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Decoding Jordan Peterson Lesson 5: Four simple things
A constant refrain throughout Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is that life is full of evil and suffering, primarily because of the human capacity to inflict pain on others for selfish gains or an ideological agenda. A self-righteous ideological battle may result in the greatest human evil, because “The worst of all possible snakes is psychological, spiritual, personal, internal” (Peterson, 2018, p. 47). No one can go through life untouched by evil and suffering. The world is totally divided and polarized along racial, gender, ideological and political lines. From the corridor of political power, to the corporate board room the world seems to be controlled by the dark forces of money, power, greed, and corruption rather than compassion and justice. With such a dismal view of the world, one wonders if there is any hope for redemption, or any solution for the perennial problem of evil and suffering. In spite of everything that has gone wrong in this world, Peterson is able to provide an optimistic answer by challenging people to consider an alternative heavenly trajectory: “Now you’re on a whole different kind of trajectory…You make the necessary sacrifice, and allow a whole new world of possibility, hidden from you because of your previous ambition, to reveal itself” (Peterson, 2018, p. 100). In the first 8 chapters of his book, he lays down the foundation for personal responsibility of making personal sacrifices and pursuing the highest good as an effective antidote to the unbearable burden of Being. In the last 4 chapters, he outlines the simple things we all can do to alleviate unnecessary suffering and make the world a better place for self and others. At the first glance, there is nothing new about the 12 rules – they seem commonplace as they are based on the traditional Judeo-Christian values and a common-sense approach to being a decent human. However, Peterson is able to inject a new sense of depth and urgency to these simple rules through the lens of Jungian archetypes and mythical narratives and a compelling neo-Darwinian argument that Western civilization will collapse under the combined weight of nihilism and totalitarianism, unless we embrace the discipline of self-sacrifice and pursue the noble goal of alleviating human suffering and enhancing moral order and transcendental values in the world. We live in a consumer society of comforts and pleasures, and in an academic world where young people are coddled and protected from discomfort (e.g., ). Peterson’s blunt language strikes a very responsible chord among young people, especially the males, who are confused, lost, helpless and hopeless in a chaotic world that seems beyond their control. There is something very fresh and powerful in his direct and authentic voice, challenging them to stop wasting time, wandering without any direction and moral moorings, and turn away from their miserable path of resentment and self-destruction so that they can create a better future through discipline, sacrifice and faith in the highest good in life. In the last 4 chapters, the stern voice of a father figure has given way to the gentle voice of a wounded healer. Once again, Peterson reminds us that life is very hard and everyone is fighting a private battle. Therefore, let us learn to treat each other with more respect and compassion because we are all in the same boat in an ocean of suffering – let us listen clearly, speak precisely, respect each other’s dignity, and be kind to all sentient beings. Ironically, Peterson’s personal failings are most glaring in the social realm, underscoring just how difficult it is to live by these rules in social interactions. Let’s find out why these rules are important to bring a little bit of heaven to earth and how we can implement them.

Dr. Paul Wong's Residence

13 Ballyconnor Court, M2M 4C5 · North York, ON

    Past Meetups (77)

    What we're about

    This is not your typical Meetup group.

    It's not for those who only want to meet new people. It's for those interested in having more happiness and meaning in their lives.

    As the educational arm of the International Network on Personal Meaning (, our Meaningful Living Group offers series of Meetups based on topics related to meaning in different areas of our lives. Past series have touched on topics as diverse as a comprehensive course on Meaningful Living, a roundtable on spirituality, and discussions on Healthy Marriages. You can check out our previous Meetup materials here (

    All are welcome as we gather at the warm home of Drs. Paul and Lilian and delve deeper into different aspects of the good life (and yes, snacks are most definitely provided).

    Here's a little bit about our facilitators:

    Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C.Psych. is Professor Emeritus of Trent University and Adjunct Professor at Saybrook University. He is a Fellow of APA and CPA and President of the International Network on Personal Meaning ( and the Meaning-Centered Counselling Institute Inc ( Editor of the International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy (, he has also edited two influential volumes on The Human Quest for Meaning. A prolific writer, he is one of the most cited existential and positive psychologists. The originator of Meaning Therapy and International Meaning Conferences (, he has been invited to give keynotes and meaning therapy workshops worldwide. He is the recent recipient of the Carl Rogers Award from the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Div. 32 of the APA) and a member of a research group on Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life, which is funded by a major research grant from the John Templeton Foundation. (For more, visit )

    Lilian C. J. Wong, Ph.D. was Associate Professor and School Counselling Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Counselling Psychology at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC (2001-2006) and Associate Professor of Psychology at Tyndale University College, Toronto, ON (2006-2009). She served as Psycho-Educational Consultant, School Psychologist, and Area Counsellor for several school boards in Ontario and British Columbia (1973-2001). Internationally recognized for her research on multicultural competencies in clinical supervision, she is co-editor of the Handbook of Multicultural Perspectives on Stress and Coping (2006), The Positive Psychology of Meaning and Spirituality (2007/2012), A Brief Handbook on Meaning-Centered Counseling and Therapy (2010), and The Positive Psychology of Meaning and Addiction Recovery (2013). (For more, visit )

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