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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

by Jordan B. Peterson

Chaos is a normal part of life. Although it cannot be avoided, it can be managed. This idea is the premise of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. The habits we have summarized from this book will help you gain a better understanding of your life as it currently is, so you can take steps to achieve what you desire.

Summary Notes

Rule 1: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back

To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.

When we are defeated by something in life, our posture droops, we face the ground, we feel threatened or hurt, anxious or weak. If things do not get better, we may fall into depression or anxiety. When we feel this way, we will be unable to face life head on and achieve the things we desire. Neurological evidence supports this - the more defeats we face, the less serotonin our brain produces, and the more pain and anxiety we feel.

Skills to acquire

Rule 2: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible For Helping

It seems that people often don’t really believe that they deserve the best care.

Many people shoulder intolerable burdens of self-disgust, self-contempt, shame, and self-consciousness. They don’t value themselves, which means that they will not take care of themselves either. This will only lead to pain and despair.

Skills to acquire

Rule 3: Make Friends With People Who Want The Best For You

If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friend for yourself?

The people you surround yourself with have a big impact on your life - negative people will bring you down, whereas positive people will lift you up. Many of us also stay in unhealthy relationships because we are too weak-willed and indecisive to leave. However, this only hurts us more in the long run.

Skills to acquire

Rule 4: Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today

Life doesn’t have the problem. You do.

All of us have a unique way of looking at the world - we filter what we see through our personal biases and opinions. This often leads us to perceive things in a certain manner. One that may be detrimental to our success and happiness. Sometimes, all it takes to fix our problems and achieve happiness is to adopt a different perspective on our lives.

Skills to acquire

Rule 5: Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

More often than not, modern parents are simply paralyzed by the fear that they will no longer be liked or even loved by their children if they chastise them for any reason.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to prepare your child mentally and socially for the outside world. For this reason, having rules that will mold your child into a well-adjusted, calm, rational adult is absolutely necessary.

Skills to acquire

Rule 6: Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World

Truly terrible things happen to people.

Suffering is the norm. However, when your suffering becomes unbearable, it’s time to do something about it, to make your life better. Often, our suffering comes from looking at the world around us and criticizing it - the government isn’t doing enough, your enemies are out to get you, etc. When you start to look inwards instead and begin to clean your life up, you will notice a tremendous positive change in your life and mood.

Skills to acquire

Rule 7: Pursue What Is Meaningful (Not What Is Expedient)

Meaning is when everything there comes together in an ecstatic dance of single purpose - the glorification of reality so that no matter how good it has suddenly become, it can get better and better and better more and more deeply forever into the future.

Expedience is the following of blind impulse - it is doing things for short-term gain with little regard for the long-term. When you decide to make the world a better place, you aren’t doing what is expedient, you are doing what is meaningful. That is the antidote for chaos and suffering.

Skills to acquire

Rule 8: Tell The Truth - Or, At Least, Don’t Lie

If your life is not what it could be, try telling the truth.

White lies aren’t that bad, right? Wrong. All the small lies you tell will require several more lies to prop it up, and soon you will have to start speaking big lies to keep it all in place. However, things won’t stay in place - they will eventually fall apart.

Skills to acquire

Rule 9: Assume That The Person You Are Listening To Might Know Something You Don’t

Not all talking is thinking.

Everyone has something to teach you, you just have to pay attention. Many conversations go poorly - sometimes one person is simply talking to establish dominance, sometimes neither participant is listening to each other, sometimes one participant is simply trying to “win” the conversation. All of these types of conversations are not worth your time.

Skills to acquire

Rule 10: Be Precise In Your Speech

When something terrible happens, it is precision that separates the unique terrible thing that has actually happened from all the other, equally terrible things that might have happened but did not.

Many people meander in life, unclear about who they are or where they are going. They find that they cannot achieve their goals, but this is because they do not know what their goals even are. When you define the world around you, you acknowledge the truth of it, and you will be able to actually measure success and happiness.

Skills to acquire

Rule 11: Do Not Bother Children When They Are Skateboarding

Agreeable, compassionate, empathic, conflict-averse people let people walk on them, and they get bitter.

Sometimes, people are too agreeable and not aggressive enough. This leads to others taking advantage of them and walking all over them. When this happens, if you don’t speak up for yourself, you will become resentful of the other person and exacerbate your suffering. Sacrifice yourself for others and you will lose your way in life.

Skills to acquire

Rule 12: Pet A Cat When You Encounter One On The Street

We can be damaged, even broken, emotionally and physically, and we are all subject to the depredations of aging and loss.

Suffering is an integral part of life. It cannot be avoided, only managed. No matter what you are going through, there is a way out, and there is a way through.

Skills to acquire

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