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12 Rules of Life Book Summary

People look for structure and purpose in life. In the past, religion supplied this. Today, as religious beliefs become less common, this void is usually filled with negative and hollow beliefs. Jordan Peterson suggests that true kindness and purpose can be found in life, and he encourages living a life that brings about good. 

Rule 1: Make sure to maintain good posture 

Good posture influences how others perceive and treat you, which in turn affects how you see yourself. Stand tall to initiate a positive cycle of self-perception. 

Rule 2: Take care of yourself as you would for others

Often, people neglect self-care due to a sense of self-loathing. Peterson encourages believing in your worth and your mission in the world as a motivation for self-care. 

Rule 3: Be in the company of people who want the best for you

Choose friends who genuinely want to see you succeed. Avoid those who attempt to bring you down for their satisfaction. Refrain from helping those unwilling to help themselves. 

Rule 4: Set your own goals and aim to achieve them

Unhappiness often results from comparing yourself with others. Instead, focus on understanding your desires and setting achievable goals. Strive to make each day a little better than the previous one. 

Rule 5: As a parent, teach your children societal norms 

Parents should teach children acceptable behavior and societal norms. This will help children become well-adjusted individuals who are accepted by society. 

Rule 6: Make sure to exhaust your options before blaming others

Instead of blaming others for your problems, evaluate if you have taken full advantage of your opportunities. Stop harmful behaviors and aim to act honorably. 

Rule 7: Seek meaning in life

Strive for a meaningful existence, which includes doing good and preventing harm. Constantly evaluate how you can make the world better and work towards achieving your true nature.

Rule 8: Be honest with yourself and others

Stop lying, it’s not in line with your personal beliefs. Develop your truth and act accordingly. Dishonesty can ruin your peace of mind, like a single drop of sewage spoiling a lake of champagne. 

Rule 9: Be a thoughtful listener

Listening can help people think and solve their problems. Effective listening involves summarizing the speaker’s message to ensure your understanding. Assume that your conversation partner has valid experiences and insights. 

Rule 10: Clearly define your problems

Anxiety often comes from the unknown. Defining your problems specifically makes them manageable. In interpersonal conflicts, specify what is bothering you. Don’t let resentment build up until it explodes. 

Rule 11: Acknowledge inequality

Peterson argues that gender isn’t merely a social construct and that males and females have different instincts. He believes we should recognize these differences instead of insisting on absolute equality, which may lead to policies that go against our nature. 

Rule 12: Appreciate small joys in life

Accept that life is hard and suffering is inevitable. Instead of resenting the universe for this, appreciate the small joys that make life bearable. Enjoy a good coffee, the laughter of a child, or the company of a pet.

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