12 Rules for life is a self-help book by Jordan Peterson: a renown clincal phycologist. It offers life advice in the form of essays about abstract ethical principles, psychology, mythology, religion, and personal anecdotes. By the end of 2022, the book had sold over five million copies worldwide, topping bestseller lists in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In 2023 it is still the best seller. This article is about book summaries. i have completed many summaries, including Rich Dad Poor Dad, a personal financing book: Richest Man in Babylon and Laws of upper people 48 Laws of Power.
About the Arthor
Jordan B. Peterson is a clinical psychologist, self-help author, cultural critic, and University of Toronto professor of psychology. His primary research interests are in abnormal, social, and personality psychology, with a focus on the psychology of religious and ideological belief, as well as the assessment and improvement of personality and performance.
Peterson was raised in Fairview, Alberta. He received his B.A. in political science in 1982 and his B.Sc. in psychology in 1984 from the University of Alberta, as well as his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University in 1991. He stayed at McGill for two years as a post-doctoral fellow before moving to Massachusetts to work as an assistant and associate professor in the psychology department at Harvard University. He became a full professor at the University of Toronto in 1998.
As you already have an idea of the book, let’s get straight to the point.
Rule 1: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back
A famous saying is that seeing is believing. if you look respectable, people will respect you. If you look shabby, people will not respect you. As much as your inner self should shine, it is also critical that your outer self does so. However, outward appearances are influenced by the inside as well. If you think of yourself as a loser, then you are a loser. and if you see yourself as a winner, you are a winner. People who have high self-esteem have/express a sense of security and confidence, which makes them more appealing and respected. This boosts their productivity and well-being, which strengthens their self-esteem. Higher levels of serotonin are linked to higher resilience, happiness, health, longevity, pro-social conduct, and leadership. On the other hand, people with low self-perception are insecure, make bad decisions, and lose themselves in pressurized situations.
It is very important to believe that you can do it, and this comes from practice. Stop degrading yourself; you are created the same as other people, and you can do it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. So stop degrading yourself. Be confident and always be proactive.
The author gives an example of an animal for this point. Dominance hierarchies and involuntary physiological responses rule all species, including humans. Lobsters, for example, compete for supremacy. During a fight, two lobsters assess each other based on their body/claw sizes and chemical secretions (which signal their health, strength, and mood). Dominant lobsters have higher serotonin levels, a better posture, and can battle for longer periods of time. An alpha lobster usually “wins” without even having to fight.
A lobster’s brain alters after each confrontation—the loser avoids additional conflict, whereas the victor acquires even more confidence and serotonin levels. Similar trends may be found in other animal species—stronger animals generally acquire more food, better “homes,” higher status, better mates, and more cooperation from others. This is nature’s way of allocating scarce resources.
Humans, too, have a dominance detector in our brains. In a positive feedback loop, how we perceive our social/economic standing affects our well-being, which supports our status.
The author gives a few tips on standing with your shoulders up. Avoid slouching. It communicates defeat and low status, prompting others to treat you harshly and reinforce your low self-esteem. Adjust your posture. Stand tall, shoulders back, speak up, and make eye contact. This conveys confidence to both yourself and others. You’ll feel better, others will respect you more, and a virtuous cycle will begin. It’s about standing up, facing truth, and accepting responsibility to become the best version of yourself.
“So attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind … Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Look for your inspiration to victorious lobster, with its 350 million years of practical wisdom. stand up straigh with your shoulders back”Jordan Peterson
Rule 2: Care for yourself like how you’d care for someone else
We tend to take better care of our dogs than we do ourselves. When a pet becomes ill, we carefully follow the instructions. However, when we are sick, we do not fill or take our medicines. People are better than themselves at filling and providing prescription medication to their pets. So take better care for yourself. as people ignore their own health.
Peterson emphasizes in chapter two of his book that this injunction is as much a call to care for our neighbors as it is a duty to care for ourselves. The majority of us are significantly better at helping others than at helping ourselves. Most of us would carefully follow the routine if we were called upon to care for a sick animal, for example. We’d take the animal to the veterinarian. We’d take care of the prescription. We would be present and available to meet the requirements of the animal.
But how attentive are we to our own requirements? Year after year, statistics show that up to 20% to 30% of medical prescriptions are never filled.
