To be honest, I’m struggling for words right now. This may be the most important post I ever make, and I’m struggling with how to present it. No post, no article, no video, and no platform can contain the wisdom of ages. It simply can’t be done, because wisdom has to be felt.
Wisdom is born through the furnace of life, strengthened through the bellows of experience, and shaped through the anvil of suffering. It matters not how hard I try—words cannot convey experience, and they cannot convey wisdom. Words are an abstraction of the real thing.
Yet still, I try—I pour my heart, my soul, and my LIFE into these posts, hoping that they will touch someone’s heart, somewhere in the world. I do not lie when I say that very few people have changed my life in the same way that Jordan B. Peterson has.
While he’s only a man, and I am only a writer, I hope that this 12-part series of posts can change someone’s life in the same way that mine was changed. I will try my best to portray Dr. Peterson’s ideas in their purest, most true form. Let’s go.
About a year and a half ago, I stumbled upon a podcast by Joe Rogan that would forever change my life. I’ve been a long time fan of the podcast, and have enjoyed listening to characters such as Steve-O, Neil deGgrasse Tyson, and Mel Gibson on his podcast. I wasn’t prepared for what was to come, though.
I was falling down the YouTube rabbit hole one day, when I clicked on a link to the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast #877. While I didn’t expect the podcast to be much different from the rest, I was immediately transfixed after just a short few minutes of listening to Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s story.
I’m not going to spoil the podcast for you. That is not the purpose of this article, nor is it the purpose of this entire 12-part series of articles. My aim here is to dissect Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s most recent publication, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
The entire book is comprised of 12 separate rules, which are meant to strengthen the individual, and help him to live an ideal life. As I said, I will try to do my best in relaying the wisdom from this book onto this page, yet even so I urge you to read the book for yourself.
The First Rule
“Stand up straight with your shoulders back.” -Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? I remember skimming through the book and being somewhat disappointed at how obvious some of these rules seemed, but as I continued to read on, I was impressed at Dr. Peterson’s insight and holistic wisdom.
We come from a long line of ancestors—and no, I’m not just referring to our sapiens lineage. I’m referring back even farther, to the very beginning of life. Whether you realize it or not, we are the product of nearly 4 billion years of evolution, although you might not always realize this due to how many of us act.
One of the older subphylum we’re related to is that of the crustacean, or more precisely, the lobster. Territory is scarce and mates are scarcer in the world of the lobster, so being the biggest, baddest lobster on the block is important to securing a future for your genetics.
It goes deeper than this, however. Studies have shown us that homo sapiens sapiens (that’s us) and homarus gammarus (that’s the lobsters) share a very similar reward circuitry in our brain. This reward system, based off of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters, is nearly 400 million years old.
So what does this mean for us? What is the whole point of this chapter? Is it merely to stand up straight with your shoulders back, as Dr. Jordan B. Peterson says? Oh, quite the contrary. The whole lesson behind this chapter is to acknowledge and accept that your body and mind are inextricably linked, and have been for millions of years.
“There is an unspeakably primordial calculator, deep within you, at the very foundation of your brain, far below your thoughts and feelings. It monitors exactly where you are positioned in society—on a scale of one to ten, for the sake of argument. If you’re a number one, the highest level of success, you’re an overwhelming success.” -Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Like lobsters, human beings exist in a dominance hierarchy. It’s not just us, though—nearly every other animal on planet earth exists in some form of dominance hierarchy. The only difference is that as we evolve and become more complex, the basis of what constitutes “dominance” changes.
For lobsters and other primitive animals, dominance is based entirely off of one thing: strength. It’s the biggest, baddest lobster on the ocean floor that reigns supreme. He gets all of the women, he gets all of the territory, he gets all of the food, and he gets to pass his precious genetic code onto the next generation.
Human beings are no different—only our dominance hierarchies aren’t based off of strength, but rather a number of things:
While the biggest, baddest human may be outclassed by a millionaire neurosurgeon, one thing remains the same: those at the top of the dominance hierarchy flourish, while those at the bottom of the hierarchy perish. You see this phenomena all across nature, and humans are no exception.
