Humans crave order and meaning to cope with the uncertain world. Religion served this purpose throughout history, but secularism has created a void that nihilism and empty ideologies fill. Jordan Peterson argues that there is genuine meaning and good in existence.
Real evil exists, and good opposes it by preventing harm. Therefore, living a life that produces good creates meaning and makes your existence significant. Your actions, health, and relationships matter.
Rule 1: Improve your posture for increased respect from others.
Your brain has a monitoring system that gauges your place in society based on how you perceive others and how they treat you. Positive treatment elevates your status, while negative treatment lowers it.
Slouching signals defeat and low status, leading to poor treatment and reinforcing your low status. Improving your posture can start a positive cycle by getting others to treat you better and making you feel better, resulting in a higher status.
Rule 2: Treat yourself as you would treat others.
People may take better care of their pets than themselves. Similarly, self-sabotage occurs when you neglect your health or break promises to yourself.
According to Peterson, self-loathing leads to this behavior, as you may believe you’re not worth helping. Instead, you must acknowledge your important role in the world and prioritize self-care. As Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
Rule 3: Build a supportive social circle.
Surround yourself with supportive people who genuinely want you to succeed. By pushing each other to greater heights, everyone’s life improves.
Avoid cynical individuals who drag you down and those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Don’t waste time on people who don’t want to improve as they can’t be helped.
Rule 4: Set your own goals and measure yourself against them, not against others.
Mass media makes it easy to compare yourself to the best in every field and feel inferior. However, modern society is complex, and everyone has different goals, making comparisons pointless. Instead, identify your goals and work towards achievable daily actions.
If something is beyond your control, focus on something else. End each day a little better than it started. By doing this, you will stop obsessing over other people’s success and focus on your own path.
Rule 5: As parents – Teach your children to follow societal rules.
As children test boundaries, it’s a parent’s role to teach them what is acceptable in society. Without proper feedback, children may learn incorrect behaviors, leading to poor adjustment and rejection by society.
Setting rules with minimal force is crucial to prevent this. Remember, society will punish them less mercifully than you will.
Rule 6: Take responsibility for solving problems before blaming external factors.
Blaming others for misfortunes is easy, but before doing so, ask yourself if you’ve taken advantage of every opportunity. Stop any wrong actions and speaking cowardly things. Speak and do only those things you can be proud of.
Rule 7: Pursue what’s meaningful to you, and find purpose in life.
Doing good gives your life purpose and overcomes feelings of emptiness. It satisfies your desires for long-term success and makes your life valuable.
Consider, what can you do to make the world a little better? Take notice and repair what you can. Reflect on your true self and work towards becoming who you’re meant to be.
Rule 8: Be true to yourself. Don’t lie to others or to yourself.
Don’t lie to others or yourself, it goes against your beliefs and creates inner turmoil. Avoid lying about your job, relationships, abilities, bad habits, or future.
Define your personal truth and act accordingly, this reduces anxiety and gives you a direction. Always act in ways that align with your internal voice. A lie can ruin all the truth it touches.
Rule 9: Listen attentively to others, learn from them, and earn their trust.
People verbalize their memories and emotions to think clearly and solve problems. As a listener, you can help by serving as a voice of reason or simply by being present.
Summarizing the speaker’s message is an effective listening technique that forces you to genuinely understand and avoid misinterpreting their words. Assume that the speaker has reached thoughtful conclusions based on their own experiences.
Rule 10: Define your problem clearly for an easier solution.
Anxiety stems from the unknown; specificity turns chaos into something manageable. Treat every problem in your life with the same clarity you would a cancer diagnosis. Be precise about what is wrong and what you want.
In conflicts, specify exactly what is bothering you to prevent resentment from building up and causing harm.
Rule 11: Accept the existence of inequality.
Peterson rejects the postmodern view that gender is purely a social construct and that there are no inherent differences between males and females. Instead, he calls for recognition of natural differences and preferences between the sexes, as denying them can lead to unintended consequences.
For instance, he argues against excessive protection of young boys, as they have a natural desire for risk-taking and competitiveness that should be allowed to develop.
Rule 12: Find moments of joy in life’s hardships.
Life is difficult and suffering is inevitable. Instead of hating the universe for it, accept that it’s part of existence and love someone despite their limitations. Find joy in the small things that make life worth living, like watching a girl splash into a puddle, enjoying a good coffee, or petting a cat.