content is reader-supported. "As an Amazon Associate, When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission." Learn more.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson

Book Review: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson. what are Jordan Peterson 12 rules for life.12 Rules for Life Summary and Quotes
Book Review: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson 

Introduction of Jordan Peterson's book 12 rules for lifewhat are Jordan Peterson's 12 rules for life? What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson's answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.

Humorous, surprising, and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.

What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention to the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant, and vengeful? 

Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure, and responsibility, distilling the world's wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith, and human nature while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its listeners.

Book: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson


About the Author:  Jordan Peterson 12 rules for life  

Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, clinical psychologist, and former professor of psychology at Harvard University. He mainly studies abnormal psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, and is an expert in the Big Five personality research.

Peterson has co-authored more than a hundred academic papers with colleagues and students at Harvard and the University of Toronto, advancing contemporary understanding of personality, and was a finalist for the prestigious Levenson Teaching Prize while teaching at Harvard. One of three professors at the University of Toronto was called "life-changing" by students.

Peterson's classic "Maps of Meaning," which rewrote the psychology of religion, was made into a 13-episode hit on PBS. He is known as "Professor Lobster" because of his views on the comparison of lobster and human society.

"The Twelve Rules of Life" is his second book, which has been on the North American bestseller list before it was released, and became a global phenomenon bestseller as soon as it was released.

Peterson grew up in the frigid wilderness of northern Alberta, Canada, and worked as a dishwasher, gas station worker, cook, beekeeper, oil field worker, and railroad worker. 

He also teaches mythology to lawyers, doctors, and business people, advises the Secretary-General of the United Nations, provides treatment for clinical patients with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and sensory integration disorders, and serves as a consultant to a senior partner in a large Canadian law firm, and lectured widely in North America, Europe, and other places.

The mental health website Peterson founded has helped thousands of people correct character flaws, better understand themselves, and improve their futures.

12 Rules for Life: Jordan Peterson's Best Quotes

"Don't compare your life with others, find solutions to your own life problems and improve your own life."
People are always at the relatively less ideal point A and are constantly moving towards the better point B, which is more in line with their own value judgments. The world in our eyes is always full of shortcomings and needs to be corrected. Even when the old goal has been reached, we will always go further and propose a new goal, and even when the goal is temporarily satisfied, we will remain curious. The framework of people's lives defines the present as eternal scarcity and the future as eternal beauty. Because otherwise, a person would be completely incapable of action."

    Our goals can be too high, too low, or too confusing, which can lead to failure and disappointment, even when others see you as a success. So how can we benefit from our own imagination and ability to improve the future, while avoiding the constant devaluation of a less successful and less valuable life in the present?

    Perhaps the first thing you need to do is sort yourself out. who are you?

    Perhaps happiness is always a process of generation and improvement, rather than the fleeting satisfaction of reaching a goal.

  Ask yourself, out of all the chaos in life, is there anything you can and would like to sort out? Do you have the ability and will to fix this seemingly inconspicuous problem? Can you get started now?

   Your day, and every other day, is made up of countless small choices and actions, can you try to make one or two better? "Better" here is defined from your own perspective and standards - our talents are all limited, don't deceive yourself, don't belittle yourself, and don't put too much burden on yourself.
      Maybe your value system needs to be completely rebuilt, maybe you want something that blinds you to all other possibilities, maybe you're so clinging to your present desires that you can't see anything else, including what you really need a thing.

    You jealously say "I should have my boss's job", and if your boss stays in his place because of his ability, your thoughts will fill you with irritability, displeasure, and disgust."

   But the desire for an unobtainable position won't help you one bit.

   You can tell yourself this: I'm going to make a different plan, I'm going to pursue something that will make my life better, whatever it is, and I'm going to start working on it now. Even if I found out that it wasn't my boss's position, I would take it and move on."

     Now your trajectory is completely different. Before you were chasing and longing for something narrow and specific, you were stuck and unhappy because of it. You need to let go, make the necessary sacrifices, and reveal a plethora of possibilities that were once obscured.

