Book: 12 Rules for Life. #3 – Make friends with people who want the best for you

The Goal of This Post

This post is a synthesis from the book 12 Rules for Life, by Jordan Peterson.
The author shares a series of powerful guidelines, virtues and rules to help take control and responsibility for your life.

If You Only Takeway One Thing

“The foremost rule is that you must take responsibility for your own life. Period.” – Jordan Peterson

Post Outline

The main ideas we’ll explore in this post:

  1. The Impact of Low Self-Esteem
  2. Heroic Pitfalls
  3. The Way Forward
  4. A Word of Caution

About this Rule

Make friends with people who want the best for you.
The author describes the effect and more importantly the long term impact that the people we share with have on our beliefs, values, and behaviors over time. He does so in a comparative story sense, through examples of those who surrounded themselves with the enterprising and dedicated kind; as well as those that surrounded themselves with the unhealthy and disenfranchised kind.

The main idea is that we should be mindful of who we choose to share with, to surround ourselves with, to engage with; and ideally surround ourselves with people that embody the values and ideals we wish to live by.

I. The Impact of Low Self-Esteem

Misery Seeks Company
“Sometimes, when people have a low opinion of their own worth—or, perhaps, when they refuse responsibility for their lives—they choose a new acquaintance, of precisely the type who proved troublesome in the past. Such people don’t believe that they deserve any better—so they don’t go looking for it. Or, perhaps, they don’t want the trouble of better.”

“You’re associating with people who are bad for you not because it’s better for anyone, but because it’s easier. You know it. Your friends know it. You’re all bound by an implicit contract—one aimed at nihilism, and failure, and suffering of the stupidest sort. You’ve all decided to sacrifice the future to the present.”

II. Heroic Pitfalls

(1) Seeking Validation
“People choose friends who aren’t good for them for other reasons, too. Sometimes it’s because they want to rescue someone… People will often accept or even amplify their own suffering, as well as that of others, if they can brandish it as evidence of the world’s injustice.”

(2) Seeking Recognition
“Maybe you are saving someone because you’re a strong, generous, well-put-together person who wants to do the right thing. But it’s also possible—and, perhaps, more likely—that you just want to draw attention to your inexhaustible reserves of compassion and good-will.”

(3) Seeking Aggrandizement
“Or maybe you’re saving someone because you want to convince yourself that the strength of your character is more than just a side effect of your luck and birthplace. Or maybe it’s because it’s easier to look virtuous when standing alongside someone utterly irresponsible.”

III. The Way Forward

(1) Desire to Improve
“Carl Rogers, the famous humanistic psychologist, believed it was impossible to start a therapeutic relationship if the person seeking help did not want to improve. Rogers believed it was impossible to convince someone to change for the better. The desire to improve was, instead, the precondition for progress.”

(2) Desire to Select
“You should choose people who want things to be better, not worse. It’s a good thing, not a selfish thing, to choose people who are good for you. It’s appropriate and praiseworthy to associate with people whose lives would be improved if they saw your life improve.”

(3) Desire to Grow
“If you surround yourself with people who support your upward aim, they will not tolerate your cynicism and destructiveness. They will instead encourage you when you do good for yourself and others and punish you carefully when you do not. This will help bolster your resolve to do what you should do, in the most appropriate and careful manner.”

IV. A Word of Caution

Beware the Haters
“When you dare aspire upward, you reveal the inadequacy of the present and the promise of the future. Then you disturb others, in the depths of their souls, where they understand that their cynicism and immobility are unjustifiable.”


Taking Action

“Don’t think that it is easier to surround yourself with good healthy people than with bad unhealthy people. It’s not. A good, healthy person is an ideal. It requires strength and daring to stand up near such a person. Have some humility. Have some courage. Use your judgment, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity. Make friends with people who want the best for you.”


The book focuses on the virtues that empower an individual to take responsibility for themselves and live a more plentiful and happy life. All content credit goes to the author. I’ve shared the bits I’ve enjoyed the most and found most valuable.

Cheers ’till next time! Saludos!
Alberto

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s