Jordan B Peterson released 12 Rules for Life in 2018 as a story-based self-help guide for young people. The book lays out simple principles, the 12 rules, which aim to help the reader develop their discipline, integrity, and internal balance.
Jordan B Peterson is a Canadian psychologist who gained widespread attention in recent years for his opinions on cultural and political issues, often being described as conservative. In January 2018, Peterson published his second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos with Penguin Random House. This book displayed his abstract ethical principles for life in a more accessible style than his first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999). The book was a best seller in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, France, and Germany. Peterson also embarked on a world tour in promotion of the 12 Rules for Life.
“It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable. It’s not something to aim at – because it’s not an aim. And if happiness is the purpose of life, what happens when you’re unhappy? Then you’re a failure.” – Jordan B Peterson
The book encourages us to stop judging others, and start with ourselves, taking responsibility for our own lives. Peterson pushes self-care, stating we should look after ourselves in the same manner that we would with a loved one. He emphasises the idea of seeking meaning through sacrifices, rather than seeking happiness through pleasure. These ideas as well as his 12 rules are conveyed by sharing personal stories, scientific support, myths and most importantly, advice. Although it is targeted at millennials, everyone can take something from Peterson’s book.
The knowledge shared in the book and advice has been praised despite its atypical style, however, Peterson’s straight-talking writing style has been criticised by some. Peterson stated that it “isn’t only written for other people. It’s a warning to me.”
The 12 rules for Life are:
Rule one: “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”
Rule two: “Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.”
Rule three: “Make friends with people who want the best for you.”
Rule four: “Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today.”
Rule five: “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.”
Rule six: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
Rule seven: “Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).”
Rule eight: “Tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie.”
Rule nine: “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.”
Rule ten: “Be precise in your speech.”
Rule eleven: “Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding.”
Rule twelve: “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.”