12 Rules For Life: An Antidote For Chaos, by Jordan B. Peterson

So good, for all its verbosity.

My favourite passages here:

The foremost rule is that you must take responsibility for your own life. Period.


To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure.


When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t notice—it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos.


Chaos and order are fundamental elements because every lived situation (even every conceivable lived situation) is made up of both.


No matter where we are, there are some things we can identify, make use of, and predict, and some things we neither know nor understand.


How could the nature of man ever reach its full potential without challenge and danger?


How dull and contemptible would we become if there was no longer reason to pay attention?


Question for parents: do you want to make your children safe, or strong?


Are you so sure the person crying out to be saved has not decided a thousand times to accept his lot of pointless and worsening suffering, simply because it is easier than shouldering any true responsibility? Are you enabling a delusion? Is it possible that your contempt would be more salutary than your pity?


Consider this: failure is easy to understand. No explanation for its existence is required. In the same manner, fear, hatred, addiction, promiscuity, betrayal and deception require no explanation. It’s not the existence of vice, or the indulgence in it, that requires explanation. Vice is easy. Failure is easy, too. To fail, you merely have to cultivate a few bad habits.


Consult your resentment. It’s a revelatory emotion, for all its pathology. It’s part of an evil triad: arrogance, deceit, and resentment. Nothing causes more harm than this underworld Trinity.


When should you push back against oppression, despite the danger? When you start nursing secret fantasies of revenge; when your life is being poisoned and your imagination fills with the wish to devour and destroy.


What you aim at determines what you see. That’s worth repeating. What you aim at determines what you see.


That’s how you deal with the overwhelming complexity of the world: you ignore it, while you concentrate minutely on your private concerns.


That’s human nature. We share the experience of hunger, loneliness, thirst, sexual desire, aggression, fear and pain.


You are telling the truth, instead of manipulating the world. You are negotiating, instead of playing the martyr or the tyrant.


It is an act of responsibility to discipline a child. It is not anger at misbehavior. It is not revenge for a misdeed. It is instead a careful combination of mercy and long-term judgment.


Proper discipline requires effort—indeed, is virtually synonymous with effort. It is difficult to pay careful attention to children. It is difficult to figure out what is wrong and what is right and why. It is difficult to formulate just and compassionate strategies of discipline, and to negotiate their application with others deeply involved in a child’s care.

Because of this combination of responsibility and difficulty, any suggestion that all constraints placed on children are damaging can be perversely welcome. Such a notion, once accepted, allows adults who should know better to abandon their duty to serve as agents of enculturation and pretend that doing so is good for children. It’s a deep and pernicious act of self-deception. It’s lazy, cruel and inexcusable.


We must be continually reminded to think and act properly. When we drift, people that care for and love us nudge us in small ways and large back on track. So, we better have some of those people around.


Success makes us complacent. We forget to pay attention. We take what we have for granted. We turn a blind eye. We fail to notice that things are changing, or that corruption is taking root. And everything falls apart.


Are you treating your spouse and your children with dignity and respect?


It’s not precisely that CO2 levels are irrelevant. It’s that they’re irrelevant when you’re working yourself to death, starving, scraping a bare living from the stony, unyielding, thorn-and-thistle-infested ground. It’s that they’re irrelevant until after the tractor is invented and hundreds of millions stop starving.


I cannot merely make myself over in the image constructed by my intellect (particularly if that intellect is possessed by an ideology).

I have a nature, and so do you, and so do we all. We must discover that nature, and contend with it, before making peace with ourselves. What is it, that we most truly are? What is it that we could most truly become, knowing who we most truly are?


Make that an axiom: to the best of my ability I will act in a manner that leads to the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering.


There are no atheists. There are only people who know, and don’t know, what God they serve.


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.


Thinking is emotionally painful, as well as physiologically demanding; more so than anything else.


That’s key to the psychotherapeutic process: two people tell each other the truth—and both listen.


Truth and humour are often close allies.


When we’ve been careless, and let things slide, what we have refused to attend to gathers itself up, adopts a serpentine form, and strikes—often at the worst possible moment. It is then that we see what focused intent, precision of aim and careful attention protects us from.


Don’t ever underestimate the destructive power of sins of omission.


Something is out there in the woods. You know that with certainty. But often it’s only a squirrel. If you refuse to look, however, then it’s a dragon, and you’re no knight: you’re a mouse confronting a lion; a rabbit, paralyzed by the gaze of a wolf. And I am not saying that it’s always a squirrel. Often it’s something truly terrible. But even what is terrible 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 its-still-admittedly-terrible actuality.


Overprotected, we will fail when something dangerous, unexpected and full of opportunity suddenly makes its appearance, as it inevitably will.


If you read the depth psychologists—Freud and Jung, for example, as well as their precursor, Friedrich Nietzsche—you learn that there is a dark side to everything.


I believe it was Jung who developed the most surgically wicked of psychoanalytic dicta: if you cannot understand why someone did something, look at the consequences—and infer the motivation. This is a psychological scalpel. It’s not always a suitable instrument. It can cut too deeply, or in the wrong places. It is, perhaps, a last-resort option.


Who decided, anyway, that career is more important than love and family?


Thus, not only is the state supporting one-sided radicalism, it is also supporting indoctrination. We do not teach our children that the world is flat. Neither should we teach them unsupported ideologically-predicated theories about the nature of men and women—or the nature of hierarchy.


When softness and harmlessness become the only consciously acceptable virtues, then hardness and dominance will start to exert an unconscious fascination.


And if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.


Imagine a Being who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. What does such a Being lack? The answer? Limitation .


What shall I do with my parents? Act such that your actions justify the suffering they endured.


For your information, the 12 rules are:

‌RULE 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back
‌RULE 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
‌RULE 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you
‌RULE 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
‌RULE 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
‌RULE 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
‌RULE 7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
‌RULE 8: Tell the truth—or, at least, don’t lie
‌RULE 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
‌RULE 10: Be precise in your speech
‌RULE 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
‌RULE 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

You say you want a revolution

There are two ways of changing the world. The utopian way, in which you have a model of a perfect world to which everybody else has to conform with, whatever the price, just because it’s high and right and the ultimately moral society.

Then there is the industrious way, in which instead of directing others to do or don’t do as your model dictates or forbids, you strive to do what others won’t do —invent artifacts, create materials, study black holes in the sky, confront or resist the powers that are, write stories or music, do mathematics, care for others and give them comfort and love, or whatever that creates or helps to create knowledge, wealth, order, justice or beauty —or at least not to do the opposite.

The thing is, what is utopia for the former becomes dystopia for the latter.