To treat yourself as if you were someone you are responsible for helping is, instead, to consider what would be truly good for you. This is not “what you want.” It is also not “what would make you happy.” Every time you give a child something sweet, you make that child happy. That does not mean that you should do nothing for children except feed them candy. “Happy” is by no means synonymous with “good.” You must get children to brush their teeth. They must put on their snowsuits when they go outside in the cold, even though they might object strenuously. You must help a child become a virtuous, responsible, awake being, capable of full reciprocity—able to take care of himself and others, and to thrive while doing so. Why would you think it acceptable to do anythingJordan Peterson
less for yourself?“
Rule #3: Make friends with people who want the best for you
Friends are very important aspect of your life. you will be affected by your friends. You wil become like your firends. Having good friends is much more than simply having people with whom we can do nice things. When required, good friends will challenge, encourage, support, and even criticize us. In sum, excellent companions will polish our iron and help us become better versions of ourselves. so choose friends who wnat the best for you
“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.”Jordan Peterson
Rule #4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
There is always a struggle behind a successful person, if you see his success today, there will be 10 years of struggle that you don’t see. Hence it is not fare to compare yourself with someone who is successful today. Compare yourself to who you were yesterdey. look on the people who are below you. and improve yourself daily. this will help you to be happy.
People are prone to making comparisons.We start looking to our peers or competitors when we are quite young to develop our own standards for success and failure.What is the issue? Comparison, as Peterson points out, distorts and destroys.
It compares our shortcomings to the solitary successes or achievements of others without the right measuring stick of a whole and complete context.In an Instagram world, this is real life. Social media provides several opportunities for harmful comparison.
“You are finding that the solutions to your particular problems have to be tailored to you, personally and precisely. You are less concerned with the actions of other people, because you have plenty to do yourself”Jordan Peterson
Rule#5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
Parenting is discussed in Chapter 5 of Peterson’s book. Take heart, non-parents. There’s still a lot in there for you. Chapter 5 is likely the most surprising chapter in the book because Peterson states many things that are now considered taboo in North America.
For example, he favors appropriate corporal punishment and openly shames moms who allow their sons to disrespect them and become “little God-Emperor[s] of the Universe”. He gives examples of both wonderful and sad parenting. He places the responsibility of raising human beings who will contribute productively to society squarely on the shoulders of both parents.
He gives examples of both wonderful and sad parenting. He places the responsibility of raising human beings who will contribute productively to society squarely on the shoulders of both parents. Peterson advises parents to be disciplinarians who model correct behavior for their children. He also advises that parents should be merciful, caring, and “serve as proxies for the actual world”.
Bottom line: If you despise your children, the rest of the world will, too.
Peterson advises parents not to try to be their children’s friends, because…
“A child will have many friends, but only two parents—if that—and parents are more, not less, than friends. Friends have very limited authority to correct. Every parent therefore needs to learn to tolerate the momentary anger or even hatred directed towards them by their children, after necessary corrective action has been taken, as the capacity of children to perceive or care about longterm consequences is very limited ”Jordan Peterson
Rule #6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
“Life is, in fact, really hard,” Peterson begins and continues to say throughout Chapter 6. Suicide and the 1999 Columbine High School shooting are two examples from this chapter. Peterson is quick to point out that, while most of us will never be compelled to do violent acts against ourselves or others, the desire to destroy our own lives in other ways appears to be becoming more prevalent in our culture. “How can a person who is awake resist fury at the world?” he asks.
So much is wrong with the world. And yet there is so much that is correct. He gives various examples of people who overcame enormous odds to make their lives meaningful in a hurtful world. He also encourages us.
“Have you cleaned up your life?Jordan Peterson
If the answer is no, here’s something to try: Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong.
Start stopping today”
Rule #7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
Chapter 7 begins with these words…
“Life is suffering. That’s clear. There is no more basic, irrefutable truth.” –Jordan Peterson
This is a very important point which is iterated in whole book that is Life is not fair. Peterson has made this point before (he reiterates it through the first six chapters). However, in chapter 7, he addresses more of the world’s suffering than in earlier chapters.
In the face of hardship, we are often inclined to adopt the apparent, most comfortable option to “pursue pleasure. Follow [our] instincts. Live in the now. Do what’s expedient.”. However, Peterson says that these tactics are unsatisfying and will eventually leave us feeling empty.
Instead than seeking the next surge of serotonin, Peterson believes that there is a more compelling way to approach life: sacrifice. While sacrifice ultimately goes against what we want to accomplish with our life – and while it isn’t the sexy, culturally savvy answer to our grief or disappointment – Peterson believes sacrifice, on its own, helps the future.
The Keypoint of chapter 7 is to sacrifice sometimes for someone else. make your life purposeful. it will help you to be happy. clear out the problem for others, your problems will become small.
Rule #8: Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
Truth is always the best policy. This chapter begins with a personal incident from Peterson’s clinical psychology studies, when a young schizophrenia patient asked Peterson a question he didn’t want to answer. Peterson was tempted to fabricate a “little white lie” instead of being straight with her since she faced various difficult alternatives, including hurting the patient’s feelings.
Despite the fact that the truth was not very kind, Peterson decided – and continues to assert throughout the chapter – that even little lies have unexpected repercussions and can be hazardous.
