Book Summary: 12 Rules for Life

There is a continual battle in life between order and chaos. We want structure and significance in our lives as humans to cope with the turmoil and uncertainty we experience daily.

Jordan Peterson (Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto) tells us his 12 Rules For Life to help us better deal with the reality of the world we live in.

For the next 12 minutes, join us as we look at those guidelines and how you may use them to live the life you've always wanted.

Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

A female standing up straight with her thumbs up to show confidence.

Peterson begins the book by talking about lobsters and how the pecking order is formed at the ocean's depths. They basically battle each other to decide the pecking order.

Except that most battles are decided before a single punch (or claw slam?) is fired. The lobsters assess each other when they meet face to face. Most of the time, it's obvious who is the more powerful lobster.

According to Peterson, they are easy to spot in a lobster line-up: they are an arrogant, strutting mollusk that is less inclined to back down when confronted.

Of course, this is a simplification of how things operate for us in the actual world.

Others will perceive your straight back and shoulders back as a show of confidence if you go about with them.

People who exude confidence are regarded differently from those who exude vulnerability (slouched posture, shoulders slumped forward).

It's a virtuous cycle since you'll gain confidence due to the social reinforcement of being treated better. As a result, stand tall with your shoulders back.

Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

As Peterson points out, most individuals are better at filling medications for their pets than they are better for themselves. My own dog is on two medicines, one of which is for anxiety. And he is treated as well as or better than the rest of my family.

Why are we more eager to look after others, even animals, than we are ourselves? The only explanation, according to Peterson, is that we don't think we're worth helping. If we want to get the most out of our life, we must adjust our mentality.

So take a look at your life and ask yourself some simple questions, such as, "What would my life be like if I took appropriate care of myself?"

Finally, make a vow to do those things for yourself, no matter what.

Rule 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you.

A group of friends walking together and being there for each other.

This rule is a continuation of the preceding one. Making friends with individuals who want the best for you is one of the finest things you can do to assist yourself. You don't get to select your family, but you do get to choose your friends.

Here's a question Peterson proposes us think about:

"Why would you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn't suggest to your sister, your father, or your son?"

Instead, surround yourself with individuals who want to see you succeed and who will encourage you. You'll encourage one other to achieve more and better things with your lives. And you'll be there to tell each other when you've gotten cynical or mistreated yourself.

In conclusion, wonderful friends will make you a better person. And since you want the best for yourself, from now on, you'll pick carefully.

Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

This guideline (like anything worthwhile in life) is simple to state yet difficult to implement.

For decades, the media has skewed our perceptions of what "the greatest" looks like in every sector.

We see ideals of beauty, prosperity, marriage, and so on. We also have to deal with the continual stream of individuals who only publish the finest parts of their lives to their social media profiles. This gives the sense that it's difficult or impossible to measure up.

As Peterson points out, we are all unique individuals coping with various sets of circumstances at different periods of our lives.

As a result, there is no clear benchmark against which you should measure yourself. Instead, compare yourself to something you directly influence, such as where you are today versus yesterday.

Make some adjustments if you don't like what you see. Now, not tomorrow!

Rule 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.

Parents cuddling their children telling them of the behaviours they expect from their children.

Nobody wants to believe that their children are doing things that cause others to detest them. It's nearly hard to persuade a parent to acknowledge—even briefly—that they don't like their children.

However, indeed, your children will occasionally do things that will make other people detest them. This is simple to demonstrate.

Consider a moment when you saw someone else's child having a tantrum and thought to yourself, "I would never allow my child to act like that in public."

Here, Peterson provides us with some solid suggestions. Discuss what you like and hate about your children with your partner.

After you've established those points, have your kids act in the way you expect them to. You adore your kids, but if you're being honest, there are certain things they do that you don't enjoy. Imagine the impact their acts will have on others who don't love them as much as you do if they have that sort of impact on you.

This activity is eventually beneficial to your children.

Rule 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.

Take full responsibility for the outcomes when things go wrong in your life. It's all too simple to blame your circumstances or other people for your terrible luck.

