What an Ancient Volcano Can Teach Us About How to Survive and Thrive Today

Jan. 15, 2018 By Dave Nelson, Founder of Milestone Mind

The Background


Around 75,000 years ago, over 99% of the Earth’s human population was wiped out.
 
What caused this calamity? Was it a massive outbreak of a communicable disease, like the Spanish Flu? Was it a major weather event?
 
Nope.

Historians say 99% of the world’s population was decimated 75,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption in Sumatra, Indonesia. 
 
Historians say that before this “supereruption,” there were somewhere around 3 to 6 million people on the planet, and the vast majority of those folks were wiped out by a single global catastrophe.
 
Some experts call this event the “Toba Catastrophe,” and this period in history can teach us some extraordinary (and surprising) lessons about how humans can survive and thrive in today’s modern world.
 

Who Was Left After the Supereruption?


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After the Toba Catastrophe, there were only around 3,000 survivors left on the planet. I like to call these individuals “The Golden 3,000.”
 
These survivors faced some seemingly insurmountable conditions.
 
Toba's volcano deposited an ash layer over 6 inches thick over all of South Asia, and the Indian Ocean, Arabia Sea, and South China Sea were also blanketed with ash.
 
It’s also likely that the Toba eruption caused a global winter that lasted for ten years after the event. The eruption, and the global winter that followed, could have largely destroyed the food sources of the remaining survivors, making it extremely difficult for them to stay alive, even if they survived the original event.
 
The Golden 3,000 must’ve been total badasses to survive under such difficult circumstances – and they not only survived, they thrived.
 
Every single one of the people on earth today is descended from this group of 3,000 people.
 
That means you, me, all of our friends, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances – everyone we know in this world, and all the strangers we have never met – are all distant relatives of these heroes.
 

How the Right Mindset Helped the Golden 3,000 Survive


The Golden 3,000 lived in an extreme environment. They had to live on the edge every day if they were going to have any chance at surviving.
 
I believe they survived because they had the right mindset.
 
There was no room for complacency, or fear, or pessimism, or putting up with the status quo in their lives. There was no wiggle room, no possibility of staying stuck or waffling about a decision.
 
Back then, you couldn’t just sit on a rock somewhere and hope and pray – you had to act deliberately every single day, and learn how to adapt and grow, quickly and consistently. If you didn’t learn these skills, death was just a day away.
 
They had to go out into the world, into uncharted territory, and figure out how to find their places in the world, how to be the best possible version of themselves.
 
There was no running away and hiding back then, there was only running towards, and conquering. That was the only way they would survive.

Resources were scarce, so they had to be able to be flexible, and adapt quickly in order to survive.

It’s likely that many people migrated out of Africa, toward more plentiful food sources. 

They had to try things out to see if they worked, and be willing to explore the unknown, even if they were scared out of their minds.
 
What is it that kept them going? Why were they so desperate to live? It had to be a state of mind that kept driving them forward, every second of every day.
 
Bottom line: If these 3,000 survivors hadn’t adapted the right mindset 75,000 years ago, we wouldn't be here today.
 
What does this mean for us today?
 

How to Create Your Own Survival Mindset


The challenges we face in our modern world are quite different than the ones faced by the survivors of the supereruption – but I’d argue that we actually need to think about the concept of “survival” more often.
 
Not “survival” in the traditional sense (meaning just continuing to live or exist). Most of us don’t worry about getting enough food on a day-to-day basis, and we no longer need to be concerned about getting eaten by saber-tooth tigers.
 
But we need to redefine the concept of survival, and take another look at what it means to be fully alive.
 
We need to go beyond “just getting by.” If we’re just getting by, we’re doing as little as possible. We’re essentially just maintaining breathing, and keeping our hearts beating. That's not truly being alive.
 
“Survival” means we have to choose to take deliberate, focused action, every single day. We must decide to get up and venture out in the world, to innovate and achieve.
 
Our lives are easy, in comparison to the lives of the Golden 3,000. We have grocery stores. We can order anything we want from Amazon, and it will show up on our doorsteps tomorrow. We have huge libraries filled with thousands of years of collective knowledge.
 
But survive, we must – and we must find a way to create a survival mindset.
 
Today, “survival” means you always seek truth in your life, and embrace the challenges you face. It means you move away from the campfire, metaphorically or literally, to explore and conquer uncharted lands.
 
You must learn new things, find exciting ways of approaching problems, and push past your biggest fears.
 
When you move toward true survival, you become fully alive – you become the best possible version of yourself.
 
The Toba supereruption survivors were running confidently and fearlessly toward life – and you can, too.
 

Listen Close. Your Ancestors Need You.


Because the Golden 3,000 fought their way through inhospitable, unforgiving conditions 75,000 years ago, we still walk the earth today.
 
We owe our existence to them – and they’ve also taught us what it means to be fully human and fully alive.
 
We can face our personal and professional challenges by running toward them, rather than running the other way. We can overcome setbacks and obstacles, and move in the direction of having thriving lives.
 
The world we create depends on our courage and ferocity.

In 75,000 years, people will be talking about the human legacy, and how we never gave up or gave in. They’ll talk about how we pushed through and found ways to thrive when things got hard, and it seemed like there were no answers and no solutions.
 
“They didn’t pack it in,” our descendants will say about us.

“They deployed their most powerful tool, their survival mindset, to conquer all the challenges they faced.” 

Your actions will inspire your descendants to become truly unstoppable – and if you listen close, you can hear their battle cry from here.
 
You must be the badass survivor they need you to be.
 
How will you be a survivor today?

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