After all, it is more difficult to adapt when you don’t know what to do!

With that said, when considering survival traits, the ability to adapt is right up there.

[ Read: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome ]


One might argue that this survival trait is #1. Without a will to survive, well, pretty much nothing else works. Yes it’s a basic and highly general trait. But it takes a strong will to survive when the going gets extremely tough. Some give up while others press on. It matters.


Staying or regaining calm. Being calm enables critical and clear thinking. Whereas high emotions and panic will cloud judgement and good decision-making.

It’s not easy to physically or mentally function in an effective capacity during a adrenaline dump. Some have never experienced this – but if and when you do, you’ll understand the issue.

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The power of intuition. ‘Knowing’ without knowing why. It is a powerful survival trait. Gut instincts not only come from experience, but there’s some ‘magic’ going on too… a unique combination of our senses.

[ Read: Intuition & Gut Instinct: The Mystery Of It All… ]


Some (many?) people have a hard time making decisions, especially under difficult circumstances. The ability to make decisions (especially good ones) is a key survival trait attribute. Rather than getting “stuck in the mud”, decisions keep things moving (hopefully forward).


The ability to move on after a mistake or failure. We ALL make mistakes. Bad decisions. But you know what? Once it’s over, you can’t go back and change it. So a good survival trait is looking beyond the mistake. Not wasting time or getting bogged down in what is now the past. Regroup. Move forward.


Insight, anticipation, and foresight. Much of it comes from a combination of knowledge, experience, and situational awareness. A deeper understanding of an overall situation provides better intuitional foresight of potential or probable problems.


The ability to plan ahead, stay organized and work towards a goal. It requires systematic discipline. The ability to break down larger tasks or goals into smaller ones.

Here’s another thing… “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”. Or what Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.” Have a backup plan!


Maybe breaking the rules. Questioning, bending, or breaking the rules when necessary. Most people simply accept the yokes and chains which are placed upon them by others. But those with the ability to think outside the box do not necessarily accept those restrictions.

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Wow. This general trait is sorely lacking in our modern world! That said, it’s one thing to “not be stupid”, but another thing to have common sense! It sure is a good survival trait.


Not an optimist or a pessimist. A good blend of both optimism and pessimism lends the ability to see both sides of a situation without the debilitating side-effects of excessive pessimism or excessive optimism. Too much of one or the other upsets the balance of clear thinking.


This survival trait goes beyond simply the will to survive. It expands upon it. The next level… “I will do it!” The mission will be accomplished. Pushing through a difficult situation. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.


Learn Ability. The ability to learn is not something that all people know how to do AND it involves knowing where to look and find information, ascertain if that info is accurate as well as what to do with this new found knowledge.

Care to add a few more?

[ Read: 10 Survival Movies ]

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>