12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson

· 7 min read


12 Rules for Life: An antidote to chaos by Jordan Peterson is Jordan Peterson’s attempt to condense all his life advice into 12 rules.

In rule 1, Jordan uses lobsters and birds for a bit of a history lesson to help us understand how our body posture can affect our lives.

In rule 2, we are given a spiritual and historical lesson with quotes from various religious scriptures to explain why we treat ourselves the way we do. So, we can start to treat ourselves better - treat ourselves like someone we are responsible for helping.

In rule 3, Jordan shares a story about his hometown friend and their cousin. And goes on to highlight the destructiveness of having friends that do not have your best interests at heart.

In rule 4, Jordan tells us to make peace and befriend our internal critic. And together work towards worthwhile goals.

In rule 5, we hear stories of children who have been neglected by their parents. And how this behaviour ultimately leads to a toxic relationship between parent and child.

In rule 6, we get a glimpse into some of the thoughts of mass killers and people who have suffered greatly.

In rule 7, Jordan gives us more interpretations from the bible. How our ancestors discovered delayed gratification. He goes on to tell us, seeking meaningful/moral choices helps us avoid the many traps that lead us down a destructive life.

In rule 8, tells us a story about his early university and clinical days. Sharing how telling the truth and being honest with others and ourselves led to better overall outcomes for everyone involved.

In rule 9, he shares a story one of his patients told him. Instead of “giving advice” based on the story, Jordan questions whether the story was something that really happened in reality or simply a fictional story of her mind. He then goes on to describe the different types of conversation modes and how we should act in those scenarios.

In rule 10, Jordon tells us stories to highlight how we view the world and things - simple and good. And our tendency to ignore the complexity and bad things brewing underneath until they can no longer be ignored. Leading to bad situations that could have been avoided.

In rule 11, Jordan tells us the impacts on children subjected to over protective and over prescriptive parenting rules and government laws.

In rule 12, he shares stories of suffering, mostly about his daughter, then ends the chapter on the note of how cats are like the manifestation of nature.

Key Takeaways

Rule 1 - stand up straight with your shoulders back
Carrying yourself in the right posture not only changes other’s perception of you, it also has an effect on your body’s chemistry.
Rule 2 - treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping
We need to first look after ourselves, before we have the capacity and capability to look after others.
Rule 3 - make friends with people who want the best for you
Friends or rather, relationships, play a big part in where we go in our lives. Choose them wisely.
Rule 4 - compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
Everyone is unique. Therefore, it is pointless to compare yourself with someone else.
Rule 5 - do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
Like any relationship, be open and honest with your child. Reward good behaviours and follow through with consequences for bad behaviour.
Rule 6 - set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
The destructive behaviour we see is a reflection of that person’s chaotic inner self.
Rule 7 - pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
Do the right thing. Don’t lie or be dishonest.
Rule 8 - tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie
Lies only leads to more and bigger lies in an attempt to cover up the original lie. Leading to a state of indenial.
Rule 9 - assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
We do not know everything. And we certainly do not know what it is like from the other person’s point of view without letting them describe it to us.
Rule 10 - be precise in your speech
Precision in details is important. Telling your doctor the exact symptoms you are experiencing will greatly help improve the doctor’s accuracy to diagnose your problem.
Rule 11 - do not bother children when they are skate-boarding
Children need room for growth.
Rule 12 - pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
Embrace the randomness that is the world and/or nature.


If you have ever wondered why people behave in ways that seem totally illogical, then this book will certainly answer a lot of those questions. Or attempt to answer them using references to the bible.

Overall, I liked the book. I found it insightful. I may not agree with everything, but that’s just human nature.

Would I recommend the book? It’s certainly a good read. But only if you’re interested or have a bit of curiosity around human behaviour and psychology.

And if you do decide to read the book, take caution when reading Rule 11.11. Where Peterson describes a toxic workplace where an individual is bullied by his senior coworkers and that bullying progressively gets worse over time.

What those bullies did is illegal and outright disgusting. The key point here is, if you have read the previous rules and have a better understanding of the instinctual aspect of human beings. You should understand why the bullies behaved the way they did. And Peterson explains how one should respond to such cues.

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