Dr. Jordan B. Peterson has been called many things:
Youtube’s new dad, defender of free speech, real life Jedi, lobster worshiper, world’s greatest sorter-outer, alt-right neo-Nazi (a label he vehemently rejects), to name just a few.
But for any individual who hasn’t grasped for the nearest emotionally motivated label and…
Has actually spent the time listening to his hundreds of hours of lectures on YouTube…
Has actually downloaded his 4 epic podcasts with Joe Rogan…
Has actually followed up with some of his immense 100-book reading list…
And has actually begun his online writing program, Self-Authoring, which has you deconstruct your past and design your ideal future…
In other words… if you are someone who has chosen to listen to this professor of psychology and clinical psychologist as if he might have some ideas worth hearing…
You may just see him, as I do, as…
The man who helped me clean my room.
Like all great thinkers before him, Jordan Peterson is misunderstood.
But this makes him incredibly memeable.
There are those on the inside who “get it” and those on the outside who don’t.
For example, those who’ve been following his talks for some time will likely chuckle when they see the following image:
Jordan Peterson’s lectures are unlike any others I’ve come across. In his Maps of Meaning course he spends over 4 hours deconstructing the movie Pinocchio, drawing from the cartoon profound insights about religion, myth, society, Marxism, psychology, and religion.
He typically lectures in a suede jacket, and inserts either a Carl Jung or a Gulag Archipelago reference into every other paragraph.
And he loves to say the following phrases:
“And that’s that!”
“It’s no bloody joke!”
“Tell the truth”
“One of the things I learned from Carl Jung”
But for such a deep thinker as Peterson is, his advice for living a good life is often extremely simple. Peterson will decode the secret messages in the Bible, then when asked how we are meant to implement these insights into life he will tell you to simply…
Clean your room.
While absolutely fantastic advice, it’s also funny to be told from one of the smartest guys around that on top of studying the writings of the greatest minds of all time, you should also invest in some new cleaning tools.
You can watch this video for an elaboration on why you—yes YOU—should clean your room.
Simply put, Peterson claims that the underlying structure of Being is made from chaos and order. Chaos is scary and dangerous, order is safe, and if we want to clean up our life, we can first clean up our room and therefore:
Make habitable order from chaos
When you get good at this, you are well on your way to becoming “sorted,” which is the final destination of Peterson’s famous phrase:
Sort yourself out, bucko
To sort yourself out means you put yourself straight. You stop doing things that you know are bad for you. You tell the truth, or at least stop telling things you know to be lies. You stop doing things that make you feel weak and aim for making your life better. Your moral obligation becomes those things you can do to make this a reality.
To become sorted means to become disciplined and educated. And you need to sort yourself out before you spend your energy criticizing the world.
Peterson’s new book 12 Rules for Life, outlines in extreme detail how you can sort yourself out, and this was pretty much my exact reaction to the book’s release:
You can get 12 Rules for Life here.
Do this long enough, and you will start to…
Climb the dominance hierarchy
Dominance hierarchies have been around longer than trees, and the desire to climb a dominance hierarchy is part of our very biology—it’s not a social construct.
Peterson explains that the hero myths told throughout history are humankind’s attempt to layout the blueprint of how to get not to the top of one dominance hierarchy, but the set of all possible dominance hierarchies.
By cleaning up your room, and by starting to see the place in which you dwell as worth taking care of, you become more competent. You will competently carry more responsibility, and others will treat and accept you as someone who has their act together. You will naturally begin to climb to the top.
But to be a true hero and a force for good in the world, you cannot simply “be harmless and nice.” If you think you are harmless, you are likely deluding yourself. And if you are “harmless” in the sense of never being assertive or confrontational, you’re likely weak and ineffective. To be truly good, you must:
Recognize your capacity for evil
And keep it in check. You must realize that you have an inner monster and that you should not allow those around you, especially your children, to bring that side out of you. It’s the recognition that you have the potential for evil that makes you take ultimate responsibility for your behavior.
One of the exercises Peterson tells his students to perform is to imagine themselves as a Nazi guard in World War II, and how it’s extremely likely they would have done the same terrible things, considering millions of ordinary German people, many of them Christians, joined the Nazi party at that time.
Below you can watch highly-edited video clip of Peterson talking about his own inner-monster. It really cracked me up:
You can see the full non-edited video of Peterson talking about the shadow side here, along with his analysis of the Channel 4 Cathy Newman interview.
At the time of writing it’s had almost 6 million views, and is easily the best Jordan Peterson interview of all time.
If you haven’t seen it yet, the whole interview, sadly, can be summed up by the following meme.
Cathy Newman wanted to fight and dominate Peterson. She tried putting words in his mouth, interrupting him, and straw-manning him, but to no avail. Peterson’s mastery of language was too much for her.
The crowning Jedi-mindtrick moment came when Newman asked him why his right for free of speech trumped someone else’s right not to be offended, a ridiculous question for any journalist to ask.
Here is a dramatized version of the events that followed:
And here’s Jordan Peterson riding a lobster in victory.
Why does Peterson love lobsters so much? Because they have been around a third of a billion years, and they run on the neurochemical serotonin, just like us. Even human anti-depressants work on lobsters. Peterson uses the example of lobsters to show why the dominance hierarchy (mentioned earlier) is so fundamental to our human nature.
Peterson is no stranger to debates, and one classic rivalry that emerged in recent months is that between him and Sam Harris. A friendly rivalry, to be clear. Both men have much they agree on, but they clashed in an epic battle about What is True on Harris’ podcast.
A Peterson fan was quick to memeify this encounter:
Virgin Harris vs. Chad Peterson
I’m a huge fan of both of these guys, but this may be my favorite Jordan Peterson meme. I lolled hard at “confronts dragons in his spare time” and “hasn’t cleaned his room in years.”
Those are just a few of my favorite Jordan Peterson memes (hundreds more here).
But this should only serve as a teaser for what lies ahead.
Unless you’re fully sorted, roughly speaking, your mission is only just about to begin.
“Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being.”
— Dr. Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
More Jordan Peterson Resources:
I have actually done the “past” Self Authoring program and I’m currently working on the “future” program. I can honestly say that the program has already changed my life and been one of the most healing and meaningful experiences I’ve had. After writing a 35,000-word biography, I see my past in a completely different way, am less neurotic and nihilistic, more motivated, and all around a stronger force in this world.
Jordan Peterson’s new book: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Jordan Peterson’s Youtube Channel
Jordan Peterson’s Patreon
More HighExistence articles on Jordan Peterson:
Jon Brooks is a Stoicism teacher and, crucially, practitioner. His Stoic meditations have accumulated thousands of listens, and he has created his own Stoic training program for modern-day Stoics.