12 Rules For Life
“It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable.” -Jordan Petersen
Rule 1 – Stand up straight with your shoulders back
Peterson emphasises on understanding the importance of dominance. How order and chaos work together, how paying attention to our posture, speaking our mind, walking tall, and being daring encourages serotonin to flow and portrays an image of competence to the world. Standing up straight does two powerful things – it exerts dominance and confidence and it also shows that we accept responsibility. It’s hard to accept responsibility for our actions when we are slouching or are sprawled out on the floor. By being upright with our shoulders back and our feet shoulder-width apart, we exude a confidence and a willingness to take meaningful actions.
Rule 2 – Treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping
There’s a golden rule that says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many people do an awful job at looking after themselves. It is often seen at the medical field that people are negligent while taking care of themselves. They don’t take the right medicine, at the right dose, on the right time. However, people are usually really good at taking care of their pets. They buy them food, take them to the vet and wash them as required. We should exercise the same level of care when it comes to ourselves. Of course helping those we love, caring and taking responsibilities on behalf of them is very good but we must realise that we must also love and take care of ourselves. We must take time to heal our body and mind. It may be something as simple as keeping our room clean or something much deeper such as having self-respect and considering ourselves a vital person with potential, rights and desires. Besides, the more we look after ourselves the more healthy and powerful our mind and body will be and we will be better able to support the ones we care for.
Rule 3 – Make friends with people who want the best for you
“A good friend is like a four-leaf clover; hard to find and lucky to have.” — Irish Proverb.
We tend to become like those with whom we spend most of our time. The selection of these important people is not to be taken lightly as they often influence our decisions and behaviour. We should associate with people who support our upward aim and will stop us when we self-sabotage. Choosing to stay with good people is hard. It requires strength, determination, courage to differentiate right from wrong.
Rule 4 – Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not who someone else is today
In a highly-connected, populous world, we can always find someone who’s better than us—be it in looks, wealth, status or relationships. Petersen suggested to focus on our own life rather than focusing on others. Constantly comparing ourselves with others is utterly and inherently self-destructive. These kind of beliefs build resentment, anger and self-loathing. All of this diminishes our own sense of self, our personal valuation and our feelings of autonomy. Moreover, we can’t always make changes in our life for the better in just a couple of days. It requires time and effort. Therefore, we should strive to become a better person every single day.
Rule 5 – Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
Children aren’t born with social-cultural skills—they must be taught how the world works and how to navigate in society. Parents should limit the rules, and use the least amount of force necessary to enforce the limited rules. If a child’s parents are to love them and to support them but are driven mad by certain things that the child does, it is highly unlikely that someone else in society will also show tolerance towards that behaviour. It’s our job as a parent to put an end to such behaviour. Also, as parents, we need to understand our own capacity for bad and egregious behaviour.
Rule 6 – Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
There are many things to complain about in our surroundings but we should first correct ourselves before criticizing our society. Being busy on criticizing the society all the time makes us neglect our flaws and ignore our behaviours that need correction. The first step is to bring peace and positivity in our own life and after that we can criticize the state and attempt to contribute to change the society to make it better. This step can be summed up in one quote: “If every man sweeps his own porch then the whole world will be clean.”
Rule 7 – Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
The thing that sets successful people apart from the unsuccessful is that successful people are able to delay gratification for long-term gains. No one said that life is fair. No one said that we were born to live a happy life. Life is not supposed to be easy; life is supposed to be meaningful. Suffering is an intrinsic fact of life. It cannot be avoided. A more realistic goal is to ensure that the suffering that we endure is worth the life we are living.
Rule 8 – Tell the truth—or, at least, don’t lie
One of the hardest things to do sometimes is telling the truth. Social trust can be a difficult thing to achieve and can be quickly lost through an indiscretion or even a simple misunderstanding. According to Peterson, only truth can bring us out of trouble – maybe not immediately but in the long run you’ll have everyone’s trust.
Rule 9 – Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
“The great majority of us cannot listen; we find ourselves compelled to evaluate because listening is too dangerous. The first requirement is courage, and we do not always have it.” – Carl Rogers.
We often fall in the trap of trying to win over the argument and miss the true point of a good conversation. If what you hold to be true must be forced upon others, is the truth really that powerful? If what you think is true and righteous, it should be able to withstand honest scrutiny and either emerge stronger, be modified or be cast aside as a lie. Peterson even says to listen to our enemies. Surely, they will lie about you, but also be sure that they will be frank about things that your friends might not see or don’t want to tell.
Rule 10 – Be precise in your speech
According to Peterson there is an undivided connection between communication and reality. The words we say are meaningful and possess tremendous significance. According to Peterson, precise speech is important. Being able to describe exactly what you do not understand or what makes you unhappy is the first step in improving any situation.
Rule 11 – Don’t bother children when they are skateboarding
A prevalent style of parenting today is the ‘helicopter parenting.’ This kind of parenting is very controlling but it comes with a warm, pleasant and helpful face. The helicopter parent lives a life of perpetual fear for their child. This kind of paranoia leaves the child unprepared for the rough and tough environment of the real world – unsure of how to navigate novel social situations and completely unable to take appropriate and calculated risks once they’re adults. Skateboarding along with other physically demanding activities teaches children how to handle their own fear and when to push against it.
Rule 12 – Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
The point here is not to seek out and pet every cuddly creature you see on the street or in the wild because some cats are feral and some dogs are service animals that are best left alone to their work. What this instead means is that people need to stop what they’re doing from time-to-time and just be present in the moment and appreciate the wonderful beauty and peace that is all around us. Peterson says that we must keep our eyes open and search for those little things that make life worthwhile.