Elegant articulations on life’s complexities

Simple yet profound life lessons, a guidance worth recommending for everyone seeking clarity in this world.

Makliya Mamat  /  February 10, 2023

The book ‘12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos’ by Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, has been a brilliant array of sunlight peeking through the dense foliage of life’s complexities. The book, akin to a lighthouse, provides guiding principles that enable us to navigate the tumultuous seas of existence. I couldn’t wait to share my insights and what I’ve learned from the book after I finished reading.

Dr. Peterson weaves into the beginning a life truth so profound yet often neglected – stand straight with your shoulders back. Picture a lobster, its posture determines its status in the lobster hierarchy. Similarly, our posture interprets and communicates our self-esteem to the world like a book’s cover to a reader. So standing erect like proud trees is not just physical advice but a metaphor for facing life with confidence.

The next shining pearl of wisdom that stood out is “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.” In our quest to help others, we often forget to wear the life jacket ourselves first before diving to save others. If our cups are filled with compassion and self-love, only then can we pour love and help onto others.

The concept of chaos and order are recurring themes in the book. Every garden has weeds along with roses; in the same manner, our life is a dance between chaos – the unexpected, and order – the known. We are tightrope walkers balancing each moment on the thin thread of Order and Chaos. Peterson suggests embracing the chaos, for it fosters resilience and instills a sense of courage and adventure.

The book also implores us to “Tell the truth, or at least, don’t lie.” Imagine lies as a swarm of termites quietly eating away at the foundation of our relationships, career, or self-image, ultimately reducing it to rubble. Honesty is the antidote, it cements trust, strengthens bonds, and paves the road for respect and self-esteem.

Rule 9 ‘Assume that the person you’re listening to might know something you don’t’ personally resonated with me. It’s equivalent to thinking of every person you meet as a book- each with their own stories, lessons, experiences waiting to be shared. The key is to listen, not with the intent to reply but to understand.

In Rule 10, “Be precise in your speech,” Peterson invokes the analogy of a skilled archer aiming at a specified target. In communication, precision is essential to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the arrow of our thoughts hits the bullseye of clarity in a listener’s mind. Ambiguity is the fog that blurs the path to understanding. Clear, precise speech acts as the lighthouse cutting through this fog.

The book’s insights bleed realism and refuse to sugar-coat any aspect of life. Like a realism painting—it may not always seem pretty, but we can’t look away for it conveys an authenticity we crave.

Dr. Peterson paints a vivid picture of life as it is, with its harmonies and discords. The 12 rules he provides are not manuals but philosophical lifeboats. The book encouraged me to ponder on the complexities of life, ultimately empowering me to step in the arena of chaos with a renewed sense of understanding and determination.

While the book is a comb to untangle the knotted threads of existential questioning, it is by no means a ‘quick-fix’. It’s akin to embarking on a journey through the wilderness armed with a compass – the compass doesn’t make the trail smooth, but it helps us to continue in the right direction even amid the chaos. And that, in essence, encapsulates the wisdom that ’12 Rules for Life’ imparts.

It was as if turning each page was another step towards aligning with my inner compass. And if books could converse, this one would orchestrate a dialogue of raw introspection coupled with conceptual clarity.

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