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How to make the 12 Rules for Life Work for You

How to make the 12 Rules for Life Work for You

By Caroline Morris

The Rules of Life are the guiding principles constructed by Jordan B Peterson that are aimed to help you get more out of life, become a happier, calmer, more fulfilled person who is able shrug off adversity more easily. Jordan B Peterson is a highly acclaimed clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto. His book has been rated number one on Amazon this year.

While this book is a helpful guide, we are all unique in how we operate so the question still remains; can these guiding principles be tailored to work for us and can they be applied to our environment, thinking, routine and social life? Are we able to utilise his formula as a tool to induce better habits, better thinking, better performance, optimal health and ultimately lead us to better results?

Should you decide to implement Jordan B. Peterson’s guiding principles after having read the quick summary below, I would suggest doing the following;

Further strategies


1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back

Generally speaking, people are constantly trying to figure out where they fit into the hierarchy of society. If you present yourself as defeated, then people will react to you as if you are losing. If you start to straighten up, then people will look at and treat you differently. If you start to elevate yourself physically by standing with your shoulders back and acting confident, others will treat you as such, which, will only make you feel better in yourself.

2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

By looking after yourself as someone you are responsible for will bring you to consider what is truly good for you, instead of just “what you want”, or “what would make you happy” in the moment. This will bring you into a state of thinking long-term about the future and think about what life would look life if you did what was best rather than giving into the short-term pleasures.

3. Make friends with people who want the best for you

You should choose people who want things to be better for you, not worse. Good friends will only increase your standards because they won’t tolerate negativity or bad behaviour. Bad friends can bring you down and sometimes even encourage bad behaviour, more often than not to help them feel better about themselves. Therefore, if you want to improve yourself, it is possible you may need to reevaluate friendships. Put another way: If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to a loved one, then why would you have such a friend for yourself?

4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

As previously mentioned, people tend to compare themselves to others in society to make sense of their position. With the introduction of the Internet, the number of people we are able to compare ourselves to has increased dramatically. Therefore, the more people we compare ourselves to who do seem better than us, the more inclined we are to give up and lose focus.

5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

It is essential to set the boundaries for children, if you don’t you are depriving them of the guidance and feedback they need before going out into society as an adult. If you don’t teach children the rules then they will struggle to adjust to the norms of society and society will punish them. This will then impact their happiness.

6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world

Blaming others takes the responsibility away from us. This will only stunt your self-improvement and development. Focus on your wrongs and sort them out before criticising others.

7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

We must make our life meaningful. Few people are born with the privilege of having their life and existence being meaningful from the start. Look at how you can contribute, make your life and the world a better place in the future. The bigger the change you wish to make the bigger the sacrifice. The bigger the meaning your life will have.

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

Most of the time people lie to avoid short-term pain. This weakens our character because we demonstrate that we do not act in accordance to our values. This is only exacerbated by the continuance of lying to cover up previous lies. People with weak characters will get run over when adversity eventually strikes. Take action today. Improve who you are today than to the way you were yesterday. Choose to be truthful today and see where your journey takes you and if you can look at yourself and see the improvements.

9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

Firstly, you can’t learn much, if anything by talking, but you can by listening. Secondly, being heard and understood is a basic human need. Additionally, you only understand people and get to know them by listening, not speaking at them. Thirdly, active listening helps build trust and rapport. You will find yourself with more friends than enemies this way.

10. Be precise in your speech

Anxiety often occurs in times of uncertainty and doubt. If someone is suffering from a persistent irritation, or pain the fear of the unknown often generates anxiety. Our brain races considering various outcomes. Pinpointing the issues from the outset may be a solution to this anxiety. If you are unsure, focus on being more precise. This will clarify the situation for yourself and others around you.

11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

Rather strange, but essentially the idea is to focus on the element of risk and the value t may bring us. In order to test out competence and skill, there will always be an element of risk. Coming into contact with danger is what matures us into functioning adults.

12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Another strange one, but the cat is a metaphor for noticing and appreciating the little things in life. Change is inevitable. The world around you will change before you know it, so it is important to stop and appreciate it every now and then instead of always looking towards the future. Time never stops, but once in a while you can.

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