You learn unique, useful skills in the military—not just for special ops, but also often applicable to everyday life. Here are ten of the most interesting ones we’ve learned over the years.
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10. Pack Your Clothes Efficiently
Those in the military often have to be ready to “move out” at a moment’s notice, packing light and keeping their uniforms wrinkle-free. They’re pros atfolding shirts, rolling pants, and even saving space with optimal socks folding. By the way, an Army surplus store is a great place to pick up a versatile bag for travel or day-to-day journeys.
9. Make Your Bed Every Morning…Fast
Mom was right—and so is the Navy: Making your bed every morning is important. Former Navy SEAL Adm. McRaven points out how making your bed each day gets you the push you need to conquer the rest of the day’s tasks. (Sometimes it’s just the one small thing that pulls you out of a rut and keeps you going.)
8. Beat Jet Lag with Your Diet
Fewer things are worse than going on a long flight only to be sick for hours when you get there thanks to jet lag. There’s an Anti-Jet Lag Diet designed by the Department of Defense and supported by a military study as effective at keeping jet lag at bay. It’s a four-day plan where you alternate feasting and semi-fasting (not as bad as it sounds!).
7. Save Energy and Money with the Navy Shower
Everyone who enjoys showers can skip this one, but everyone else might want to just give it a chance because you can not only save a couple of hundred dollars on your water bill, but also help conserve water. The trick is to turn off the shower after your body’s wet, lather up, and then turn the water back on just to rinse off. It makes sense, even if it doesn’t sound fun.
6. Keep Your Dress Shirt Tucked in Neatly
Billowing dress shirts just aren’t in fashion anymore. The video above shows how to pinch and tuck your dress shirt in, military style, for a more presentable, slimmer appearance (plus other dress shirt tricks).
5. “Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable”
This one’s not so much a trick but a mind hack (or at least a quotable to keep in mind): Change your perspective so you’re comfortable with the uncomfortable, and you’ll be prepared for anything. Not necessarily extreme physical situations, but any of the many uncomfortable situations life will throw at you.
4. Gauge Your Fitness Level
Speaking of discomfort, here’s the Marine Corps fitness test that will show you how fit or unfit you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re Marine material or not, the three exercises (pull-ups, crunches, and a three-mile run done within 2 hours) will give you a benchmark of your current fitness for future reference.
3. Know the Real Signs of Drowning
The signs of drowning are very subtle—not the splashy, loud show you might expect. The U.S. Coast Guard posted the signs everyone should be aware of, so you can know when to call for help or act, if you’re properly trained. (Don’t be a hero, remember the life-saving advice “reach, throw, row, go.”)
2. Make Great Coffee Anywhere
Great coffee? From the military? As you’ve noticed by now, these guys get around a lot, and know how to improvise. Former Marines-turned-coffee-book-authors Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez showed us the best methods for making great coffee on the go, whether you’re camping or happen to be somewhere you need a very sturdy mug.
1. Survive in Harsh Situations
You’ll hopefully never need the US Military Survival Manual, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Download it on your phone to learn about fire starting, dealing with dangerous animals, and more wilderness survival skills from the experts.