Since this is a blog devoted to reading and writing and since I’ve done more of the former than the latter lately, I’m sharing a little about a book that I found engaging, informative, and aware (or more aware). By Jordan Peterson, it’s titled 12 Rules for Life.
I thought this was a book about living a better life. So why was the author writing about lobsters in the first chapter? Because lobsters are similar to humans in how serotonin affects their confidence and behavior…and because Jordan Peterson is a brilliant writer who knows how to effectively use research in interesting and sometimes amusing ways to get his points across.
It turns out that the lowly lobster had become a sort of unofficial symbol on tee-shirts and other memorabilia owned by Peterson fans. Stand up straight and face the bullies; it’ll improve your confidence and embolden your behavior. Plus, you’ll be in a better mood, not bitter or sullen. Read all about it in Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
The 12 rules are basic and familiar to almost everyone, “almost everyone“ because some people either don’t know the rules or they don’t see the importance of following them. For example, bird of a feather flock together and people are known by the company they keep fit neatly under Rule 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you. Peterson shares some history from his formative years and offers much food for thought about how relationships affect us for better or worse. When a person spends too much time around the wrong sorts of people, they become diminished, and “much of what they could have been has been dissipated.”
Rule 5 should resound with parents who truly desire a satisfying life for their child. As a mother, grandmother, aunt, and teacher, the sterling advice in this chapter can’t be dismissed. Toward the end of the chapter Peterson offers five disciplinary principles beginning with “limit the rules” and ending with “act as proxies for the real world.” He reiterates what I’ve learned from experience and observation: “It is the primary duty to make their children socially acceptable.”
Peterson added a coda to the end of his book, and I enjoyed that as much as the rules themselves. “What Shall I Do with My Newfound Pen of Light?” he asks and then proceeds to share some soul-stirring questions and answers. I’ll mention only one. “What shall I do with my life? Aim for Paradise and concentrate on today.” Profound and stirring, yet simple.
All of Peterson’s rules are solid, and not only does he develop them with an engaging writing style and documented evidence, he also sprinkles the book with information about the Old Testament and New Testament Gods, Cain and Abel, Jung and Freud, Nietzsche and Solzhenitsyn, Adam and Eve, and a host of other interesting and credible persons.
Sometimes the reading is slow going because of the wealth of information and the thought-provoking style of the book. It’s worth it, though. Take the time.