Thursday, May 31, 2018

Finished: Peterson's '12 Rules for Life'

I'm not much for self-help books, because, as I told my wife, really, for me, what's the point?

I jest. I could use a lot of help, but I'm kind of to the point in life where I feel I know what I could do to improve myself. When I identify something, I either change it, or choose not to. I don't wait for New Year's Day to make a resolution to do something to make myself better. Thing is, sometimes, after weighing the pros and cons I choose to continue doing something maybe I shouldn't because I like it too much and am willing to roll the dice.

One self-help book I read years ago and found valuable was Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." I recommended it to my kids and other young adults I encounter in the workplace.

But I've been hearing a lot about this Jordan Peterson fella. He's hot on social media. He does a lot of videos, which I haven't watched. And he's written a best-selling book, 12 Rules for Life. I continued to hear and read more about this book. One friend told me that two of his friends read it and found it life changing. A former intern in our office told me the same thing.

So even though I didn't feel like having my life changed, I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a whirl, see what it was all about. Plus, Peterson seemed to be making all the right people mad. I was curious.

I just finished it, and it wasn't life changing. It was mostly life wasting. Now, that may be a little harsh. I did mark it up quit a bit with my Bic, which is usually a good thing. Mostly, it just meant he had some good lines I liked, some information I found interesting. But it was a slog. It was common sense ideas surrounded by Freud and Jung references wrapped around Biblical references that made it five times longer than it needed to be.

In essence, I found he had two main points:

1 - "There is a dividing line between order and chaos." He proffers that living along that line makes life more fulfilling. You become an interesting person, without slipping into craziness.

2 - "If we each live properly, we will collectively flourish." True again. If each of us improves ourselves a bit, society will improve a bit. If each of us improves a lot as individuals, society will improve a lot as a whole. True dat.

One reviewer probably explained it well and accounts for my lack of excitement about the book. He said, if you've had a responsible father figure in your life and you have an average working knowledge of the Bible, there's not much new in here for you.

But, as we know, a lot of people, particularly young men, don't have those two things in their lives. And for them this book has changed their lives for the better. That cannot be a bad thing.

As for all the criticism about Peterson, particularly among the political left, I don't see it in the book. Maybe it's in his videos. But I'd bet it's mostly overblown, as there is now an academiac, a psychiatrist, speaking clearly and convincingly (even with footnotes!) with suggestions that (gasp) there are differences between men and women. That was really the only thing I saw in this book, and it was one chapter, that I can figure makes them nuts. It doesn't make me nuts.

He comes across as a little arrogant at times (he is Canadian after all), but that doesn't make him wrong.

Here's a good recent story on him from The Hill.

Among things he points out:

Children in father-absent homes are four times as likely to be poor.

He preaches confidence. "If you're not the leading man in your own drama, your'e a bit player in someone else's."

Life is suffering. As say, Buddha, Christianity and the Jewish faith.

Take risks, let children take risks. "When you explore boldly, when you voluntarily confront the unknown, you gather information and build your renewed self out of that information."

"You have to say something, go somewhere and do things to get turned on. And, if not ... you remain incomplete, and life is too hard for anyone incomplete."

The majority of people who were abused as children do not abuse their own children. Some do mimic their abusers, but others learn from the abuse that it is wrong and choose not to do it. "Abuse disappears across generations."

Pay attention. "The things you can see, with even a single open eye. It's no wonder that people want to stay blind."

From Freud: "A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of succes that often induces real success."

It can be tough to choose an upward path because it is difficult. "Vice is easy. Failure is easy, too."

"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."

Define who you are. Refine your personality.

"To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open."

Seems for not liking the book, I wrote a long post about it. Maybe I did like it?

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