Having recently completed Jordan Peterson’s culturally significant, 12 Rules For Life, I thought to author my own.
In addition to the rules themselves, Peterson’s book encapsulates a multitude of valuable lessons with his own personal stories, metaphors and fables. I even referenced his writing in a recent YouTube video to explain some of the unconventional adventures I’ve had and documented (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_33kBnpdzo). A passage in Peterson’s book was the best way I could find to answer the question I get from friends, which is something like, “why the hell would you do that?”
Politics always aside, Peterson’s book has a little something for pretty much everyone.
These are off-the-cuff, but have been developed by 35.5 years of mostly easy living and thinking (often overthinking). I claim no advanced expertise on the subject past my own time on Earth. I know enough to know all of these are subject to change and change back. Here are my own 12 Rules for Life as of this moment:
1. Live off less than you make–This goes for people of all socio-economic classes. Coming from someone who has been salaried throughout the range of the 5 figure to small six-figure range in no particular order, I have found my stress level will stay low if I just live within my means. I am no Dave Ramsey, but living off of less than you make does a mind good. It’s not how much you make. It’s how much you keep.
2. Treat people, including yourself, as if the only benefit you will ever derive from how you treat them is your own memory of how you treated them–Having briefly navigated the worlds of high-level business, law, a tiny bit of international finance, as well as criminal defense, I understand how it feels to be used and played. Sadly, I’ve done the playing too. The first feels shittier than the latter, but neither feel as good as treating another with dignity, compassion and sometimes even love.
Immanuel Kant lived by a rule that could supersede this one. Mark Manson recently blogged about it: https://markmanson.net/the-one-rule-for-life
“Networking” itself flies in the face of this rule, as I understand “networking” to mean “meet people in case you need something from them, in a professional sense.” Going into networking events with the opposite mindset, which is to figure out how to help everyone you meet, would adhere to this rule. This mindset, however, is shared by only the minority of people you would there. I digress. I have found that just being good to people, including yourself, for its own sake, is the optimal, long-term human relations strategy. You may not get those backstage passes from your new high-up connection in the music business, but you may be remembered for something better than just another person who asks for favors. Be good to people, including yourself. The long-term results will be better for you.
3. Don’t be a donkey–This is the one I wish I had kept in the forefront of my mind over the past 3 years. It hurts to have learned it when I did and not earlier. I even blogged about it (https://jahodge6.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/shouldiliveabroad/). You can do everything you want to do if you are willing to do one of them at a time. I went to Costa Rica, came back to disastrously re-enter the real-world and then decided to set out on my original plan, which was to go to Asia after Costa Rica. This sequence is my greatest regret to date. I could have spent all the time I needed to abroad and then come home to work again. One thing at a time. Instead, I waffled back and forth straddling the US workforce and the more attractive demographic of world travelers while living mostly at my Mom’s. If you really want more than one thing, give one thing your full effort and attention and then move on to the other when you are ready. Anything else will confuse your mind, soul, body and most of the people around you.
4. Blossoming where you are planted, but go to a better climate if you can blossom more easily there–Coming out swinging here, it’s hogwash that everyone can be all they can be in any location. Yes, if you are not fortunate enough to leave your current location when you know others are more suited for you, you should give your current zip code everything you have. It will make you resourceful and creative in a way an only child in a childless neighborhood can relate. HOWEVER, some people just belong elsewhere. That is better than ok. Relationships are based on mutuality. Relationships are our north star we should follow to measure situations against our guiding principles. If we are living in a neighborhood or city full of people whose values we cannot relate to, maybe we should move. If your values don’t work in any place or you find that you relate to ISIS or scientology better, you should reconsider your values. If you however, are a loving, productive member of society, and don’t feel life you belong, by all means, move.
5. Traveling is the key–As is the exhilarating experience of travel itself, this one is tough to put into words. Travel takes you past gaining knowledge or understanding and hypnotically ingrains a larger breadth of life experience into your soul that cannot be reversed. You can wikipedia a faraway place, read about it in history books, and then talk to people about it for 100 years, but nothing will give you the full experience of that location like going there to see, smell, taste, feel and hear it. We cannot fully quantify our experiences through words, so there is no substitute for living them. Herein lies the difference between learning about something and learning something. I prefer the latter ten times out of ten. I am certainly not the first or last person to espouse this. It reminds me of the scene in “Goodwill Hunting” when Robin Williams’ character puts punky Matt Damon’s in his place by explaining that he doesn’t know shit, because he had never left Boston (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEIQSbul9Os). The benefit of travel can be construed as one of the main themes of what Williams’ character said and is one of strongest illustrations of the point he was making. I am one of the lucky ones to have traveled, but I appreciate all of my wanderings, nonetheless. Books are good, but travel simultaneous heightens all of your senses in a way no website, book or Parts Unknown (favorite show) episode can. Even if it means driving to the next county, travel.
