Friday, November 1, 2019

12 Rules for Life #1 Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back (Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018). One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

"To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. 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 and meaningful reality [it means acting to please God, in the ancient language]"
(Jordan B. Peterson)

Some people have bad posture and that is much more meaningful than you may have thought it would be. Peterson takes the behavior of lobsters as an example. Lobsters can change their behavior according to their serotonin/octopamine levels (Simply put, or maybe too simplistic, serotonin is a happy-hormone and octopamine function as "mobilizing the body and nervous system for action"). Lobsters fight all the time. When a lobster wins, its serotonin levels go up in contrast with octopamine levels. On the other hand, low serotonin/high octopamine lobsters are characterized as losers and are very likely to vanish at the first hint of challenge that would bring them trouble.

A similar effect applies to people. Peterson writes, "This is also true of lower ranking human beings. Low serotonin means decreased confidence, means closed in body language, means you're not gonna stand up straight with your shoulders back. Low serotonin means less happiness, more pain, more anxiety, more illness, a shorter lifespan. High spots in the dominance hierarchy and high serotonin levels are characterized by the opposite." As soon as we meet someone, we size him up to see where they fit in the social hierarchy. When serotonin levels fall, depression appears and also a tendency to form a hump (bend, bow) as you walk become visible to others. Instinctively, they are very likely to think low of you, making you one of the easiest targets if they decide to take advantage of someone. Acting like a loser will make people think of you as a loser. Fixing your posture may be very simple, but "very important at the same time to help you get started back up again."

So, stand up straight with your shoulders back and dare to express your thoughts and desires. You have at least the same right as others, if not bigger sometimes.


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