Made You Think Podcast

Feb 27, 2018
Fix Yourself First: 12 Rules for Life by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Part of

“Order and chaos are the yang and yin of the famous Taoist symbol: two serpents, head to tail. Order is the white, masculine serpent; Chaos, its black, feminine counterpart. The black dot in the white—and the white in the black—indicate the possibility of transformation: just when things seem secure, the unknown can loom, unexpectedly and large. Conversely, just when everything seems lost, new order can emerge from catastrophe and chaos. For the Taoists, meaning is to be found on the border between the ever-entwined pair. To walk that border is to stay on the path of life, the divine Way. And that’s much better than happiness.”

In this episode of Made You Think, Neil and I discuss​ 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. In his book, Peterson –a professor at the University of Toronto, and a practicing psychologist who has spent his life studying mythology psychology, religion and philosophy– writes about discipline, freedom, adventure, and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life.

Winning at everything might only mean that you’re not doing anything new or difficult.

We cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Free speech and the nature of truth
  • Why post-modernists are right… to an extent
  • How to be a winning lobster
  • Positive feedback loops and your own heaven and hell
  • Why danger is important
  • Appreciating the moment but planning for chaos

And much more. Please enjoy, and be sure to grab a copy of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson!

Links from the Episode

Mentioned in the show:

Books mentioned:

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Show Topics

01:00 – The title of the book is misleading, and surprising if you know Peterson’s other work. But don’t judge a book by it’s cover, this is a very detailed and valuable work.

03:39 – Peterson is a practicing psychotherapist and also a lecturer. He’s has spent most of his life studying religion and mythology.

05:26 – Peterson’s notoriety because of his opposition to a bill in Canada that essentially makes calling somebody by the wrong gender pronoun a hate crime. He was opposed on the grounds of free speech and argues that you can’t compel anyone to use any specific word.

07:11 – Peterson fights against the post-modernist idea that nothing is true, everything is subjective. He believes that postmodernism has taken the idea of subjectivity and pushed it too far.

09:00 – Math is something we’ve discovered, not a human invention. Fundamental nature of numbers is unchanging. Argument linking math and logic to patriarchy and power.

11:14 – What is the goal of the postmodernists? If you continually tear down the hierarchy then at some point the oppressors become the oppressed.

12:41 – Communist China is what you get if you tear down an authority that is there due to the natural order. There will always be a Pareto distribution. If you try to perfectly level the playing field you end up with a controlling regime.

17:05 – Peterson is harsh against virtue signalling. Is the goal of most postmodernists just to ‘look moral’?

18:11 – Science should not be ideology driven. It’s still science. Nobody wants to talk about sex and race in terms of science. Charles Murray example where he researched IQ differences across different races. He proved there were differences and he’s been treated as a bigot because of this.

22:50 – Peterson does a great job at maintaining what the science says about us as humans. What that means in what we should do in our day to day.

25:12 – The rules of the book come off as simple but there’s a lot of rich material underneath them. The titles of the rules are there to remind you of the big idea, as easy to remember snippets.

27:03 – Rule 1: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back. How lobsters are similar to humans. How to look like a winner. Positive reinforcement loop. Head off depression.

31:28 – Sponsor. Hack your physio-psychological behavior by waking up at the same time every day and have breakfast. Get some mushroom coffee and keto from the MYT support page. Support the podcast and you’ll become a winning lobster.

34:40 – Lobsters brain reaction when losing. All the cells in your body recycle every seven years. The ship of Theseus: if every cell in your body is different in seven years are you still the same person?

38:00 – Breaking out of the negative loop. Slaying the dragon within us. Problems get bigger until you acknowledge them.

40:16 – The subjective truth is still truth. Rules don’t become useless because there is an exception to them. As Peterson says, the truth is fluid.

43:23 – Noah; predicting floods doesn’t count, building arks does. If you get your house in order now, when total chaos comes, you’ll be ready.

44:03 – Rule 2: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping. Internal tyrant – we are too harsh on ourselves. The result is that we inevitably rebel. Our two selves end up hating each other.

45:48 – Prescriptions for medicine for pets gets filled much more frequently than medicine for humans. People better at taking care of their pets than they are of themselves.

47:57 – Think about what is good for you rather than what would make you happy. What might my life look like if I were caring for myself properly?