He goes on to say that most people lie to themselves and others on a regular basis. In fact, we probably don’t even notice or acknowledge it most of the time. We’ve been taught to “manipulate the world” to get what we want. The worst lies, according to Peterson, are “life-lies.”
“To tell the truth is to bring the most habitable reality into Being. Truth builds edifices that can stand a thousand years. Truth feeds and clothes the poor, and makes nations wealthy and safe. Truth reduces the terrible complexity of a man to the simplicity of his word, so that he can become a partner, rather than an enemy. Truth makes the past truly past, and makes the best use of the future’s possibilities. Truth is the ultimate, inexhaustible natural resource. It’s the light in the darkness.Jordan Peterson
See the truth. Tell the truth.
Truth will not come in the guise of opinions shared by others, as the truth is neither a collection of slogans nor an ideology. It will instead be personal.”
Rule #9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
Don’t Underestimate anyone, may be he knows something you don’t. Always listen to the other people. Peterson begins by distinguishing between advice and genuine discussion. He believes that excellent discussion entails “exploration, articulation, and planning,” as well as a healthy dose of attentive listening.
Building on the preceding chapter, he argues that honesty is at the heart of any good relationship. So, if two people communicate honestly – both to themselves and to each other – the conversation is valuable.
Carl Rogers, a brilliant psychotherapist of the twentieth century, knew a thing or two about listening. “The vast majority of us cannot listen; we are forced to assess because hearing is too risky,” he wrote. The first prerequisite is courage, which we do not always possess.
Not all talking is thinking. Nor does all listening foster transformation. There are other motives for both, some of which produce much less valuable, counterproductive and even dangerous outcomes.Jordan Peterson
Rule #10: Be precise in your speech
Be precise in your speech. talk to the point. don’t waste your time and other’s time.
Be precise in your speech. Speech can give structure and re-establish order.Jordon Peterson
Face the chaos of Being. Take aim at a sea of problems. Determine your destination and plot your course. Accept what you want. Inform those around you of your identity. Narrow your eyes and stare intently before moving forward boldly. Make your speech as precise as possible.
Rule 11: Do Not Bother Children when they are Skateboarding
Peterson begins Chapter 11 with a story about a city that forbade skateboarders from skating. It even put up physical barriers to keep skaters from doing what they loved.
While the story seems literal at first, it quickly becomes evident that it is also a metaphor.
In the words of Peterson…
“Beneath the production of rules stopping the skateboarders from doing highly skilled, courageous and dangerous things I see the operation of an insidious and profoundly anti-human spirit.Jordan Peterson
Building on the notion of acting anti-human, he covers problems such as gender and patriarchy.
(Peterson does not believe that patriarchy is causing unnecessary misery in today’s world. He feels that culture is the oppressive framework.) He believes that no hierarchy, based on issues such as gender or race, is accountable for the creation of winners and losers. Instead, he believes that people should win or lose on their own merit.
While Peterson makes some bold claims in this chapter, he backs them up with anecdotal and statistical evidence, making the arguments appear superficially persuasive.
This chapter is rambling and perplexing, but the key message is that modern society wants gender equality. This is beneficial when gender equality means equal opportunity, rights, and treatment. Gender equality can, however, be taken too far, such as denying any biological difference between males and females and insisting on equal conduct and outcomes in every regard.
“if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of. Leave children alone when they are skateboarding”
Rule #12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
Peterson begins Chapter 12 with a witty personal remark about his preference for dogs over cats. But that’s the extent of his animal comments until the conclusion. In this chapter, “cats” represent little, unexpected, and good experiences that we can appreciate every day.
Slowing down long enough to pet a street cat can be translated into additional moments of slowing down throughout the day. This is a clever twist on the ancient advice to “stop and smell the roses”. Peterson explicitly addresses limits in life that, if we allow them, might easily prohibit us from enjoying the little things. And he is a staunch believer that constraints and problems do not have to define or prevent us from fulfilling our lives to the fullest.
Much of this chapter is dedicated to the story of Peterson’s daughter, whom he clearly adores. Mikhaila has had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child. Mikhaila would have been completely sidelined if the condition had caused unbearable discomfort in her joints. Years of experimental treatment added a painful toll to her life.
Peterson beautifully demonstrated the marriage of sorrow and success – and enjoying the small moments of joy woven throughout our existence – in his emotional tale of witnessing his daughter struggle and conquer.
“if you pay careful attention, even on a bad day, you may be fortunate enough to be confronted with small opportunities of just that sort. Maybe you will see a little girl dancing on the street because she is all dressed up in a ballet costume. Maybe you will have a particularly good cup of coffee in a cafe that cares about their customers. Maybe you can steal ten or twenty minutes to do some ridiculous thing that distracts you or reminds you that you can laugh at the absurdity of existence.“