Jordan Peterson

Always place your becoming above your current being.

    440px jordan peterson june 2018

    Action

    It’s easier to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today, and drown the upcoming months and years in today’s cheap pleasures. As the infamous father of the Simpson clan puts it, immediately prior to downing a jar of mayonnaise and vodka, “That’s a problem for Future Homer. Man, I don’t envy that guy!”

    Ambition

    The better ambitions have to do with the development of character and ability, rather than status and power. Status you can lose. You carry character with you wherever you go, and it allows you to prevail against adversity.

    Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being. 

    As the great nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how."

    Being

    Always place your becoming above your current being.

    You are by no means only what you already know. You are also all that which you could know, if you only would. 

    Thus, you should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are. You should never give up the better that resides within for the security you already have—and certainly not when you have already caught a glimpse, an undeniable glimpse, of something beyond.

    You should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are.

    Direction

    Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities.

    Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being. 

    As the great nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.

    Our eyes are always pointing at things we are interested in approaching, or investigating, or looking for, or having. We must see, but to see, we must aim, so we are always aiming. 

    Our minds are built on the hunting-and-gathering platforms of our bodies. To hunt is to specify a target, track it, and throw at it. To gather is to specify and to grasp. 

    We fling stones, and spears, and boomerangs. We toss balls through hoops, and hit pucks into nets, and curl carved granite rocks down the ice onto horizontal bull’s-eyes. We launch projectiles at targets with bows, guns, rifles and rockets. We hurl insults, launch plans, and pitch ideas. 

    We succeed when we score a goal or hit a target. We fail, or sin, when we do not (as the word sin means to miss the mark). 

    We cannot navigate, without something to aim at and, while we are in this world, we must always navigate.

    Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities.

    Balance

    To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure. 

    When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t notice—it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos.

    Beliefs

    You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act. You simply don’t know what you believe, before that. You are too complex to understand yourself.

    Death

    It is necessary to be strong in the face of death, because death is intrinsic to life. It is for this reason that I tell my students: aim to be the person at your father’s funeral that everyone, in their grief and misery, can rely on. There’s a worthy and noble ambition: strength in the face of adversity

    As the great nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.

    Existence

    The secret to your existence is right in front of you. It manifests itself as all those things you know you should do, but are avoiding.

    Freedom

    Alongside our wish to be free of rules, we all search for structure.

    Gratitude

    There’s some real utility in gratitude. It’s also good protection against the dangers of victimhood and resentment.

    Greatness

    But we can aim too high. Or too low. Or too chaotically. So we fail and live in disappointment, even when we appear to others to be living well.

    What shall I do when my enemy succeeds? Aim a little higher and be grateful for the lesson.

    Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

    There’s some real utility in gratitude. It’s also good protection against the dangers of victimhood and resentment.

    Learning

    Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging, because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t long tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while you are learning what you still need to know. 

    Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged. That is where there is something new to master and some way that you can be improved. That is where meaning is to be found.

    Every bit of learning is a little death. Every bit of new information challenges a previous conception, forcing it to dissolve into chaos before it can be reborn as something better. Sometimes such deaths virtually destroy us.

    Experience is the best teacher, and the worst experiences teach the best lessons.

    Life

    The purpose of life, as far as I can tell… is to find a mode of being that’s so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant.

    You must determine where you are going in your life, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction. Random wandering will not move you forward. It will instead disappoint and frustrate you and make you anxious and unhappy and hard to get along with (and then resentful, and then vengeful, and then worse).

    And you must be cautious, because making your life better means adopting a lot of responsibility, and that takes more effort and care than living stupidly in pain and remaining arrogant, deceitful and resentful.

    Say what you mean, so that you can find out what you mean. Act out what you say, so you can find out what happens. Then pay attention. 

    Note your errors. Articulate them. Strive to correct them. That is how you discover the meaning of your life. 

    That will protect you from the tragedy of your life. How could it be otherwise? 

