12 Rules For Life: Takeaways and Key Points Book Summary

12 Rules of Life answers life’s most discombobulating questions. Peterson draws from scientific evidence, as well as old myths and stories, to deliver his 12 rules for life to you. He transforms complex, confusing ideas into an easy, enjoyable read. The book focuses on the responsibility you have as an individual, and the hand ancient wisdom plays, breaking away from the all-consuming modern world of smartphones and social media. Peterson stresses the need for meaning, not happiness. Happiness is fleeting.

The 12 Rules For Life is a candid, accessible, well-researched self-help instruction guide for anyone questioning how to best engineer the life they desire using a simple set of rules. Peterso’s multifaceted approach uses science, storytelling, psychology and philosophy to explain how each rule will benefit the reader and how to incorporate each rule into their everyday life.

Key Takeaways from 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson:

Takeaway #1: Stand Tall & Hold Your Head High

Did you know that where you are in a hierarchy (a pecking order) can affect your posture? Hierarchies occur throughout the animal kingdom and research has shown that those at the top and bottom of the hierarchy have different chemical balances in their brains - those at the top having a higher ratio of serotonin (the happiness hormone) to octopamine. This chemical difference means that those at the top of the pecking order are more agile and have a more upright position making them more intimidating whilst those at the bottom of the pecking order are less likely to enter competitive situations against those above them which reinforces there inactivity in a continued cycle of low self esteem, and depression. Therefore, to get higher up the pecking order you need to stand up tall, push your shoulders back, and hold your head high.

Takeaway #2: Never Compare Yourself To Others

Self-criticism is necessary because it motivates us to strive to be better and with our brains wired to see the present as lacking and the future as more promising it ensures we're always taking action and pushing forward. The problem with self-criticism comes when we start comparing ourselves to other people as we can quickly lose sight of our own progress only seeing the bigger black and white picture of success or failure rather than the small steps we've taken to getting where we want to be. Comparing yourself to others also leads to zeroing in one aspect such as how you did at work over the past year rather than looking at the wider picture of self-improvement and family life. Therefore, you should only judge yourself against your own prior accomplishments. If you start to think that you're always succeeding it's a sign that you need to take bigger risks and push yourself more.

Takeaway #3: Choose Sacrifice Over Pleasure

Have you heard the story of the monkey who got his hand caught because he wouldn't let go of the food in his hand? The moral of this story is that there is a price to be paid for greed and a reminder that we often pursue pleasure even when we know it is not in our best interest. It's easy to justify an immediate pleasure (if it makes me happy it's got to be right) rather than a sacrifice (if I give up fast food I'll become slimmer) when you're not living a happy fulfilling life but you should know that sacrifice brings better things in the future and indeed, the bigger the sacrifice, the greater the reward can be.

Takeaway #4: Conversations Are Not A Competition

Socrates had such openness to learning that he died believing that the only thing he was certain of was that he knew nothing. We should learn a thing from one of the world's greatest philosopher's by using genuine conversation as a way to think and learn but unfortunately, most conversations don't happen like this because one or both people refuse to listen, treating the conversation as a competition that they need to win. To be more like Socrates you should always presume that the other person has something to say that you need to hear, so remain objective, stop thinking of what you're going to say next to get your point across and instead, listen then summarize what the person just said to make sure you understand it.

Key Points from 12 Rules of Life

  • Follow the 12 rules to live a more fulfilled life.
  • Rule 1: Good posture is a winner. Science shows that the release of happy hormones is higher for winners than losers. This leads to a whole host of benefits.
  • Rule 2: Care for yourself like you do your most beloved other. We punish ourselves. Do what’s best for you, as well as what makes you happy. To do this, identify your goals.
  • Rule 3: Surround yourself by positivity. Negativity spreads, so choose your friends wisely.
  • Rule 4: Stop comparing yourself to others. Being overly self-critical leads to black-and-white thinking and losing sight of the big picture. Compare yourself to yourself.
  • Rule 5: When parenting, be responsible and likeable, not just a friend. Limit the rules, use minimum force necessary, and utilize pairs.
  • Rule 6: Take responsibility, stop judging. Seeing the world negatively makes you justify bad behavior.
  • Rule 7: Set meaningful goals, instead of instant gratification. Make sacrifices, and stick with your goal.
  • Rule 8: Always speak the truth. Create achievable goals, otherwise you’re your own worst enemy.
  • Rule 9: There’s always something to learn. Listen. Summarize what someone’s said to you.
  • Rule 10: In language, precision is vital. It aids communication, and helps relationships.
  • Rule 11: Don’t have goals that suppress others’ positive qualities.
  • Rule 12: Appreciate the small joys. By being grateful for every little positivity, you start seeing the good in everything.



On average, 90% of what we read is forgotten within the first hours after reading... Which is why it’s so important to apply what you read.

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12 Rules For Life Chapters

Chapter One - Rule 1: Stand up Straight with Your Shoulders Back
Chapter Two - Rule 2: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping
Chapter Three - Rule 3: Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You
Chapter Four - Rule 4: Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today
Chapter Five - Rule 5: Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them
Chapter Six - Rule 6: Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World
Chapter Seven - Rule 7: Pursue What Is Meaningful (Not What Is Expedient)
Chapter Eight - Rule 8: Tell The Truth - or, At Least, Don't Lie
Chapter Nine - Rule 9: Assume The Person You Are Listening To Might Know Something You Don't
Chapter Ten - Rule 10: Be Precise In Your Speech
Chapter Eleven - Rule 11: Do Not Bother Children When They Are Skateboarding
Chapter Twelve - Rule 12: Pet A Cat When You Encounter One On The Street


Best Quotes from 12 Rules For Life

"When you have something to say, silence is a lie... so, attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous."

"You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act. You simply don’t know what you believe, before that. You are too complex to understand yourself."

"It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you're going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons."

"Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today."

"We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself."

"...you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do."

"If your life is not what it could be, try telling the truth... Nietzsche said that a man’s worth was determined by how much truth he could tolerate"

― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos


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Editor and Founder

Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating society to its abundance potential.

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