50:35 – Rule 3: Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You. One bad apple spoils the bunch example.

51:30 – If you have friends who are obese or who smoke there is a higher chance you will become obese or start to smoke! Normalizing effect, it’s not bad it’s just what everyone else is doing. You become the five people you spend the most time with. Be selective!

55:02 – If your friends do good, you do good. If you live in a place where there are a lot of people you don’t want to be like, read more books, like Andrew Carnegie and Jay-Z.

1:00:29- Rule 4: Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday, Not Who Someone Else is Today. Comparing to others is a fallacy, you always lose. No matter how far along you are you’ll still have someone to be jealous of.

1:02:19 – Naval Ravikant: Being jealous of someone is really silly because you can’t pick and choose parts of someone else’s life. Steve Jobs was miserable, he never enjoyed his money.

1:03:50 – Sponsor. Take a shot of Kettle and Fire Bonebroth.

1:04:21 – Feeling good when you find something bad of someone who you are jealous. If you always win or always lose, it’s no fun, but a video game at just the right difficulty is perfect. Similarly, comparing yourself to who you were yesterday is the perfect opponent.

1:07:44 – Seneca: Don’t compare yourself to what others have, compare yourself to who you were before. Grand Theft Life! Control the machine, don’t operate it.

1:09:19 – Most people don’t find God because they don’t search low enough. There’s an ideal to reach for in everyday life.

1:09:48 – Daily practice is a version of God in the everyday and mundane. Gratefulness journal. Figure out what things make you feel better. Your emotional response. Dopamine and serotonin.

1:13:42 – Rule 5: Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything that Makes You Dislike Them.

1:13:55 – Positive reinforcement training. Attention as a currency of reward – effective reinforcement in humans. If you ignore people, they’ll quickly understand that they shouldn’t repeat whatever it was that made you ignore them. Beware of conversational one-upmanship.

1:16:43 – If someone does something you don’t like, just tell them.

1:19:28 – People tie ideas to their identity and get offended. Some can’t hold two competing ideas in their head at once. If you get emotional about an idea, that’s generally a bad sign.

1:20:37 – Crony Beliefs. If you react to information with disgust or outrage that’s a sign that there’s some belief you hold which is not based on logic and reasoning. In-group acceptance, virtue signalling, desire to be accepted.

1:24:18 – Trojan Horse strategy. A lot of hyper-feminist young men do it as a way to get in with women. Weasely.

1:25:05 – Rule 6: Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World. Columbine killers said the world is so bad, it shouldn’t exist, they want to burn it all down and take everyone with them. All of us, on some level, have these impulses when things don’t go right.

1:27:04 – Make your bed, create order and not chaos. Take ten minutes and get back to inbox zero. Part of your brain is latently working on it, so work on it yourself. Set aside times for worrying and forget it the rest of the time.

1:30:13 – Extreme ownership, don’t worry about what anybody else did wrong or what other people could be doing, focus on what you can do. Don’t rail against society. You have to recognize the monster within you in order to really be a good person.

1:32:14 – Floods are going to come, it’s your fault for being unprepared. Just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan in place.

1:34:08 – Rule 7: Pursue What is Meaningful (Not What is Expedient). The role of sacrifice in ancient societies.

1:35:09 – Preparing for the future. Giving up greater comfort now for something further down the line. Ceremonies as reminders.

1:36:14 – Kids who were able to hold off eating a marshmallow as they would get two later did better in future life. Delayed gratification. Sacrificing impulses leads to richer life.

1:38:42 – Cain and Abel. Sometimes sacrifices are rejected and we don’t know why. There’s wisdom in fairy tales. “Religion is the opiate of the masses”. Do what’s meaningful and not expedient.

1:42:14 – Rule 8: Tell the Truth, or at least Don’t Lie. Lean towards truth instead of trying to tell a story. Acknowledge the problem. Problems are often improved by simply talking.

1:43:39 – Dalio: An honest interpretation of the world is necessary. Robert Greene: Interpret the world honestly. We run from scary truths but knowing the truth is almost always better. If there’s a problem you’re not acknowledging, your brain interprets it as the sum of all the possible problems. Dragons or squirrels.