    Confront the chaos of Being. Take aim against a sea of troubles. Specify your destination, and chart your course. Admit to what you want. Tell those around you who you are. 

    Narrow, and gaze attentively, and move forward, forthrightly. Be precise in your speech.

    Happiness

    It's a luxury to pursue what makes you happy; it's a moral obligation to pursue what you find meaningful.

    Say what you mean, so that you can find out what you mean. Act out what you say, so you can find out what happens. Then pay attention. 

    Mind

    People organize their brains with conversation. If they don't have anyone to tell their story to, they lose their minds. Like hoarders, they cannot unclutter themselves.

    Past

    If you remember that something bad happened, and you can figure out why, then you can try to avoid that bad thing happening again. That’s the purpose of memory. It’s not “to remember the past.” It’s to stop the same damn thing from happening over and over.

    You remember the past not so that it is “accurately recorded,” to say it again, but so that you are prepared for the future.

    Resentment

    Consult your resentment. It’s a revelatory emotion, for all its pathology. It’s part of an evil triad: arrogance, deceit, and resentment. Nothing causes more harm than this underworld Trinity. 

    But resentment always means one of two things. Either the resentful person is immature, in which case he or she should shut up, quit whining, and get on with it, or there is tyranny afoot—in which case the person subjugated has a moral obligation to speak up. Why? Because the consequence of remaining silent is worse. 

    Of course, it’s easier in the moment to stay silent and avoid conflict. But in the long term, that’s deadly. When you have something to say, silence is a lie—and tyranny feeds on lies. 

    When should you push back against oppression, despite the danger? When you start nursing secret fantasies of revenge; when your life is being poisoned and your imagination fills with the wish to devour and destroy.

    Treat yourself like you would someone you're responsible for helping.

    Truth

    Nietzsche said that a man’s worth was determined by how much truth he could tolerate.

    If your life is not what it could be, try telling the truth. If you cling desperately to an ideology, or wallow in nihilism, try telling the truth. If you feel weak and rejected, and desperate, and confused, try telling the truth. 

    In Paradise, everyone speaks the truth. That is what makes it Paradise. Tell the truth. Or, at least, don’t lie.

    The strength of a person's spirit would then be measured by how much 'truth' he could tolerate, or more precisely, to what extent he needs to have it diluted, disguised, sweetened, muted, falsified. — Friedrich Nietzsche

    Wisdom

    Perhaps you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do.

    So, listen, to yourself and to those with whom you are speaking. Your wisdom then consists not of the knowledge you already have, but the continual search for knowledge, which is the highest form of wisdom.

    You must determine where you are going, so that you can bargain for yourself, so that you don’t end up resentful, vengeful and cruel. You have to articulate your own principles, so that you can defend yourself against others’ taking inappropriate advantage of you, and so that you are secure and safe while you work and play. You must discipline yourself carefully. You must keep the promises you make to yourself, and reward yourself, so that you can trust and motivate yourself. You need to determine how to act toward yourself so that you are most likely to become and to stay a good person. It would be good to make the world a better place.

    You are by no means only what you already know. You are also all that which you could know, if you only would. Thus, you should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are. You should never give up the better that resides within for the security you already have—and certainly not when you have already caught a glimpse, an undeniable glimpse, of something beyond.

    It is far better to render Beings in your care competent than to protect them.

    Question for parents: do you want to make your children safe, or strong?

    The fundamental moral question is not how to shelter children completely from misadventure and failure, so they never experience any fear or pain, but how to maximize their learning so that useful knowledge may be gained with minimal cost.

    Mark Twain once said, “It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.

    Perhaps you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do.

    World

    It is my firm belief that the best way to fix the world—a handyman’s dream, if ever there was one—is to fix yourself.

    Consciousness is a mystery that faces the mystery of potential and transforms it into actuality. We do that with every choice we make. Our choices determine the destiny of the world. By making a choice, you alter the structure of reality.

    If you want to find yourself, come out from hiding.

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