My Notes — 12 Rules for Life, An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson4 min read

I’ve decided that a review is relatively useless of this book. The people who are going to like it will read it, love it, and rant positively about it. I think it will be more useful for me to go over the things that this book made me think about. If someone reads it and comments, great. If no one reads it, this will help me understand my own understanding of the book. You can’t make order out of chaos by forgetting everything you learned. You can’t really learn without writing and explaining in a way that can make sense to others.

I am going to go through all of my highlights and notes from the book and record them here. I won’t be copying portions of the book out, just context in my own words along with a page number from the e-book version.

If you haven’t read the book, you should get it now. A lot of this might not have the same impact or meaning without the context of the book. I also might get it horribly wrong. Have your own interpretation before reading this. I am personalizing everything and going outside what Peterson says. I am inferring things. Don’t think anything I said below is rephrasing the book. It is not. What I have typed out below is what the book made me think or feel. A lot of it will be the same content that is in the book. Some of it won’t be.

Individual Rules and My Thoughts

I’ll be linking to the individual rules below as I complete them.

Foreword by Norman Doidge

Page 2

The references to the meaning of the golden calf story are quite meaningful. It calls into question if true freedom with no rules, no destination, and no reason to change any of that is a good thing. Can you truly be a happy, complete person if everything around you is chaos? That’s the question that will be asked and answered for the rest of the book.

Without an aim, are we in any way a complete person? If we have no direction, we can find things that make us happy. That is certainly true. Is happiness the only thing that is about having a complete Being?


Page 23+

This, for me, was when the book took a divergence from things that I had already known and contemplated in great detail. Dr. Peterson raises a differentiation in how we organize our morals and our fight for them.

The idea is that we don’t fight for what we believe in. We don’t even fight for the concept of what we believe in. What we are fighting for, once we start fighting, is the match between what we believe, expect, and desire. If people are not behaving to our expectations, this is what upsets us. Dr. Peterson also points out this is how society is formed.

If we don’t know what behavior to expect from people, we are living in chaos. If people don’t do what we expect too frequently, it makes it so our energies must go to dealing with that. We believe that they are behaving in a way that changes who they are or may threaten us or our tribe.

Goals and values are how we define the behavior of others and ourselves. We want to progress in a positive way. That progression is more important to us than the ending, based on our behavior. If people are not working towards that goal and we see no progression, this has the potential to make us very upset. People who exemplify different values can be even worse.

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