What is the justification of Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life? Just like any set of rules, it’s important not to lose track of the principles that originated them. Let’s give them a look. Hang in there.
Looking for the video on the article? Here it is:
Hi I’m Nick Redmark, I’m a coach-in-training and a psychology nerd, and in this publication I go deep into how to find more meaning in life. If you want more meaning in your life, subscribe to my newsletter to keep updated.
12 Truths About Life by Jordan Peterson, Part 1
Jordan Peterson has a way of getting to the bottom of things, and this is reflected in his new book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”. In each chapter of the book, Peterson explores a deep topic, finds a fundamental truth about life and then extracts from it a practical rule to follow. The rules are the titles of the chapters, so it’s easy to remember them, but the core principles behind them are buried between stories and long reflections. Luckily for you, you can find them extracted in this article.
Truth 1: Social Hierarchies Are an Unavoidable Product of Striving
Social hierarchies are an ineradicable fact of life. If you don’t strive for anything you land at the bottom of all of them, and it’s seriously not good there. If you strive for something you will have to face the suffering of effort and uneven success. But at least you get to pick what to strive for, and the more worthy the goal the better the emotions generated by progress towards it. Even the smallest step can motivate you to continue along your path. Something you can always do is to straighten your back, take up some space, expose yourself to the world voluntarily.
This is why rule 1 is “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”
Truth 2: You Are Flawed, but That’s Not Everything About You
Self-consciousness is a bitch. It reveals to you all the ways you are flawed. You suffer. You die. You act against your own ideal. No wonder you feel unworthy. But self-consciousness also gives you the power to choose what kind of world you bring about, and every choice you make counts. If you don’t treat yourself properly you become weak and resentful, and the world you will bring forth will be bad (and there’s no limit to how bad things could become). If you became strong and aimed at the good, if we all did that, who knows how good the world could become? You deserve some respect, the kind of respect you give more easily to people you are responsible for helping.
This is why rule 2 is “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.”
Truth 3: You Use Your Nihilism to Post-Rationalize Your Immaturity
If you think the world is so corrupt it’s not even worth trying, you get the advantage of not having to do anything. Similarly, you might have various excuses to have friends that don’t want the best for you. Perhaps they help you feel justified in your cynical view of the world. Perhaps they make you feel you have a mission to “rescue” them instead of tackling the more painful task of straightening yourself out. Analyze your motivations. Maybe all this is is a strategy not to take on any real responsibility and making a serious attempt to strive towards something better.
“If you surround yourself with people who support your upward aim, they will not tolerate your cynicism and destructiveness.”
This is why rule 3 is “Make friends with people who want the best for you.”
Stay Tuned for Part 2
These are the truths about life that are behind Jordan Peterson’s 3 first rules for life:
- Social hierarchies are a harsh but unavoidable part of reality. Embrace them and strive towards something good (start by standing up straight).
- You are flawed, but you have the potential to transform reality. Treat yourself with some respect (like someone you are responsible for helping).
- Cynicism can be an excuse not to take on any responsibility. Find friends who will call bullshit on that (who want the best for you).
Stay tuned for the next 3 truths about life, coming soon.