12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

In 12 Rules for Life, author Jordan B. Peterson pulls from religious texts, philosophers, and real-life examples to create 12 rules for living, which include rules like “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping” and “Tell the truth. Or at least don’t lie.” The rules originated from an answer he posted to a question on Quora. In his book, he expands on these rules in great detail.

My favorite two rules from Mr. Peterson are “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them” and “Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.”

In the former, Mr. Peterson discusses the art of raising appreciative, respectful children. He questions parenting styles prevalent today that acquiesce to a child’s every need and put the needs of the child ahead of the needs of everyone else. I agree with Peterson that this type of parenting style ultimately does the child a disservice in the future. As he correctly notes, your child is going to learn the hard lessons in life one way or the other, and the world is a cruel teacher. It’s much better to teach him lessons of humility, honesty, etc yourself than to let him grow up in a bubble only to get flattened by life at a later date and time.

In the rule of “Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient,” Mr. Peterson discusses several critical ideas that recur again and again throughout all of his rules. One idea in particular is that life is full of difficulty, suffering, and hardship. Our initial inclination is to try to avoid this suffering and seek out immediate pleasures that blunt the pain. Instead, we should focus on creating meaningful contributions to the world, despite this being the harder path.

Whereas many blogs and publications have created “Rules for Living”-type listicles, Mr. Peterson’s book was extremely enlightening and very well-researched. I enjoyed his overall narrative and found myself nodding along as he went through each rational point. I did find myself bored at times as chapters and rules can run long. My only qualm is that it could have been quite a bit shorter and still gotten the point across. Otherwise, it’s a great read that I would highly recommend.