12 Rules for Life Summary

Jordan B. Peterson: 12 Rules for Life

 You must accept responsibility for your own life.


“Rule 1: Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back”

When you awaken to your awesome power to destroy and oppress others – and not to remain a helpless victim – you will be less afraid. Price’s law teaches another, more optimistic lesson: When you start to have, you’ll likely get more. When your actions change, you become the change. Each person has the option to stand up erect and take on the burden of existence.

“Rule 2: Treat Yourself Like Someone Who Deserves Your Help”

People have a remarkable capacity for dealing with adversity and protecting their loved ones in an often inhospitable environment. Given that, take better care of yourself. If you know where you are, you can decide where to go next. If you know where you are going, you can limit the ever-present chaos, bring about order and restore hope. With this knowledge, you can avoid being a bad person.

“Rule 3: Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You”

Surround yourself with people who support your aspirations, hold you accountable for your actions and praise you for your efforts. To help those locked in cynicism and hopelessness, remind them that what holds them back is their failure to face the world and its challenges, not the world itself.

“Rule 4: “Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday, Not to Who Someone Else Is Today”

Standing out in a connected world is difficult. Only a small percentage of people create almost everything. Does that mean everyone else is irrelevant? No, there’s more than one game in life. A huge spectrum separates success and failure. Peterson describes how people’s internal critic often holds them back, demands more even when they do their best and punishes failure. Don’t succumb to that critical voice; negotiate with yourself – nicely. Decide what you want to improve, and reward yourself every time you complete a difficult task, however small. The baseline of comparison will rise with each day. Within a relatively short time, your life can be completely different.


“Rule 5: Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything that Makes You Dislike Them”

Normal kids test boundaries, by either spontaneous or deliberate acts of aggression. Parents are responsible for teaching them right from wrong and making it clear that aggression isn’t socially acceptable. Rendering your children competent in the face of inevitable danger, tragedy and rejection is far more responsible than protecting them. Have rules, but keep them to a minimum.

“Rule 6: Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World”

You are the crucial example of what you want to see in the world. “Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong.” Perceive your flaws honestly, and gird yourself for life’s inescapable tragedies.

“Rule 7: Do What Is Meaningful, Not What Is Expedient”

Humanity’s freedom led to the eventual rejection of dogma, which totalitarian ideologies – such as fascism and communism – replaced. Totalitarianism destroys the individual. Each person must accept responsibility for alleviating unnecessary suffering, which requires sacrifice. Find meaning in the balance between transformative chaos and pristine order.

“Rule 8: “Tell the Truth. Or, at Least, Don’t Lie”

You can take the easy way out, or you can tell the truth. Lying manipulates the world to conform to your desires. It limits your curiosity, which inhibits your growth. When you hide from others, you hide from yourself. You become inauthentic and easy for those in power to exploit. Lies only corrupt and destroy.

“Rule 9: Assume that the Person You Are Listening to Might Know Something You Don’t”

To prove you listen effectively, heed what someone says to you, summarize what was said to you, and say it back to him or her. Summarizing what you hear fuels understanding and memory and prevents distortion or simplification. The highest form of conversation occurs when everyone seeks to learn and to solve a common problem.

“Rule 10: Be Precise in Your Speech”

When you articulate a problem precisely, you can confront and manage it. If you make it specific, it can’t overwhelm you.

Rule 11: “Leave Children Alone When They Are Skateboarding”

In a sophisticated culture, individuals find many ways to excel. To become strong and capable, children must learn independence. When they learn to skateboard or push their limits in other ways, don’t stand in their way or try to protect them “to the point of weakness.” In a highly functioning society, it is people’s competence – not their raw power – that determines their worth.

Rule 12: “Pet a Cat When You Encounter One on the Street”

When you love someone, it’s not despite their limitations – but because of them. To deal with the inevitable crises life presents, manage them by compartmentalizing. Control what you can; accept what you can’t. As you walk in your neighborhood, notice the good things, appreciate the moments – however small – when the light gets in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s