Lyceum — 12 Rules for Life

If your life is not what it could be, try telling the truth. If you cling desperately to an ideology, or wallow in nihilism, try telling the truth. If you feel weak and rejected, and desperate, and confused, try telling the truth. In Paradise, everyone speaks the truth. That is what makes it Paradise. Tell the truth. Or, at least, don’t lie.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. Writing this introduction has been difficult. Put simply, Jordan outlines and then elaborates 12 Rules by which you should orient yourself to have a better life, but to me, it was so much more than that. Jordan is erudite in ways that a lot of people today are not, and he synthesizes his immense knowledge of multiple fields into cohesive, coherent and most importantly easy to digest ideas that make sense. Still, a lot of times I felt out of my depth.

Jordan is a controversial figure politically, I found my way to him through a YouTube recommendation and was fascinated by his ideas. It’s my nature to obsessively find out everything about anything that I find interesting, I stumbled across his YouTube channel, found out about his lecture series on Personality and started watching it occasionally. I subsequently also found out about the immense amount of hatred that some people harbored against him and genuinely didn’t understand the reason for it. I got angry about it for a while and decided to let go of it pretty quickly, though I have a propensity to lapse sometimes. To me and in my life, Jordan has been nothing but helpful and motivating, like a guiding light, and I will be eternally grateful to him. Onto the book!

I’ve only read a couple of self-help books and went into this one with similar expectations. I was hoping for a simpler and lighter read after my last 3 books which touched on very heavy themes, the book is anything but that. The rules in the book when at face value are so simple and self-evident that you might feel offended by them being stated to you. You implicitly know and understand all of them, you might even feel denigrated. It’s precisely why the book is important.

Often times in childhood you are told ludicrous stories and reasons to believe in ideas and dogma (especially if you are from where I’m from). Being a child you are naturally curious, you mercilessly question your parents, Why, but your thirst for an answer is rarely satiated. After a while you start accepting things as they are told to you, because it’s too much effort to really understand why. You forget about them as you grow older because the chaos of everyday life consumes and drains you, and you are shaped in the way your surroundings and society shape you. Especially today.

Fixing this problem is where this book, excels. At the start of each chapter, the Rule is stated in the heading. It helps that the Rules are clear and concise. What follows, in sub-headings, is a journey back to the Rule. Jordan makes use of philosophy, theology, psychology and a plethora of other fields to explore the rule. He frequently uses Biblical stories and personal experiences to draw a narrative that helps us understand how these Rules might help us sort out our lives. It’s like a puzzle that you forgot about a long time ago. You knew what the final photo looked like, but you didn’t have the pieces to put it together, and that’s exactly what Jordan provides you with here. Because it makes sense, you retain it for longer and hopefully put your newfound knowledge to good use.

Overall, I’d say the reading experience for this book is highly subjective. Whether you like the book or not depends highly on your own personal beliefs, values, experiences and morals. If you do decide to read the book, just keep an open mind. I, had a great time with it and will be re-reading this in the future. There’s a wealth of knowledge here, some of which I understood and some that I simply read. I think another careful examination of the book may yet provide me with valuable insight about my own life and struggles, and how I can work towards resolving them.