Friday, November 1, 2019

12 Rules for Life #7 Pursue What Is Meaningful, Not What Is Expedient (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!

“Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging, because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t long tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while you are learning what you still need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged. That is where there is something new to master and some way that you can be improved. That is where meaning is to be found.”
(Jordan Peterson)

Meaning is about the way you protect yourself from “all the suffering that life entails.” All people get emotionally wounded by life so they have to find something to make the pain worthwhile. According to Peterson, meaning is like an instinct or a form of vision that lets you know whether you are in the right place or not. The right place is somewhere in between chaos and order. If you stay safe within order all the time and facing only things you understand, you won’t be able to develop further and won’t grow. On the other hand, if you stay within chaos then you’ll get lost. The best choice is to leave your safe point and try to risk for anything that’s worthwhile, without losing your path to chaos. “We require routine and tradition. That’s order. Order can become excessive, and that’s not good, but chaos can swamp us, so we drown— and that is also not good,” writes Peterson, so, “We need to stay on the straight and narrow path.”

Expediency [synonyms for convenience] is what people do to get themselves out of trouble here and now, but the drawback of this is that “they sacrifice the future for the present.” That means that expediency is only good for temporarily escaping your problems. In order to countermeasure this – aim high. Stop doing whatever will make you avoid your problems temporarily and try to see around. Understand what things you can improve and improve them. You’ll eventually gain knowledge and more experience but be cautious not to fall in the trap of becoming arrogant and remain humble (I have to admit that is as hard as keeping the balance between chaos and order but both are worthy to keep in mind).

Peterson also mentions the importance of being aware of our weaknesses. These may be our secret resentments, cowardice, hatred and other failings. Learn to be lenient when you accuse others because “all people conceal evil impulses.”


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