12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
My rating: 9/10
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Meaning is found in responsibility.
RULE 1: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back
The acts of life we repeat every day need to be automatised, turned into stable and reliable habits, so they lose their complexity and gain predictability and simplicity.
Waking up at a consistent hour is a necessity. Anxiety and depression cannot be easily treated if the sufferer has unpredictable daily routines.
If your posture is poor, you will feel small, defeated and ineffectual. The reactions of others will amplify that. If you present yourself as defeated, then people will react to you as if you are losing. If you start to straighten up, then people will look at and treat you differently.
Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous.
RULE 2: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible For Helping
You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself. You should take care of, help and be good to yourself the same way you would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued.
Consider what would be truly good for you. This is not “what you want.” It is also not “what would make you happy.”“Happy” is by no means synonymous with “good”.
RULE 3: Make Friends With People Who Want The Best For You
Maybe your misery is your attempt to prove the world’s injustice, instead of the evidence of your own sin, your own missing of the mark, your conscious refusal to strive and to live.
It’s impossible to convince someone to change for the better. The desire to improve is the precondition for progress.
RULE 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
Winning at everything might only mean that you’re not doing anything new or difficult. You might be winning but you’re not growing, and growing might be the most important form of winning.
Life doesn’t have the problem. You do. If your life is not going well, perhaps it is your current knowledge that is insufficient, not life itself. Perhaps your value structure needs some serious retooling. Perhaps you are holding on to your desires, in the present, so tightly that you cannot see anything else — even what you truly need.
Making your life better means adopting a lot of responsibility, and that takes more effort and are than living stupidly in pain and remaining arrogant, deceitful and resentful.
If we start aiming at something different — something like “I want my life to be better” — our minds will start presenting us with new information, derived from the previously hidden world, to aid us in that pursuit. Then we can put that information to use and move, and act, and observe, and improve.
Obedience is not enough. But it’s at least a start: You cannot aim yourself at anything if you are completely undisciplined and untutored.
RULE 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
RULE 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world
Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong. Start stopping today. Don’t waste time questioning how you know that what you’re doing is wrong, if you are certain that it is.
You can know that something is wrong or right without knowing why. Your entire Being can tell you something that you can neither explain nor articulate. Every person is too complex to know themselves completely, and we all contain wisdom that we cannot comprehend.
RULE 7: Purse what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
The future is a judgmental father.
Freedom —even the ability to act— requires constraint.
Meaning emerges when impulses are regulated, organised and unified.
To have meaning in your life is better than to have what you want, because you may neither know what you want, nor what you truly need.
RULE 8: Tell the truth —or, at least, don’t lie
If you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself. That does not mean that you suppress who you are, although it also means that. It means that so much of what you could be will never be forced by necessity to come forward.
If you betray yourself, if you say untrue things, if you act out a lie, you weaken your character. If you have a weak character, then adversity will mow you down and then you will find yourself doing terrible things.
RULE 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
Memory is a tool. Memory is the past’s guide to the future. If you remember that something bad happened, and you can figure out why, then you can try to avoid that bad thing happening again. That’s the purpose of memory. It’s not “to remember the past.” It’s to stop the same damn thing from happening over and over.
People think they think, but it’s not true. It’s mostly self-criticism that passes for thinking. True thinking is rare — just like true listening. Thinking is listening to yourself. It’s difficult.
Thinking is emotionally painful, as well as physiologically demanding.
RULE 10: Be precise in your speech
If we can speak carefully and precisely, we can sort things out, and put them in their proper place, and set a new goal, and navigate to it. If we speak carelessly and imprecisely, however, things remain vague.
What is terribly in actuality often pales in significance compared to what is terrible in imagination. And often what cannot be confronted because of its horror in imagination can in fact be confronted when reduced to it-still-admittedly-terrible actuality.
Say what you mean, so that you can find out what you mean. Act out what you say, so you can find out what happens. Then pay attention. Note your errors. Articulate them. Strive to correct them. That is how you discover the meaning of your life.
RULE 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
Two major reasons for resentment: being taken advantage of (or allowing yourself to be taken advantage of), or whiny refusal to adopt responsibility and grow up.
Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
When you love someone, it’s not despite their limitations. It’s because of their limitations.
You don’t get peace by being right. You just get to be right, while your partner gets to be wrong — defeated and wrong. Do that ten thousand times and your marriage will be over (or you wish it was).
Orient yourself properly. Then — and only then — concentrate on the day.
The best way to fix the world is to fix yourself.