3 simple rules for living a meaningful life

I have recently been reading a book by Dr Jordan B Peterson, Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto in Canada titled 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos which I would encourage others to take a look at if you need to establish some order in this confusing and chaotic world.

He would argue that we all need rules, standards and values that provide order as well as stability and the meaning that provides our lives with purpose and helps us deal with the suffering that we inevitably experience at various stages.

My top 3 favourite rules that Dr Petersen has devised for how to live a meaningful life are as follows;

Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

This requires you to consider what would be truly good for you rather than what you want or what would make you happy.

Ask yourself what would my life look like if I were truly caring for myself properly.

Keep the promises you make to yourself and reward yourself so that you can trust and motivate yourself.

Make friends with people who want the best for you

Ask yourself this question: If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friend for yourself?

Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement so be mindful of how much energy you put into a friendship and how much positive energy you receive.

Surround yourself with people who encourage you when you do good for yourself and others and punish you carefully when you do not. This will increase your resolve to do what you should do, in the most appropriate and careful manner.

Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

What is expedient works only for the moment as it is immediate, impulsive and limited. What is meaningful, by contrast, is when everything there is comes together in a perfect dance of single purpose in the building of something truly  mighty and good.

Meaning emerges when impulses are regulated, organised and unified. By asking yourself ‘How could I use my time to make things better, instead of worse?’ we are on our way to channelling our energies in purposeful and satisfying ways.

As Dr Peterson writes meaning signifies that you are in the right place, at the right time, properly balanced between order and chaos, where everything lines up as best it can at that moment.

This is my take on some of the principles that Dr Peterson encourages his readers to adopt which I hope sparks your interest to read further and take a deeper look at his work.

Otherwise come and speak to one of the team of psychologists at Attuned Psychology who will no doubt provide some helpful insights into establishing order in a confusing and chaotic world.

Take care and keep searching for greater meaning in your life as it’s a journey worth pursuing.


Rachael Elliott

Clinical Psychologist


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