Jordan Peterson, Being Healthy, Slaying Dragons (where legal)

“Why don’t you get a life Rick? Why don’t you go to community college like Julian here? Hey, I got a good idea. You could teach, ‘Living in a Car and Growing Dope 101.’” – Trailer Park Boys (Which, in the editor’s opinion, are another Canadian menace)

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William Shatner and Pugsley.  Pugsley was thrilled.

Discovery Channel© has Shark Week™, and we here at Wilder, Wealthy and Wise© have already had Elon Musk Week™ (LINK).  Given the great response to Elon Musk Week®, my editor (me) has assigned my writing staff (also me) and my graphics staff (again me) to Jordan Peterson Week™.  This is the first post in the series.  My second post is here (LINK).  And my final post is here (LINK).

Jordan Peterson is fascinating to listen to, and you can certainly do that, unless you live in 1995 or Arkansas, where video isn’t yet a part of the Internet.  YouTube has devoted a massive amount of computer disk space to cover the hours and hours and hours of Dr. Peterson’s fascinating lectures.  How much disk space?  Almost enough to cover 30% of The Simpsons episodes, or 571,231 hours.

I kid.  But Dr. Peterson is exceptionally popular despite the fact that some of his videos are an hour or two long, and the typical attention span is measured in fifteen second chunks, and he’s still popular tells you he’s saying something pretty important.  Heck, Dr. Peterson is Canadian and despite that, people take him seriously.

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You know who else is Canadian?

There is quite a lot of information content in his videos – they’re very dense, and often he will drop an amazingly wise bit of information and leave me to back the video up whilst I’m Stairmastering® with my hands and face covered in yogurt to catch his point again.  Why are my face and hands covered in yogurt?  To keep the cucumber slices in place, silly!

Peterson drops a truth grenade in every video.  In one, he indicates that most of his psychological practice cases don’t have any sort of a mental issue.  No real psychotherapy is required.  No years of sitting on a couch discussing cigars or tunnels and their meaning.  Nope.

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?  Audio only, but a classic.  I had this on cassette when I was a kid and it all went WAY over my head.

Dr. Peterson indicated that most problems were problems in living.  He brought up six areas where he would gently (or not so gently) counsel his patients to “get a life.”

“Get a Life” must be a course they teach in Canada.

Peterson indicates that there are six areas where his patients need to focus on getting a life (interpretations past the bold are mine, not Dr. Peterson’s):

  • Friends/Intimate Relationships – These are crucial relationships, and it seems (LINK) that the earlier they are formed, the stronger they are. I guess we hadn’t learned to pretend to be something we’re not, so those relationships are more authentic.  Everyone I went to High School with knows what well developed sense of self I have (though they called it “egomaniac”) and I don’t have to pretend to be humble (important in not scaring a boss to death).
  • Being a Part of a Career/Dominance Hierarchy – Having a career is important, in that it provides a sense of significance to what you’re doing. You have the opportunity, each day, to jump in and do your very best within the confines of a social network that doesn’t require BookFace® (unless you work at BookFace©).  Dominance Hierarchy is a term used by Peterson a lot.  This is driven by the notion that it is hardwired into us by a lot of years of biology and evolution.  In the past, (pre-monogamy) most human males didn’t get to mate and leave an offspring (think harems).  This (depending on your mileage) may have left a LOT of angry males only marginally attached to society, and a bargain of monogamous, single marriage in return for angry unmated males not rioting and breaking everything.  So, want to be the most dominant person in the room?  Sure you do.  Like a love for gluten, it’s hardwired.  And studies have shown that this is important (LINK).  Please remember, however, all the recent retirees that have this as their primary purpose and expire six months after retirement.  This can be a dangerous solo focus.
  • Have a Schedule/Routine – Pick a time, any time, and get up at that time, all the time. Every day.  This stabilizes your body’s innate circadian rhythm, which has a direct relationship on your mood.  Hmm, I’ve worked to make this better, but . . . (LINK)
  • Eat Something in the Morning – Dr. Peterson talks about a nice woman who only ate ¾ of a cup of rice every day and was starving herself. My breakfast looks a lot like dinner.
  • Personally Regulate Drugs and Alcohol – Peterson said “regulate” but by context he meant personally regulate. His other comment, “especially alcohol.”
  • Have a Spouse/Family – Family is important. Besides creating another group of people that should have your back no matter what, it also provides an anchor in time.  It is a link to the past from your parents.  It is a link to the future from your children.  And, it’s a link to BookFace® if you do it wrong.

