12 Rules For Life


I began reading this book when it came out and stopped about 3/4 of the way through. It just wasn't for me at the time. But it was a delightful read now. Peterson talks about some really interesting ideas in the book that it didn't think were applicable, but apparently they were. At times, the writing was a bit dense and too heady, but that's what you get from an intelligent college professor.

Actionable Takeaways

  1. Nature and the world are not static. Therefore, anything or anyone that acts like it is static will eventually come to ruin. Instead, nature and the environment is dynamic. It begs for a constant tango between the inhabitants of the world as it mutates. Companies, ideas, and people that worked awhile ago aren't going to work today if they keep doing the same thing.
  2. Anxiety and depression cannot be treated easily if the person has unpredictable daily routines. The system in the body that regulates those emotions and feelings are closely linked to the circadian rhythm. Ensuring you're sleep habits are regular can be a great place to start.
  3. Life is a constant battle fighting to maintain order, but learning how to thrive in chaos.
  4. consciousness can be defined as knowing exactly how and where we can be hurt and why.
  5. One of the main differences between man and animal is man's knowledge of what's going on in the world. More specifically, man's desire and ability to cause trouble and pain and suffering for the sake of it.
  6. Everyone has to experience a season of intense suffering, sadness, or loneliness so they know what they know where they don't want to go. This could give your life Meaning (note the capital M.) "I'm on this earth to help myself and anyone who wants to come with me to stay away from X, Y, and Z."
  7. Don't be friends with someone whose friendship you wouldn't recommend to your son, daughter, sister, or mother.
  8. Before you help someone, find out why that person is in trouble. It's likely they're in trouble partly because of their actions. Not to judge them, just to know how they ended up in the spot they are.
  9. If you are succeeding at everything, it's most likely not because you're so freaking talented at so many different things. Rather, it probably means you're just not doing anything new, difficult, or challenging. Sure, you may be winning. But you're not growing. And what's the point of winning at something if it doesn't make you better? Victory in the present shouldn't take precedence over trajectory across time.
  10. The fundamental moral goal of a parent or care taker over a child is to not shelter children completely from misadventure and failure, so they never experience pain or failure, but how to make sure they learn something from their failure so that useful knowledge may be gained with minimal cost.
  11. There are two general principles of discipline. First, limit the rules. Too many rules makes kids go crazy. Second, use the least amount of force necessary. Don't go straight from 0-100 on the punishment scale. Work your way up and only get to the end if the child isn't cooperating on the previous levels. However, sometimes the highest form is necessary, like when a child is doing something that could quickly lead to something fatal. Then, it's necessary to get the kid to stop immediately, no questions asked.
  12. A natural disaster is an act of God - you couldn't have predicted its arrival. But you can do what's necessary to prepare for one. You know, eventually, your car will stop working or need maintenance. It's inevitable. So you can either choose to ignore the warning lights, or maintain a schedule of maintenance and put money aside for the inevitable 4-figure repair cost.
  13. Some of the worst people to be around are those who have decided to live life through a single axiom: "The right is bad." "Government is bad." They filter everything through this axiom and believe, truly believe, that everything that happens can be viewed through that. Too much money? The government isn't spending enough. Not enough money? The government is spending too much. Natural disaster? The government wasn't prepared enough (okay this one may be true.)
  14. 2 types of people: "Did what I want to happen, happen? No. Therefore I did something wrong and I still have something to learn." "Did what I want to happen, happen? No. Therefore this thing is unfair. Someone else is to blame."
  15. Stubborn refusal to change in the face of error is stupidity.
  16. The purpose of memory is not to remember the past. It's to stop the same bad thing from happening over and over again. If something bad happens, and you know why, you can stop that bad thing from happening again.


  • "It's not what we don't know what gets us in trouble. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so." -
  • "If mother nature wasn't so hell-bent on our destruction, it would be easier for us to exist in simple harmony with her dictates."
  • "An idea is more credible when it emerges as a consequence of investigations in different realms." #note-taking #slipbox
  • "When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes and you're so engrossed in what you're doing you don't notice–it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos."
  • "You can't long tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while you are still learning what you need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering." #mastery
  • "It is far better to render beings in your care competent than to protect them."
  • "If there is a rifle hanging on the wall in act one, it must be fired in act two. Otherwise it has no business being there." #writing #details #quote
  • "Those who fail to learn from the past doom themselves to repeat it."
  • "It's easier to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today, and drown the upcoming months and years in today's cheap pleasures."
  • "Attend to the day but aim at the highest good."
  • "If a society does not adequately reward productive, pro-social behavior, insists upon distributing resources in a markedly arbitrary and unfair manner, and allows for theft and exploitation, it will not remain conflict-free for long. If its hierarchies are based only on power, instead of the competence necessary to get important and difficult things done, it will be prone to collapse, as well."
  • Someone living a life-lie is attempting to manipulate reality with perception, thought, and action, so that only some narrowly desired and pre-defined outcome is allowed to exist.
  • "A naively formulated goal transmutes, with time, into the sinister form of the life-lie."
  • If you don't believe in brick walls, you will still be hurt when you run headlong into one. Then you will curse reality itself for producing the wall.


  • Are you so sure the person crying out to be saved has not decided a thousand times to accept his lot of pointless and worsening suffering, simply because it is easier than shouldering any true responsibility?
  • What have I done wrong and what can I do to make things at least a little bit more right?


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