EXPLORER Bear Grylls apparently believes that we have all become too soft and lost the old-world skills.

And before you say “well, he would, wouldn’t he?” about the man who was in the SAS, broke his back in a parachuting accident and became the youngest British person to climb Mount Everest, it might be worth examining his thoughts as they apply to modern life.

He famously takes well-known people like President Obama into the wild and teaches them survival skills, along with hosting programmes including Born Survivor.

He’s back on our screens next month with Treasure Island which takes groups of people into the wilderness.

His programmes are all about coping with a sense of danger, meeting and overcoming fears, living life on the edge.

Bear is scathing about life today. “Over the last few hundred years we have become soft,” he says.

If you think about it, most people don’t challenge themselves much in ordinary life. They create routines to ease their existence and feel comfortable and avoid anything that might need more effort or thought.

Bear Gryll’s life is a challenge. He lives on a remote, small island off the coast of west Wales with Abersoch the nearest mainland village.

To buy a loaf, he has to walk down the island hill, row out in a little boat for 40 minutes to the mainland, walk a mile up the beach into town, then reverse the whole process to go home.

That is only a simple, everyday sort of challenge for him but it’s plainly one he has chosen as part of his unorthodox lifestyle.

He does, though, have a point about the rest of us.

Not only are we so hidebound by health and safety rules that even letting our children climb trees seems these days seems like gross neglect but most of us rarely challenge ourselves to even try something new.

A significant proportion of the population, involving a spread of ages, live a significant proportion of their lives online in virtual worlds.

There is obviously nothing wrong with gaming in itself but is it, like Second Life and other virtual worlds, just a substitute for real-life?

Physical challenges come in places like Go Ape at Rivington, where you can literally swing through the trees, or learn a new sport.

But you can just as easily challenge yourself with a new, less physical hobby to take you out of your comfort zone.

Constantly protecting ourselves from suspected “dangers” lurking in ordinary life has made many of us over-protective, unwilling to push ourselves to try the different or even, dare I say it, the slightly dangerous.

An off-shoot of this is that we have also become over-sensitive to any supposed slight. Many people seize on ordinary words and deeds as being some sort of “ist” – racist, anti-feminist etc.

Yet, perhaps if we concentrated on improving the quality of our lives by stretching our own boundaries, we wouldn’t have the time or inclination to seem such timid souls sometimes.