Links provided by Wanderu.
Links provided by Wanderu.
In 12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson argues for the kind of values instilled by a socially conservative parental home: Aim for paradise, but concentrate on today. Meaning is key, not happiness. Assume responsibility. Listen carefully, speak clearly, and tell the truth. And stand straight, even in the face of adversity.
Here they are, Peterson’s 12 rules:
Peterson motivates the rules by telling stories and anecdotes from his experience as a clinical psychologist, which he mixes with interpretations of religious (mostly biblical) texts as well as Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Frankl, or Dostoevsky. Peterson gets politically incorrect when discussing his 11th rule: He strongly rejects postmodernism and nihilism; and he shows little respect for management science: “[T]he science of management is a pseudo-discipline.”
As so often, what the author has to say could be said much more concisely. The book is far too long to precisely communicate the core ideas. What are they? Dean Bokhari suggests the following three key quotes from the book:
“We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world. We must each tell the truth and repair what is in disrepair and break down and recreate what is old and outdated. It is in this manner that we can and must reduce the suffering that poisons the world. It’s asking a lot. It’s asking for everything.”
“Clear rules and proper discipline help the child, and the family, and society establish, maintain, and expand the order that is all that protects us from chaos and the terrors of the underworld. Where everything is uncertain, anxiety provoking, hopeless and depressing. There are no greater gifts that a parent can bestow.”
“The successful among us delay gratification. The successful among us bargain with the future.”
He also offers a “tweetable summary:”
Always tell the truth. Admit and learn from the past, make order of its chaos, and work towards not repeating the same mistakes. Pay close attention.
Other reviewers stress that Peterson wants his rules to help us strike the right balance between order and chaos (see also Philippa Perry’s “How To Stay Sane”). For example, Wyatt Graham condenses Peterson’s thinking as follows:
… life (or Being) involves suffering. … So, “We must have something to set against the suffering that is intrinsic to Being. We must have the meaning inherent in a profound system of value or the horror of existence rapidly becomes paramount” (xxxi).
We need to embrace Being, to not give in to suffering, and to find meaning. We need to live in the border between chaos and order and find our meaning there. …
For Peterson, to find meaning is to take on the responsibility of Being. We find it when we realize “that the soul of the individual eternally hungers for the heroism of genuine Being, and that the willingness to take on that responsibility is identical to the decision to live a meaningful life” (xxxv). He continues, “If we live properly, we will collectively flourish” (xxxv).
In The Guardian, Tim Lott summarized Peterson’s worldview as follows:
“Life is tragic. You are tiny and flawed and ignorant and weak and everything else is huge, complex and overwhelming. Once, we had Christianity as a bulwark against that terrifying reality. But God died. Since then the defence has either been ideology – most notably Marxism or fascism – or nihilism. These lead, and have led in the 20th century, to catastrophe.
“‘Happiness’ is a pointless goal. Don’t compare yourself with other people, compare yourself with who you were yesterday. No one gets away with anything, ever, so take responsibility for your own life. You conjure your own world, not only metaphorically but also literally and neurologically. These lessons are what the great stories and myths have been telling us since civilisation began.”
In another discussion in The Guardian, John Crace made it even clearer that he didn’t like the book at all.
Nevada offers lots of loneliness, including The Loneliest Road in America. Some other roads are even quieter.
In the New Yorker, Adam Kirsch explains Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
His genius. Some of his work, including “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship,” or “Faust.” Goethe’s scientific endeavors and sense of holism. His fascination with Bildung—the “apprenticeship to life and society” with the aim to learn “who he really is and how he should live.”
[The] combination of earnestness and jovial detachment is what characterizes the mature Goethe, and what makes him unique; no other writer gives us the same sense that he has both seen life and seen through it.
Self-help manuals are for the rest of us what the airport bookstore bestseller on the latest management fad is for businessmen. They promise novel perspectives on fundamental questions but typically leave the reader disappointed. Past the enticing introductory chapter with interesting examples, the novel perspectives all too often reduce to new semantics without substantive value added. But then, there might be exceptions.
To “simplify one’s life” is a prominent search term on the web and the topic of many websites, blog posts and books. If popular search engines identify the most relevant contributions then a handful of top ranked sites should contain most of the pertinent information. So here is a selection of top ranked sites and their suggestions for simplifying one’s life.
Zen habits suggests 72 steps but helpfully boils the list down to 2 points:
Other sites proceed more systematically and for that very reason, strike me as more convincing. wikiHow devotes a chapter to simplifying one’s life and lists four “methods” and corresponding actions:
mindbodygreen offers the most concise advice suggesting five simplifying steps:
The international bestseller How to Simplify Your Life: Seven Practical Steps to Letting Go of Your Burdens and Living a Happier Life thoroughly covers the topic—from clearing off one’s desk to cleaning up one’s life. It proceeds in seven steps:
Now go and simplify or stay messy at your own peril.
Philippa Perry’s short book provides a succinct perspective on mental health. Perry argues that mental disorders fall into two groups: one associated with behavior that displays a tendency to stray into chaos; the other with behavior that manifests itself in excessive rigidity. She discusses the structure of the brain and the role of nature vs. nurture in integrating emotions and reasoning. The former rules.
Perry points to several areas that are central to successfully navigating between chaos and rigidity:
When things go wrong Perry recommends to aim at re-writing one’s narrative:
The Wawel Chakra.
“Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth” (Wikipedia) is a nice graphic novel by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou about Bertrand Russell’s life and work. Whitehead, Frege, Poincaré, Hilbert, Wittgenstein, Gödel, von Neumann and many others as well as Greek tragedy make appearances.