12 Rules for Life, Jordan B Peterson

I first learnt of Jordan B. Peterson from an interview he did about why men and women progress differently in the workplace. He gave many excellent arguments and his reasoning made the interviewer look foolish. I wanted to read more of his work and his book “12 Rules for Life” was a fine start.

Publisher:[London], Allen Lane,, 2018.
Copyright Date:©2018.
Characteristics:xxxv, 409 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors:Doidge, Norman 
Scriver, Ethan van – Illustrator 
Alternative Title:Twelve rules for life 

Each chapter loosely discusses a rule, but the author goes off on tangents and each chapter covers more than you would expect from reading the chapter title. It’s a book that hard to follow and reading it over a couple of times would allow the reader to gain a much better understanding. 

I was surprised and somewhat annoyed by the amount of religious references he used as evidence for many of his points. 

The Rules

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for.
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you.
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
  5. Do not let your children do anything that will make you dislike them.
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world.
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie.
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.
  10. Be precise in your speech.
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.


Rule 6 on page 157

There is much good advice to be read including this one:

Consider your circumstances. Start small. Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to you? Are you working hard on your career, or even your job, or are you letting bitterness and resentment hold you back and drag you down? Have you made peace with your brother? Are you treating your spouse and your children with dignity and respect? Do you have habits that are destroying your health and well-being? Are you truly shouldering your responsibilities? Have you said what you need to say to your friends and family members? Are there things that you could do, that you know you could do, that would make things around you better?
Have you cleaned up your life?

Rule 11, page 298

Boys like competition, and they don’t like to obey, particularly when they are adolescents. During that time, they are driven to escape their families, and establish their own independent existence. There is little difference between doing that and challenging authority. Schools, which were set up in the late 1800s precisely to inculcate obedience, do not take kindly to provocative and daring behaviour, no matter how tough-minded and competent it might show a boy (or a girl) to be.

Boys need to be able to compete to thrive. This rule made me feel annoyed and angry how modern schools are being more “feminized” over time and causing boys to fail at school by not allowing them enough freedom.

Rule 12, page 345.

A superhero who can do anything turns out to be no hero at all. He’s nothing specific, so he’s nothing. He has nothing to strive against, so he can’t be admirable. Being of any reasonable sort appears to require limitation. Perhaps this is because Being requires Becoming, as well as mere static existence—and to become is to become something more, or at least something different. That is only possible for something limited.

Peterson states that we need limitations to give us being, if things were too easy, as for Superman, we would not develop character or resolve.


Overall it’s a book that is very thought provocative, and reading it over at least twice is recommended, if you have time and the interest of course!

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