Book Excerpt: 'The Survivors Club'

"Survival is one thing," he continues. "Survival with grace and dignity is another." Anderson believes one of the greatest surprises of his ordeal was the way his fellow hostages got through the very worst without compromising their decency and humanity. He remembers some of his worst days when he wanted to give up, when he couldn't face any more abuse, isolation, or the revolting bowls of fatty lamb and rice. "I can't do this, God," he would say. "I'm finished. I surrender." "But at the bottom," he writes in his powerful memoir, Den of Lions, "in surrender so complete there is no coherent thought, no real pain, no feeling, just exhaustion, just waiting, there is something else. Warmth/light/softness. Acceptance, by me, of me. Rest. After a while, some strength. Enough, for now."

Anderson believes that he reached this state of grace once or twice. "A few hours later, it fades, and the anger and frustration and longing are back," he writes. "But the memory is there, the sense of presence. And sometimes the place is reached again, briefly. Not often, but sometimes.

"Meanwhile, the hours are endured, the days gotten through. And the nights are spent in prayer, and thought, and the effort to get back to that place." We all can find this kind of power in ourselves, Anderson believes. It's there. Inside us. Waiting to be released.

The third rule of the Survivors Club is that you're probably stronger than you know. When you face a real crisis, you'll discover strengths and abilities that you never knew existed. In interviews with survivors around the world, every single one described this phenomenon. Sometimes, they uncovered hidden capabilities they didn't realize they possessed. Occasionally, qualities that they'd always believed were flaws -- like stubbornness -- ended up saving their lives. The third rule underscores the Japanese proverb that adversity makes a jewel of you. When you're put to the test, you may even be stunned by your own power. It's just waiting to be called into action.

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