If you came to my work through the personal freedom or lifestyle design articles I’ve written here and in publications like Early to Rise, then this is a book you’ll want to check out.
Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life provides an antidote to the cultural divide that’s destroying the West.
It’s kryptonite to shoddy social justice warrior “thinking,” and the bane of Postmodern Neo-Marxist rot in academia. But more than anything, it is clear, straightforward advice for living a meaningful life.
Don’t let the trendy title fool you. If this is self-help, then it’s self-help with a hammer.
Here’s the core message of 12 Rules for Life: life is suffering, but you can get through it if you get your shit together, tell the truth, fix the things you’re able to fix, and make yourself strong.
Think that sounds trivial? Try doing it for a week.
I love Peterson’s focus on the individual. I’ve always been suspicious of group-level solutions, or the idea that you can only be happy or fulfilled if society changes. Focusing on the individual is a lot more satisfying, and the results are better too. After all, if you can’t sort yourself out, what makes you think you can fix the world, or remake Western culture? It’s an incredibly arrogant assumption.
Maybe, just maybe, the root of all your problems isn’t global capitalism, or the evil patriarchy, or beliefs about invented genders. Perhaps it’s actually a lot closer to home.
You can spend your time badgering, nagging or forcing someone else to do something — the Indirect approach — or you can look for actions you can take right now to improve your life.
The direct approach puts YOU firmly in control of your own destiny, but it also requires you to assume responsibility for yourself. And that’s another key concept in 12 Rules. Peterson urges his readers to take on as much responsibility as they can handle, rather than whine about “rights” and entitlements.
So how should you begin?
Start by sorting yourself out. Look at the problems in your own life or in your own immediate environment. Choose one that you can fix, and fix it. Then chose another.
It can be something as simple as cleaning your room. In doing this, you’re bringing order to the chaos around you. It’s amazing how those small actions ripple out to improve the lives of everyone you come into contact with.
Peterson’s message is also refreshing because it’s the opposite of the currently accepted paradigm that equates male virtue with being weak and harmless. If being strong, productively aggressive, and able to fight for what’s right is somehow regarded as “toxic masculinity,” then it’s probably a good time to question the core agenda of those who are pushing such a simplistic and emasculating concept.
Dr. Peterson rose to prominence in Canada during a bizarre political debate on made up gender pronouns and compelled speech, not because he was an alt-right voice of hate as his critics allege, but because he stood up and spoke his truth in clear, logical terms.
What happened since then — the massive youtube following, the sold-out lectures, repeat appearances on international podcasts and television — is testament to the power of the Logos, the Word.
I first encountered Peterson’s work a year or two before that controversy, through the brilliant Maps of Meaning lectures he posted on Youtube. I went on to watch his University of Toronto Personality course too, and everything he’s produced since, because it is so relevant to my life.
There is no wishful thinking here, or New Age snivelling, or back-patting. 12 Rules for Life is funny and engaging, but dense with ideas based on hard science, research-derived psychological data, and the continuous centuries-long narrative that humans have transmitted through story and culture as a way to survive and thrive in a frightening world.
Dr. Peterson’s most recent effort was a public lecture series exploring the psychological significance of the Biblical stories. As an atheist who spent far too much time stewing in Sunday boredom as a child, trapped in church while my dad watched John Wayne movies at home, I was extremely skeptical of this. As a writer, an anthropology graduate, and a reader of Jung, Nietzsche and the Western Canon, I soon found myself mesmerized. His explanations of the ancient Biblical stories made sense. And even better, it made them useful whether or not I subscribe to a deity.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying why you should read 12 Rules for Life, and why I will be reading it again and again.
This is not a lightweight book. It’s valuable. It’s meaningful. And it will cause you to look at the world and your life a little differently than you did before.
Pick up a copy and see for yourself ==> 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson