Jordan Peterson – Take Control Of Your Life (#307) | Modern Wisdom with Chris Williamson

Check out The Modern Wisdom Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • If Jordan Peterson could add a rule to his original list of 42 it would be: “set aside some time for play” 
  • Seek sustainable improvement
    • If you push yourself too hard you destroy the sustainability across time
    • “You can’t push yourself any further than you’re capable of going in the long run” Jordan Peterson
  • “Unless you take time away from the urgent, you never get on to the important tasks” Chris Williamson
  • It is critical to ask yourself what you want
    • Your conscience will torment if you don’t move towards your ideals, even if they are implicit
  • Instead of punishing yourself for your distance from your ideal, you reward yourself for incremental moving forward
  • “Do not make the assumption that inaction has no price” Jordan Peterson
    • Taking action now is scary and difficult
    • Inaction may seem easy right now
      • If you think about the long-term consequences of inaction, it may be much more frightening

Key Books Mentioned

Intro

  • Jordan B. Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) is a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto
    • Check out Dr. Peterson’s website
    • Check out these notes from Dr. Peterson’s appearance on the Tim Ferriss Show
  • Host: Chris Williamson (@Chriswillx)
  • In this chat, Jordan talks about balancing self-improvement with play, the importance of properly rewarding yourself, shares some more rules for life, and much more

Over-optimization, Play, and Sustainable Improvement

  • In self-improvement, there’s a risk of over-optimization
    • “If we are unduly absorbed in improving our lives we may forget altogether to live them” Alan Watts
  • Social life and play provide us a way to snap out from the over-optimizing mindset
    • Rekindling our capacity to play allows us to enjoy the moments where we are not being “productive”
    • If Jordan could add a rule to his original list of 42 it would be: “set aside some time for play” 
  • The value of play
    • In rat experiments, playing increased frontal lobe development
      • They have to play a lot to develop properly
    • The ability to play socially leads to social integration
      • A good conversation is a form of play
    • A playful mood is a sign that things are going right
      • Play is easily inhibited by other motivational states
  • We don’t need to learn how to play, but to remember it
    • “Play is so deeply embedded in human beings it’s one of our primary modes of cognition and adaptation” Jordan Peterson
  • It is difficult to find the right balance between play and productivity
    • To do this Jordan includes family time, dancing, and going on walks in his day
  • Seek sustainable improvement
    • If you push yourself too hard you destroy the sustainability across time
      • “You can’t push yourself any further than you’re capable of going in the long run” Jordan Peterson
    • You also have to push yourself over your limits to know what they are

The Pain of Unreached Potential

  • Every ideal of who you can become is a judge
    • Instantly you’re in an inferior position compared to that ideal
      • That can be painful
  • Not having ideals deprives you of the powerful pleasure of moving towards a goal
  • You need to have an ideal but re-arrange your reward philosophy
    • Instead of punishing yourself for your distance from your ideal, you reward yourself for incremental moving forward
    • “Incremental improvement, repeated is virtually unstoppable” Jordan Peterson
      • Incremental improvements compounds, especially the ones you repeat every day
  • Some people have a hard time rewarding themselves for small successes
    • It makes them feel pathetic and they punish themselves for it
    • It’s ok to admit one’s patheticness and reward yourself for small improvements

You are Only Competing with Yourself

  • On social media, we see the highlights of other people’s lives but never see their struggles
    • We continuously see our struggles and failures
  • You are your only comparison group
    • Your life  is so peculiar that it’s impossible to compare yourself to someone under all dimensions of life
  • We tend to compare ourselves to others under one only dimension
    • “You don’t know what burdens the people you are jealous of are carrying”  Jordan Peterson
      • You may envy someone rich, but you don’t see that by working too much they destroyed all their relationships
    • “You don’t know the price you need to pay to be the person that you admire” Chris Williamson

Is Self-Consciousness a Blessing or a Curse?

