"12 Rules for Life" by Jordan B. Peterson

  • Book: “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” by Jordan B. Peterson
  • Pages: 448
  • For: Anyone who is unhappy with their life, people who are angry, resentful, or lost in life
  • Lesson: 12 Rules that will help you become a better person and in turn help make the world a better place


Jordan B. Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology. He has taught at Harvard and the University of Toronto. Dr. Peterson specializes in personality psychology with a particular interest in the psychology of religious and ideological beliefs. He’s published more than a hundred scientific papers, transforming the modern understanding of personality, while his textbook, Maps of Meaning, revolutionized the psychology of religion.


In the past few years, Dr. Peterson has become one of the world’s most popular public thinkers due to his YouTube lectures–which has over 700K subscribers– where he describes the deep connections between neuroscience, psychology and some of the oldest stories told by mankind.

Author Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Author Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

In his book, 12 Rules for Life, Peterson discusses discipline, courage, and the necessity of clear, truthful thinking in order to live properly within the order and chaos of our lives.

Here are three important rules from his book.


1) Stand up straight with your shoulders back


Peterson starts the book by talking about the surprising similarities shared between humans and lobsters. For example, they have similar nervous systems and live in a dominance hierarchy. But what do lobsters have to do with standing up straight? Well, both humans and lobsters share the chemical serotonin, which governs posture. When a lobster is defeated in a fight, their posture drops, they face the ground and appear weak to others. The same thing happens to humans, and with each defeat, serotonin levels drop even lower.

Low serotonin means decreased confidence. Low serotonin means more response to stress and costlier physical preparedness for emergency…Low serotonin means less happiness, more pain and anxiety, more illness, and a shorter lifespan.

— Page 15

One bad life event can lead to another, and soon enough there you become stuck in a feedback loop spiraling down in a negative direction. The most important thing to do when this happens is to work to turn the direction of the feedback loop in reverse.


If a person slouches, they present themselves as defeated. However, if a person stands up straight, it means they may have taken a hit but are not defeated. It means that you, both physically and mentally, are able and willing to move forward in life to the next challenge. It also signals to other people that you are able to handle whatever life throws your way while you pursue your rightful destiny.


2) Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping


This chapter begins with a story which highlights that, on average, humans care more for their pets than themselves. Peterson reaches this conclusion by stating that humans are more likely to fill and properly administer prescription medication to their pets than to themselves.


Although this trait may seem healthy and unselfish at first, it is not. If the pet owner doesn’t take care of himself, how will they be able to take care of the pet for the long term? Also, why don’t people love and care for themselves the same way they care for their pet?

[People] are excruciatingly aware of their own faults and inadequacies, real and exaggerated, and ashamed and doubtful of their own value. They believe that other people shouldn’t suffer, and they will work diligently and altruistically to help them alleviate it. They extend the same courtesy even to the animals they are acquainted with–but not so easily to themselves.
— Page 59

Peterson writes that people must learn to respect themselves because they play a vital role to their pets, other people, and society. Peterson believes every person has a vital role to play in the destiny of the world and for that reason, they must take care of themselves.


An easy way to take better care of yourself is to treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. To take care of yourself, it is important to define who you are and refine your personality. Strive to become a good person and then work towards becoming an even better being. By doing so you will help direct the world a bit more towards Heaven instead of Hell.


3) Make friends with people who want the best for you


When looking back on his teenage years, Peterson notes that two of his friends were intelligent people but often hung out with the wrong crowd. Luckily for Peterson, he moved away from this group when moved to a new city to pursue his college education. However, his two acquaintances continued to surround themselves with people that weren’t good for them and both began to go down the wrong path in life.

Sometimes, when people have a low opinion of their own worth–or, perhaps, when they refuse responsibility for their lives–they choose a new acquaintance, of precisely the type who proved troublesome in the past. Such people don’t believe that they deserve any better–so they don’t go looking for it. Or, perhaps, they don’t want the trouble of better.
— Page 75

Peterson writes that some people who have decided to reject the path upward because of its difficulty and instead surround themselves with people who decide to take the easier path in life. This group of individuals, put off what needs to be done today and instead enjoy cheap pleasures and thrills. Silently, each person agrees not to call each other on it and they continually distract themselves from their true calling.


Even one troubled individual can be harmful. Dr. Peterson says that the psychological literature makes this clear. When a group of well-performing workers has a new poorly performing individual introduced to them, the entire team degenerates. This is why it is important to surround yourself with good healthy people.


But be warned, this is not an easy task. It takes strength and courage to stand near a good person. You must have humility and be willing to learn from others. This may be painful at first but it will allow you to grow and become a better person.  

So remember, stand up straight with your shoulders back, take care of yourself like someone you are responsible for helping and surround yourself with good friends!

If you're interested in getting this book, click here. 


More information about Jordan Peterson can be found below.


If I have failed to peak your interest in this book, consider this: for the past three years I’ve been a voracious reader and have read close to a total of 100 books, but I can say without a doubt in my mind, this book is in the top 3 best books I’ve ever read. Give it a chance, you will not regret it.


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