I have taken on the task of researching and blogging about some of the most influential people in the world. I will touch on many different people, some I may agree with and some I may not. This isn’t about my opinions, but more so the experience of exposing differing belief systems and seeing what we can pull from each one. Today I’m covering Dr. Jordan Peterson who is a Canadian Media Personality, clinical psychologist, author, and professor. He is also famous for his ‘scientific’ evidence of humans to lobsters. He believes that humans and lobsters are genetically similar enough to be considered to mirror one another’s social hierarchies by developing the perfect adaptation to an environment of “chaos”. He has 12 rules for life that we are going to explore, and I wIill offer a bit of my notes in the mix.. Please note that you may see and read his wording differently, and that’s ok. The point is not to press my perception on you, but simply make you think and form your own take away from his writings. Peterson’s 12 rules for life are called, “An antidote to chaos.” These rules may seem controversial to some, but we don’t have to agree with everything to find some form of wisdom in a portion of what others state.. My higher power is God, but that does not mean that I don’t find understanding and awareness in other religions and resources. Dr. Jordan Peterson is bold in his dictation, and could be offensive, but his insights are nevertheless intriguing. The 12 rules are as follows:
Stand up straight with your shoulders straight- This is where we see him make a comparison to lobsters… He states that lobsters are left to their own devices much like people. To him this proves that God wants us to have order. He states “happiness is pointless and we all are on earth to suffer, so learn to suffer like a man” Now I understand the feminists of the world are going to have a great distaste for this wording, especially since he refers to chaos being “feminine” and order being “masculine”. However, if you look at it from a non biased point of view, you can see he’s basically stating that suffering is inevitable and we have the free will to choose to handle it as a victim or a victor. Whatever your gender may be, both males and females have masculine and feminine energy in them, therefore, I don’t interpret this as a message that is belittling to women, but as a figurative smack on the butt to all humans telling us to keep our chins up, fight back, and strive to be better.
Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping- This perspective puts great responsibility on you as a human to stand up and ward off your enemies and struggles regardless of the situation. When I refer to enemies, I'm not necessarily talking about other people or demonic forces, but merely our own thoughts and actions. You can be your own worst enemy. Peterson also refers to the Garden of Eden in this text where he reminds us that we were all touched by original sin, but we also always have a choice to deny or cave to sin. It’s a matter of free will. He states, “Yes, you have a shameful, sinful nature but for God’s sake just make a bit of effort. Stop waiting for other people to dig you out of your pitiful hole.” I take this quote as encouragement to boldly fight for your life. Whether you believe in God or not, the narrative still stands that everyday you have the option to lay down in sorrow or buck up and go to war with whatever is holding you back.
Befriend people who want the best for you- He quotes, “We are all Being. Just some of us are better Beings.” The people you surround yourself with will make or break you. I’m 10 years in recovery from alcohol and one of the first changes I had to make once I left rehab is who I allowed in my life. Positivity and encouragement is contagious, but so is anger, self loathing, and resentment. If I no longer wanted to be an addict then I could not surround myself where addiction was encouraged. If I wanted healing then I needed to be around those who poured life into me, so then I could pay it forward and pour life into others. I’m not saying to dismiss those who are hurting and still left in the dark, but you need to create an environment first that strengthens you enough to eventually go back, jump in the fire, and attempt to rescue as many as you can without regressing.
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not the useless person you are today- Again not the most appealing of word choices, but very profound. Peterson says, “Face it, you’re never going to be that smart, so don’t compare yourself to someone who is. Start by getting on your knees to pray. Even if you don’t believe in God” He also refers to atheism as people who are blinded. I am not going down that rabbit hole in this blog, because simply put, I don’t know how people find life's purpose if they believe in nothing. To just merely exist with no hope of something being far greater at work creates a life with no mission, which inevitably results in an unfulfilled life. Whatever your higher power may be, serve it well. We are all here for a reason. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made and serve a purpose. What it comes down to really is it’s up to you whether you are driven enough to travel the difficult but glorious journey to fulfill your purpose. I believe Peterson’s point is to not waste time comparing yourself to others when you individually have so much to give. Focus on your personal testimony and abilities to better your life and the lives around you.
Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them- Honestly, this one kind of made me laugh with the heading. Even more transparency, I’m not a fan of some of the wording he uses in this particular rule, because he talks about “slapping them if necessary” and although he may be joking, I would never promote being physical with your child. With that understanding, I will say that Peterson’s point is as humans we are born with sin, whatever age, sin will always be very present.. Our children are no different to this exposure of sin and are faced with temptation daily. Keep in mind that none of us are perfect and we all are capable of evil. Children are most impressionable and it’s up to us as parents to provide discipline and guidance, so our children grow up as strong adults who are prepared to handle a world with equal parts of cruelty and beauty.
Set your house in order before you criticize the world- Oh how I love this one! I preach this daily. Looking in the mirror before you look at anyone else is something I not only practice, but I feel like I should literally record it and put it on repeat for all to hear. Peterson refers to the biblical story of Cane and Abel in this text. Peterson says, “Yes, Abel was a schmuck who deserved to die and Cane wasn’t quite as perfect as he thought he was. He deserved to die, too. We all deserve to die. So stop moaning if someone is richer and better looking than you.” I think he was pretty clear in the point that we are all on an equal playing field and not one person is better than the other. Period.
Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient- Just because something is convenient does not make it significant. “Life is suffering” There are no shortcuts. My theory is that some days you have to belly crawl through the valleys and some days you reach mountain tops. Both are important. Both are life. Both are lessons. Both are worth experiencing.
Tell the truth. Or at least don’t lie- This one is hilarious, BUT truthful. Peterson states, “To be honest, I’m scrambling around for things but my publishers tell me I need 12. By telling you the Truth about this, I am an Improved Being.” The truth is the truth whether it's appealing or not. Do we all have our own individual forms of truth? Sure! We are human and interpret things differently. The point is to be so ridiculously self-aware and honest for the sake of transparency and growth. Lying, especially to yourself creates delusion, which then creates chaos, which then makes peace unattainable.
Assume the person you are listening to knows something you don’t- In gruff Peterson fashion he says, “Just shut up, quit moaning, and listen to me. I know things you don't. So don't expect me to listen to you. That’s not the way things work. I’m here to make you better about yourself by telling you things you already know in a way that makes you feel clever” Not necessarily the way I would personally word it, but I think everyone would all agree that nobody knows it all. If given the opportunity to listen then listen. If given the opportunity to learn then learn. If given the opportunity to admit faults then admit faults. If given the opportunity to be and know better than put that into action and do better. Learning should be a daily act.
Be precise in your speech- “Confront the chaos of Being” What do you think this means? I think this could be interpreted as confronting an issue in detail and head on, don’t minimize it. Those who naturally internalize things struggle with this concept, because they tend to not like confrontation and try to just blow it off or work it out for themselves. This often leads to anxiety, resentment, and a life unsettled because regardless of how you try to tuck things back in your mind, your subconscious never forgets and inevitably manifests in unhealthy ways through poor habits and thinking.
Do not bother children while they are skateboarding- Remember this is an analysis of Jordan Peterson not a belief system that I fully advocate for in its entirety. He hits a hot topic here in saying “boys do boy things and girls do girl things” This is where he’s hitting the point that HE feels as a society we are emasculating males and masculating females. Do with this as you will. I for one don’t relate. My husband and I work together as a team and whoever does each individual task better takes it on, and sometimes we just end up tag teaming it. Gender specific roles are not law, but a choice. Contrastingly, if you choose to live your life traditionally as the woman being the homemaker and the male being the sole provider then you have a right to do so. In the same regard you also have the right not to live your life traditionally. He touches base on the transgender community and all I can say is God calls us to love his people which is ALL people, so I will continue to love and respect the choices and lifestyles of all people.
Pet a cat when you encounter one in the street- “Ok, so I really am scraping the barrel now. We're all going to die. Probably painfully. So just make the best of what you’ve got. If you see a cat, stroke it. You might feel better. Though probably not. And if there are no cats, pet something else. Like a dog.” Let's look beyond the sarcasm and focus on the key point here, which is, we're all going to die some day, so just make the best of what you got. Less judgment and more self-reflection. Less worry and more living. Less focus on materials and more making this world a better place, and doing so by starting in your home.
I am certain that not everyone who reads this will agree with parts of this or any of it for that matter, but I am certain that with intention to learn different perspectives from some of today's most influential people, we can take a little from all and integrate it in our lives to make us just a little better, a little wiser, and a little more tolerant.