  • Self-consciousness is both a blessing and a curse
  • As an experience, self-consciousness is associated with negative emotions
    • Highly self-conscious people often experience embarrassment and anxiety
  • At the same time, self-consciousness is highly informative about your inadequacies
    • You should focus on removing the inadequacy, not the self-consciousness
    • It reminds you to not act in counterproductive or anti-social ways
  • Too much self-consciousness can get out of hand
    • People have a constant voice in their head pointing out their inadequacies
      • In therapy, over time, Jordan helps people formulate counter-arguments to the inner critic’s voice
    • This voice can be seen as the average criticism you expect from other people, but also the voice of your ideals
      • As you develop, this voice becomes more effective at speaking directly to you

Taking Time for The Important, Knowing What You Truly Want

  • Self-consciousness allows us to step back from our thinking patterns and contemplate the direction of our life
    • “Unless you take time away from the urgent, you never get on to the important tasks” Chris Williamson
    • Simply satisfying your present moment impulses and craving won’t lead to a life well-lived
  • Jordan developed a Self-authoring program to help people think about their lives
    • Past authoring you write about your history
      • You think you know who you are but you don’t because you’re complicated
    • Present authoring helps you assess your virtues and faults
    • Future authoring makes you think about what you truly want
  • It is critical to ask yourself what you want
    • Your conscience will torment if you don’t move towards your ideals, even if they are implicit
      • If you don’t know what’s your implicit ideal, you’re at its mercy
    • “Everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is. And you should know what your myth is because it might be a tragedy and maybe you don’t want it to be” Carl Jung
    • Even when people say they want to be happy, they don’t really know what that means
      • If you deconstruct it, most people just want to avoid suffering
  • Questioning your assumptions is very disquieting
    • For example, asking yourself whether you are in the right relationship, immediately puts into question all the time dedicated to it
    • The more fundamental the assumption you’re questioning, the more uncertainty it will release
    • Yet, not questioning them may only postpone the issue and make it worse

More Rules for Life

  • Set aside some time for play
  • Do not practice what you don’t want to become
  • Do not punish what you want to have to happen
    • For example, if you get married to someone very attractive, you may find it threatening that others find your partner attractive
      • You may end up attacking your partner for manifesting their attractiveness
    • When you punish someone for manifesting a desirable virtue it truly hurts them
      • We might do this because of envy

Finding The Courage to Grow

  • Self-improvement can be scary if people around you don’t want to grow
    • It makes you fear you will lose your friends if you change
    • Chris discussed a similar question in the podcast with John Vervaeke (check out the notes from that episode)
  • You should think about the consequences of not improving
  • “Do not make the assumption that inaction has no price” Jordan Peterson
    • Taking action now is scary and difficult
    • Inaction may seem easy right now
      • If you think about the long-term consequences of inaction, it may be much more frightening
  • The friends you lose are the ones who don’t want the best for you
    • Are those the friends you want in 10 years?
    • Can you find new friends?
    • Is it possible that your friends will be inspired by you and mirror your improvement?

The Media Revolution

  • Legacy media is done
    • The big magazines, the newspapers, the TV stations used to have a monopoly on information flow
    • “(They) are so dead to people under 30 that it’s as if their death isn’t even noticed” Jordan Peterson
  • New media forms have so much potential
    • We all have immediate access to high-quality conversations among elite researchers and thinkers
    • In legacy media every interview is scripted
      • You’re never talking to a person, you’re talking to a corporation
  • With podcasts, you can risk exploration of new topics, engage in dialectical thinking, and make the conversation available to millions of people
    • Then you can split the conversation into clips and share it on different channels
      • “It’s as if you can write a book and sell it by the sentence” Jordan Peterson
  • Podcasts also provide a huge potential for politicians to speak directly to constituents in nuanced ways
    • They can also be seen as a genuineness test, as long-form interviews can’t be scripted

Additional Notes

  • A recent Captain America Comic depicted the Nazi villain Red Skull, in close association to Jordan’s ideas (chaos and order, rules for life)
    • People are spreading memes and videos showing the absurdity of the comparison
    • In response, Jordan is marketing a t-shirt with the “Hail Lobster” logo (a variant of Hail Hydra) and donating all the proceeds to charity
  • There is the idea that the hierarchical structures of society are based on power
    • Actually, we see that as children become socialized their tendency to aggression decreases
    • Tyranny and oppression are ineffective strategies in our society
      • “They are only employed by people who don’t have the sophistication to do things in a better way” Jordan Peterson
  • Remind yourself of the shortness of life to add a sense of urgency
    • In the past, Jordan calculated he’d get to see his dad more or less 40 more times
      • That gave him a strong sense of urgency
    • You don’t have that many experiments to run
  • Attention is an underrated quality
    • It is about seeing what’s in front of your eyes and guiding your actions based on it
    • Paying attention to your emotions can be surprisingly informative if you unpack them
Modern Wisdom : , ,
Notes By Giorgio Parlato

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