This is an amazing book. An amazing book that I’m going to have to revisit many times. Because it is dense. But if you’ve ever had an existential crisis, which hopefully everyone has, you will gain something from this book. Peterson explains each of his 12 rules for life humbly and thoroughly. It’s an enjoyable contemplative read.
When I say the book is dense, I’m not lying. Each rule has an explanation involving clinical physiology, personal anecdotes, literary classics, and of course the Bible. But while it is dense. It is not complicated. Throughout the book, you’ll be nodding along in agreement as Peterson explains with ample evidence things you’ve always felt to be true.
Perhaps the best part of this book is that it is a defense against what feels like ever encroaching nihilism. Millennials of which I am one are a nihilistic generation. I have no figures, but if you do a google you see a lot of articles like this one. Coupled with the rise of New Athiesm and Millennials are a generation without much to live for.
This is where 12 Rules to Life shines. Peterson says, “well at least that’s something” maybe a hundred times, if not more. Throughout the book he gives the reader a reason for living. A reason for improving. He fully admits that life is hard. Life and it’s existential questions are damning. Yet every rule encourages the reader to fight it. And to appreciate what is good.
In many ways, there are echoes of Chesterton’s encouragement of childlike wonder, and finding it in the world. Yet this childlike wonder is often juxtaposed against a tragedy, usually Columbine. In this way, the book not only gives optimism but grounds the need for optimism in the very real world we all live in.