Beyond Order Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Beyond Order is the follow-up to Jordan Peterson’s bestselling book 12 Rules for Life and identifies another 12 rules to live by that help us live with and even embrace the chaos that we struggle with every day, identifying that too much order can be a problem just as much as too much disorder.

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In 12 Rules for Life, clinical psychologist and Harvard professor Jordan B. Peterson taught millions how to bring order to the chaos of modern life. The book became an overnight best-seller and launched him into self-help stardom. 

But now, he believes bringing order is only half of the prescription that society needs. In Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life, Peterson fleshes out 12 more rules that can help you get through modern life. 

Drawing on his own unique experiences and scientific perspectives, he examines the problem that comes from too much order. Through his advice, he will help you strike the perfect balance to avoid the anxiety of chaos and the paralysis of order. 

Here are the 3 of the most helpful lessons this book taught me:

  1. Have an image of the person you want to be, then do everything in your power to become that person. 
  2. Find ways to incorporate beauty into your everyday life. 
  3. Try to express gratitude even when you are suffering. 

Ready for 12 more rules for life? I know I am. Let’s go!

Beyond Order Summary

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Lesson 1: Have a clear vision of who you want to become and then strive to be that person.

Before modern science, there was an ancient art known as alchemy. Alchemists believed they could turn materia prima, or the primal element, into anything, even gold.

As mystical as this all sounds, there is a lesson here. Peterson believes that our lives are like a materia prima. There are so many possibilities for what you can become. With a vision and dedicated action, you can form yourself into whatever you desire. 

As humans, our conscious thought allows us to each pave novel paths for ourselves. We adapt and innovate using our own creativity and create unique ways of living life. 

Creating a new life isn’t always an easy thing to do. Making something new requires that we push through adversity, danger, and chaos. 

The first step is to find a vision that compels you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to accomplish or create something, or maybe you’ve always had a scientific question you’ve wanted answers to. 

Next, confront the fears and chaotic psychological forces that hold you back. It’s natural to be afraid of failure or have trouble with self-control that holds you back. But if you stay focused on your vision, over time, you can learn to master these challenges and become the hero of your own story.

Lesson 2: Make room for beauty in your life, even if it’s on a small scale.

At the University of Toronto, where Peterson was a young professor, he found the faculty offices depressing. He decided that if he was going to spend so much time here, he was going to give the place a makeover. 

After proposing to install wood paneling and getting shot down, he had to change plans. He compromised by painting the walls and hanging vibrantly colored art.  

Soon, the office was inviting and warm, and even the administration took notice of his beautiful aesthetic expression. The risk of change paid off and made him feel happier to be there. 

In 12 Rules for Life, Peterson emphasized the importance of keeping a clean bedroom. In a way, an organized bedroom is the first step toward an organized life. But then Peterson realized, when you focus just on order in a space, you can forget about something almost equally important: beauty. 

Art and other aesthetic designs are a fundamental part of our culture. Art can convey powerful ideas and feelings. It can speak to us in ways nothing else can, even if we aren’t trained in art. 

Often, as we age, we lose touch with the idea of beauty. You start to forget to notice the wonders around you. Peterson noticed that when he took his young children for walks, they were so easily entranced with simple things around the neighborhood. Appreciating beauty around us is a way to rekindle the vivacity of being young. 

It is more than just a decorative pleasure. Viewing compelling works of aesthetic designs can help us see the world in novel ways. This is why it’s important to always find new types of beauty to surround ourselves with.

Lesson 3: Find ways to be grateful even when life is especially difficult.

Every single one of us is going to go through hard things. We’ll experience loss, misfortune, and misery of all kinds. But the truth of life is that good and bad can only exist in balance. We can only know happiness because we’ve seen misery.

Psychologists who have examined suffering have found that people find ways to overcome it in different ways. Sometimes we might find practical ways to alleviate it, like changing our circumstances or behavior. 

But when we can’t avoid it, there are ways to psychologically transcend suffering. A person can do this by drawing on inner strength or looking toward a higher calling to get through tough times. People who work in palliative care see both of these approaches when they care for people who confront death on a daily basis. 

There are times when suffering brings us to despair, but it’s important to remember that the misery in existence also allows for the pleasures, happiness, and joy of life. A bad breakup is only painful because the relationship was a source of love and companionship. It is so hard to lose someone we love because they provided kindness, love, and support.  

Peterson teaches that in the moments when we experience suffering, it’s wise to remember why we feel this way. Try to be grateful for the perspective and insight that hard things can bring into our lives. This will allow you to become better at appreciating the good things in life and work on bringing more of these good things to yourself and those around you.

Beyond Order Review

Peterson knows his stuff, and Beyond Order has definitely inspired me. I learned a lot and would recommend it to anyone who likes self-help books.

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Who would I recommend the Beyond Order summary to?

The 35-year-old who is trying to get his life together, the 49-year-old who wants some solid advice on what direction to go next, and anyone who wants some reassurance that everything will be okay even if the world is a little bit crazy sometimes.

Last Updated on November 27, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.