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12 Rules For Life Summary – October 2022

Author: Jordan Peterson

Short Summary
12 Rules For Life (2018) breaks down the rules for life, which can help us form a better path for our lives and achieve real happiness. The 12 rules are based on a list of commandments that Peterson’s father gave him over 30 years ago but have been updated to reflect his current belief system. The rules include do not bother children when they are skateboarding, petting a cat when you encounter one in the street, and telling the truth – or at least don’t lie. 
12 rules for life summary
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary

List of rules in the book:

Rule 01: Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

Rule 02: Treat yourself like you are someone that you are responsible for helping.

Rule 03: Make friends with people who want the best for you.

Rule 04: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

Rule 05: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.

Rule 06: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.

Rule 07: Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.

Rule 08: Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie.

Rule 09: 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.

(Peterson also argues that we ought to listen to religious texts, at least from within the context in which they were written. Let’s discuss some of them below in the detailed summary of 12 Rules For Life: an antidote to chaos)

12 Rules For Life Summary Key Points

If you take responsibility for your own life rather than judging people, bad times will pass away

The world can be an unfair place. That’s just a fact of life. And don’t expect the concept of karma to become your truth. Karma has no sense of fairness or justice. You can do your best and still see nothing in return for your efforts. The world isn’t all bad, of course. Many things can go right, and you’ll get lucky here and there. But those strokes of luck don’t mean you’re treated fairly or that you deserve something in return. If you work hard and give it your all, you won’t necessarily be rewarded for your efforts, even if other people are rewarded exactly what they don’t deserve and didn’t earn.

The world is still full of terrors and sorrows and heartbreaks, but there are positive forces at work as well. People can change their own lives by moving to another country. They can escape persecution. They can pursue the opportunity. And they can make life better for other people in their new homes. If you can focus on taking responsibility, you’ll find the bad times will pass.

I’m not talking about blame, though. I’m talking about taking responsibility. That means if you can see friends or family making mistakes, you don’t point fingers, but rather help them figure out a better path. It means being honest with yourself and others when it’s your behavior to adjust. It means forgiving yourself when you fail, understanding that we all fall sometimes and that there’s no shame in getting back up again. Our world is full of people who like to judge others. It’s the whole point of many reality shows, to watch and be entertained by people who haven’t taken responsibility for their lives. Don’t be one of them. They didn’t take responsibility for their lives so now they have to live with the consequences: attention and money for being a failure or winning money (or worse!) for being a villain at someone else’s expense.

Care for yourself as you care for others

Our tendency to take better care of friends, colleagues and family members than ourselves is known as the “empathy gap”. We indulge our loved ones, we are more lenient with them, and we are more forgiving with them. At times, this behavior seems a bit counterproductive, but psychologists explain it in terms of evolutionary biology. It is a way of ensuring the survival of our genes. Think of it as the dark, twisted opposite of that old saying, “Treat others how you want to be treated”. It’s the much more common and far more insidious belief: “Treat yourself how you would treat an enemy.”

Here’s a simple example. You have a cold. The doctor says, “Take this medicine.” If you’re like most people, your reaction is, “No, I don’t need that.” Which is fine and dandy. Unless there’s a small child in the house who could inadvertently ingest one of those little pills just because they were left on the kitchen counter. So you take the medicine. You treat yourself like you would treat a child. As Peterson says, “It is not a healthy thing, psychologically to regard yourself as an enemy who must be punished and put in his place. That is what we typically do… This is just a nasty way of treating yourself and you should stop it.

There’s no point in focusing on people who “have it better”. Compare yourself to yourself instead

They say that your life is a reflection of your thoughts. But more importantly, your future success is a reflection of your thoughts as well. So what you should be thinking about is how to be different from yesterday. What makes somebody great is not how good they are compared to other people – but how good they are compared to who they were the day before. And so if you’re not constantly evolving and getting better and beating out yesterday’s you, then you’re always going to be in the same place. The trick is to focus on the right things – things that are going to push you forward and make you better, like learning new skills and new ideas about yourself and the world around you.

That means that we see what we focus on. And there’s no point in focusing on people who “have it better”. Compare yourself to yourself instead. Compare yourself to how you’re improving and getting better. Focus on you. Your goals, your dreams, your plans, your actions. Focus on what you can do to be better tomorrow than you are today. Now, step back and look at how far you’ve come, how you’ve grown, and what you’ve learned. That doesn’t mean you don’t congratulate others for their success, but focus on what their success inspires you to do. We’re all in this together. We all have the same 24 hours each day to get stuff done and make progress toward our goals.

12 Rules For Life Quotes

“You can only find out what you believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act. You simply don’t know what you believe, before that. You are too complex to understand yourself.” -Jordan B. Peterson

“And if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.” -Jordan B. Peterson

12 Rules For Life Review

12 Rules For Life is an interesting self-help and psychology book even though I haven’t read the full book before writing the 12 Rules For Life summary. From life experiences to religious perspectives, Peterson said it is all that you need to achieve success and happiness in your life. Recommended.

To whom I would recommend the 12 Rules For Life Summary?

  • Anyone who still isn’t figured out his path in life.
  • Anyone who gets depressed easily.
  • Anyone who needs some motivation to change their selves.
12 Rules For Life Summary - October 2022

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