Because the four of you who regularly check in on my blog seem to love my self-aggrandising Jordan Peterson posts so much, I have decided to give a review of each of his 12 rules for life. Why should you care about my opinion on these? I have no idea but I love the attention.
Rule 1 – “Stand up straight with your shoulders back”
Yes, this is a good rule. 100% spot on. Also the moment we are introduced to Peterson as our benevolent lobster daddy.
Rule 2 – “Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping”
What he actually means by this is to work out what is good for you and do it. That is a good rule. Someone taking it literally could think this rule means to treat yourself like someone else who you care for. But that’s not ideal for everyone, because some people are actually better at looking after themselves than others.
Rule 3 – “Make friends with people who want the best for you”
Good rule. Although a few funny arseholes can spice things up a bit.
Rule 4 – “Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today”
Decent rule, but a better one might be to compare yourself to who you reasonably can be. And even there, too much self-comparison is to be avoided for multiple reasons. If you’re doing what is good for you then you are already incomparable baby
Rule 5 – “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them”
Naaaaaaaah. This is a bad rule on the face of it and is another case of Peterson writing one thing and then explaining it with a whole chapter on something else. This chapter is actually about how punishment is a useful part of parenting. And that’s true! Use time outs and so on for when a child is behaving badly. Some level of punishment and identification of bad behaviours is useful for helping a child to become a flourishing, rounded, nice person. If they hit another kid, tell them off, give them a time out, sure.
But this rule isn’t “punish as well as reward your children”. It’s “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them”, which is hyperbolic and crazy. First of all, you ideally don’t want to dislike your children, in general. Secondly, the route to liking your child is not primarily through disallowing behaviours. You like your child because you get on with them and you connect with them and you love them. Third, you might dislike certain things that are actually perfectly fine or even good!
This rule assumes that the parent’s likes and dislikes are valid values. There are so many real-world examples of things a parent might dislike but is actually fine or good. Like homosexuality, or being a game designer, or having a sense of personal integrity and self-worth from sources that aren’t your parent. You might say that we should assume the parent has good likes and dislikes which is, to me, an obviously bad assumption. But it’s also cheating. Make a rule that works with the average range of parents, not an idea of a parent that fits with your dumb rule.
Rule 6 – “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world”
My favourite bad rule. Everyone who says this is not bad always changes it into something more reasonable like “you’ll get more happiness by focusing on what you can do than blaming others”. Read what the rule says people. Cos rule 10 is “be precise in your speech”. He says you should set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. And he’s very keen on people not being perfect. So don’t criticise the world.
What he doesn’t give at any point is a reason *why* someone who has not got their house in perfect order should not try to change the world. Look at the world out there. There are a lot of good things that we enjoy. Were any of them made by someone who had their house in perfect order? No. Democracy. Films. All music. Your house. Fucking everything. All things, we owe to people who are not perfect.
So then the JP fan will say “none of those things are changing the world”, and then we’re in the stupid territory where the rule is rubbish because it doesn’t actually tell you anything.
Rule 7 – “Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)”
Rule 8 – “Tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie”
Rule 9 – “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”
Rule 10 – “Be precise in your speech”
Good rule, when context demands it Jordan! You absolute hypocrite.
Rule 11 – “Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding”
??? rule. This is a whole chapter on social hierarchies and how women can do man things but men lose status when they do women things. Ends with a bit about skate-boarding as a … masculine activity?
I feel like I imagined this chapter in a fever dream. Or it’s an extract from an indie film that has been passed through three different languages in google translate.
Rule 12 – “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street”
Amazing rule. I love it.