    If your life really got better, what would it be like? What "better" actually means, maybe you don't know yet, but that's okay because when you really want to be better, you will gradually start to understand what better is. You will slowly perceive things that were previously buried in your presuppositions and stereotypes, and you will really begin to learn.

     You have to recognize who you are, what you want, and what you are willing to do, and then you will find that the aversion to solving your own unique problems needs to be tailored. --- Quoted from the inner critic of Rule 4: Comparing yourself with yesterday, not with others today.

Jordan Peterson 12 Rules for Life Book Review

JP was a breath of fresh air in this chaotic world, a light I groped in the dark. Combining science and common sense, his writing is extremely convincing, dissecting some very complex and profound problems and exposing the thorns of life in broad daylight. 

Regardless of whether you have a background in philosophy or psychology, this book will not be difficult to read. This book includes Jordan Peterson's Twelve Laws of Life, which are good medicine for both individuals and society.

A theme that runs through the book is that life is not so hopeless, that personal change is possible and that life can hopefully get better. There is no doubt that by starting small, you can improve a little bit every day. 

The essence of life is a tragedy, and the world is not so friendly, but we must treat these problems correctly, instead of blindly playing the role of a victim, living in the shadow of the past; or like A giant baby that refuses to grow.

The twelve laws of life, in JP's own words, are some laws that make you no longer sad, because he himself is a practitioner of these laws, and he is practicing them, so these are not castles in the air. He also admits his own shortcomings and deficiencies very frankly, rather than brag about himself like some authors.

The content of the book is not complicated, it seems to be a simple twelve sentences, but after reading it, it is like reading twelve philosophy books in one breath. 

Author Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist, and a former professor of psychology at Harvard University. 

He discusses serious survival issues on YouTube, beats various internet celebrities, and has 35 million views. He is also known as "the most influential public intellectual in the West". I had heard him speak about the book before reading it, but after reading it, I had a deeper understanding.

In fact, many of the truths in the book were vaguely understood before, but I didn't think about them deeply; there are also some truths that I understand, but haven't put into practice in life. 

This book gave me the desire to re-examine my life and plan life again. Acquiring some new knowledge is obviously more helpful to the current state of mind than swiping the phone with anxiety all day long. Here are some of my reading experiences.

The twelve rules in this book have a strong religious meaning. I can basically understand the reasoning behind them when I read them. If you don't know some relevant knowledge, it will be difficult to understand when you read them, and you will feel that they do not fit well. 

1. Stand at attention and keep your head up

A person's posture and spirit will affect others' first impression and evaluation of him.

Just remember: if you continue to hang down like a failed lobster, people will look down on you, and the dominant "calculator" in your brain will give you a low score. You'll have low levels of serotonin, and you'll be more prone to anxiety and sadness, not being able to defend yourself, and not getting high-quality shelter, resources, and partners.

Positive feedback loops through body language can also occur in social situations. If you're down and down, you'll also feel small and frustrated, and the reactions of others will magnify your feelings.

Like lobsters, people evaluate each other based on their body posture. If you appear to be a failure, people will treat you as a failure. If you stand upright, people will treat you differently.

Be careful with your posture and stop wandering with your head down. Step up, look straight ahead, and take risks so your neural pathways are flooded with much-needed serotonin.

There used to be a book called "High Energy Posture", which came from a TED talk. The core can be summed up in one sentence: Let your posture determine who you are.

2. Be kind to yourself

In primitive times, people understood the world in terms of survival.

Take yourself seriously, redefine yourself, cultivate your personality, choose your goals, and be clear.

What will your future life be like if you take care of yourself seriously?

What career should I choose to become a valuable and beneficial person to society? How can I improve my health, expand my knowledge, and strengthen my physique when I have the time and energy? 

You need to know where you are before you can plan your future route; you need to know who you are before you can balance your strengths and weaknesses; you need to know where you want to go before you can control the level of chaos in your life and restore order. 

