Beyond Order - Jordan B. Peterson

1. Do Not Carelessly Denigrate Social Institutions Or Creative Achievement

Now, there is nothing wrong, in principle, with the expression of concern for planet-wide issues. That is not the point. There is something wrong, however, with overestimating your knowledge of such things—or perhaps even considering them—when you are a mid-twenty-year-old with nothing positive going on in your life and you are having great difficulty even getting out of bed.

2. Imagine Who You Could Be, And Then Aim Single-Mindedly At That

You are not only something that is. You are something that is becoming—and the potential extent of that becoming also transcends your understanding.

Socrates posited that the soul, immortal in its essence, knew everything before it was born anew as an infant. However, at the point of birth all previous knowledge was forgotten and had to be recalled through the experiences of life.


4. Notice That Opportunity Lurks Where Responsibility Has Been Abdicated

I observed that people did not get what they needed (or, equally importantly perhaps, what they wanted) because they never made it clear to themselves or others what that was. It is impossible to hit a target, after all, unless you aim at it. In keeping with this: People are more commonly upset by what they did not even try to do than by the errors they actively committed while engaging with the world.

Osiris stopped paying attention to how his kingdom was being run. That was willful blindness, and there is no blaming that on mere age.

By turning a blind eye to his evil brother’s machinations—by refusing to see—Osiris allowed Set to gain strength.

Horus has the will to see, along with the ability. This is courage itself: the refusal to shrink from what makes itself known, no matter how terrible it seems.

We become stronger by voluntarily facing what impedes our necessary progress.

Animals do not seem to consider the future in the same manner as we do. If you visit the African veldt, and you observe a herd of zebras, you will often see lions lazing about around them. And as long as the lions are lying around relaxing, the zebras really do not mind. This attitude seems a little thoughtless, from the human perspective. The zebras should instead be biding their time until the lions go to sleep. Then they should run off to a corner of the field in a herd and conspire a bit. And then several dozen of them should rush the sleeping lions and stomp them to death. That would be the end of the lion problem. But that is not what zebras do. They think, “Ah, look at those relaxed lions! Relaxed lions are never a problem!” Zebras do not seem to have any real sense of time. They cannot conceptualize themselves across the temporal expanse.

What might serve as a more sophisticated alternative to happiness? Imagine it is living in accordance with the sense of responsibility, because that sets things right in the future.

Graduation Day marks the event. It is a celebration. But the next day that is over, and you immediately face a new set of problems (just as you are hungry again only a few hours after a satisfying meal). You are no longer king of the high school: you are bottom dog in the work force,

the fact that you are not pursuing the goal you should rightly be pursuing means that you are feeling guilty, ashamed, and lesser at the same time.

You positively need to be occupied with something weighty, deep, profound, and difficult. Then, when you wake up in the middle of the night and the doubts crowd in, you have some defense: “For all my flaws, which are manifold, at least I am doing this. At least I am taking care of myself. At least I am of use to my family, and to the other people around me. At least I am moving, stumbling upward, under the load I have determined to carry.”

5. Do Not Do What You Hate

Unfortunately, people often act in spite of their conscience—even if they know it—and hell tends to arrive step by step, one betrayal after another.

The alternative is despair, corruption, and nihilism—thoughtless subjugation to the false words of totalitarian utopianism and life as a miserable, lying, and resentful slave.

Maybe you can find something that pays better and is more interesting, and where you are working with people who not only fail to kill your spirit, but positively rejuvenate it.

6. Abandon Ideology

[…] rise in nihilism, Nietzsche believed. Alternatively, he suggested, people would turn to identification with rigid, totalitarian ideology: the substitute of human ideas for the transcendent Father of All Creation.

For the ideologue, however, nothing remains outside understanding or mastery. An ideological theory explains everything: all the past, all the present, and all the future. This means that an ideologue can consider him or herself in possession of the complete truth

A world where only you and people who think like you are good is also a world where you are surrounded by enemies bent on your destruction, who must be fought.

It is impossible to fight patriarchy, reduce oppression, promote equality, transform capitalism, save the environment, eliminate competitiveness, reduce government, or to run every organization like a business. Such concepts are simply too low-resolution.

Have some humility. Clean up your bedroom. Take care of your family. Follow your conscience. Straighten up your life. Find something productive and interesting to do and commit to it. When you can do all that, find a bigger problem and try to solve that if you dare.

9. If Old Memories Still Upset You, Write Them Down Carefully And Completely

10. Plan And Work Diligently To Maintain The Romance In Your Relationship

Your failure to specify your desires means your unfortunate lover will have to guess what would please and displease you, and is likely to be punished in some manner for getting it wrong. Furthermore, given all the things you could want—and do not want—it is virtually certain that your lover will get it wrong.

Evergreens, the standard choice for Christmas trees, represent life unending, as they do not “die” annually in the same manner as their deciduous counterparts. Such trees therefore symbolize the Tree of Life, which serves as the very foundation of the cosmos.

