Book: 12 Rules for Life. #12 – Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

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

Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

The author describes the virtue in taking stock.

  • The main problem is that suffering and loss are core elements of our everyday lives.
  • The consequence is that we focus on limitations; resulting in anxiety, sadness, despair.
  • The way forward is to take stock and build a sense of resilience and gratitude .

On Suffering

  • “The idea that life is suffering is a tenet, in one form or another, of every major religious doctrine.”
  • “Such reasoning universally characterizes the great creeds, because human beings are intrinsically fragile.”
  • “We can be damaged, even broken, emotionally and physically, and we are all subject to the depredations of aging and loss.”

On Limitations of Being

  • “Existence and limitation are inextricably linked.”
  • “Being requires Becoming. And to become is to become something more, or at least something different.”
  • “That is only possible for something limited.”

“When existence reveals itself as existentially intolerable, thinking collapses in on itself. In such situations—in the depths—it’s noticing, not thinking, that does the trick. Perhaps you might start by noticing this: when you love someone, it’s not despite their limitations. It’s because of their limitations.”

How to Manage Hardship

(1) Organize Reflection.

Set aside some time to talk and to think about the illness or other crisis and how it should be managed every day. Do not talk or think about it otherwise. If you do not limit its effect, you will become exhausted, and everything will spiral into the ground. This is not helpful. Conserve your strength. You’re in a war, not a battle, and a war is composed of many battles. You must stay functional through all of them. When worries associated with the crisis arise at other times, remind yourself that you will think them through, during the scheduled period.

(2) Shift Horizons.

“Shift the unit of time you use to frame your life. When the sun is shining, and times are good, and the crops are bountiful, you can make your plans for the next month, and the next year, and the next five years. You can even dream a decade ahead.”

(3) Aim High. Act Grounded.

“Aim high. Wish upon a star, and then act properly, in accordance with that aim. Once you are aligned with the heavens, you can concentrate on the day. Be careful. Put the things you can control in order. Repair what is in disorder, and make what is already good better.”

A Final Thought

Appreciate the Little Things.

“And maybe when you are going for a walk and your head is spinning a cat will show up and if you pay attention to it then you will get a reminder for just fifteen seconds that the wonder of Being might make up for the ineradicable suffering that accompanies it. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street..”

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!


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