The divine power that fills the world with hope. You need to know your own direction first so that you can protect yourself in a timely manner, so as not to end up full of complaints and resentment; you need to clarify your principles so that others cannot easily take advantage of you; you need to be strict with self-discipline and keep the promises you made to yourself, 

and reward yourself in time, so that you can better trust and motivate yourself; you need to aim to become a better person. Good things don't come automatically, we need to work hard to strengthen ourselves.

Don't underestimate the power of vision and direction to transform seemingly insurmountable obstacles into wide, unobstructed paths. Take yourself seriously, redefine yourself, cultivate your personality, choose your goals, and be clear.

Nietzsche, the great philosopher of the 19th century, said: " A man who knows why he lives can endure any kind of life.

When you think about it, you can clearly answer: What is the direction of your life?

It's easy to know where you should be working and what needs to be done. It is only after I have figured this out that I can achieve freedom of time and freedom of mind.

3. Choose the right friend

When a person has a low sense of self-worth or refuses to take responsibility for their own life, they choose to be friends with people whose lives are already a mess. Bad habits are contagious, but self-discipline and stability are not, because it is much easier to fall than to forge ahead, to stay away from bad friends. 

If you have different friends, end the relationship, get out of here and go elsewhere, get back on your feet, and then lead by example and inspire others. You are not obligated to support someone who makes the world worse, you should choose friends who are motivated and good for you, not selfish, but to make each other better.

If you're surrounded by people who support you, they won't tolerate your cynical or broken-hearted attitude. They will encourage you to be kind to yourself and others, and will discreetly nudge you at the right moment in your determination to take things seriously. 

On the contrary, people who are not motivated will pass cigarettes to those who have quit smoking, and pour alcohol to those who have quit drinking. They will withdraw their support and company from you because they are jealous of your efforts and success, and sometimes even take the initiative to punish you. 

They will press you down with real or fictitious personal experiences, which may seem like a test of your resolve, but more often they really want to hold you back because your progress dwarfs theirs.

Be friends with people who really want you to be good.

4. Compare yourself with yesterday

The most common mistake many people make when setting goals is comparing themselves to others, and doing so is wrong.

You should set your goals like this:

By this evening, I hope my life is a little better than it was in the morning.

Then ask yourself, "What can and would I do to make this happen? What rewards do I hope to receive?" Carry out your choices, good or bad, and celebrate your victory with a cup of coffee. 

You might think it's a little silly to do this, but that's okay, you'll do it tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and keep doing it. Over time, your baseline of comparison magically improves, just like compound interest.

Stick with it for three years and your life will be completely different. Then you can set bigger goals and bigger ideals. Your eyes will also become clearer and you will gradually be able to see the world clearly.

Focus, pay attention to your physical and mental environment, and notice the things that have been bothering you but that you have the ability and willingness to change. To discover these things, you can ask yourself three questions:

"What's bothering me?
"Do I have the power to change it?" 
"Am I really willing to change it?"

If the answer to one of these questions is no, move on to another question and narrow it down until you find something that is bothering you, but that you have the ability and willingness to change. This alone takes a lot of time.

5. Don't let your kids do things that make you hate them.

Parents who are really attentive will not let their children who care about them most become the object of contempt. Parents are the arbiters of social rules, and it is only from them that children learn appropriate behavior before they can have meaningful and valuable interactions with others.

Psychological studies have long clearly shown that:

First, extraordinary creativity is extremely rare;

Second, strict restrictions are actually conducive to the development of creativity. A child is like a blind man looking for a wall. He needs to keep moving and trying before he can find out where the boundaries are, and these boundaries are often not where people claim to be.

You need to let your child know his own boundaries and use discipline principles.

6. Clean up your room before criticizing the world

Observe your surroundings and start small. Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities? Are you trying to develop your career, work hard, or let resentment hold you back? Are you reunited with your brother? Do you respect your partner and children? 

