Summary 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
28 mei 2022 
8 min. read

Summary 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

Back in 2018, the author and psychologist Jordan B. Peterson published 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. He combines humor, controversial views, and scientific research to give us life advice. The author does not come without criticism, but his book is popular and contains interesting learning points. 

Do you want to learn how to apply the 12 rules in your life? Read our summary to find out more!

Rule #1: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back.

Victim mentality is increasingly common and relies on an expectation that others will solve your problems. Taking ownership of your suffering will allow you to find meaning, and having a victim mentality will prevent you from doing so.

Peterson relates mentality to posture. Standing up straight with your shoulders back is a strong posture that exerts dominance and confidence, and shows you accept responsibility. You are not a victim. 

Rule #2: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping

Here, Peterson explains why it is important to respect yourself and recognize that you are deserving of assistance. Act toward yourself as if you were caring for, assisting, and being responsible for someone you love and value.

A short summary: when you take care of yourself, you can begin to add meaning to your life. Don't undervalue the significance of your vision and direction. These are irresistible forces and they can transform obstacles into opportunities.

Rule #3: Make Friends With People Who Want the Best for You

Friends have a significant influence on how you act. For instance, have you ever found yourself unconsciously saying the same things or copying the mannerisms of your friends? This implies that their toxic habits can have a negative influence on you. 

People who support your aspirations and goals, on the other hand, will congratulate you when you do something good for yourself or others. And they will tell you the truth when necessary. Because they have your best interests at heart. Therefore, make an effort to surround yourself with positive people and identify those who can help you bring about positive change. In time, this will also lead to a positive mindset in yourself, and that is invaluable. 

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

We all have an innate need to compare ourselves to other people. Our brain is always comparing ourselves to others.  When someone threatens our status, our brain restricts the production of serotonin, making us feel humiliated.

The best way to avoid this is to stop comparing yourself to others today. Instead, start comparing yourself to who you were yesterday. At the end of the day, reflect on what you did right and where you can improve. The next day, commit yourself to become a better person.

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Rule #5: Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

Parents must raise their children in a way that prepares them for adulthood. According to Peterson, this entails ensuring that they can function well in society by instilling the necessary rules. When parents fail to recognize this, their children run the risk of being rejected by society in many ways. 

This rule teaches us to raise children who are passionate about changing the world and inspire them to better themselves to change the world.

Rule #6 – Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World

This rule is about starting small and considering your circumstances before complaining about the world.

Here, Peterson encourages us to ask ourselves questions like these:

  • Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to you? 
  • Are you working hard on your career? Or are you allowing resentment and bitterness to hold you back and bring you down? 
  • Have you reconciled with your sibling? 
  • Do you treat your spouse and children with dignity and respect? 
  • Do you have bad habits that are ruining your health and well-being?


Have some humility. If you can't keep the peace in your own home, you're not ready to rule a city.


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Rule #7: Pursue What Is Meaningful (Not What Is Expedient)

Peterson defines "expediency" as putting off activities we know we should do to seek short-term gratification. 

We do this because life is filled with suffering. But there is so much more to life than pain. So, try to enjoy life to the fullest by pursuing something meaningful. Pursuing meaning will help you become a better and happier person while also coping with pain. This is also a powerful way for personal development

You can begin by seeking sacrifice rather than immediate gratification. This sacrifice has to be for the benefit of others rather than for your own. For example, Peterson does not consider working long hours to earn a promotion a sacrifice because your actions are still motivated by a positive outcome for yourself. 

Rule #8: Tell the Truth—Or, at least, Don't Lie

This rule discusses not only lying to others but also lying to yourself and obscuring your truth. 

We lie frequently. Perhaps more often than we want to. Why? Sometimes we lie to appear more competent, gain status, be liked, and avoid conflict. This is how we manipulate the world. 

It may also be that you are lying to yourself and denying what you want or what your reality is. 

Simply put, rule is about discovering your truth, and then acting on it consistently. In the long run, this would work out better than ignoring the truth. 

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

People will generally tell you everything they think if you listen without prejudging them. They will tell you the most incredible, absurd, and fascinating details. Your conversations will always be interesting.

What you know isn't enough unless your life is perfect. Your current knowledge has not made you perfect or protected you. Therefore, it is insufficient. People with a growth mindset understand this better than anyone.

Think of Socrates, who was the wisest man alive because he understood that what he knew was nothing. The easiest way to apply this law is that in every conversation, you assume that the person you're listening to knows something you don't. You will learn a lot if you predispose yourself to learn.

Rule #10: Be Precise in Your Speech

Whenever you set out to accomplish something, you must be explicit and precise in your objectives. Ambiguous goals can lead to ambiguous actions, which can lead to ambiguous outcomes. You will struggle with a vague unease until you define it explicitly and give it a concrete form. 

When you pinpoint the problem, you'll probably realize you were far more afraid than you needed to be. You now have a specific target to confront, and specificity allows you to begin challenging the chaos.

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Rule #11: Do Not Bother Children When They Are Skateboarding

Parenting, according to Peterson, influences how children react to danger in the future. Parents will frequently encourage their children to engage in activities less dangerous than skateboarding or rock climbing. The author believes that removing children from these activities will make them more vulnerable to the dangers of adulthood.

In this chapter, Peterson also discusses how society desires gender equality and how sometimes they take it too far to the point of denying any biological difference between males and females. Instead of "feminizing" boys, he states that parents should not remove risks from their lives.

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

It's easy to focus on the negative aspects of life. After all, some forms of pain can be completely overwhelming. With these crises, it's easy to become nihilistic or pessimistic about everything. 

Pay close attention to the love and beauty around you to counteract any potential nihilism. This could be a sunset, flowers, or simply a cat you found on the street. When you can, dwell on these moments to increase their impact. Life is too short to suffer.

You can apply active meditation or mindfulness exercises to become more at peace. Enjoy life. You deserve it.

About the author
Happy Investors is all about your long-term growth, both financially and in personal development. We write about long-term investing: stocks, real estate, crypto, and alternative investments. Grow your life. Become a Happy Investor!
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