Dr. Peterson said that being solid in three or four of these was absolutely necessary to by psychologically thriving.  I imagine that an extreme stress on any one of these by itself (think the retirees mentioned above) can be a pretty debilitating experience.  Keep in mind, also, that these presuppose a normal life in good times in Western Civilization, and not times that would make Dr. Maslow grin with the grim anticipation of NOBODY winning at his self-actualization game (LINK).

Looking at the list I can see from my personal experience that having three of these going for you is crucial to not being a neurotic moron appearing sane.  When times were tough at work?  I leaned on family and on friends.  When I was going through my divorce a zillion years ago?  I threw myself into work and leaned on friends.

What else does Dr. Peterson say?

Lots.

One big one is “Clean Your Room.”

And it’s not a metaphor.  It’s literal.  The act of cleaning your room – of making your place tide – provides a basis of stability.  It’s also symbolic – it’s hard to argue that you know the solutions to all of the world’s problems and need to organize a protest when you can’t even keep your room clean.  The simple symbol of slaying the tiny dragon (that’s a metaphor, unless you live in Westeros and are plagued by actual tiny dragons) of chaos in your life shows that you can be conscientious enough to actually get something done.  And you get a boost when you’ve actually achieved something.  Hey, I haven’t won the Nobel® Peace Prize™ (now on stick!) but, by golly, I don’t have to step over a rack of magazines to get to my bed!  Your work leads to something besides futility.

That last part is important.  I once had a conversation with a friend at work where we talked about the different ways that people view tasks:

“John, you and I get up in the morning and think, yup, I have got to shave this morning.”  He rubbed his chin for emphasis.  “Those guys,” he gestured in the direction of the group we were talking about, “get up in the morning and look in the mirror and think, ‘You know, I’m going to have to shave every day.  Every single day for the rest of my life.’”

And life can seem like that – a bit of constantly encroaching chaos.  Maintaining the discipline of cleaning your room keeps that sense of being a victim of life at bay.  “I can’t clean the room – I don’t have time,” and “I’ll get to cleaning the room on a long weekend.”  Those are statements of someone who has voluntarily made themselves a victim, and, really, is avoiding the truth.  Even five minutes a day, over time, will lead to a clean room.

My cleaning method is to pick a spot on an area, and then make that area perfect.  Then, the area adjacent to my “perfect” area looks . . . awful.  My favorite spot to start in the kitchen is the microwave.  The Mrs. chides me because, “Who is going to come visit our house just to look to see how clean our microwave is?”

Well, nobody.  But the microwave is truth.  Regardless of who sees it (or doesn’t see it), the microwave is now clean.  And I know the truth.

And this week, each morning before work I’ve cleaned on the master bathroom about three minutes.  In two weeks, that’ll be half an hour.  That I’ll never notice, partially because zombies on The Walking Dead have a greater self-awareness than I do when I first get up in the morning, plus their breath smells better.  But I’ve done something a bit different.  I’ve started the day having slain a tiny dragon; starting the day with a win.

And that’s legal in my state, as long as I have a permit.

Join me for more of Dr. Jordan Peterson on . . . Monday.  Get a life.  Or slay a dragon.

Author: John

Nobel-Prize Winning, MacArthur Genius Grant Near Recipient writing to you regularly about Fitness, Wealth, and Wisdom - How to be happy and how to be healthy. Oh, and rich.

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