Do you have bad habits that ruin your health and happiness? Are you taking responsibility for it? Are you honest with your family and friends? Did you do the things you could do and make your life better? Have you cleaned up your life?

If the answer is no, maybe you can try to stop doing things you know are wrong, and stop today. If you're sure it's wrong, don't waste time wondering how you're right or wrong. Untimely questioning will not lead to enlightenment, it will only create confusion and hinder your action. 

You can judge things right or wrong without knowing why because your whole telling you things that cannot be explained or articulated. Everyone is so complicated that it's hard for everyone to see themselves fully, but we all have wisdom that we can't comprehend. So, as soon as you have the slightest thought to stop, stop immediately.

Start by changing your bad habits and recommend using my 100-day action to replace a bad habit with a good one.

7. Pursue meaning and refuse to be stubborn

Find your meaning in life, establish your life rules, and stick to those ground rules. Author's basic moral conclusion: Be good, focus, fix what you can, and don't be arrogant about your knowledge. 

Do your best to remain humble, for the pride of powerism manifests itself in intolerance, oppression, torture, and death. Be aware of your own shortcomings, such as cowardice, malice, resentment, and hatred, and see your own murderous heart before blaming others and trying to fix the world. Pursue meaning and refuse to be stubborn.

8. Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie

Escaping or telling the truth are not just two different choices, but two life paths, two completely different ways of being. Be someone who dares to say "no".

Knowing it is wrong and doing it is knowingly doing it, and allowing mistakes that could have been prevented is negligence.

Vision connects current behavior to fundamental long-term values, gives current behavior extraordinary importance and meaning, and provides a framework for limiting uncertainty and anxiety.

On top of all specific goals should be a meta-goal, a method of discovering and establishing goals.

At first, you just tell a little lie, and then you need to cover up with more little lies. Next, you twist your mind to avoid the shame of lying and cover up the consequences of the twist with more lies.

These necessary lies are transformed into automatic, specialized, structured unconscious beliefs and behaviors under constant repetition. Your life begins to deteriorate when hypocritical behavior fails to deliver the desired results. 

Even if you don't believe in the existence of the South Wall, you will be beaten to death. If your life isn't going your way, try to tell the truth; if you're desperately clinging to a certain awareness or addicted to nihilism, try to be honest; if you feel vulnerable, useless, hopeless, and confused, try to tell the truth talk.

Tell the truth, or at least don't lie.

9. Assume the person you're listening to knows what you don't know

When people are noticed, they really tell you a lot, and sometimes they even tell you what their problem is and how they plan to fix it. Sometimes this can also help you solve some of your own problems.

If you're determined to change the world your way and stand your ground, you better have a reason, a well-thought-out reason, or you could end badly.

Sometimes you just need to shut up and be smart.

When you listen to others, you are also listening to yourself.

Genuine dialogue includes exploration, clarification, and strategy development.

In a genuine conversation, most of the time you are listening. Listening is an expression of attention.

10. Face the problem head-on and be precise

Everything becomes visible only after it has been expressed and clarified.

No one can find a perfect partner who doesn't need to maintain a relationship, and even if they do, the other party will leave you because of your imperfection. The truth is, you need someone who is just as imperfect as you are.

The things you least want to see will inevitably happen when you are least prepared; the things you fear most will show up when you are weakest when it is strongest, and you will be defeated.

Don't run away from the problem, face the problem, and finding the root cause is the best solution.

Say what you really think so you can understand what you really think. Act according to your words and you will see the results. Then focus, observe your mistakes, describe them accurately, and try to correct them. This is how you find meaning in life, and it also protects you from life's tragedies.

11. Acknowledge reality and oppose prejudice

People who really want to improve the world usually don't try to change others, at least they start by changing themselves.

Don't bother the kids when they're skateboarding. Skateboarding is a dangerous sport, and the essence of skateboarding is its danger.

Men can become more gritty by motivating themselves and each other.

