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12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson: Summary, Notes, and Lessons - Nat Eliason

https://www.nateliason.com/notes/12-rules-for-life-jordan-peterson

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12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson: Summary, Notes, and Lessons - Nat Eliason
But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions-and there's nothing freeing about that. Not long after the Soviet Union fell, and most of the world breathed a sigh of relief, Peterson began purchasing this propaganda for a song online.

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Ideologies ≠ Ideologues

Ideologies ≠ Ideologues

Ideologies: ideas that, disguised as science or philosophy, claim to explain the complexity of the world and offer remedies that will perfect it.

Ideologues: people who pretend they know how to “make the world a better place” before they’ve taken care of their own chaos within.

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Virtue ≠ Virtue Signaling

Virtue ≠ Virtue Signaling

Jordan Peterson observed that virtues aim for balance and to avoid the extremes of the vices. Cultivating judgment about the difference between virtue and vice is the beginning of wisdom.

Modern relativism asserts judging how to live is impossible, because good and virtue are relative. Thus relativism’s version of “virtue” is “tolerance.” This leads to people broadcasting their tolerance as a form of self-promotion, and secret vice, which is also known as virtue signaling.

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Order and Chaos

Order and Chaos

Order is where the people around you act according to the established social norms, remaining predictable and cooperative. Society is simultaneously structure and oppression.

Chaos is where the unexpected happens. 

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Balancing Freedom And Social Groups

Balancing Freedom And Social Groups

One can transcend blind adherence to social norm, while avoiding the pitfalls of its opposite extreme, nihilism. It is possible to find sufficient meaning in individual consciousness and experience.

We can be freed from social impositions without devolving into anarchy through individual development and through the willingness of all to endure the burden of Being.

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Rule 01: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back

Rule 01: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back

We evolved and always will be in a dominance hierarchy. The part of our brain that keeps track of our position in the hierarchy is therefore ancient and fundamental, modulating our emotions, thoughts and actions. That’s why people size each other up. Presenting present yourself as defeated, leads to people treating you as such.

To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to voluntarily turn the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order and to make yourself worthy of being well treated. It means to shoulder and accept the burden of self-conscious vulnerability.

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Practical Tips To Straightening Up

  • Establish a routine. Uncertainty and erratic sleeping and eating habits can interfere with the brain’s functioning. Stable and reliable habits lose their complexity and gain predictability.
  • Attend to your  posture, don’t droop or hunch. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead.
  • Speak your mind.
  • Dare to be dangerous.
  • Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully.

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Rule 02: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping

Rule 02: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping

Chaos, order and consciousness, the process that mediates between the first two, are fundamental parts of experience. Our eternal subjugation to the first two makes us doubt the validity of existence, leading into despair and failure on proper self-caring. Proper understanding of consciousness allows us the only way out.

By treating yourself as someone you are responsible for you force yourself to see what is best for you instead of what you want.

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Tips For Being Responsible For Yourself

  • Ride on the edge between order and chaos. Make life so engrossing you don’t notice the passage of time.
  • Make competent those under your care rather than protecting them.
  • Do not avoid challenges, else life becomes dull.
  • We are aware of our vulnerabilities and the threats they bring, which means we know how to exploit them on others. Don’t exploit them or victimize yourself to them.
  • To properly care for ourselves we need to self-respect, and we do so by dealing in truth. Not “what we want,” but “what is.”
  • Consider the future you can have if you care for yourself properly.
  • Study and understand the world’s flaws and your own, then direct your life towards minimizing them.

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Rule 03: Befriend Those Who Want the Best For You

Rule 03: Befriend Those Who Want the Best For You

We have an unconscious propensity to let ourselves be influenced negatively thus the importance to avoid those who behave in a detrimental way.

Aspiring upward reveals the inadequacy of the present and that’s a challenge for those who are fine with it. It requires strength to properly identify and stand up near a good person. 

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Tips For Befriending Good People

  • Assume first that you are doing the easiest thing, and not the most difficult.
  • Do not deny someone’s responsibility for it exempts them of all agency and power. Things don’t happen on their own, all involved have personal responsibility, including the victims.
  • Don’t believe you can forcefully change someone. The desire to do so should be inside them before that.
  • If you wouldn’t recommend someone’s friendship to somebody else, ask yourself why you keep this friendship.
  • Have some humility and courage. Use your judgment, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity.

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Rule 04: Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not Who Someone Else Is Today

Rule 04: Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not Who Someone Else Is Today

Most people are not the best at anything. Adopting a wide external frame of perspective to judging oneself is counterproductive and leads to unwarranted self-criticism.

Life is not a single game but a composite of them: Personal, professional, romantic, family, physical life. Recognizing that you can’t “win” at everything is fundamental.

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Rule 05: Do Not Let Your Children do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

Rule 05: Do Not Let Your Children do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

Rewarding desirable behavior is a good way to guide people’s behavior but it’s a lengthy process and requires people to behave desirably by themselves before it can be applied.

When it comes to children, proactivity is necessary. Maturing presents an ever closing window for parental influence and experiences in its early stages will compose most of the cornerstone of their behavior. So it’s fundamental to make the rules clear and use the least force necessary to enforce them.

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Tips For Encouraging Desirable Behavior In Children

  • Do not protect your children completely from fear and pain, try instead to maximize and make their learning efficient.
  • Time out can be an effective form of punishment, particularly if the misbehaving child is welcome as soon as he controls his temper. Not every child is so cooperative so physical restraint might have to be added to the time out. A child can be held carefully but firmly by the upper arms, until he or she stops squirming and pays attention.
  • Understand that you are capable of being harsh, vengeful, arrogant, resentful, angry and deceitful with your child.
  • Your responsibility to prepare your children to the real world and to be socially desirable is larger than any responsibility to ensure happiness, foster creativity or boost self-esteem.

