12 Rules For Life - Jordan B. Peterson

Here are 6 rules from this book that stood out to me -

Rule 1: Stand up straight

In this chapter, the author describes how a defeated lobster will always assume a posture of defeat, and its “psyche” from then on is that of defeat. This rule is not so much about physical posture but that of mental posture.

Being unhappy can cause a feedback cycle, leaving you in a slump.

Unlike lobsters, humans are capable of changing our mental posture from that of defeat to that of hope.

Stand up for yourself, and don't be bullied. Recognize when you are being bullied.

My takeaway from this rule is to be optimistic in all circumstances. Yet don't accept any shit. Learn to say no early.

To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).

So, attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence.


The start of this chapter got me lost, as it belabored explaining the difference between chaos and order. The discourse on how chaos and order correlate to Male vs Female will undoubtedly ruffle up some feathers. At times, the discussion seems tangential to the topic of this chapter.

Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being. As the great nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.”61 You could help direct the world, on

You need to know who you are, so that you understand your armament and bolster yourself in respect to your limitations.

You need to know where you are going, so that you can limit the extent of chaos in your life, restructure order, and bring the divine force of Hope to bear on the world.

You must determine where you are going, so that you can bargain for yourself, so that you don’t end up resentful, vengeful and cruel.

You have to articulate your own principles, so that you can defend yourself against others’ taking inappropriate advantage of you, and so that you are secure and safe while you work and play.


The author describes his life growing up in a small town in Canada and how he had a friend that he outgrew because he realized it would be a bad influence.

I was surprised that the author addressed the savior complex, which involves pursuing friendship to save the other person. This can be motivated by narcissism and delusion.

In general, it isn't a good idea to pursue friendship based on a savior complex -

Someone might object, “It is only right to see the best in people. The highest virtue is the desire to help.” But not everyone who is failing is a victim, and not everyone at the bottom wishes to rise, although many do, and many manage it.

But Christ himself, you might object, befriended tax-collectors and prostitutes. How dare I cast aspersions on the motives of those who are trying to help? But Christ was the archetypal perfect man. And you’re you. How do you know that your attempts to pull someone up won’t instead bring them—or you—further down?

Instead, it is often better to pursue friendship when you will be supported and criticized when warranted.

If you surround yourself with people who support your upward aim, they will not tolerate your cynicism and destructiveness. They will instead encourage you when you do good for yourself and others and punish you carefully when you do not.


This is not my first time encountering this rule. I first heard of it from a Louis Rossman video. I wonder if he got it from this book. I felt a load off my shoulders when I started practicing this rule.

At points, the author rambles excessively in this chapter, which could have been shorter. This chapter will appeal to people in a rut. It speaks to those unsure how to proceed when trying to improve themselves.

When you have something to say, silence is a lie—and tyranny feeds on lies. When should you push back against oppression, despite the danger? When you start nursing secret fantasies of revenge; when your life is being poisoned and your imagination fills with the wish to devour and destroy.

Be cautious when you’re comparing yourself to others. You’re a singular being, once you’re an adult. You have your own particular, specific problems—financial, intimate, psychological, and otherwise.

That’s how you deal with the overwhelming complexity of the world: you ignore it, while you concentrate minutely on your private concerns.

To journey happily may well be better than to arrive successfully….


“There’s no damn way I’m rewarding a recalcitrant child for unacceptable behaviour,” I thought, “and I’m certainly not showing anyone any Elmo video.” I always hated that creepy, whiny puppet. He was a disgrace to Jim Henson’s legacy.

I did not think this chapter would appeal to me, but I read it anyway and took away a lot of quotes.

In general, people improve with age, rather than worsening, becoming kinder, more conscientious, and more emotionally stable as they mature.

The topic (in this section) that may appear controversial to many is punishment. And yet, the author approaches the topic with sincerity. He makes good points about the importance of educating and disciplining kids early on in their lives lest they get out of control and burden the parents.

Children can be damaged as much or more by a lack of incisive attention as they are by abuse, mental or physical. This is damage by omission, rather than commission, but it is no less severe and long-lasting.

Every parent therefore needs to learn to tolerate the momentary anger or even hatred directed towards them by their children, after necessary corrective action has been taken, as the capacity of children to perceive or care about long-term consequences is very limited.

Kids do this frequently. Scared parents think that a crying child is always sad or hurt. This is simply not true. Anger is one of the most common reasons for crying.

You can discipline your children, or you can turn that responsibility over to the harsh, uncaring judgmental world—and the motivation for the latter decision should never be confused with love.

And if you’re not thinking such things through, then you’re not acting responsibly as a parent. You’re leaving the dirty work to someone else, who will be much dirtier doing it.


Certain cruel realities are inevitable and unchangeable or outside our control. Dealing with these harsher realities becomes more accessible and less bitter when we maintain order over everything under our control.

Don’t waste time questioning how you know that what you’re doing is wrong, if you are certain that it is. Inopportune questioning can confuse, without enlightening, as well as deflecting you from action.

You will stop making your life unnecessarily difficult. You will then be left with the inevitable bare tragedies of life, but they will no longer be compounded with bitterness and deceit.