Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life

Everyone you’ll ever meet knows something you don’t

Niklas Göke
7 min readJun 29, 2020


Photo by Anton on Unsplash

If you make happiness the meaning of life, every time you’re not happy, you’ll feel like a failure.

If, however, you do what’s meaningful in every situation, even failure will have a purpose. Failing will still be painful, but your perspective will never feel “empty,” and you’ll always have reason to look forward to the future.

This is one of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, and, like all of them, it’s common sense that somehow still stabs you right in the heart. We’re great at ignoring common sense until someone hits us over the head with it. This is what Peterson does in his book, which many criticize for being too verbose.

“He could’ve said that in a few paragraphs!” Well, he did. The book is based on a viral Quora answer Peterson wrote. But a post on a website does not hold the same power as a book full of stories. It’s true: Most self-help books are too long. But through their packaging, they can do a better job of spreading and delivering a message than any blog post ever can.

Like his book, Peterson is a controversial figure. I’m not here to discuss his politics, his logic, or his views on our culture. I’m here to learn. I only have “a few paragraphs,” but this is how I interpret his 12 lessons.

1. “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”

If you face a bad day with a good attitude, it can still be a meaningful one. Posture holds power. While you can overdo the “fake it till you make it” of how you carry yourself, making an effort to not collapse in the face of adversity — both mentally and onto the couch — is empowering.

You control whether you walk straight or slouch, whether you smile or look grumpy, whether you focus on what went wrong or what needs to be done. Reminding ourselves of this control when times are tough can dramatically transform our experience of how tough times actually are.

Show up, stand straight, smile. Conquer your attitude, conquer the day.

2. “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.”



Niklas Göke

I write for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. Read my daily blog here: