12 Rules for Life: Discussion Questions for Book Club

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Are you looking for book club or discussion questions about Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life? How can you apply the book’s lessons to your own life?

In 12 Rules for Life, Peterson argues that there is a right and wrong way to conduct your life. In contrast, he rejects the ambiguity of moral relativism, the idea that good and evil are subjective opinions and that every belief has its own truth.

Here are some 12 Rules for Life discussion questions to ponder after reading the book.

Have a Discussion

Author Jordan Peterson argues that modern secularism and reliance on science have left a void in answers to important existential questions: What is the point of living? Why do bad things happen to good people? What am I supposed to do to make myself happier? 12 Rules for Life addresses these questions and gives a set of life principles to live by. Learn why you should stop telling lies to others and yourself, why you should stop doing things you know are bad for you, and how to pursue what is truly meaningful for you.

Here is a selection of 12 Rules for Life discussion questions to consider.

Discussion 1: Take Care of Yourself

Believe that you are worth helping. You have a vital mission in this world, and you are obligated to take care of yourself for the sake of others.

  • Some people don’t care for themselves because they feel self-loathing – they feel they’re not worth helping. Do you feel this on any level? Describe why, and give an example of how you don’t care for yourself.
  • If your friend were in the same situation, how would you take care of that friend? Does it make sense for you to treat yourself the same way?
  • What are some other ways you should take care of yourself, because you have a vital mission in this world?

Discussion 2: Have Friends Who Want You to Succeed

Surround yourself with people who support you and want to see you succeed. 

  • Do you have a person you spend a lot of time with, who you feel is dragging you down, doesn’t support your personal growth, and whose goals don’t align well with yours? Describe your relationship, and how you feel around this person.
  • Why do you believe you still spend time with this person? Think deeply.
  • Is it a good idea to move on from this relationship? If so, how would you take steps to distance yourself?

Discussion 3: Judge Yourself in a New Way, Part 1

Instead of judging yourself by other people’s standards, redefine your goals to find a new way to measure yourself.

  • What is the “one” most important thing that you typically obsess over and want to achieve? The thing that makes you miserable because you don’t have it. Describe your desire.
  • Besides that, your existence is multi-dimensional. What are all the other things important to you that you should measure yourself by?
  • Picture someone you envy who has that “one” thing you really want from the first question. Does that person also succeed on all the other dimensions you listed in the second question? If not, what does this mean about how you should perceive that person?

Discussion 4: Judge Yourself in a New Way, Part 2

Finish redefining your goals to find a new way to measure yourself.

  • There’s something you don’t have that is driving much of your discontent. You think if only you got this, you’d be happy. What is it?
  • Why do you want it? Think deeply, and list all the major reasons that come to mind. Also, keep asking yourself “why?” until you can’t answer anymore.
  • Take the few reasons that are most important to you. Is there a way to redefine your goal to best fit your most important reasons? The goal might be quite different from your original.
  • Break down your big goal into something tractable you can do today. What’s one thing in your life you can fix, right now, in pursuit of this?

Discussion 5: Do Everything Within Your Ability

Before blaming the universe for your misfortunes, first consider what you can do about it.

  • Have you recently blamed the universe or other people for a misfortune? What was the misfortune, and why did you blame others for it?
  • Think instead – did you do everything within your power to improve your situation? What personal responsibility did you have in your misfortune?
  • Looking into the future, how can you take full advantage of every opportunity available to you?

Discussion 6: Tell Your Truth

Learn to stop lying to yourself and others. Develop a personal truth to live by.

  • When recently have you felt you told a lie, to others or to yourself? Describe what happened. How did that make you feel? (Remember: this might not be literally telling a lie in conversation, but more generally telling a lie means acting in a way that contradicts your beliefs.)
  • For this example, develop your personal truth. What is the rule you want to live by? Acting by this truth should make you feel strong.
  • The next time you run into the situation above, how will you act differently? 

Discussion 7: Define Your Problem Specifically

Give your problem a specific form, and it becomes easier to deal with.

  • What is a vague problem you have that you’ve been avoiding? Describe it and how you feel about it.
  • Confront the problem and acknowledge it exists. Think specifically about what the problem is. Define it exactly. Ask yourself: why do you feel this way? Keep asking why until you can’t answer any more. Write down each new thought you have.
  • Now that you’ve defined the problem with more clarity, what can you do about it? 

Discussion 8: What Should You Do Now?

Reflect on what you learned from 12 Rules for Life.

  • What is your biggest takeaway from 12 Rules for Life?
  • What’s your commitment to taking personal responsibility, and making your life a little better?
12 Rules for Life: Discussion Questions for Book Club

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of "12 Rules for Life" at Shortform . Learn the book's critical concepts in 20 minutes or less .

Here's what you'll find in our full 12 Rules for Life summary :

  • Why standing up straight will make people treat you differently
  • How to find meaning in your life and work
  • Why you're lying to yourself without realizing it

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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