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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jordan B. Peterson (author), Ethan Van Sciver (illustrator) and Norman Doidge (foreword)
Original language:
Penguin Books
Philosophy, psychology and self-help
Publication year:
Original publication year:

This book outlines twelve rules by which to live (see Table of Contents below for the list), and each chapter ends with a repetition of the rule with which it began. Jordan Peterson draws heavily on his experience in clinical psychology, as well as from his personal life, to illustrate and elaborate on the rules themselves.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's superficially a self-help book, but it's far from superficial. It's more of a personal distillation of general rules to live by, garnered from the author's personal life, lovingly and clearly written down. Reading the book I got the feeling that many of the things he says are in some ways self-evident, and yet never really articulated as well (or at all)! Other observations in the book I have already made myself, and yet never truly articulated them for myself. An example of this that really struck me is a set of types of conversations that he delineates in Chapter 9 ("Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't"). There are those where the people talking are only waiting their turn to talk, barely listening to the other person, which is indistinguishable from jockeying for position. Then there's the type of conversation where each participant is genuinely listening, eager to hear responses from the other participants. Another example of something I've thought about but never really expressed is the idea that talking is thinking. (Think about it!)

All in all, a highly enjoyable read, from start to finish, and these really are pretty good rules to try to live by!

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Back of 12 Rules for Life.Spine of 12 Rules for Life.Front of 12 Rules for Life.
Table of Contents:
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  • Foreword by Norman Doidge
  • Overture
  • RULE 1 / Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  • RULE 2 / Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping
  • RULE 3 / Make friends with people who want the best for you
  • RULE 4 / Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today
  • RULE 5 / Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  • RULE 6 / Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  • 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
  • RULE 11 / Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding
  • RULE 12 / Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
  • Coda
  • Acknowledgements
  • Endnotes
  • Index

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