I’ve decided to share these quotes in the order they appear in the book, plus occasional commentary. All quotes are from the 2018 hardcover edition.
- plaintext – Worthy quotes
- bold – Favorite quotes
- italics – Quotes I disliked
12 Rules for Life: Best and Worst Quotes
The dominance hierarchy is not capitalism. It’s not communism, either, for that matter . . . We (the sovereign we, the we that has been around since the beginning of life) have lived in a dominance hierarchy for a long, long time. (p. 14) – Agreed, seems pretty self-evident.
. . . the familiar Western images of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and the Pietà both express the female/male dual unity, as does the traditional insistence on the androgyny of Christ. (p. 42) – “traditional insistence on the androgyny,” what is he talking about?
You should take care of, help and be good to yourself the same way you would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued. (p. 62)
. . . a villain who despairs of his villainy has not become a hero. A hero is something positive, not just the absence of evil. (p. 78) – Exactly!
. . . winning at everything might only mean that you’re not doing anything new or difficult. You might be winning, but you’re not growing, and growing might be the most important form of winning. (p. 88)
Ask yourself: is there one thing that exists in disarray in your life or your situation that you could, and would, set straight? Could you, and would you, fix that one thing that announces itself humbly in need of repair? (p. 94)
What would your life look like, if it were better? (p. 100)
The Old Testament Israelites and their forebears knew that God was not to be trifled with, and that whatever Hell the angry Deity might allow to be engendered if he was crossed was real. Having recently passed through a century defined by the bottomless horrors of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, we might realize the same thing. (p. 105) – This is a terrible example of conflating all evils with “judgment from God.” It’s not biblical (see Job). Granted, Peterson here is speaking of the “Old Testament God” as a concept, not necessarily as a real Person. But this kind of thing is what I meant by “repurposing the Bible” to fit a philosophy.
. . . if you look close enough, the biggest of lies is composed of smaller lies, and those are composed of still smaller lies – and the smallest of lies is where the big lie starts. (p. 228)
People think they think, but it’s not true. It’s mostly self-criticism that passes for thinking . . . Thinking is an internal dialogue between two or more different views of the world. (p. 241)
The past is not necessarily what it was, even though it has already been. (p. 267) – On second reading, I’m not exactly sure this makes logical sense, but I get the gist of it, and it’s a hard truth.
Assume ignorance before malevolence. No one has a direct pipeline to your wants and needs – not even you. (p. 320) – Good advice for managing conflict.
When [boys] told off the teachers, they were pushing against the authority, to see if there was any real authority there – the kind that could be relied on, in principle, in a crisis. (p. 331) – Yeah, I’m not really buying that one. Backtalk is backtalk, let’s not romanticize it.
Maybe the environmental problem is ultimately spiritual. If we put ourselves in order, perhaps we will do the same for the world. (p. 364)
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