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Tips For Achieving Self Comparison

  • Have a goal.
  • Ask yourself what you do to avoid conflict and what you lie about.
  • Understand that we live within a framework that always defines the present as lacking and the future as better, and that this is necessary to propel us to act. 
  • Ask yourself what you can and are willing to do to improve things in your life, regardless of how small it is. Then, do it and keep doing it so you achieve a positive feedback that always leaves you better today than you were yesterday.
  • Keep the thought of bettering yourself in mind. Our minds tend to seek information on that which we focus and in doing so it gives insights that would not have been picked up otherwise.
  • Have faith in yourself. Understand that faith is the realization that the irrationalities of life must be counterbalanced by an equally irrational commitment to the essential goodness of Being.

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Rule 06: Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World

Rule 06: Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World

The world is in a much bigger frame than your own life, if you cannot keep your own house in order it may mean you’re lacking in the skills to perceive and address problems appropriately.

Things fall apart because we have not paid sufficient attention. Sometimes there are unpredictable and uncontrollable events but failure to prepare, when the necessity for preparation is well known—that’s sin.

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Tips On How To Straighten Your Life

  • Stop doing what you know to be wrong. Today. Don’t waste time questioning how you know that what you’re doing is wrong, if you are certain that it is.
  • Don’t try to reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. 

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Rule 07: Pursue What Is Meaningful (Not What Is Expedient)

Rule 07: Pursue What Is Meaningful (Not What Is Expedient)

What is expedient works only for the moment. It’s immediate, impulsive and limited. What is meaningful, by contrast, is the organization of what’s expedient towards a goal.

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Tips For Finding Meaningful Pursuits

  • Delay gratification and sacrifice. That’s a basic requirement of success.
  • Dissatisfaction with life comes from holding on to things that stop you from changing. However hard it may be, let go of them or make your peace with the life you have.
  • Aim up. Pay attention. Fix what you can fix.
  • Don’t be arrogant in your knowledge. Be humble and aware of your own flaws.
  • Don’t lie. Lying introduces chaos and harms the individual and society.
  • Ask yourself “How could I use my time to make things better?”

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Carl Jung, psychoanalyst

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Rule 08: Tell the Truth, or at least Don’t Lie

Rule 08: Tell the Truth, or at least Don’t Lie

To lie is to use language to bend the world into delivering what one thinks is necessary. Only a hopeless philosophy insists that reality can be improved through falsification.

To accept the truth means to sacrifice—and if you have rejected the truth for a long time, then you’ve run up a dangerously large sacrificial debt. 

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Rule 09: Assume Others Might Know Something You Don’t

Rule 09: Assume Others Might Know Something You Don’t

If you listen without premature judgment, people will generally tell you their every thought and that’s “truth” in a sense. Because although someone’s memory is not an objective description of the past, it is informative and thus a tool to guide the future.

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Rule 010: Be Precise in Your Speech

Rule 010: Be Precise in Your Speech

When you don’t communicate properly you invite chaos, and it tends to accumulate leading to resentment.

Specify your destination, and chart your course. Admit to what you want. Tell those around you who you are. Narrow, and gaze attentively, and move forward, forthrightly. 

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Carl Rogers

“The great majority of us cannot listen; we find ourselves compelled to evaluate, because listening is too dangerous. The first requirement is courage, and we do not always have.”

Carl Rogers

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Rule 011: Do Not Overprotect Your Children

Rule 011: Do Not Overprotect Your Children

Children often do things that are dangerous and we shouldn’t always intervene because by placing themselves in danger they learn how to be competent and that is a way to safety.

We’re hard-wired to enjoy risk to some extent, it’s a natural mechanism that prepares us to face the world. Overprotected, we fail when faced with the unexpected.

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Rule 012: Be Present

Rule 012: Be Present

Set aside some time to talk and think about your problems and how it should be managed every day. Don’t think about it otherwise or you risk exhausting yourself on a single issue.

Be present in the now and leave the thinking about problems for the time you reserved for that.

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Other Tips From Jordan Peterson For a Better Life

  • Consider that any hierarchy creates winners and losers. The winners are more likely to justify the hierarchy and the losers to criticize it.
  • Understand that hierarchy is inescapable. The pursuit of goals lends life meaning and the collective pursuit of goals produces hierarch, as some are more competent than others.
  • Beware of single cause interpretations and t will hose who purvey them. Things are rarely as simple.
  • Understand that power is one of the fundamental motivational forces, not the only one.
  • Competence should be your measure of status, not power.
  • Understand that group membership cannot capture individual complexity, signing up to it can be detrimental.
  • Don’t expect people to read your mind. In confrontations, tell them what you expect instead of what they are doing or have done.
  • Try to face your challenges yourself, unnecessary dependence is dangerous.
  • Understand that harassment sometimes is just a veiled test of competence and character.
  • Accept that most mature women want a man that will challenge and better them.
  • It’s important to ask why people don’t behave in a certain way as much as why they do. Our ancestors had behaviors and rules we often dismiss but doing so comes with the risk of introducing new or old problems.
  • Make decisions, here and now, even though the best means and goals can’t be discerned with certainty. An aim provides the structure necessary for action and reduces anxiety, because having no aim everything can mean anything or nothing.
  • Don’t expect external solutions to your problems, find the truth and devise ways to solve them yourself.
  • Identify your contribution to problems, fix them if possible and let others know you made a mistake.
  • Aim for Paradise, and concentrate on today.

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