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12 Rules for Life

“12 Rules for Life” Quotes

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

I recently read “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote To Chaos” by Jordan B. Peterson. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book.

“Telling people you’re virtuous isn’t a virtue, it’s self-promotion. Virtue signalling is not virtue. Virtue signalling is, quite possibly, our commonest vice.” (xx)

“The great stories of the past had more to do with developing character in the face of suffering than with happiness.” (xxvii)

“I couldn’t understand how belief systems could be so important to people that they were willing to risk the destruction of the world to protect them. I came to realize that shared belief systems made people intelligible tone another – and that the systems weren’t just about belief.
People who live by the same code are rendered mutually predictable to one another. They act in keeping with each other’s expectations and desires. They can cooperate. They can even compete peacefully, because everyone knows what to expect from everyone else. A shared belief system, partly psychological, partly acted out, simplifies everyone – in their own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Shared beliefs simplify the world, as well, because people who know what to expect from one another can act together to tame the world. There is perhaps nothing more important than the maintenance of this organization – this simplification. If it’s threatened, the great ship of state rocks.” (xxx)

“It isn’t precisely that people will fight for what they believe. They will fight, instead, to maintain the match between what they believe, what they expect, and what they desire.” (xxx)

“We have been withdrawing from our tradition-, religion- and even nation-centred cultures, partly to decrease the danger of group conflict. But we are increasingly falling prey to the desperation of meaninglessness, and that is no improvement at all.” (xxxii)

“Dominance hierarchies are older than trees.” (14)

“The part of our brain that keeps track of our position in the dominance hierarchy is therefore exceptionally ancient and fundamental. It is a master control system, modulating our perceptions, values, emotions, thoughts and actions. It powerfully affects every aspect of our Being, conscious and unconscious alike.” (15)

“It is far better to render Beings in your care competent than to protect them.” (47)

“The capacity of women to shame men and render them self-conscious is still a primal force of nature.” (48)

“Christ’s archetypal death exists as an example of how to accept finitude, betrayal and tyranny heroically – how to walk with God despite the tragedy of self-conscious knowledge – and not as a directive to victimize ourselves in the services of others.” (59)

“Any idiot can choose a frame of time within which nothing matters. Talking yourself into irrelevance is not a profound critique of Being. It’s a cheap trick of the rational mind.” (87)

“What you aim at determines what you see.” (96)

“You might think, “I will make a different plan. I will try to want whatever it is that would make my life better – whatever that might be – and I will start working on it now. If that turns out to mean something other than chasing my boss’s job, I will accept that and I will move forward.”
Now you’re on a whole different kind of trajectory. Before, what was right, desirable, and worthy of pursuit was something narrow and concrete. But you became stuck there, tightly jammed and unhappy. So you let go. You make the necessary sacrifice, and allow a whole new world of possibility, hidden form you because fo your previous ambition, to reveal itself. And there’s a lot there. What would your life look like, if it were better. What would Life Itself look like? What does “better” even mean? You don’t know. ANd it doesn’t matter that you don’t know, exactly, right away, because you will start to slowly see what is “better,” once you have truly decided to want it.” (100)

“The classic liberal Western enlightenment objection to religious belief: obedience is not enough. But it’s at least a start (and we have forgotten this): You cannot aim yourself at anything if you are completely undisciplined and untutored. You will not know what to target, and you won’t fly straight, even if you somehow get your aim right. And then you will conclude, “There is nothing to aim for.” And then you will be lost.” (102)

“Ask yourself habitually, “What could I do, that I would do, to make Life a little better?” (109)

“People often get basic psychological questions backwards. Why do people take drugs? Not a mystery. It’s why they don’t take them all the time that’s the mystery. Why do people suffer from anxiety? That’s not a mystery. How is that people can ever be calm? There’s the mystery. We’re breakable and mortal. A million things can go wrong, in a million ways. We should be terrified out of our skulls at every second. But we’re not. The same can be said for depression, laziness and criminality.” (125)

“Scared parents think that a crying child is always sad or hurt. This is simply not true. Anger is one of the most common reasons for crying.” (128)

“The fundamental moral question is not how to shelter children completely from misadventure and failure, so they never experience any fear or pain, but how to maximize their learning so that useful knowledge may be gained with minimal cost.” (132)

“If society’s hierarchies are based only (or even primarily) on power, instead of the competence necessary to get important and difficult things done, it will be prone to collapse.”

“We have two general principles of discipline. The first: limit the rules. The second: Use the least force necessary to enforce those rules.
About the first principle, you might ask, “Limit the rules to what, exactly?” Here are some suggestions. Do not bite, kick or hit, except in self-defence. Do not torture and bully other children, so you don’t end up in jail. Eat in a civilized and thankful manner, so that people are happy to have you at their house, and pleased to feed you. Learn to share, so other kids will play with you. Pay attention when spoken to by adults, so they don’t hate you and might therefore deign to teach you something. Go to sleep properly, and peaceably, so that your parents can have a private life and not resent your existence. Take care of your belongings, because you need to learn how and because you’re lucky to have them. Be good company when something fun is happening, so that you’re invited for the fun. Act so that other people are happy you’re around, so that people will want you around. A child who knows these rules will be welcome everywhere.” (137)

“What is minimum necessary force? This must be established experimentally, starting with the smallest possible intervention. Some children will be turned to stone by a glare. A verbal command will stop another. A thumb-cocked flick of the index finger on a small hand might be necessary for some.” (137)

“Parents have a duty to act as proxies for the real world – merciful proxies, caring proxies – but proxies, nonetheless. This obligation supersedes any responsibility to ensure happiness, foster creativity, or boost self-esteem. It is the primary duty of parents to make their children socially desirable. That will provide the child with opportunity, self-regard, and security. It’s more important even than fostering individual identity.” (143)

