Actionable Talk Summary: 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson
About: Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He’s well known in the psychology fields and in this talk, he’s summarizing the main points of his famous book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. The talk is kind of long 01:30:32, but you can learn the key takeaways in my talk summary below.
The Core Idea
We think that we’re living in a world where we’re all equal, but that’s hardly the case. We’re “above” or “below” in the global hierarchy depending on our status and authority. If you want to climb up in the ranking you need to confront things that frighten you with courage.
Lesson #1: There Is A Tight Relationship Between Your Belief System And Your Dominance Hierarchy Position
There is a part of our brains that keeps track of our status in society. It’s super old, like, a 3rd of a billion years old. That’s why you get all defensive when someone challenges your beliefs or threatens your reputation in society. That’s why you’re also getting all sad and grumpy when you don’t get a bunch of likes on your new photo.
When something like the above happens, the part of the brain mentioned above is wounded and it basically tells you that your rank in the social hierarchy is dropping, thus making you feel upset.
Or in other words, the way you feel about your status in the world is more important than you think.
Lesson #2: How To Properly Present Yourself in The World
To gain respect in the world you need to stand up. To occupy some space. To open up. This can make you look a bit vulnerable to the outside world but it’s actually a sign of confidence. This way other people are more likely to take you seriously and to give you the well-deserved attention.
You want to present yourself in the world in a manner that doesn’t disgrace you.”
Lesson #3: Figure Out How You Would Like to Be Treated
Imagine for a moment that you can choose how others should treat you. How would you like to be treated?
It’s an uncommon question. But a really great question if you want to figure out how you want the world to interact with you. Do you want people to agree with everything you say, especially if you’re a manager of some sort, or you want them to be honest? To challenge you?
People will treat other people better than they tread themselves.”
Lesson #4: It’s Mandatory to Take Care of Yourself
I know, it sounds bizarre. “I take care of myself! I shop. I travel. I post stuff on social media.” But taking care of yourself is not just about feeling good. It’s about bringing something valuable to the world.
As an individual, you have an obligation to the world. As an individual, you have something inside of you that you have to bring into the world. This can only happen when you know yourself and you take care of yourself.
Lesson #5: Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday
It’s easy to compare yourself to the people around you. Especially nowadays, when social media is giving you access to other people’s lives. You just pop the most famous app and you’re already hating yourself for not having X, or not visiting Y.
No matter what you do, there will always be people around that are better than you are. Seeing what they do and have regularly can make you feel hopeless. The worst conditions of all.
How you would like to be treated: Despite the fact that you’re not all that you could be. I mean, you’re not perfect, no one is. The proper attitude to have towards yourself should be like the attitude you have towards someone you genuinely like. Figuring out how you want to be treated will give you some degree of confidence.
What can you bring into the world? Usually, it’s not so obvious. Yes, some people are born with obvious talents, like writing or singing, but if during your whole life you were sitting on your couch and playing video games your mind might pause when you think about meaning. Regardless, take some time to consider what you can make so others can benefit from.
Push yourself, don’t crush yourself: Setting up high, hard to achieve goals is often recommended by the online gurus. But such desire can crush your creativity. You need to set goals that inspire you, not crush you. Goals that give you at least some probability of success.
You make the world a much worse place if you don’t take care of yourself.”
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”
Set a high aim, but differentiate it down so you would know what the next step is and make the next step difficult enough so you’d have to push yourself past where you are but also provide you with a reasonable probability of success.”