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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

If you are looking for a book that will challenge you, inspire you, and motivate you to live a better life, then you should read “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” by Jordan B. Peterson. This book is not your typical self-help book that offers easy solutions and quick fixes. Rather, it is a profound and provocative exploration of the human condition, based on the author’s extensive knowledge of psychology, philosophy, religion, mythology, and history.

Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, who has gained international fame and controversy for his outspoken views on various topics, such as political correctness, gender identity, and free speech. He is also a brilliant and original thinker who has written a previous book called “Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief”, in which he examined the structure and function of belief systems and myths.

In “12 Rules for Life”, Peterson distills his wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules that can help anyone navigate the chaos and complexity of life. These rules are not arbitrary or dogmatic, but rather derived from scientific evidence, ancient wisdom, and personal experience. They are also not easy to follow, but require courage, discipline, and responsibility.

However, if you follow them, you will be able to improve yourself, your relationships, and your society.

The 12 rules are:

1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back

2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

3. Befriend people who want the best for you

4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not the useless person you are today

5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

6. Set your house in order before you criticize the world

7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie

9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

10. Be precise in your speech

11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Each rule is explained in a separate chapter, with examples from literature, history, science, religion, and the author’s own life. Peterson also discusses some of the most important and controversial issues of our time, such as morality, identity, freedom, equality, suffering, evil, and happiness. He does not shy away from challenging the dominant narratives and ideologies of our culture, but offers a fresh and alternative perspective that is both rational and compassionate.

Here are five key takeaways from this book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” by Jordan B. Peterson:

- Stand up straight with your shoulders back. This is a way of accepting the responsibility of life and transforming the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It also signals confidence and competence to yourself and others.

- Balance chaos and order. You need to explore new things and learn from them, but you also need to have some stability and security in your life. The optimal place is where you are challenged but not overwhelmed, and where you can find meaning.

- Understand self-consciousness. You are aware of your own vulnerability, mortality, and suffering, as well as that of others. This gives you the ability to empathize, but also to inflict pain and exploit weakness. You need to be honest with yourself and others about your motives and actions.

- Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient. Happiness is not a reliable goal, because it depends on external factors and fleeting emotions. Meaning is a deeper and more lasting value, because it comes from aligning yourself with your true purpose and values. Meaning also helps you cope with the inevitable suffering of life.

- Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. You are unique and incomparable, and you have your own strengths and weaknesses. The only way to measure your progress is by looking at how far you have come from where you started, and how much you have improved yourself.

“12 Rules for Life” is a book that will make you think deeply about yourself and the world around you. It will also make you feel inspired to take action and make positive changes in your life. It is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.

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