12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos – Book Review

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5 July 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When I stumbled across a book by Jordan Peterson claiming to be the “antidote to chaos,” I was extremely intrigued to say the least. As a relatively chaotic person myself, this book in a storytelling fashion questioned secularism. 

Peterson is a renowned Canadian psychologist and professor who gained international recognition for his perspectives on psychology, philosophy, and personal development. Peterson considered that the rise of secularism over decades brought new ideas, knowledge and concepts of morality but was plagued by a sense of emptiness. Therefore he studied many religions, mythological teachings and neuroscience to come up with the 12 rules for life that will help you live life with more meaning. 

The premise of Peterson’s rules is that good is the prevention of bad, and therefore having rules that help you be a good person will reduce human suffering. By taking responsibility for our own lives and the good we contribute, we do better for society at large. 

Although I highly recommend reading the book, to save you some reading I’ve summarised each of the 12 rules below:

Stand up straight with your shoulders back

This seems straight forward but is something that we overlook. Confidence is everything. Peterson urges you to imagine yourself with confidence and strength because how you present yourself influences not only how you feel but also how others perceive you. The shoulders back point is a tip that leans into the fact that good posture exudes self-assurance. 

Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

Just as you care for your loved ones, remember to extend the same care and compassion to yourself. Prioritise self-care and nurture your well-being because it’s easy to overlook and forget yourself. If you need some tips on self-care and compassion, read our piece here on Practising More Self-Compassion.

Make friends with people who want the best for you

As women, I’m sure we have all been guilty of having frenemies, or those friends that don’t necessarily make us feel good about ourselves. Well Peterson hones in on the importance of having good people in your life. Surround yourself with positive, uplifting individuals who support your dreams and aspirations. Cultivate friendships that inspire personal growth and mutual encouragement, not pettiness and competition. You glow differently when you know the people around you back you.

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

You’ve heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy.” Well unfortunately, we’re all guilty of it. Comparison to different people is like apples and oranges. Why not compare yourself to something actually measurable? Instead of getting caught up in comparisons to others, focus on your own progress. Embrace personal growth and strive to become the best version of yourself each day.

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

This one is an interesting one as I know people have a number of takes on parenting. As a psychologist, Peterson considers that behaviours in children are often started at home. So it is important to set loving boundaries but yet instill discipline in your parenting. This helps children grow into respectful, responsible individuals who you can be proud of. He also believes that this is the key to maintaining a strong bond with them.

Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world

Take charge of your own life and work on self-improvement before trying to change the external world. By focusing on personal responsibility, you contribute to positive change.

Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient

The common conundrum is whether we opt for short term satisfaction or long term gratification. Well, Peterson considers that the purpose of life is to discover what truly matters to you and follow your passions. Seek a life filled with purpose, where your actions align with your values and aspirations.

Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie

Honesty and integrity are the foundations of healthy relationships. Communicate openly and authentically, building trust with others and fostering genuine connections. In my own life, I’ve noticed that the times I have approached a difficult situation with honesty and open communication, they’ve gone far more to my liking.

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

A key tool in reciprocal effective communication is active listening and approaching conversations with an open mind. Cultivate empathy and seek to learn from others’ perspectives, enriching your own understanding. 

Be precise in your speech

Peterson has this rule to exemplify that you should say what you mean but also say it carefully. Choose your words thoughtfully and express yourself clearly. Effective communication helps you articulate your thoughts, be understood, and foster meaningful connections.

Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

The rules start to get a bit more random, but what this rule is alluding to is that you should encourage children to explore, take risks, and learn from their experiences. By taking active steps to encourage the youth in their independence and growth, you allow them to develop resilience and valuable life skills.

Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Another rule, which at face value seems strange, is telling us that we need to find joy in the simple pleasures of life. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty around you and savour the small and unique moments of happiness that come your way.

All in all, “12 Rules for Life” provides practical guidance for personal growth and navigating life’s complexities. By implementing these rules, you can cultivate confidence, nurture meaningful relationships, and find purpose and fulfilment. Embrace these principles to create a life of meaning, resilience, and well-being.


Related Article: Book Review: The Power Of Letting Go

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