12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson is a great book. Peterson succeeds in creating a deceptively simple summary of what he has learned from life. Through a rich interplay of philosophical, historical, psychological, theological, and personal anecdotes, Peterson succeeds in buttressing his commandments with intelligible explanations that are accessible to anyone.
Here are the summaries of the rules.
Lobsters are like us. They share and compete for territory with other lobsters. They need an appropriate place to hunt and they want to feel secure. Many creatures compete for dominance and status — including birds and chickens. Those who find themselves at the bottom of the hierarchy are last to eat and first to die when disaster strikes.
Dialysis is painful to go through. People get it because they don’t take their medication. There are some good reasons for this. These people might be depressed or alone, but they also tend to treat their pets better than they treat themselves. And that’s terrible. The origins of this tragedy might be found in the story of Adam and Eve.
Don’t maintain friendships that are bad for you out of a sense of loyalty. And It’s hard to make friends with people who want what’s best for you- associating with people who are closer to the ideal puts pressure on you, but it’s what you should do.
It’s better to be big fish in small pond rather than small fish in big pond. No matter who you are, there is always someone better than you. Don’t be too self-critical. There are many games you can play, and you don’t have to stay stuck in a game you’re clearly losing.
It’s not strange that misbehaving children exist, or that some misbehaving adults exist. It’s stranger that anyone at all is civilized, calm, and well-adjusted rather than being barbaric, drug addicted, and chronically anxious. It’s easy to lose focus and it’s easy to not discipline your children.
Leo Tolstoy also reasoned that life was meaningless. His rational knowledge led him to deny life — while faith led him to deny reason. The latter was more difficult. He could not escape these thoughts, but was able to identify four ways of dealing with them.
Recognize that you have a shadow — a dark, evil side. Know that you are either working towards the betterment of mankind, or its destruction. You have either placed “good” at the top of your moral hierarchy, or “evil”. You have chosen either Cain or Abel, Thor or Loki, Batman or The Joker, Christ or Satan.
Lies lead to disintegration, corruption, and malevolence. If your life is not what you want it to be, then reject feelings of weakness, confusion. Refuse to believe in ideologies, and don’t wallow in nihilism.
If you listen, you can tune into the sounding board of the crowd. People will react to you and inform you when you’re wrong. You can choose to get upset and rebel against them, but it’s not wise to make that your default mode of action. You gain nothing from doing so.
Be careful what story you tell yourself to others about your past, present, and future. Look for the correct words. Organize these words into careful sentences and paragraphs. You can redeem your past with the power of precise language. You can win back the present if you acknowledge the future clearly.
The spirit that tries to stop boys from becoming men is an enemy of both sexes — it will object to little girls who want to try something brave. It is destructive and decadent, it is overprotective, and no one who wants to truly better the world should manifest this spirit.
People cooperate in groups to gain security, safety, and company. And competition within the group promotes personal growth and status. The size of the group matters, though.
- Durability (I Will Read This Again): 18/20
- Originality (This Taught Me Something New): 16/20
- Experience (This Was Enjoyable to Read): 18/20
- Efficiency (This Was Concise): 18/20
- Shareability (I Will Recommend This Book to My Friends): 19/20
UW Score: 89/100
A book that contains wisdom for all ages, and the lessons within it are worth re-reading, as many of them happen to be of the eternally recurring yet avoidable kind. 12 Rules for Life will make you wiser.
Originally published at https://unearnedwisdom.com.