When the boys drive and play drift, they are testing the limits of the car, their skills, and their composure in a runaway situation. When they rebel against teachers and authority, they are verifying the existence of real authority that they can rely on in times of crisis. 

After they drop out of school, they will work drilling oil wells at minus 40 degrees Celsius, giving up the so-called bright future. Such a choice is not for cowardice, but for strength. Don't bother the kids who are skateboarding.

Men need to be tougher, as do women.

12. Pay attention to the good that exists

When you are aligned inside and out, you can focus on the present moment.

Be careful with everything, organize what you can control, fix the messy parts, and keep improving.

Set aside some time each day to focus and discuss all the crises and coping strategies, and forget about them the rest of the day.

If you don't limit the impact of crisis events on you, you'll end up exhausted. You need to conserve strength because this is a war, not a battle. You need to do your best to deal with every battle that makes up the war. 

When you can't help worrying about life's crises, remind yourself that you'll have dedicated time to think about them. The anxiety-producing part of your brain will focus more on whether you have a plan than the details of your plan. 

Also, don't think at night, you'll lose sleep, and that's going to keep everything from running smoothly.

When you come across a cat on the street, pet it. On good days, it's our extra source of happiness, and on bad days, it's our little respite.

Summary of 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson

This is a book about the meaning of life. Discussions on the topic of the "Meaning of life" tend to go to two extremes, either a vulgar chicken soup or a masterpiece. Ordinary "worldly-wise people" will choose to avoid this topic, in Wittgenstein's words: "Everything that can be said can be said clearly, and what cannot be said we must remain silent".

Those who can speak a little bit clearer on this topic are either extremely wise or have experienced extremely profound suffering.

JP is definitely someone qualified to discuss this topic, not only because he is a learned professor, a clinical psychologist with decades of experience. He is also a client who suffers from family depression (his father and daughter both have serious depression problems).

Aside from all kinds of academic discussions, JP himself has a very strong personality, and he has a unique temperament that collides with a brave and fearless warrior spirit and the light of delicate and soft humanity.

This book mentions a lot of valuable viewpoints. Due to my lack of knowledge and limited life experience, I can only try to summarize the following three viewpoints that have had the greatest influence on me.

1. Human existence is transformed into chaos and order

2. The meaning of suffering is to find the "balance" between chaos and order, and this balance points to the singularity of the meaning of life.

He encouraged everyone to take the extra step and stretch themselves in an orderly situation.

Does it sound like the classic truth about stepping out of your comfort zone?

Does it make us have to suffer for ourselves from time to time to brush the sense of existence in life?

In fact, JP hopes that everyone can find a "balance point" on this issue. This point is between chaos and order, and this point is the point that guides the meaning of life. It determines whether you grow up on the edge of a cliff or Fall off a cliff that has never recovered.

For example, you can keep your life in 80% order and open up the remaining 20% to embrace the uncertainty of life.

3. Not causing unnecessary pain to others will make you happier.

Most people cannot and are not suitable to move to Walden to live alone. If you can't stand absolute loneliness, you have to endure conflict and friction between people.

I feel a lot about this. One of the lessons I learned this year that subverts the three views are: Humans call themselves rational animals, but our actions and decisions are actually driven by emotions. It doesn't matter if you have an education, whether you have money or not, or whether you look good or not.

The first step towards true rationality is to admit that you are a perceptive primate.

A 100-point knowledge and debating eloquence may not be enough for parents, but a loving hug can melt them.

Muhiuddin Alam is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He serves as a consistent contributor to various websites and publications, including Medium, Quora, Reddit, Linkedin, Substack, Vocal, Flipboard, and Amazon KDP. Alam personally read numerous books and, for the past 10 years, has been providing book recommendations and reviews. Find Me: About Me & Google Knowledge Panel.

Do you prefer to listen rather than read? If so, here’s a nice opportunity to try Audible for 30 days.

Need a bookish gift? Give the gift of reading to the book lovers in your life.