6. Just exercise–You don’t have to be a trainer at GloboGym or compete in the world CrossFit games, but saying, “I don’t like to exercise” is like saying, “I don’t like to eat.” As a former 3-month high school meathead, P90Xer and now yogi, I can almost definitively say, there is some form of physical activity of some duration for everyone. If you have injuries or physical limitations and cannot exercise, you have my sincere sympathy and compassion. Others should find some way to move around for at least a few minutes every day. It cleans your blood, improves your mood by decreasing cortisol and increasing other feel-good chemicals in your body and a hell of a whole lot more. I understand you may not enjoy going to a gym full of overzealous, no-necked muscleheads, but that composes 1% of the available types of exercise through one-click of a mouse. Saying you don’t like to exercise is like saying you don’t like to eat. It is in our nature. There is some form that suits everyone.
7. Love at first-sight is bullshit–Romance is one of the human-specific phenomena that makes life worth living. Without it, we may as well throw in the towel. That said, love, at first sight, is impossible. I firmly believe in “lust” or “chemistry” at first sight, both of which could morph into love, but I don’t believe you can definitively say you love another person until you have heard or seen them cry, heard and smelled their farts, gotten to know what scares them and generally accepted the most fully unmasked version of them. That’s what my current version of love is. To know all of the “bad” things about another person and still want to be with them.
8. Never judge a book by its cover, but remember you may be judged like that–Look good, feel good, do good. This one may come across as the shallowest rule on my list, but it’s quite true. Taking care of yourself so that you present an appearance of self-respect implies to others that you may be worth having respect for. As a former preppy golfer, turned workout clothes connoisseur, now to henley wearing bro, I am starting to fully appreciate the fact that if you dress well, you will feel well and give yourself a chance to do well. The Yankees wear pinstripes. Men and women wear suits to court. Tiger Woods wears red on Sunday. All of this plays into their performances. You don’t have to model Tom Ford, but give how you dress some thought and watch how Guy Ritchie explains how to wear a suit on Joe Rogan’s show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMejeTP2edI). Look good. Feel good. Do good.
9. Color in as many circles as possible–I vaguely recall an introduction to fraction exercise Mrs. Horton had us do in 2nd grade. It looked something like what is shown in the picture.
You had to show you understood basic, single-digit fractions by looking at the number (i.e. 2/5, 1/3, 8/9, etc.) and coloring in the amount blank circles equaling the numerator in a row of circles equaling the denominator. It was far easier than I am making it sound.
Life is best looked at this way. It presents you with a finite number of blank circles, which represent various experiences. You should strive to color in as many of those circles as you can or have as many experiences as you can. Don’t get so caught up in feeling ok or making money that you end up with uncolored circles.
10. Shut it down–I used to keep my phone off from sunup to sundown on Sundays. This practice helped me grasp the truths that were present in my life on a weekly basis. There is an inverse relationship between the volume at which your intuition speaks to you and the amount of time you spend on social media. Give it a rest for as long or as short of an amount of time as you can. Any amount will make a difference. It will be there when you get back.
11. Don’t assume malice when busyness or ignorance will explain–If people don’t call you back or you lose touch with them, it is very likely because they are busy or don’t realize how much you want to keep up with them. I have been out of regular contact with married friends who have children, but it is my hope that they know we can pick up where we left off when they are ready. I understand that they probably don’t have time to catch up or don’t even know I think about them. In the off-chance that they hate me now, that is their problem and I will still remain open if they want to get together.
12. Rules are stupid–This one is my favorite. A person’s success and fulfillment have a lot to do with their own balance of audacity and humility. Audacity is no more clearly illustrated by a person being willing to break rules or norms. Humility is not doing it in a way that is disrespectful to others. I am not encouraging people to break laws (we need those) OR to even show disrespect for rules that are founded on loving thy neighbor. I am, however, saying that living by too many rules is the surest way to impede your life and keep your inner genius hidden. Rules are fucking stupid. Follow them if another could be hurt by your breaking them, but question them if that is not the case. I recently listened to Yuval Harari’s Sapiens and of the passages that stuck with me the most, one was, “biology permits, culture forbids.” You can do whatever the fuck nature will allow. Life is situational, so no rules work all of the time. Live like it.
Having combed through these you may be more informed, but you definitely have a better sense of where things stand for me. It is my greatest hope that these rules will change and move in and out of the list of the governing mandates of my life.