Skip to content
Home » Self Help Books » 12 Rules for Life Summary

12 Rules for Life Summary

12 Rules for Life Book by Jordan Peterson-c

The idea of the best-selling book 12 Rules for Life, which sold more than five million copies and made Peterson one of the world’s most influential public intellectuals, comes from Quora’s question ‘What are the most valuable things everyone should know?

Simple Short Summary: Religion plays a crucial role in balancing our life for stability and meaning, however, modern secularism brings new ideologies which leave us in a vacuum to answer an existential question. So, Jordan develops 12 rules which work as an antidote in chaos to re-establish direction, purpose in your life.

Here are the three lessons I learn from the Book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos:

  1. Your appearance can set your standard without even saying a word
  2. Set Your Own Bar And Stop Comparing Yourself With Others
  3. Treat yourself with love and stop blaming for little mistake

12 Rules for Life Summary

(Reading time: 5 minutes)

Your Appearance Can Set Your Standard Without Even Saying A Word

In 12 Rules for Life by Jordan, the first rule is ‘Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back’, but what that means?

Does Jordan talking about standing with upright posture, chin up, and forward head or it’s some kind of metaphor for being courageous and cheerful.

Actually, it turns out that the rule focuses on both sides because your body language influences how others perceive you and how you feel about yourself. Standing straight affects your mental health since you’re not only a body, but a spirit to speak.

The author uses the example of lobster to explain his theory and show the power of dominance. For instance, you dominance others around you with your body language and your speaking style. When you behave confidently you create an image of competence in the world which allows the serotonin to flow.

But, what is Serotonin?

Serotonin, which sits deep within you even below your thoughts and feelings, maintains a balance between your feelings, happiness, and mood is a hormone.

It affects your body and empowers brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin helps with digestion, eating, sleeping, regulating anxiety, and sustaining bone health.

Actually, it’s an internal mediator of social status and flow in your bloodstream, when you’re dominant in the social hierarchy.

A primordial calculator determines either you’re dominant in a social hierarchy or not. If others greet you in a social gathering, you’re dominant. However, if others ignore you, you’re not. Lower Position in social hierarchy reduces the flow of serotonin in your bloodstream.

If the brain has too little serotonin, it leads to depression, illness, and less happiness. Mostly, lower-status people have low serotonin. They live in threat as they don’t have plentiful resources to deal with emergencies.

When you stand straight, others will treat you with respect that increases serotonin flow in your bloodstream. Appearing confidently, people will treat you as you’ve values, and this makes you less anxious but better at communicating with others in social interaction.

This’ll start a cycle because you’re receiving positive signals which increase the flow of in your bloodstream and make you even more confident.

Okay, but where this variation of biological come from?

In animals, dominance comes from natural biological variation within different species, therefore some animals are stronger and capable than others. Those who have higher capability command and acquire greater resources, advantageous home locations, hold a higher position in a social hierarchy, gain cooperation with peers and subordinates.

Because social status is important, everyone determines his position in a social hierarchy, then signals the position’s power to others and gains authority and cooperation.

For example, putting two stranger lobsters in the same tank and within 30 minutes they’ll figure out the superior and inferior lobsters.  The two of them determine a strong and weak through signal which later helps them to distribute scarce resources. Even lobsters know fighting is risky for them.

Set Your Own Bar And Stop Comparing Yourself With Others

In the second rule, Jordan shares the concept of ‘Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today.’ It means you should compare yourself to the person you were yesterday instead of others.

Because with social media platforms like Instagram, and Facebook, you’ll find out that there is always someone better than you. Your career may feel tedious as you’re unable to enjoy your life, whereas, your friends delightfully enjoy their life. Therefore, you should not judge yourself by others.

However, this wasn’t the case in thousands of years ago when a person lived with a small tribe. At that time, if a person good at something, others acknowledged him for his talent. But, nowadays, the chances of getting positive are far less than negative ones.

Negativity floods everywhere, when you see a lot of negativity coming towards you, you get depressed which destroys your motivation to get better.

Therefore, start with mini goals and break down your big goal into small pieces, so that you can easily track your progress. To find your tiny goals ask yourself, ‘what one thing you could do that make you better by the end of the day?’

Once you find your one thing, achieve it, and reward yourself, rewarding yourself is essential because it helps your brain to develop a habit pattern. Make a habit to do this activity for a month, or even for a year, while you make progress, you’re not only getting better but raising your standard for comparison. This’s the magic of compound interest.

Besides, when you do this for three years, your life will change completely. Once you start moving towards your big goals, you’ll see opportunities that you were unable to see in the starting.

Remember, you can’t change the past, but you can make the future better by working on it. For this, you need to carefully plan your day to get the one thing done.

Treat Yourself With Love And Stop Blaming For Little Mistake

Jordan argues that you should take care of yourself better than any others else because showing sympathy to others is easier than to yourself. You care for your spouse, parents, colleagues, even your dog then why you don’t care for yourself. The reason is self-loathing.

Self-loathing is when a person dislikes his appearance or feels that he’s unworthy to achieve any good things in life. Therefore, he criticizes himself. It happens because he knows his flaws and faults.

However, you must take care of yourself to get physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy, and figure out what is good for you, not what makes you feel good.

In other words, your goal is to nurture yourself as you do for your pup because you wash him, feed, love, and even play with him. You actually don’t see what he does wrong(like slippers chewing). Sound familiar?

Remember, you’re important to others and have a significant mission in this world. So, having a mission for your life will help you to overcome obstacles. Therefore, You must stop torturing or mistreating yourself because you’re not perfect.

12 Rules for Life Review

The idea of the book, 12 Rules for Life, comes from a Quora post Jordan answer. In this book, Jordan Peterson tells you how to improve your life, always tell the truth, and learn from past mistakes, which are backed with philosophically, psychologically, mythology, and personal stories to get his message across.

You may also like:

The 5 AM Club Summary

The 4 Disciplines of Execution Summary

Awaken the Giant Within Summary