[…] both should be oriented toward the most positive future possible, and agree that speaking the truth is the best pathway forward.

Do you really want to keep asking yourself for the rest of your life—because you would always have the option to leave—if you made the right choice? In all likelihood, you did not. There are seven billion people in the world. At least a hundred million (let us say) might have made good partners for you. You certainly did not have time to try them out, and the probability that you found the theoretically optimal person approaches zero.

There are three fundamental states of social being: tyranny (you do what I want), slavery (I do what you want), or negotiation.

My wife told me a terrible story once, about a couple she observed while volunteering in a palliative care ward. The husband was dying, and his wife was trimming his nails—a little too close. With each clip, there was blood, as she trimmed close enough to damage the quick. You see something like that, and wisdom speaks its terrible truth: “I know exactly what is going on there.” That is the end stage of an unbelievably deceitful and brutal relationship. It is subtle. It does not announce itself loudly as murderous. No one knows, except the couple (even though they are perhaps striving with all their might, under the circumstances, not to know) and the careful observer, who sees a dying man and a wife who has determined, for whatever reasons, to make his death a little worse.

Sometimes “I don’t know” truly means what it is supposed to mean—the person who utters the phrase is at a genuine loss—but often it means, instead: “I don’t want to talk about it, so go away and leave me alone.”

We live a very long time, but it is also all over in a flash, and it should be that you have accomplished what human beings accomplish when they live a full life, and marriage and children and grandchildren and all the trouble and heartbreak that accompanies all of that is far more than half of life. Miss it at your great peril.

But it is an uncommon woman, in my clinical and general professional experience, regardless of brilliance or talent, training, discipline, parental desire, youthful delusion, or cultural brainwashing who would not perform whatever sacrifice necessary to bring a child into the world by the time she is twenty-nine, or thirty-five, or worse, forty.

But it is an uncommon woman, in my clinical and general professional experience, regardless of brilliance or talent, training, discipline, parental desire, youthful delusion, or cultural brainwashing who would not perform whatever sacrifice necessary to bring a child into the world by the time she is twenty-nine, or thirty-five, or worse, forty.

“You will do, for now, and I presume you feel the same way about me. Otherwise we would just get married. But in the name of a common sense that neither of us possesses we are going to reserve the right to swap each other out for a better option at any point.” And if you do not think that is what living together means—as a fully articulated ethical statement—see if you can formulate something more plausible.

The breakup rate among people who are not married but are living together—so, married in everything but the formal sense—is substantially higher than the divorce rate among married couples.7

If you are going to set up a household in peace with someone you love and hopefully like, and wish to continue loving and liking, you are going to have to determine in some manner who is going to do what. That is the replacement for roles. Who makes the bed? When should it be made? At what level of perfection does the bed have to be made to be mutually acceptable? And if this is not handled well, the conversation becomes counterproductive rapidly: “I made the bed.” “Well, you did not do a very good job.” “Nothing’s ever good enough for you.

Whose career is going to take priority? When and why? How will the children be educated and disciplined, and by whom? Who does the cleaning? Who sets the table? Takes out the garbage? Cleans up the bathroom? How are the bank accounts set up and managed? Who shops for groceries? Clothes? Furniture? Who pays for what? Who adopts responsibility for the taxes? Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Two hundred things, perhaps, to run a household properly—as complex a problem as running a business, with the additional difficulty of trying to manage it

Who prepares the meals? When do they prepare the meals? What is that worth in terms of trade-off for other tasks? How do you thank someone for conducting themselves properly in the kitchen? Who loads the dishwasher? Who does the dishes? How fast do the dishes have to be cleared off the table after you eat? Which dishes are going to be used? What are we going to eat? What role are the kids going to play? Do we sit down together? Do we have regular mealtimes? Each of these questions can become a bloody war.

The next thing you have to do—I know this from both my clinical and marital experience (thirty years of each)—is actually talk to your partner for about ninety minutes a week, purely about practical and personal matters. “What is happening to you at work?” “What is going on, as far as you are concerned, with the kids?” “What needs to be done around the house?” “Is there anything bothering you that we can address?” “What do we have to do that is necessary to keep the wolf from the door next week?”

Other people keep you sane. That is partly why it is a good idea to get married.

So, you talk. About everything. No matter how painful. And you make peace. And you thank providence if you manage it, because strife is the default condition.

So, as a single person, you will work at dating, because you are lonesome and deprived, but it is no simple matter. You must make space in your life for it. You have to plan. You must use your imagination, spend money, find an acceptable dating partner, and, as they say, kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince (or to find a princess, as well). People are often relieved when they get married, because they do not have to make all that so often counterproductive effort anymore.

Here is a rule: do not ever punish your partner for doing something you want them to continue doing. Particularly if it took some real courage—some real going above and beyond the call of duty—to manage.

There is something that you are going to want and need. It is possible that, if you communicate openly what that something is, and at the same time leave yourself open to the same communication coming from your partner, that you both could get not only what you want from each other, but even more than you expect.