This idea has nothing to do with fairness or justice; rather, it is about what works.

Start looking for the things you know you should quit doing in your life, and then stop doing them. Before you give other people relationship advice, make up with your estranged family member. The list goes on.

You can use your own standard of judgment here, and for the love of God, don't waste time debating things you already know are incorrect.

Just quit doing them right now. Continue until your house is spotless, and then then, and only then, shift your focus to critiquing the rest of the world. Clearly, the idea is that fixing oneself is more beneficial than trying to improve other people or events.

It will also assist you in developing the appropriate amount of humility in your life.

Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.

A group of college graduates have pursued their degree for something meaningful in the future.

We shift unpleasant consequences to our future selves, or even worse, other people when we focus solely on what is expedient in the now.

When we seek what is significant, we frequently find ourselves doing the polar opposite: foregoing something today to achieve something greater in the future.

When our impulses are controlled, structured, and united, meaning develops. To aspire to make the world a better place is the ultimate meaning. It's not just for you; it's for everyone.

According to Peterson, if we do this, we will experience ever-deepening significance. It's not joy or bliss, but something else entirely.

To pursue what is important over what is convenient takes bravery and self-sacrifice.

Rule 8: Tell the truth. Or, at least, don't lie.

Why shouldn't you lie?

This is the central question Peterson presents in this section. Why not lie and twist the facts to appease others, prevent confrontation, and avoid hurting people's feelings?

Because if we do, everything will fall apart. He's not only talking about the lies we tell out loud; he's also talking about the lies we live out.

He urges us to contemplate going to engineering school even if we don't want to because our parents want us to.

We begin to convince ourselves that, after all, I did want to be an engineer. Those tiny falsehoods require other little lies to keep it going until it all comes crashing down one day.

Instead, tell the truth. Act the way you want to be.

Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't.

A customer service rep listening to the customers' feedback.

"You already know what you know, after all—and, unless your life is perfect, what you know is not enough," says one of the book's best lines.

Another approach to thinking about it is to wander about, constantly looking for things you don't know, rather than attempting to show everyone how much you know.

Quite frequently, the individual across the table may surprise you with a pearl of knowledge that you can take away and apply to improve your life.

The most efficient method to listen is to recap what others have said and inquire whether you have understood them correctly. Sometimes you'll nail it, occasionally, you'll need to make a minor adjustment, and sometimes you'll entirely miss the point.

When you follow this rule, the only certain thing is that you will learn something useful.

Rule 10: Be precise in your speech.

Being precise may benefit you in a variety of ways.

For starters, it guarantees that you are understood correctly. In most situations, the less room for interpretation, the better. For example, when discussing issues that are upsetting you in a relationship, this is really useful.

Second, being specific about the difficulties you're dealing with transforms chaos into something you can manage. For example, Peterson claims that if we got cancer, we'd want to know exactly what type it was, where it was, and how we'd be treated. He says that we should use the same attitude to whatever issues we face in life.

Third, being specific about what you want out of life is the most effective method to assure you achieve it. When you know exactly what you want, you can go out and acquire it, adjust your path if you're not making progress, and eventually arrive at your objective.

Rule 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.

A mother watching her child water the plants and getting dirty as part of progress.

This section discusses how today's parents have grown overly protective of their children to shield them from harm.

It's fine to test your boundaries to see what you're made of as long as you take the proper measures, such as wearing a helmet when skating to prevent turning your brain into mush.

Even if you have your knees skinned. We need our kids to test their limits to see what they're made of. It's the only way for you to progress. We should think about applying this advice to ourselves as well.

Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

Finally, we must learn to accept the minor pleasures in life when they arise. Life is difficult, and much of it entails figuring out how to endure the pain.

Even on your toughest days, if you pay attention, you could just discover some magic.

As Peterson points out, a small girl dressed in a ballerina outfit dancing on the street is one example. Or if you happen to come across a nice cat on the road.

Then you'll realize that, even if it's just for a few seconds, moments like these make everything else worthwhile.

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