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Survivor: Ray Mears reveals his 10 lessons for a happy life

Ray Mears (Peter Gray / ITV)
Ray Mears (Peter Gray / ITV)

He started his bushcraft company, Woodlore, in 1983 at the age of 19, and it became so successful it led to his name becoming a trademark.

Ray first appeared on our screens in 1994 on BBC wildlife series Tracks, and has gone on to front a number of shows, including Survival, Wild Britain and Ray Mears Goes Walkabout.

At the moment Ray is on a speaking tour of the UK, sharing his knowledge of bushcraft, and Ray revealed to The Sunday Post he’s set to star in Wild France and Wild Australia on ITV later in the year.

In short there’s not much Ray, 51, doesn’t know about the great outdoors – but how does he survive his everyday life?

Ray shared his 10 rules for a happy life.

Never give in

I guess many people would expect someone like me to say something like this!

But never giving in doesn’t just apply to a survival situation, it has to be everyday life.

If you achieve some momentum you have to keep it going. And if you can’t get people to get out of the way, go around them!

What we need is more people with ambition in the world.


Avoid the green-eyed monster

I was a huge fan of George Best, he was a hero of mine and a very interesting man.

I met him once and he told me how the opposition would try to break his legs because of who he was. Even if they were sent off it was worth it, because he was George Best.

But what was also important was he never reacted, he just got up and played better.

Jealousy is a very negative thing, I prefer to focus on myself and what I want to achieve instead of looking towards others.


Keep work and family separate

I just don’t talk about my family on television, on the speaking tour or in the press either.

I value privacy and it’s not fair on them if I’m off chatting about them.

It’s not relative to what I do either – shoehorning my family in when I’m talking about bushcraft wouldn’t make sense!

I’m a bit wary of the media [in 2010, Mears was called in by police to help track killer Raoul Moat]. What I saw from some quarters during that episode was a disgrace.

I won’t trust 24-hour news coverage again.

Ray Mears in Glacier Park, Montana (Tin Can Island Ltd / Phil Coles)
Ray Mears in Glacier Park, Montana (Tin Can Island Ltd / Phil Coles)

Don’t fear death

There’s no point in being afraid of death, we’re all dying every single day when you think about it.

It’s not the end that’s important, or even the beginning, it’s the bit in the middle that counts.

I think sometimes people forget that, or focus on what’s behind them or in front of them too much.

The interesting thing is probably happening to you right now.

Never stop being curious

I have a real desire to keep learning, I believe everyone should.

By being curious I’ve managed to learn an awful lot about the world. So being curious is vital.

You learn the value of the things around you, and that forever changes your perspective on nature.

It makes you feel at home in places we are otherwise brought up to believe are threatening.

That’s one of the things I object to in television – that wild places are inherently dangerous.

They’re not. They’re fine. It’s just whether you do the right thing or not.



It’s not just the outdoors where I like to forage – I love visiting a market to look for fresh ingredients.

Instead of coming up with a dish and looking for specific ingredients I like to browse around and see what’s nice and fresh that day.

Then when I get home I’ll have a look at what I’ve picked up and try to come up with a recipe.

Ray on Skye (ITV / Peter Gray)
Ray on Skye (ITV / Peter Gray)

Learn to be happy with yourself

I’m very happy in my own company, and I like being alone in the wild.

Being alone means there are fewer disturbances, so you see more.

Not everybody is suited to travelling on their own, but I’m happy to listen to my internal voice.

If there are lots of you, there are lots of rocks going into the pond, and lots of ripples going out, but I like to just be the rock that’s quiet in the pond and see what comes to me.


Keep reading

I love to read, it’s how I wind down. It’s relaxing but also motivating.

I enjoy books on wildlife and history, but I’m not limited to those.

I’ll devour classics, such as Les Miserables, but I’m just as likely to choose one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books.

I wouldn’t even call them a guilty pleasure, they’re just enjoyable reads.

Be passionate about something

It’s important for me to do what I do, and to do it in the right way.

It’s tempting to take the easy route but it’s sometimes not the best way. I try to do the right thing when I’m doing my television shows.

I was trying to put right the damage done by the Rambo films.

Everyone thought of “survival” as aggressive, militaristic and rather stupid, if you ask me.

I wanted to show that this knowledge was healthy, and I think I’ve been able to achieve that.


Take time to reflect on what you’ve done

I’ve got a lot of miles on the clock. The body doesn’t do what it could do and it’s probably time for an oil change but, hopefully, you get wiser.

You get to a point where you can look out and enjoy the view because you’re not having to climb the ladder so hard.

One phrase I’ve stuck by is: “Love many, trust few and never paddle your own canoe.”

I’m not sure where I heard that one, but I do like it.


Ray is currently on his Tales Of Endurance speaking tour and will appear in Darlington, Liverpool, Gateshead, and many more. For full details visit


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