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12 Rules for Life - Jordan B. Peterson

Book Review - Gurupma Singh

After binge watching a load of Jordan Peterson's online lecture, I couldn’t escape this book. The insight and value that each interview provided I’d decided that I need to get his book at one point in my life. I specifically remember him saying that when writing his first book ‘Maps of meaning’ he reviewed and created a minimum of 50 iterations for each. individual. sentence. I was finally tipped over the edge when I asked on my insta story for some book recommendations and my friend Pim suggested it, and man am I grateful for that.


One of the key themes not just within this book but also within the character of Professor Peterson is the belief that life is suffering, however we have the ability to alleviate this suffering. This message is one that resonates with me deeply which is partially why it’s become so easy for me to sit and listen to this man for hours, but on top of this, Professor Petersons ability to articulate the complex thought processes in a simple way is something I find fascinating. In one sense, this book could be described as a self-help book but that would be unjust considering the depth of knowledge that is covered. Instead, it’s much more fair to say that this book takes you down a route to not only where you will question the smallest activities you do daily but also question the purpose of humanity itself.


The book itself is broken down into 12 different chapters/rules, each one centring around practical advice and littered with stories to create memorable and digestible information. Out of the 12 my favourite rules were:


Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

Many people, including myself, subliminally know this message but rarely do they make the effort to apply it. I would never treat a friend the same way I treat myself, the unnecessary harsh words, not prioritising my health or allowing myself to run away from difficult truths.


I would never to do that to someone I’m responsible for helping and this quote from the chapter clearly explained to me why:


“If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves-but we don’t, because we are - not least in our own eyes - fallen creatures. If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth - then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. Then we might treat ourselves like people we cared for. We might strive to set the world straight.”

Rule 8: Assume that the person you’re listening to might know something you don’t.

I’ve struggled with ego for a long time so despite the simplicity of this, it’s not always easy to practice. Humility is difficult. It requires us to think critically and as Professor Peterson so elegantly put:


“Thinking is emotionally painful, as well as physiologically demanding; more so than anything else - except not thinking.”

Allow yourself to open yourself up to other people’s perspective, despite the physiological strain.


Rule 10: Be precise in your speech

This is a rule I’ve tried to follow long before being aware of Professor Peterson, however this was a stark reminder of the importance of it. I lead a team of 12 people and whenever I talk to my team members each might have a very different interpretation of my speech. Subconsciously, I’ve had to adapt my vocabulary and expressions to be clear and concise when communicating with others to make sure that whatever I say is specific and direct.


Particularly when having difficult conversations, being precise in my speech has helped to avoid unnecessary conflicts - and I’m not talking about all uncomfortable conversations because many of them have still been necessary - but it’s allowed me to clearly convey my thoughts on particular situations rather than dancing around the truth. The importance of this was highlight through this passage of the book:


“Because to specify the problem is to allow yourself to know what you want, say, from a friend or lover - and then you will know, precisely and cleanly, when you don’t get it, and that will hurt, sharply and specifically. But you will learn something from that, and use what you learn in the future - and the alternative to that single sharp pain is the dull ache of continued hopelessness and vague failure and the sense that time, precious time, is slipping by”

Overall, this has to be a contender for one of my most favourite books. From the stories, to the way it’s written, to the deeper philosophical topics within the book, I’d strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants the best for their life.


Readability - 8/10 (I had to take my time reading this one to process it, but the stories make it easy to understand key messages)

Development - 10/10

Value - 10/10

Addicting - 10/10


Rated 9.5/10


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