12 Rules For Life
by Jordan Peterson

  • Philosophy
  • Ashto = 6/10
  • Jonesy = 9/10
12 Rules For Life

12 Rules For Life – by Jordan Peterson

12 Rules For Life launched in January 2018 and has been pretty much #1 on the charts. Most of the rules are pretty straight forward, some are a little cryptic, but all are necessary to apply to your own life.

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  10. Be precise in your speech
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

‘An Antidote For Chaos’


12 Rules For Life Summary

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life will help restore order, so you can carry a load and justify your existence. 

 Rule 1 – Stand up straight with your shoulders back

A victorious lobster will change its neurochemistry and improve status amongst his lobster piers. The female lobsters identify the top guy quickly and become irresistibly attracted to him. Instead of undertaking the computational difficulty of identifying the best man, the females outsource the problem to the dominance hierarchy

 Lobster’s show how dominance hierarchies have been a dominant feature of the environment to which all complex life has adapted. For most animals on the planet, life isn’t great if you’re low status. You have nowhere to live, nowhere to go, your food is terrible, your of minimal romantic interest, you’re more likely to fall ill, age rapidly and die young, with few around to mourn you.  Standing up straight with your shoulders back will improve your internal neurochemistry and become a self-fulfilling prophecy (see #99 Presence) to reach higher status and live a better life.

 Rule 2 – treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

People will give their dogs pills to save them, but decline when it is for themselves. You need to consider your future and think, ‘what might my life look like if I were caring for myself properly? What career would challenge me and render me productive and helpful.

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

When looking to rescue someone, check first why they are in trouble. Don’t assume they are a noble victim of unjust circumstances and exploitation. If you buy everything that has happened to them with no personal responsibility on the part of the victim, you strip them of agency and their personal power. 

 Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement – you are not morally obliged to support someone who is making the world a worse place. Quite the opposite – you should choose people who want things to be better, not worse.

 Rule 4 – compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

 Hierarchies of accomplishment today are dizzyingly vertical. Who cares if you’re the Prime Minister of Canada, if someone else is ok the United States? Today you aren’t competing with your local town, but most industries you’re competing with the best in the entire world. You’ve got specific problems – financial, intimate, psychological – run your own race and avoid peering in the lane next to you. 

 Rule 5 – do not let your children to anything that makes you dislike them

Many parents decide to be friends with their children. They want their children’s friendship above all, and are willing to sacrifice respect to get it – that’s not good. It is an act of responsibility to discipline a child. It is a careful combination of mercy and long term judgement. 

 Rule 6 – Set your house in order before you criticize the world

Consider your circumstances, start small, have you taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to you? If the answer is no…. Start stop doing something that you know to be wrong. Don’t blame capitalism, the radical left or your own enemies. Don’t reorganize the state until you have reordered your own experience.

 Rule 7 – Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient

 Life is suffering – there is no more basic irrefutable truth. What can be done about that? The immediate answer is pursue pleasure, follow your impulses and live for the moment. Do what is expedient: lie, cheat, steal, deceive, manipulate – but don’t get caught.

 Instead, we should delay our gratification in service of what is meaningful. The idea of sacrifice means that something may be better attained in the future by giving up something of value in the present. By regulating our impulses now, could bring rewards in the future.

   Rule 8 – tell the truth – or at least don’t lie

Taking the easy way out or telling the truth – those are not merely two different choices. They are different pathways through life. They are utterly different ways of existing. Someone living a ‘life lie’ is attempting to manipulate reality with perception, so that only some narrowly desired and pre-defined outcome is allowed to exist. If you don’t reveal yourself to others, you can’t reveal yourself to yourself. So much of what you could be will never be, if you supress who you are. 

   Rule 9 – Assume the person you are listening to knows something that you don’t

 A key theme that comes throughout the top 100. There is no capacity for learning if you assume you are smarter than those around you. If you believe every person can teach you something, you open yourself up to growth and learning in every encounter with another human being. 

 Rule 10 – be precise in your speech

We transform the near infinite complexity of things through the narrow specification of its purpose, through words.  Why refuse to specify, when specifying the problem will enable its solution? Because to specify the problem, is to admit that it exists, which can be confronting. 

 Rule 11 – do not bother the children when they are skateboarding

 The oedipal mothers makes a pact with herself, the children and the devil himself. The deal is: “above all, never leave me. In return, I’ll do everything for you”. “As you age without maturing, you will become worthless and bitter, but you will never have to take any responsibility, and everything you do that’s wrong will always be someone else’s fault. 

 Children can accept or reject this, they have some choice in the matter.

 Rule 12 – pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

When you are going for a walk and your head is spinning with thoughts, a cat will show up and if you pay attention to it, then you will get a reminder for just fifteen seconds that the wonder of being might make up for the ineradicable suffering the accompanies it. Noticing is better than thinking.

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