12 Rules for Life – Bookcast #8

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson

In 12 Rules for Life, Dr. Jordan Peterson combines the great truths of ancient tradition with cutting-edge scientific research, distilling the world’s wisdom into twelve practical and profound rules anyone can use to improve their life.  

What can the nervous system of a lobster teach us about standing up straight and being successful? Why must skateboarding boys and girls be left alone? And also, why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street? 

Read and listen to “12 Rules for Life” on Amazon!

Listen to “The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast”

Want more great books? Check out our MUST READ LIST!


12 Rules for Life Notes:

0:00 – Intro to 12 Rules for Life

  • What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Peterson attempts to distill the most valuable, practical knowledge of thousands of years down into 12 simple rules anyone can use
  • Intended audience: Anyone who wants to improve their philosophy
  • People who won’t like it: Anyone who isn’t ready to work on themselves

4:30 – How easy is the book to read?

  • Challenging both emotionally and intellectually but worth every minute
  • 416 pages – 10-12 hours
  • Audiobook – 16 hours

6:00 – Reviews and Significance

  • Famous 
  • 5,552 reviews, 4.6 stars
  • In 2018 when it came out 12 Rules was #1 bestseller (over 3 Million sold)
  • Currently (as of 12/9/19): 
    • #2 Amazon – Ethics & Morality
    • #3 Amazon – Applied Psychology
    • #54 Audible – Out of all Audible books
    • #1 Audible – Social Philosophy

10:00 – Bio of Jordan Peterson

  • Dr. Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. 
  • Raised in the frigid wastelands of Northern Alberta 
  • He’s been a dishwasher, gas jockey, bartender, short-order cook, beekeeper, oil derrick bit re-tipper, plywood mill laborer and railway line worker. 
  • 1993 – 1997 teacher and researcher at Harvard University as an assistant and an associate professor in the psychology department. Afterwards, he returned to Canada and took up his current post at the University of Toronto.
  • In 1999, Routledge published Peterson’s now-classic first book “Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief.” 
  • In 2013, Peterson began recording his lectures for YouTube. His YouTube channel has 2.3 Million subscribers and his videos have received hundreds of millions of views.
  • Also created “The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast.” Has included academic and celebrity guests such as Camille Paglia, Martin Daly, Ben Shapiro, Steven Pinker and many others. 
  • After the worldwide success of “12 Rules for Life,” Peterson has been in demand as a lecturer throughout the world, as well as appearing on hundreds of television and radio shows and podcasts.
  • Peterson has also flown a carbon-fiber stunt plane, piloted a racing sailboat around Alcatraz, explored meteors with astronauts in Arizona and wrote the new forward to the 50th anniversary edition of “The Gulag Archipelago,” …
  • …plus he has a lovely wife, two kids and a two year old granddaughter… 
  • The dude is epic

12:30 – Major Themes of the Book

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  10. Be precise in your speech
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

15:30 – Jay’s Perspectives

  • What did you like best? Your opinion is always subjective and improvable. Keep looking and your situation can always get better!
  • What did you learn? Psychology is really, really useful
  • Critique: Too erudite and difficult for the casual reader. Although I personally like wordy, complex prose and psychology, I think 12 Rules could gain a larger audience if Peterson worked with an editor to make his work more accessible.
  • What question(s) would you ask the author? Do you believe in God?
  • Any other related/connected books that you’d recommend to others?

22:00 – Matt’s Perspectives

  • What did you like best? Wherever and whoever you are, young or old, you can use 12 Rules for Life to make your life better
  • What did you learn? Stand up straight with your shoulders back – how you present yourself sends an innate and powerful message to the world
  • Critique: It would be valuable to include something in the text to help readers prepare BEFORE they dig into the book itself
  • What question would you ask the author? How did Peterson get to where he is at now?

Jay’s favorite quotes from “12 Rules for Life”

“Everyone needs a concrete, specific goal—an ambition, and a purpose—to limit chaos and make intelligible sense of his or her life. But all such concrete goals can and should be subordinated to what might be considered a meta-goal, which is a way of approaching and formulating goals themselves. …  This is both pragmatic ambition and the most courageous of faiths.”

“If you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.”

Matt’s favorite quotes from “12 Rules for Life”

Meaning signifies that you are in the right place, at the right time, properly balanced between order and chaos, where everything lines up as best it can at that moment. What is expedient works only for the moment. It’s immediate, impulsive and limited. What is meaningful, by contrast, is the organization of what would otherwise merely be expedient into a symphony of Being.

“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.”

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