Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

12 Rules For Life

An Antidote to Chaos

By Jordan B. Peterson
  • Read in 21 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 13 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson

12 Rules For Life (2018) provides readers with an inventory of life’s most pressing concerns and the issues that have been present in the human psyche since ancient times. Author Jordan B. Peterson has collected some of the most enduring philosophical and religious assertions, as well as the lessons from our most cherished tales, to provide us with 12 guidelines to ensure a life of meaning. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, history and myth, these are clear and consistent principles that everyone can live by.

Key idea 1 of 13

Hierarchies are a common facet of life in societies around the world, so give yourself an advantage with good posture.

You’ve probably heard of the phrase, “the pecking order,” right? But do you know where it originated?

It comes from the Norwegian zoologist Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe, who was studying barnyard chickens in the 1920s when he noticed that there was a clear hierarchy among these birds. At the top were the healthiest, strongest ones that always got to peck first when the chicken feed came. At the bottom were the weakest chickens, with their feathers falling out, who only got to peck at the leftover crumbs.

Pecking orders like this aren’t limited to chickens; they occur naturally throughout the animal kingdom.

Lobsters, for instance, whether they’re in the ocean or raised in captivity, will aggressively fight over the best and most secure spots for shelter.

Scientists have found that these competitive conflicts will lead to the winners and losers having different chemical balances in their brains. Winners will have a higher ratio of the hormone serotonin to octopamine, while the ratio in losers will tilt in the opposite direction.

These levels can even affect the posture of lobsters: more serotonin will lead to the winners being more agile and upright, and more octopamine makes losers tense and curled up. This difference will factor into further confrontations, as the upright lobsters will appear bigger and more intimidating, causing the tense ones to remain submissive.

As you may have guessed, similar hierarchies and cycles of winning and losing play out among humans.

Studies have shown that those in the grips of alcoholism or depression are less likely to enter a competitive situation, which only reinforces more inactivity and continued low self-esteem and depression.

Conversely, those on a winning streak often present a swaggering and confident body language, which can help them keep their streak alive. Just like lobsters, humans are constantly measuring themselves up against each other, and we associate a person’s intelligence with their physicality.

So if you’re trying to give yourself an advantage, follow the first rule: hold your head high and strike the posture of a winner.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Learn more, live more

Sign up now to learn and grow every day with the key ideas from top nonfiction and podcasts in 15 minutes.