“If the world you are seeing is not the world you want, therefore, it’s time to examine your values. It’s time to rid yourself of your current presuppositions. It’s time to let go. It might even be time to sacrifice what you love best, so that you can become who you might become, instead of staying who you are.” (170)

“No tree can grow to Heaven unless its roots reach down to Hell.” -Carl Jung (180)

“I came to understand, through the great George Orwell, that much of such thinking found its motivation in hatred of the rich and successful, instead of true regard for the poor. Besides, the socialists were more intrinsically capitalist than the capitalists. They believed just as strongly in money. They just thought that if different people had the money, the problems plaguing humanity would vanish.” (196)

“What can I not doubt? The reality of suffering. It brooks no arguments. Nihilists cannot undermine it with skepticism. Totalitarians cannot banish it. Cynics cannot escape from its reality.” (197)

“If the worst sin is the torment of others, merely for the sake of the suffering produced – then the good is whatever is diametrically opposed to that. The good is whatever stops such things from happening.” (198)

“If you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself.” (212)

“The first of these rules is that the game is important. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t be playing it. Playing a game define sit as important. The second is that moves undertaken during the game are valid if they help you win. If you make a move and it isn’t helping you win, then, by definition, it’s a bad move. You need to try something different.” (213)

“All people serve their ambition. In that matter, there are no atheists. There are only people who know, and don’t know, what God they serve.” (225)

“Imagine: you go to engineering school, because that is what your parents desire – but it is not what you want. Working at cross-purposes to your own wishes, you will find yourself unmotivated, and failing. You will struggle to concentrate and discipline yourself, but it will not work. Your soul will reject the tyranny of your will.” (225)

“Memory is not a description of the objective past. Memory is a tool. Memory is the past’s guide to the future. If you remember that something bad happened, and you can figure out why, then you can try to avoid that bad thing happening again. That’s the purpose of memory. It’s not “to remember the past.” It’s to stop the same damn thing from happening over and over.” (239)

“Thinking is an internal dialogue between two or more different views of the world.” (241)

“Freud was a genius. You can tell that because people still hate him.” (243)

“Carl Rogers suggested that his readers conduct a short experiment when they next found themselves in a dispute: “Stop the discussion for a moment, and institute this rule: ‘Each person can speak up for himself only after he has first restated the idea and feelings of the previous speaker accurately, and to that speaker’s satisfaction.’”” (246)

““This is what happened. This is why. This is what I have to do to avoid such things from now on.” That’s a successful memory. That’s the purpose of memory. You remember the past not so that it is “accurately recorded,” to say it again, but so that you are prepared for the future.” (247)

“People, including children, don’t seek to minimize risk. They seek to optimize it. They drive and walk and love and play so that they achieve what they desire, but they push themselves a bit at the same time, too, so they continue to develop. Thus if things are made too safe, people start to figure out ways to make them dangerous again.” (287)

“Of course, culture is an oppressive structure. It’s always been that way.” (302)

“In regard to oppression: Any hierarchy creates winners and losers. The winners are, of course, more likely to justify the hierarchy and the losers to criticize it. But (I) the collective pursuit of any valued goal produces a hierarchy (as some will be better and some worse at that pursuit no matter what it is) and (2) it is the pursuit of goals that in large part lends life its sustaining meaning. We experience almost all the emotions that make life deep and engaging as a consequence of moving successfully towards something deeply desired and valued. The price we pay for that involvement is the inevitable creation of hierarchies of success, while the inevitable consequence is difference in outcome. Absolute equality would therefore require the sacrifice of value itself – and then there would be nothing worth living for. We might instead note with gratitude that a complex, sophisticated culture allows for many games and many successful players, and that a well-structured culture allows the individuals that compose it to play adn to win, in many different fashions.” (303)

“We know from studies of adopted-out identical twins, that culture can produce a fifteen point (or one standard deviation) increase in IQ (roughly the difference between the average high school student and the average state college student) at the cost of a three-standard-deviation increase in wealth. What this means, approximately, is that two identical twins, separated at birth, will differ in IQ by fifteen points if the first twin is raised in a family that is poorer than 85 percent of families and the second is raised in a family richer than 95 percent of families.” (316)

“When softness and harmlessness become the only consciously acceptable virtues, then hardness and dominance will start to exert an unconscious fascination. Partly what this means for the future is that if men are pushed too hard to feminize, they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology.” (330)

“Set aside some time to talk and to think about the illness or other crisis and how it should be managed every day. Do not talk or think about it otherwise. If you do not limit its effect, you will become exhausted, and everything will spiral into the ground. This is not helpful. Conserve your strength. You’re in a war, not a battle, and a war is composed of many battles. You must stay functional through all of them. When worries associated with the crisis arise at other times, remind yourself that you will think them through, during the scheduled period. This usually works. The parts of your brain that generate anxiety are more interested in the fact that there is aplan than in the details of the plan. Don’t schedule your time to think in the evening or at night. Then you won’t be able to sleep. If you can’t sleep, then everything will go rapidly downhill.” (351)

“We became trapped in emotional, angry and anxious argument. We agreed that when such circumstances arose we would separate, briefly: she to one room, me to another… Alone, trying to calm down, we would each ask ourselves the same single question: What had we each done to contribute to the situation we were arguing about? However small, however distant… we had each made some error. Then we would reunite, and share the results of our questioning: Here’s how I was wrong…” (356)

“Always place your becoming above your current being. That means it is necessary to recognize and accept your insufficiency, so that it can be continually rectified.” (362)

Liked the quotes? Click here to buy the book.

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