I think I started reading this book in the right time. We are facing unprecedented outcome of the pandemic, the whole cities are being locked down and our lives are being at stake of fundamental changes. 12 Rules for Life provides us with an inventory of modern life’s concerns about changes in our world. Jordan Peterson provides us with different arguments and scientific research to support his ideas which always works for me. Science above all.
Things that I learned from the book
World isn’t a utopia
One of the first things Peterson states in the book is that we do not live in an idyllic world that embraces human dreams of peaceful nature, harmony with the world and all those things that I personally wanted to believe in. Nature isn’t friendly. Nature doesn’t care about weak. It doesn’t care so much that it lets brains of lobsters dissolve when they lose a battle. The winners become proud and successful, the losers rewire their brains into a loser mindset. Since, as a specie, we have also been benefitting from this nature, this world is all about fight. It’s all about fighting for your job, for your safety, for your success.
You don’t need to be aggressive. But you have to be ready to fight. This is one of the things that we naively try to believe in. That we are civilised and we can achieve things with reasoning and discussion. We can do that but aggressive interlocutors always gain more.
If you can bite, you most probably won’t need to
Children need parents
There is so much discussion about the children’s ability to learn, to distinguish good from bad and that we are born with innate values that were past to us with our genes.
As an ex teacher, I have to disagree. Children are violent. Children are reckless. And selfish. How many times have I seen a kid crying in front of the piano? Or a parent struggling to make a child behave in a public space. Completely usual situation that we can see every day.
I have always embraced the rule – action and reaction. My students (regardless their age) have always known that there are rules, prizes and consequences. If you follow the rules (that must be very clear to both sides), then you will be rewarded. If you decide to break the rules, then you get punished.
Taking responsibility for our actions is one of the most important things in our lives. I don’t treat anyone seriously if I notice that they can’t be liable for their own decisions. Even if this is a bad decision, you have to face the consequences.
Instant means shallow
Instant reward is a curse of our generation. We have been so conditioned to chase easy results and rewards. That is what I blame (indirectly, actually I am the only to blame) for being unsuccessful.
I am addicted to sugar. I have always wanted to have nice legs but every time I see something sweet, I surrender and I eat empty calories. That is horrible. I know. But this is one of the best examples of instant gratification. I can’t wait for my legs to get slender so I reward myself easily by buying sweets. Horrible, right?
Postponed gratification, on the other hand, is when you commit to doing things right now and awaiting reward in the future. For example, you write songs every day and you are committed until you write an album. It is also a risk you take. The album doesn’t need to be successful just because you wrote it, does it?
But taking the risk, putting work is the only way to be successful. I planted tulips in November and I can see them growing now. That’s amazing. That’s a miracle and happiness 🙂
It’s not an easy book. Peterson’s narration is long and digressive. I had to sit with a pencil in my hand to make notes on the margin to get the grasp of his arguments.
It’s not a book for everyone. Peterson is very conservative and relates to how the Bible had impact in our life. How the story of Adam and Eve affects our western way of thinking.
But I still very recommend the book. It made me rethink certain values in my life. And become aggressive, tough and cherishing delayed gratification.