Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life

When it comes to having a broader perspective on life, sometimes you get to read about social justice and the interactions that people have with those who oppose it most. In my most recent plunges into understanding goal driven importance in the world, I ran into a delightful figure named Jordan Peterson.

For those of you who were like me and had never heard of Jordan Peterson, he can be a bit much at first when you first start listening to any of his speeches and interviews. His interviews and his videos from his classes can be hard to understand at first due to his different approach to speaking which he described as a two-way conversation, as well as him bringing his listeners along as he thinks through a problem. If you give him a little bit of your time and an open mind you can start to hear his message that he is conveying to all people, and it’s a very basic message that I think has some really positive lessons.

Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist, public philosopher, and educator of psychology at the University of Toronto. He has recently been in the news because many find his lessons geared towards young white men who are lost in their direction in life and their place in current society. I would attest from hearing many of his speeches and reading his work that these lessons apply to all people from all races and sexes and ethnicities. His teachings are nothing new, and he also discusses that he got many of his rules or ways to live from ancient themes in stories that we find in many of our most popular movies today. These stories come out as what he describes as the Hero’s Journey which derived from observations taken by Joseph Campbell back in 1949. These stories imply that anyone can have a Hero’s Journey and it is not limited by who or what you are, its limited in your ability to answer the call. These stories and the journies in them can be found in popular movies, TV shows, and books, where the heroes are often depicted as women and men and are something that has been part of our culture as a species for as long as written history and storytelling, has been around. This again is nothing new.

Jordan Peterson accumulated these themes that teach us to take charge of our lives, get our house together, and to treat life as a journey to accomplish a positive goal that can improve the world around us. He expresses these views in a very passionate and easy to understand way that resonates with people. I see nothing wrong with that genuinely. Where it seems to all, go wrong though is that white young men seem to be listening to this story more than others, and taking action.

It’s hard to say precisely what is taking place in the western world today. There seems to be a lot of changes taking place, and many of these changes are good. What appears to be a problem, however, is that people generally are not taking action as much as maybe our grandparents did. They would see a problem and do something about making a change to improve the situation. Today we like to discuss and complain about a problem, but a lot of the work that is needed to be done is the work in ourselves, something that many people are not willing to do. It seems that for some reason white young men are interested in Jordan Peterson’s work mostly because some are willing to make aggressive changes in their lives to improve situations and are willing to take the responsibility for those changes. There could be many reasons for this in our society, but I would guess that the social changes that view white men as privileged from birth have provided these same individuals a confused, lost, and ungrounded view on life and they drastically are looking for a father figure to set them on the right path.

Now I am not here to debate the truths of that situation, however, the fact that many white young men resonate with Jordan Peterson teachings, does not imply that his teachings are racist, sexist, or fascist in any way. It just means that he has a message and it makes sense to that demographic more than others at the moment. Again as I have said before his teachings are nothing new, have been around for ages, and have never been considered harmful before. What I found even more striking is that Jordan Peterson as a person quite honestly seems to be surprisingly pleasant to have in-depth debates with. I have watched many interviews with him where he was being ridiculed for his teachings, and he remained overall positive about the future as well as passionate about what he had to say. I have also seen him having the willingness to learn from those interviewing him and changing some of his thoughts as they continued to talk. It seems that with Jordan Peterson, his views are not set in stone like many of us including myself, and his willingness to be corrected and change is astounding. Last, I have to mention that he’s Canadian, and for most Americans, this means he’s incredibly likable and unable to do any wrong in the world.

All jokes aside what are the teachings of this exciting and hated man? Here are the “hidden” instructions that everyone is so upset about:

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  10. Be precise in your speech
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t find anything in what Jordan Peterson calls the 12 Rules For Life to be groundbreaking or implying any negative ideas towards anyone besides someone who doesn’t enjoy skateboarders. There is obviously more to his 12 steps then this basic outline and many of these items he discussed in his interview with Joe Rogan which you can watch below. In the interview, he discusses his fundamental teaching which implies that the world however horrible it can be and negatively hurt your progress through life, it is not stopping you from trying as hard as you can to improve your life. He is very logical and realistic about this idea and soundly expresses it in his interview.


“He’s Canadian, and for most Americans, this means he’s incredibly likable and unable to do any wrong in the world.”

Though I obviously have a man-crush on Jordan Peterson, I do have some issues with his ideas but not because they are wrong. I think that his process for taking charge of your life is great; however, I believe that many people who do not find the satisfaction in gaining status through accomplishment in the world will find his goal-driven objectives to be unsatisfactory especially as they get older. I think that there are lessons beyond Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life and they are riddled with the more spiritual aspects of the human psyche. Though these lessons I am discussing may be learned later in life, the 12 Rules For Life can make a significant impact on the younger generation and transform the world to be a “better” place. Again these are just my personal views and could be wrong.

Though I have my personal skeptical views about humanity in general, I still think that these are great lessons to live life with, and hearing his speeches and interviews does provide me with an overall optimistic outlook on humanity and life if we could all apply some of these lessons. I see these teachings empowering all people to make a change in their lives, change that starts first with how they see the world around them and how it impacts their ability to succeed. I do not see Jordan Peterson as being anything more than one person trying to make a positive difference in the world, and I hope he achieves his goal. Hopefully, this article helped him in some way. What do you think?

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