How to Live Like a Martian: Lessons from Mark Watney the Botanist

They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially colonized it. So, technically, I colonized Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!
— Mark Watney

I watched the movie "The Martian" the other day for about the third time.

First. I love movies, good ones anyway.

Second. This one is full of practical applicable wisdom for everyday life.

The movie is about a team of astronauts that have gone to Mars for research. They get caught in a windstorm or dust-storm (Which by the way scientists say could never happen.)

During this storm all of the astronauts escape the planet and are earthbound, unfortunately Mark Watney (Botanist), gets left behind after being presumed dead.

Then he has to survive. The movie is about will, hope, grit, skill, and perseverance.

It was originally written by Andy Weir as blog posts. He would write a little at a time and eventually it became a book, and then a major motion picture. Very Cool.

Yet another example of someone doing what they love and making a living. Gotta love it.

As I had said before, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned and applied from this movie that can help us in our everyday lives. For the sake of this blog I have pulled out the five that I thought were the most important.


Accept where you are at and take ownership

You think your life is bad? Do you literally have to fight for your survival everyday? (I'm talking no joke, living and dying). Are you stranded on mars without another soul in sight, all alone with only the few things that were left behind.

Mark Watney was, and he had a moment where he was going to give up. 

Then he made a steel resolve that he was not going to quit and to use his training to help him survive and escape the solitude of Mars.

How often do we just give up? Over the dumbest of things. 

Someone doesn't like us, so we get upset. Someone said something bad about us, so we complain about it. 

Work didn't go our way today, so we pout about it.

Give me a break.

We don't even know how good we have it.

The best thing that we can do as men, is to take a look at where we are at in life, and own it. We are there because of the choices that we have made and the lifestyles that we have chosen to lead. Sure, there may have been some things that were out of our control, but for the most part, we played the biggest part in where we end up.

We have to come to terms with this. Until we do, we will continually bury ourselves in our own self pity. We will always play the victim, fall into passivity, and blame others for everything that happens.

You have to take ownership of your life. Just like Watney, you and only you are responsible for the outcomes from here on out. Forget about the past, and look ahead. It's not about what mistakes you have made, or where you come from, it only matters where you are going.

If you want to be a lazy, catatonic, lethargic passive man your whole life, then do nothing. If you want to become the man you were made to be, then you have to take responsibility for everything. That's what men do, and that's the first step.

Take inventory of your resources


Slow down. Take a deep breath.

You have been given everything that you need. Now you have to learn how to use it. 

What are you good at? What skills do you have? What resources are at your disposal and how can you use them to your advantage?

You don't have time to say you don't know how to do something, or that you can't learn it. Yes you can, and only if you have that mindset will you be able to move forward. 

Watney was stranded on mars and could only use what he had at his disposal to survive, to stay alive long enough to get off the red planet.

Although this is not necessarily survival for us, I believe it is best for us to think about it that way. Today could be your last? What are you doing with what you have right now to be the man that you were made to be?

Don't quit, never stop working


Once Watney got through the initial shock of being alone and stranded, he knew he had to do something. He accepted where he was at, then he took stock of everything he had.

Then he started working, he calculated how much food he would need, started to grow potatoes in the garden, went to work in the rover that was left behind.

He mad a plan everyday.

Most people do nothing to help themselves, they sit around and remain hopeless, victims of their own circumstance. They quit, they give up. 

They have been told to many times they are not good enough,m or that they can't do something, or they begin to believe all of the lies that they have been told.

Watney said, if you quit, you die.

Sure, you may not actually physically die, but spiritually, and emotionally you will begin to die a slow death. When you give up on something you are more likely to continue that patter with everything. When you don't reach the desired result you will become frustrated, depressed and resentful.

Then the cycle will repeat itself. This is what happens to most people.

Your mind is your greatest weapon


Your body will be able to do far more than your mind allows it too. 

That is why conditioning your mind to handle stress and pressure a little more everyday is good for you. It will teach you to remain calm and collected when things go south.

Watney had hours and hours of training under his belt by this time. Hours and hours in a training environment, studying the systems and the planet.

We have to do the same things over and over daily to have that same sort of success and familiarity. I was reading about a rock climber Alex Honnold who was the first to climb El Capitan in Yellowstone without any safety device or rope. He free climbed it.

When he was asked if he was scared when he got really high and was looking down. He said, "No". I have practiced this so many times that Fear has no place.

Our minds create the fear, and when fear sets in, we panic, and that's when we make mistakes, lose control and possibly die.

When I was in boot-camp we had to do an exercise where we tread water for 5 minutes. There were some guys who couldn't do it and would panic. When they panicked they would do anything to stay afloat. They began to push other guys under the water to escape drowning.


I had a guy put me under. At first I didn't know what was happening, then I realized that he was going to hold me under and I was going to drown if I didn't do something. Instead of struggling or fighting back, I swam down as deep as I could and then away and into safety.

If I would have panicked, I would have certainly drowned. My mind knew what to do, because I had practiced it before with my dad on how to get away from that type of situation.

You might think, well, when am I ever going to need to have that skill? My answer to you is, you should be prepared for any situation at any given time. That's how a 360 Man thinks and lives.

Never Lose Hope


It's not over until it's over.

You are never out of the fight, and when things look bleak, there is still hope.

Watney had a lot of things go wrong, and just when he thought he was out of ideas or resources or food, he had just a little more. He always found a way.

When we don't give up, or lose sight of what our goal is, we will always find a way to win, or survive.

There is always a glimmer of hope. You can choose to live, or you can choose to give up.

Watney never lost hope. He got frustrated, angry and felt lost at times, but he never gave up hope that he would, somehow, someway, get home. 

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