Jordan Peterson has helped me improve my life in the past couple of years, I have been watching his lectures religiously and read his book "12 Rules for Life" more than 3 times. The meaning of life is not the obtainment of rights but the search for responsibility. I went from a very bitter and frustrated man to a spiritual being whose purpose is to help people become their best version. These rules can help you improve your life in Japan and encourage you to pursue what is meaningful.
Rule #1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
In the first chapter of the book, Dr. Peterson talks about the importance of standing up straight with your shoulders back. He explains how lobsters regulate their serotonin levels (just like humans) based on their status in the hierarchy. Lobsters who have more serotonin are more confident, calm, and have more extensive access to resources and mates. On the other hand, lobsters who are low status are stressed, defensive, and bitter towards the successful lobsters. However, the lobster hierarchy system (like ours) is not static, lobsters move up and down in the "ladder of success." Like humans, lobsters can climb the ladder if they willingly face their fears and challenge the status quo.
Living in Japan for 4 years, I have seen countless people who are stuck in the bottom of the hierarchy and who, instead of taking responsibility and work on themselves, they become bitter and start blaming Japan, the government, Japanese people, racism, xenophobia, and other pity excuses. Instead of blaming outside forces that you cannot control, focus on the things you can change. Are you stuck doing a job you hate? Learn a trade or skill that you are passionate about. You feel bitter about the culture and people? Learn the language and start networking. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Rule #2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.
When working as a part-time English teacher to make ends meet, I had an Australian colleague, he was a kind and smart guy. He was very empathetic with the students and would kindly correct them if they made a mistake. Students loved him, he was one of the most popular teachers in the school. When I got to know him better, I noticed that he was full of insecurities and self-loathing. He would be kind and understanding when students made a mistake but extremely unforgivable when he made a mistake. This sort of mentality prevented him from trying new things such as learning Japanese and other business skills.
Dr. Peterson talks about how people are incredibly diligent and caring when taking care of their pets or friend. Still, they often forget to take care of themselves. It's important to see yourself as a friend who needs help. Once you start to allow yourself to make mistakes, you will quickly learn from them and build a better life.
Rule #3: Make friends with people who want the best for you.
Are your friends pushing your forward to achieve your dreams? Or are your friends always pulling you down? In Spanish, we have a saying that goes something like, "Tell me who you are with, and ill tell you who you are."
Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Go to networking events like NIGHTCRAWLERS or BLINKONNECT. Do you want to improve your Japanese skills? Make more Japanese friends who want to help foreigners. Our social circles are extremely important for our development as human beings. You might have terrific friends who are lazy and do not work hard to achieve their dreams, I used to have many people like this in my life. Even though it hurt me, I had to cut them and made a circle of friends who love entrepreneurship, self-development, and Japan.
Rule #4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
You can admire other people and learn from them , I personally have learned so much from various entrepreneurs and solopreneurs in Japan. However, do not ever compare yourself to them. People are too complex and different from each other to be comparable. If you do, you will become bitter, resentful, and insecure.
Comparing yourself with the person you were yesterday allows for better introspection and self-development. Maybe you started a YouTube channel, if you always compare yourself with PewDiePie, you will always be bitter. Maybe last month you had 5 subscribers, this month you have 15, next month 30 and so on. In my eyes, that constant growth of your channel means success.
Rule #5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
This chapter is very straight forward, if you have children, remember to always let them know that certain behaviors are unacceptable. If you do not tolerate wrong actions, society won't do it as well, and your child can end up being an outcast.
Rule #6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
Change does not come from the outside world, or by changing or tearing down systems, change comes from within, from your home. If your house is dirty, how can you criticize the city for being dirty? How can you criticize Japanese people for not speaking English when you don't even speak Japanese? How can you criticize the President of a country or the Prime Minister when you are not doing anything to improve society?
Change comes from within, first set your house in perfect order (set your life, business, relationships, and spirituality in order) before you criticize the world. The notion that we have to tear down a system to improve things or change other people's minds to adjust our ideologies is erroneous. Take personal responsibility for your life and be the change you want to see in the world.
An excellent way to set your house and mind in order is mediation, check out the 3 Benefits of Meditation.
Rule #7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).
What inspires you? What fires you up in the morning? The world is filled with meaningless distractions that bring nothing to our lives. Gossip, funny videos, fast food, porn, and other things might bring temporary satisfaction but will not improve your experience in this world.
Pursue what is meaningful in your life with courage and determination. Start that business you have always dreamed of, travel to the place you've always wanted to. Determine what is meaningful in your life and pursuit.
Rule #8: Tell the truth - or, at least, don't lie.
This chapter is very self-explanatory, the road to hell is paved by lies. Always be honest.
Rule #9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't.
Put your ego to the side and listen to people, everyone knows something that you don't.
Rule #10: Be precise in your speech.
In normal circumstances or in a heated argument, always be calm and clear in your speech. With your back straight and your shoulder back, look at the person in the eye and say what you have to say. If you know what you want, go, and get it.
Rule #11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
Pain is a terrible thing to experience but a fantastic teacher. When children skateboard and fall, let them be, pain teaches them to take a different angle, try multiple approaches, and become successful. Do not protect yourself or your loved ones from pain, for it is the best teacher.
Rule #12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.
Enjoy the little things that Japan has like its cafes, food, and temples. If you feel burned out, return to what captivated you about Japan in the first place. Say hello to the lonely old man in the park, help someone who dropped their groceries on the floor and give your seat to seniors on the train. Japan is not a perfect country (no country is), but it has so many amazing things that we can enjoy. Be grateful for the little things that this beautiful country has to offer.
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