12 Rules for Life

Jordan Peterson’s 12 principles for life are not without debate or moral clarity. He is the author, clinical psychologist, and a University of Toronto psychology professor. He also wrote this book; “12 rules for living” and it’s one of the international best-sellers. Many of his rules are familiar because they originate from Christian ethics, which, according to Peterson, inform Western civilization, most notably the need to accept and relieve pain.

Jordan’s references to God and philosophy, as well as his extreme views about men and women and his thoughts on physically punishing children, may turn off readers. But Peterson is indeed genuine, and his message is simple: Take responsibility for your life. 

“Peterson can take the most difficult ideas and make them fun,” the Observer said. This could explain why his YouTube videos have 35 million views.” “You don’t have to agree with [Peterson’s politics] to like this book,” The Times observed, “since once you shed the self-help label, it becomes fascinating.” Peterson is an expert on a wide range of topics.”

Peterson’s 12 rules for life are:

1. “Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back”

Peterson believes people must stand up to aggression and defend themselves. Renouncing oppression, he avows, is a moral imperative; you must take on the burden of existence.

2. “Treat Yourself Like Someone Who Deserves Your Help”

Peterson realises, with compassion, that feelings of shame and unworthiness are basic parts of humanity’s collective psyche. 

You deserve some respect and you are important to other people, as much as to yourself…You are therefore morally obliged to take care of yourself.


People have a tendency to think negatively of themselves and to have dark ideas and especially horrific desires. Despising yourself, he says, is a sort of injustice and bullying. Take better care of yourself instead.

3. “Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You”

Peterson recommends leaving toxic friendships and surrounding yourself with people who support your goals, hold you accountable, and compliment your accomplishments. Peterson encourages you to discover and rely on your own abilities throughout the book.

4. “Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday, Not to Who Someone Else Is Today”

Peterson advises seeing your life for what it is in order to organise and define your priorities. He is confident that hopelessness can be overcome. Decide that you have something better to do with your life because you can.

5. “Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything that Makes You Dislike Them”

Normal children push boundaries through either spontaneous or planned violence. Peterson states the obvious: parents are responsible for teaching their children the difference between right and wrong and making it obvious that aggressiveness is not socially acceptable. Parents must support one another at all times during this process, but they must not abuse their authority, as they frequently do.

Make rules, but keep them simple. Begin by using the least amount of force necessary to control your children. However, he advises parents to apologise to their children when they are wronged, whether mistakenly or intentionally. Keep in mind that you are their role model. 

Peterson emphasises that preparing your children for unavoidable danger, tragedy, and rejection is far more responsible than protecting them.

6. “Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World”

Peterson advises you to be honest about your weaknesses and brace yourself for life’s unavoidable tragedy. Your childhood does not have to define your adulthood. In his opinion, the most powerful force for good in your life is your will.

You can pick where to go next if you know where you are. You can restrict the constant chaos, bring about order, and restore optimism if you know where you’re heading. And you can avoid being a bad person if you have this knowledge. You can make the world a better place.

7. “Do What Is Meaningful, Not What Is Expedient”

Survival requires cooperation and, according to Peterson, delayed reward. He puts a focus on finding significance in the tension between transformative chaos and perfect order.

8. “Tell the Truth. Or, at Least, Don’t Lie”

When Peterson says that lying manipulates the reality to conform to your wishes and limits your desire, he demonstrates true insight. He values self-compassion, admitting weaknesses and mistakes. He maintains that humans build reality through the gift of transformational speech, and that truth makes that reality livable, renewable, and reliable.

9. “Assume that the Person You Are Listening to Might Know Something You Don’t”

According to Peterson, the reason people converse to one another is to figure out how they truly think. He anoints the person who is listening to represent common humanity. Thus, the highest kind of communication, according to him, occurs when everyone attempts to learn and solve a common problem.

10. “Be Precise in Your Speech.”

Peterson observes that when you deny your difficulties, they fester and worsen. Instead, precisely identify a problem so that you may confront and control it. His language is clean and basic throughout, revealing his exact thought.

11. “Leave Children Alone When They Are Skateboarding”

Peterson agrees that culture has always been oppressive, but that this is what shapes society. Children must acquire independence in order to grow up strong and capable. Don’t get in their way or try to protect them “to the point of weakness” when kids learn to skateboard or exceed their limitations in other ways. In a well-functioning society, people’s worth is determined by their competency rather than their brute might. 

According to Peterson, women desire strong, trustworthy men in their life, and if society eliminates gender distinctions, men would be pushed toward toxic masculinity. In this passage, Peterson depicts years of cultural brainwashing as inherent human truths — a rare error of shallow, narrow thinking.

12. “Pet a Cat When You Encounter One on the Street”

Peterson argues that when you love someone, it is because of their limits, not despite them. He suggests that you control what you can and accept what you can’t. To deal with the inevitable challenges that life throws at you. 

As you wander about your community, look for the positive things and appreciate the brief moments when the light comes in. And if you see a cat, he advises you to pet it. Readers may ask if Peterson follows his own instructions. If that’s the case, he must have really scraped hands.

If you like similar content like this read this summary book “Powershift” written by Daymon John.