Sound Wisdom

I love Jordan Peterson (JP) – like the father I never had. His book, Twelve Rules for Life, is filled with sound wisdom, godly instruction – things I wish my father’d taught me. (Pr 3:21)

In his straightforward, brilliant, humble manner, JP’s helping me understand fundamental life principles, things I wish I’d been taught when I was young, and had been able to teach my kids. It’s priceless. (Pr 4:7, 12:1)

JP isn’t a Christian, not just yet, doesn’t even claim to believe in God; he’s a man who’s struggling to find the truth in the fear of a God Who might exist. If what he’s found so far is any indication, he’ll be a believer before he’s done. He’s seeking and knocking like no one else I’ve seen; he’ll find. (Mt 7:7-8)

Below are his 12 rules, with some summary notes and supporting scriptures.

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Be as strong as you can be, in mind, body, soul and heart. (1Co 16:13) Our nervous system responds differently when we face difficulty voluntarily rather than as a victim. There’s no virtue in self-imposed weakness. Individuals can take down empires, change the world; one who stands for truth in love cannot be defeated. So, stand! (Ep 6:13-14)
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. (Ep 5:29) People take better care of their pets than themselves. Self-hatred/disrespect/unforgiveness is inconsistent with God’s love for us. Act like you’re your own best friend, think of your future self as someone you need to care for.
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you. (Pr 13:20) People who don’t want the best for you aren’t your friends. Not only can you separate yourself from them: you should. Set proper boundaries; seek out people who’ll help you be your best self, and be that kind of friend to others.
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. (2Co 10:12) Make daily incremental changes in your life, towards a goal of perfection (Php 3:12-14); compound interest is at work, and works both ways.
  5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. (Ep 6:4) What I wish I’d heard as a young parent! This is Dare to Discipline on steroids, with a nuance that’s both encouraging and unarguably wholesome.
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. (Mt 7:5) If we can’t set your own house in order, what business do we have trying to influence anyone else? People and social systems are much more complex than we realize, and we can easily wreck havoc with simplistic ideas. Humility applies wisdom first at home, verifying its utility through experience.
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient). (Mt 6:33) Life isn’t about happiness, it’s about purpose. Find your path and walk in it.
  8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie. (Ep 4:25) When we lie, we corrupt our own ability to perceive and interpret reality. There is never a good reason to do so. Speaking the truth in love always brings habitable order out of chaos. Articulate the truth in love as well as you can, to yourself and to others, and it clears your mind and spirit to see even more truth.
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t. (Ja 1:19) Don’t be gullible, yet recognize you don’t know it all. (1Co 8:2) Be willing to learn from anyone and everyone.
  10. Be precise in your speech. Speech conveys information, precise speech does so efficiently, requiring less time and effort. It is a way of honoring others, loving them as ourselves. Anything less is unrefined, tainted, corrupt.  (Ep 4:29)
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding. “The spirit that interferes when boys are trying to become men is no more friend to Woman that it is to Man. It will object, just as vociferously and self-righteously, when little girls try to stand on their own two feet. It negates consciousness. It’s anti-human, desirous of failure, jealous, resentful, and destructive. No one truly on the side of humanity would ally him or herself with such a thing.”
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street. Why does God allow evil and suffering? It is the price of being, growing, and limitation. Pay attention to the intermittent rays of light sprinkling down into a suffering world. Enjoy them, and be reminded that the wonder of Being itself makes up for the ineradicable suffering that accompanies it.

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3 thoughts on “Sound Wisdom”

  1. Notes on Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

    “To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible sesponbibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable orders,. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive an meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).”

    “So, attend carefully to your posture. Quite drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them — at leas the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous.”

  2. Notes on Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

    “You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself. You should take care of, help and be good to yourself in the same way thou would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued. You may therefor have to conduct yourself habitually in a manner that allows you some respect for you own Being.”

    “You have to articulate your own principles, so that you can defend yourself against others’ taking inappropriate advantage of you, and so that you are secure and safe while you work and play. You must discipline yourself carefully. You must keep the promises you make to yourself, and reward yourself, so that you can trust and motivate yourself.”

    “Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being.”

  3. Notes on Rule 8:

    “Taking the easy way out, or telling the truth. Those are not merely two different choices; they are different pathways through life; they are utterly different ways of existing.”

    “A naively formulated goal transmutes with time into the sinister form of the life lie.”

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