The top 1% of humans, the “Chads,” the actors, the celebrities, the millionaires, and the highly confident, all have access to the majority of resources. The top 1% of humans have 99% of the money, are sleeping with 99% of the women, and have 99% of the resources. This is the Pareto Distribution.
Alpha vs. Beta
“The female lobsters (who also fight hard for territory during the explicitly maternal stages of their existence) identify the top guy quickly, and become irresistibly attracted to him. This is a brilliant strategy in my estimation. It’s also one used by females of many different species, including human.” -Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
There’s a reason why Rule #1 for life is so based in biology. As you progress through your life, you will be confronted with a series of obstacles—some are confronted by more than others. As you either successfully overcome, or unsuccessfully succumb to these obstacles, your internal biology changes.
Alpha males, in not just homo sapiens, but in all animals, literally have different biology than beta males. For example, the higher up you climb on the dominance hierarchy, the more serotonin you have. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter linked to all sorts of mental benefits, such as happiness, confidence, and willingness to overcome obstacles.
Beta males on the other hand, have lower levels of serotonin and higher levels of cortisol. They’re constantly in a “fight or flight” mode, stressing about everything, and their physiology shows it. They tend to hunch over, don’t walk as confidently as their alpha male counterparts, and other lobsters can pick up on it.
In other words, you cannot escape the dominance hierarchy—it is built into our very BEING and affects us in ways we cannot even comprehend. The whole point of Rule #1 is to acknowledge this, and proceed accordingly. Take care of your biology, and it will take care of you.
Fully accept your place in the dominance hierarchy, and proactively strive to move forward. This is the phenomenal things about human beings—it doesn’t matter if you’re the strongest, biggest man out there, because our dominance hierarchy isn’t based just off of physical strength.
“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended.” -Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Many men experience a form of withdrawal when they’re ripped from the comforting “world of the mother.” They realize that the world is oftentimes very cruel, and like it or not, life isn’t always fair. Biology is ruthless, and those at the top of the dominance hierarchy are often wildly successful, while those at the bottom are in very bad shape.
After realizing this uncomfortable truth, many men experience the “5 Stages of Swallowing the Red Pill,” which constitute denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. To “stand up straight with your shoulders back” is to finally accept the red pill, and embrace it.
It is only through struggle that you can rise to the top of the dominance hierarchy, and you cannot do so with your shoulders slouched over. To stand up tall and straight, with your chest out, is to face the world head on—it is as if to say “I’m ready for whatever you can throw at me, Universe.”
There’s a reason why the dominant lobsters strut around with their chests out: a lifetime of experience has only confirmed their dominance, and their neurochemistry and biology have adapted to show it. The same can be said of humans, however there’s a trick that many aren’t aware of.
While your mindset often affects your physical posture (alpha males stand up straight, beta males slouch over), the reverse is also true. By standing up straight, you can effectively “hack” your neurochemistry into creating more serotonin and lowering cortisol levels, which has a host of health and success benefits.
How to Live Rule #1
There’s a reason why out of all the “12 Rules for Life,” the first is based in biology. Your biology literally bleeds out into every other aspect of your life—it impacts your happiness, your sense of well being, your friendships, your family, your reproductive success, and your access to resources.
So what can you do, if you want to adhere to Jordan B. Peterson’s first rule for life? First, accept that dominance hierarchies exist all across the animal kingdom, and humans are no different. Second, accept that your biology plays a huge role in your personal level of success.
Third, take action and begin to claim your rightful place at the top of the dominance hierarchy:
Attend to your posture, and consciously improve it. Stand up straight with your shoulders back!
Watch your diet. Eat mainly complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a high amount of protein.
Start working out, if you don’t already. I recommend my Body of an Alpharoutine.
Meditate to calm your mind, and lower cortisol levels.
Create a morning routine and attend to your circadian rhythm.
All in all, you cannot attain the heights of success if your biology is broken. This is why I’m so adamant that men lift weights and eat a healthy diet—without a strong physical foundation for success, you cannot achieve success in any other area of life.
I genuinely hope that you guys enjoyed the article. I also recommend that you take a look at Dr. Peterson’s book for yourself, as he’s far more eloquent at explaining these concepts than I could ever be. Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section down below, as well.