1:45:14- You can’t just tell the truth to other people, you also have to tell it to yourself. Entropy: things tend towards chaos. Things will go wrong if you don’t do anything about them. One state of order, infinite states of chaos. Do the dishes.

1:51:33 – Rule 9: Assume that the Person You Are Listening to Might Know Something You Don’t. 3 categories of conversations: exchanging information; one-upmanship; mutual meditation. Figuring out what the map looks like.

1:54:36 – Most people can be interesting if prompted the right way and if you’re actually listening. Try saying something controversial. If you don’t talk about it, that encourages people not to talk about it. The tyranny of the minority. Be willing to offend people.

1:58:37 – Differences in interests between men and women. We have to be honest before we can talk about the implications of things. How we as conscious beings can recognize negative urges under the surface and still function in society.

2:00:46 – Part of the job of comedy is to be on the edge of order and chaos. They’ve found the line and they know how to walk it. They say what everyone is thinking! Playing with boundaries as Infinite players.

2:03:09 – Rule 10: Be Precise in Your Speech. Don’t mold your opinions to try to get approval from those around you. Be honest. Deal with that as it comes. Be open to being corrected.

2:04:28 – Rule 11: Do Not Bother Children when they are Skateboarding. Initially confusing. Danger has a value in teaching kids. Adult efforts to make children safer are often misguided. Let people fail. “We feel invigorated and excited when we work to optimize our future performance, while playing in the present.

2:06:15 – There will always be a dominance hierarchy. This danger and experimentation is how we find our place in it. How we expand in it. The hierarchy is a natural result of us testing ourselves. You can’t have equality and freedom. There are many different hierarchies.

2:06:54 – The pursuit of goals is what makes life meaningful. There is no reason to have goals if there’s nothing to win at. You can’t create meaning if you can’t strive for anything.

2:09:04 – Controversial topics that shouldn’t be. Use of personality as an excuse from taking care of yourself. Be healthy and make yourself more desirable. Removing danger is dangerous.

2:11:14 – We use our middle school years to figure out the rules of society. Two year-olds aren’t malicious, they’re just testing the limits.

2:12:28 – It’s important for men to be men. Women will find 85% of men below average in terms of attractiveness. To be attractive, be the best version of yourself you can be.

2:14:11- Life competence matters. There should be true rewards for success, and true consequences for failure. People need to be able to fail. Pain is useful.

2:15:36 – Peterson’s comments are tailor made to get taken out of context. Example of “women can find meaning in childbirth” and “the pay gap”.

2:17:29 – The game that we’re measuring when we measure income is just one game, and is not meaning for life. There are other places to find meaning. Women express alternative places they can derive meaning. Reverse societal pressure to say that some women are “too good” to want to raise a family.

2:21:36 – Sponsor. Perfect Keto pizza!.

2:22:08 – Women can win in men’s arenas. Men can’t win in what are typically considered women’s arenas. Men get flak for being in traditionally female roles (e.g. nurse, school teacher).

2:23:48 – Rule 12: Pet a Cat When You Encounter One on the Street. There are going to be a lot of horrible times in your life so when you get the opportunity to experience something good you should take it.

2:25:09 – Cats are the most perfect metaphor for nature, for being. They interact with humans but are not as fully domesticated as dogs are. If you pet a cat you’re getting an opportunity to appreciate being and nature. The dog will always run up to you and be happy to see you but that is not how reality is. Mutually assured non-destruction.

2:27:30 – Gratefulness. Appreciate a good cup of coffee or time with your family. Times are great right now but they won’t always be. Enjoy not being in chaos. Don’t be a turkey.

2:30:16 – Returning to chaos and order. We rise to the level of our training. Get into improving habits while the world is still in order.

2:32:13 – Don’t just sit at home watching YouTube, go and do something damnit! Is Peterson a heretic? He’s figured out how to monetize haters.

2:51:30 – Sponsors. Drink Mushroom Coffee from Four Sigmatic with cordyceps and chaga for evening working out. Go to Perfect Keto for your keto needs. Check Perfect Keto’s new liquid MCT oil good for pre-workout. Kettle on Fire’s Bone Broth is excellent to get back in your diet. Buy Jordan Peterson’s book and everything else using our Amazon link. Leave a review on iTunes. Subscribe to the email list for bonus materials and more tangents. Tell people.