Abu Dhabi International Book Fair’s Virtual Sessions Series Continues with Survival Expert John Hudson
John Hudson, an expert in surviving extreme situations, was the latest speaker to feature in Abu Dhabi International Book Fair’s (ADIBF) Virtual Session series, organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).
From his home in the UK, Hudson talked about how the principles of military survival can be applied to our everyday lives, especially in coping with the current global health crisis.
Because the 30th edition of the ADIBF has been postponed until next year, scheduled guests have instead presented their talks online so viewers can watch safely from their own homes.
Hudson was a helicopter pilot for the Royal Air Force (RAF) before becoming the UK military’s Chief SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Extraction) Instructor, with his specialist work taking him to some of the most extreme and remote environments in the world.
His expertise led to him presenting Survive That, a television show for the Discovery Channel, and writing his own book, How to Survive: Lessons for Everyday Life from the Extreme World.
In an online conversation with journalist Julia Wheeler, he said the coping strategies used for military survival are equally applicable to handling the stress of being in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. He believed one should adopt a “growth mind-set” and not waste our time in lockdown, whether this involves learning a new skill or just spending time thinking positively about your life.
His book examines how certain people manage to cope in isolation when everything is against them – whether this is the terrain, climate, enemy troops or hostile civilians. Hudson calls this the “perseverance engine” and cites examples of people who have survived extreme situations, such as being stranded on a life raft at sea, or being a prisoner-of-war in solitary confinement.
The common factor in these individuals’ survival was that they all did something to give themselves control, which in turn engendered hope. Hence, they envisioned what their next move would be and acted upon it, which psychologically improved their mental state and their chances of survival.
This can be applied to your own life, where you plan your tasks and control your situation, then reward yourself after you’ve achieved your goal – whether it’s writing part of a book, learning a language or instrument, or completing a task for work.
Previous ADIBF Virtual Sessions have included ones with Lemn Sissay, the award-winning British poet; Anthony Geffen, the documentary maker and Virtual Reality expert; Annabel Karmel, the children’s cookbook author; and Korky Paul, the illustrator of the multi-million selling Winnie and Wilbur series.