12 Rules For Life
by Jordan B. Peterson
Jordan B. Peterson draws on his background as a clinical psychologist, his experience teaching at Harvard and the University of Toronto, and his personal struggles and triumphs to provide readers with a practical guide for navigating life’s challenges. Through his 12 rules, Peterson aims to help readers take responsibility for their lives, find meaning in their experiences, and live in a way that is fulfilling and worthwhile.
“12 Rules For Life” is divided into twelve chapters, each of which outlines a specific rule for living a better life. The rules cover a wide range of topics, including personal responsibility, meaningful relationships, and the importance of self-care. Peterson uses examples from his clinical practice, personal life, and the works of great thinkers and writers to illustrate each rule and show how it can be applied in daily life.
“To suffer terribly and to know yourself as the cause: that is Hell.”
BIG IDEA 1: Take Responsibility for Your Life
Peterson emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own life. He argues that individuals who fail to take responsibility for their actions and decisions often feel a sense of powerlessness and victimhood, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and other negative outcomes.
Peterson suggests that taking responsibility involves three key steps: acknowledging the reality of one’s situation, recognizing the role of personal agency, and committing to making positive changes.
The first step, acknowledging reality, requires individuals to confront the truth of their situation, rather than denying or avoiding it. This may involve acknowledging one’s own flaws and weaknesses, recognizing the challenges of the environment, or accepting the limitations of one’s circumstances. By facing reality head-on, individuals can gain a more accurate understanding of their situation and begin to develop realistic plans for improvement.
The second step, recognizing personal agency, involves acknowledging the role of one’s own choices and actions in shaping one’s life. According to Peterson, even in the face of adversity or difficult circumstances, individuals still have the power to make choices and take actions that can improve their situation. By recognizing this agency, individuals can begin to take responsibility for their lives and chart a course towards a better future.
The third step, committing to making positive changes, involves taking action to improve one’s situation. This may involve setting goals, developing new habits, seeking out resources or support, or making difficult decisions. Peterson emphasizes that taking responsibility is an ongoing process, and that individuals must be willing to make consistent efforts to improve their lives over time.
In addition to these three steps, Peterson also emphasizes the importance of cultivating a sense of personal responsibility in one’s relationships and interactions with others. He argues that individuals who take responsibility for their own lives are better equipped to contribute positively to their families, communities, and society as a whole.
Overall, Peterson’s emphasis on taking responsibility for one’s life serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of personal agency and the potential for positive change, even in the face of adversity. By acknowledging reality, recognizing personal agency, and committing to making positive changes, individuals can take control of their lives and move towards a more fulfilling and meaningful existence.
BIG IDEA 2: Pursue Meaning, Not Happiness
Peterson argues that the pursuit of meaning is more important than the pursuit of happiness. While happiness is often seen as the ultimate goal in life, Peterson suggests that it is a fleeting emotion that is easily disrupted by the challenges and difficulties of daily life. Instead, he advocates for a focus on pursuing meaning, which involves finding purpose and significance in one’s life.
Peterson suggests that pursuing meaning involves taking on responsibility, developing deep relationships, and engaging in activities that are challenging but worthwhile. Responsibility involves taking ownership of one’s life and making choices that align with one’s values and goals. This can involve making sacrifices and facing difficult challenges, but it ultimately leads to a sense of fulfillment and purpose.
Developing deep relationships is another important aspect of pursuing meaning. Peterson argues that individuals must cultivate meaningful connections with others in order to feel a sense of belonging and purpose. This involves developing empathy, compassion, and understanding, and engaging in relationships that are based on mutual respect and support.
Engaging in activities that are challenging but worthwhile is the third key aspect of pursuing meaning. Peterson suggests that individuals must be willing to take on difficult tasks and push themselves beyond their comfort zones in order to grow and develop. This may involve pursuing a challenging career, learning a new skill, or engaging in creative pursuits that require dedication and effort.
Peterson argues that the pursuit of meaning is what ultimately gives life its richness and purpose. While happiness may come and go, meaning provides a sense of lasting satisfaction and fulfillment. By focusing on pursuing meaning rather than happiness, individuals can find greater purpose in their lives and feel a sense of satisfaction even in the face of difficult circumstances.
Peterson’s emphasis on the pursuit of meaning is particularly relevant in today’s world, where many people are searching for a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their lives. By taking on responsibility, developing deep relationships, and engaging in challenging activities, individuals can find meaning and purpose in their lives and ultimately lead more fulfilling and satisfying existences.
BIG IDEA 3: Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back
Peterson suggests that the way we hold ourselves physically can have a significant impact on our mental and emotional well-being. By standing up straight with our shoulders back, we can convey a sense of confidence and assertiveness that can help us to face the challenges of daily life.
Peterson argues that humans are hierarchical creatures, and that we are constantly evaluating ourselves and others in terms of our relative status within a given social context. When we hold ourselves with confidence and assertiveness, we signal to others that we are capable and competent, and that we deserve to be respected and valued.
On the other hand, when we slouch or adopt a closed posture, we signal to others that we are weak or insecure, and we may be more likely to be dismissed or overlooked. This can have negative effects on our self-esteem and our ability to navigate social situations.
Peterson suggests that standing up straight with our shoulders back can have a number of positive effects on our mental and emotional well-being. By adopting an open and confident posture, we can feel more self-assured and less anxious. We may also be more likely to take on challenges and pursue our goals with greater determination and persistence.
In addition to the physical benefits of standing up straight, Peterson argues that this posture can have symbolic significance as well. He suggests that standing up straight represents a willingness to face the challenges of life head-on, and to confront adversity with courage and resilience. By embodying this posture, individuals can convey a sense of strength and determination that can inspire others and lead to greater success and fulfillment.
Overall, Peterson’s emphasis on standing up straight with our shoulders back serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of physical posture in shaping our mental and emotional states. By adopting a posture of confidence and assertiveness, individuals can convey a sense of strength and determination that can help them to overcome the challenges of daily life and lead more fulfilling and satisfying existences.
“What you aim at determines what you see.”
“12 Rules For Life” provides practical advice on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, drawing from psychology, philosophy, and personal experience. The book’s 12 rules cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on taking responsibility, pursuing meaning, and embodying confidence. Overall, the book offers valuable insights and guidance for navigating the complexities of modern life.
About the Author
Jordan B. Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He gained international fame for his views on politics, religion, and personal development. Peterson’s work draws on a range of disciplines, including psychology, philosophy, and literature, to offer insights into the human condition. He has authored several books, including “12 Rules for Life,” “Maps of Meaning,” and “Beyond Order.” Peterson’s work has been both praised and criticized for its controversial viewpoints and his outspokenness on a range of social and political issues.