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Book Club: Jordan Peterson’s Antidote to Chaos

By: Nobhongo Gxolo

In 2012 Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology, Jordan Peterson started contributing to the website Quora where anyone can ask a question, and anyone can answer it. He put time into crafting responses to questions like: “What’s the difference between being happy and being content?”, “What things get better as you age?”, “What makes life more meaningful?”, “What are the most valuable things everyone should know?” When visitors to the website engaged positively with his responses to the last question, he realised he was onto something. In 2019 the book of his refined maxims and principles for how to live a meaningful life was published.

Make friends with people who want the best for you

Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie

Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

These are just some of the tenets that Jordan Peterson explores in his sophomore book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. A YouTube personality with his own podcast his YouTube channel has over 4.7million subscribers. His research interests delve into history, mythology, neuroscience, psychoanalysis, child psychology, poetry, religion and the Bible – amongst others. 

He writes that the book title 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos: “indicates clearly that people need ordering principles, and that chaos otherwise beckons. We require rules, standards, values - alone and together… Order can become excessive, and that’s not good, but chaos can swamp us, so we drown - and that is also not good. We need to stay on the straight and narrow path. Each of the twelve rules of this book - and their accompanying essays - therefore provide a guide to being there. “There” is the dividing line between order and chaos. That’s where we are simultaneously stable enough, exploring enough, transforming enough, repairing enough, and cooperating enough. It’s where we find the meaning that justifies life and its inevitable suffering…”

LifeCheq Book Club – in session

The first instalment of the 2022 LifeCheq Book Club was held on the 21st of February. The sessions are co-hosted by Communications practitioner and organiser of the food club Third Culture Experiment, Nobhongo Gxolo and LifeCheq’s Head of Business Development, Grant Appel.

Peterson’s work has a way of being controversial and polarising. During the discussion, one book club guest mentioned their struggle with making their way through the book. They toiled through the build-up of the first chapter dedicated to the history and biology of crustaceans in Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back. A reference to how “Alpha” lobsters with high levels of serotonin are more cocky and less likely to back down from a challenge. Meaning more chances of their securing the best shelters, the most food, and their pick of female mates. Peterson applies this to human behaviour encouraging us to walk tall, move with confidence, and exude competence so that the world can treat us in this way.

While another guest referenced their experience around Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. A follower of Peterson’s work the guest said this maxim has been helpful in helping them recalibrate and gain perspective when they’ve been too hard on themselves.

Read the 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos for more principles to help you build a more meaningful life – according to Peterson that is.

Join the next LifeCheq Book Club Session on Monday the 11th of April where we’ll be reading Will, by Mark Manson and Will Smith.

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