Considered by many to be the modern man’s “Virtual Father”, Dr. Jordan Peterson jumped into the public light almost overnight.
His opinions on feminism, free speech, masculinity, and philosophy have garnered both praise and ridicule and turned the formerly quiet Professor of Psychology from the University of Toronto into one of the most divisive characters in public discourse.
He stands out because he not only has thought-provoking ideas that challenge the status quo but is highly educated and works with some of the top universities in the world which serves to further solidifies his arguments.
Whatever your beliefs about Dr. Peterson, the fact remains…the man has the wisdom to share and value to offer.
And today, I want to break down what I believe to be some of the best Jordan Peterson quotes on the internet. These quotes from Dr. Jordan Peterson will provide insights into the realities of modern life and force you to analyze yourself and your challenges in a new light.
And…if you take them to heart, they might just change your life.
So without further ado, here are the 13 best Jordan Peterson quotes that will make you a stronger, wiser and more grounded man.
1. “Can you imagine yourself in 10 years if, instead of avoiding the things you know you should do, you actually did them every single day? That’s powerful.”
Of all the poignant and incisive Jordan Peterson quotes, this is one of my favorites. Because all too often we live our lives for the present moment. This is not to say that we are present in the moment, rather that we focus on the pain and pleasure caused by our actions today instead of considering the long term ramifications of our decisions.
Little decisions made to experience pleasure in the present…things like skipping the gym, smoking a cigarette, staying home to play video games, or forgoing date night to stay late at the office…don’t seem consequential.
You know you shouldn’t do them. But the instant gratification outweighs the far off consequences of your decision.
But when you consider the “compound effect” stretched out over a decade, you’ll begin to see the true cost of your lust for instant gratification. When you ask yourself, “Where will my life be a decade from today if I continue with this pattern or behavior?”, you’ll quickly realize the hidden dangers of doing what it easy over doing what is right.
Each day, you should seek to bargain with the future. To sacrifice a modicum of pleasure or comfort in the present moment for a plethora of pleasure in the future. Because it is the small decisions, repeated over the years, that determine the quality of your life.
2. “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
In the famous words of Mark Manson, “Everything is fucked.”
The political landscape in the United States becomes more volatile, divisive, and crazy with every passing second. Our planet is placed under an ever-growing strain as greedy corporations pillage our resources for the sake of a quick dollar. Crime, corruption, and the degradation of the public’s mental health serve as a steadfast reminder that, no matter how far we’ve come since our hunter-gatherer days…we still have a long way to go.
Because of the problems in the world (and the promulgation of negative news), many of us are quick to criticize and lambast the world and its leaders. But one of Jordan Peterson’s more insightful quotes reminds us that, no matter how bad the world might be, we are in no position to criticize it until we have set our own lives in order.
We complain about the national deficit while ignoring the $30,000 in credit card debt we’ve racked up with frivolous spending.
We criticize corporations and leaders for their apathy toward the environment while we ourselves continue to engage in destructive activities that pollute and destroy the planet.
We criticize others for lying, cheating, and greed…failing to notice the hypocrisy as we too lie, cheat, and chase the almighty dollar.
Before you criticize the world or any other man, tend first to your own house. Set your world in order physically, financially, professionally, and emotionally and then you will have the requisite experience and wisdom to provide cogent criticisms of the outside world.
3. “The way that you make people resilient is by voluntarily exposing them to things that they are afraid of and that make them uncomfortable.”
We live in a world of unprecedented ease and comfort. In the Western world, we no longer have to face the elements, contend with hunger, physically fight against animals or other humans for resources, or hike for miles on end to find clean water.
Everything we need (and most of the things we want) are available with the click of a button or the flick of a switch.
And it’s made us weak.
Our world is rife with men (and women) without spines. Men who are not only incapable of defending or providing for themselves but incapable of suffering the mildest of inconveniences.
To be a strong man…a resilient man…a grounded man capable of exerting his will on the world and achieving his deepest desires…you must immunize yourself against discomfort. As Jordan prescribes, you must voluntarily expose yourself to your fears and discomforts.
Take cold showers. Get in the gym. Sign up for a boxing class and get punched in the face. Go to a wilderness survival retreat. Do things that scare you and cause discomfort and you’ll be a better, stronger, and more capable man as a result.
4. “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”
With the proliferation of “social” media, it’s easier today than ever before to allow the successes (real or imagined) of other people to paralyze us and decimate our self-esteem.
The second we feel like we’ve “made it” or finally achieved a big goal, a quick scroll through Instagram will remind us on no uncertain terms that we are a tiny fish in a very big pond. And the simple truth of the matter is that someone, somewhere will always be better, smarter, richer, or better looking than you are.
But here’s the part most people miss.
Social media provides nothing more than a “snapshot” of one’s success. And comparing yourself to another person without context serves no purpose. More often than not, you’re comparing your “Chapter 1” to someone else’s “Chapter 20”.
You don’t know their story…you don’t know the advantages with which they started…or the price that they paid to get to where they are.
So, instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to the man you were yesterday. Are you kinder, stronger, more courageous, and grounded today than you were yesterday? That is the only question that matters.
5. “Work as hard as you possibly can on at least one thing and see what happens.”
Few men understand the true meaning of “hard work.” I’m not referring to physical labor but rather to the experience of giving everything you have to a project or passion.
The simple fact is most men are dabblers. We pathologically half-ass our way from one career, business, or pursuit to the next, failing to go all out and risk everything in pursuit of our ambitions.
But at least once in his life, every man should shun this way of being and commit to something with his entire being. Whether met with failure or success, the experience of leaving nothing on the table…of exerting yourself to your fullest capacity…of adopting the mindset “I will either make this work or die”…will leave you a stronger man who knows from experience what he is truly capable of.
6. “You might be winning but you’re not growing, and growing might be the most important form of winning.”
All too often, we predicate our success on the attainment of some externality…a certain number in our bank account…a house in a specific neighborhood…a stunning girlfriend with a perfect body…
But we forget that success is not about someone outside of ourselves…it’s about who we become through the process of pursuing our goals.
I know countless men who seem to be “winning”. They have enough money to buy an NFL team…a harem of beautiful women at the beck and call…six-pack abs and arms big enough to give Arnold a run for his money…but they aren’t fulfilled.
Their success bred stagnation and they abandoned the pursuit of personal, professional, and spiritual growth long ago.
If you aren’t growing as a man (emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically and professionally), you aren’t winning.
When it’s all said and done, growth is the only thing that matters. So commit to growth and trust that the rest will take care of itself.
7. “I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.”
As a species, we are quick to underestimate our capacity for evil, whatever form it takes.
We like to imagine ourselves as paragons of goodness and virtue and assume that whatever we’re doing is “good” because we’re the ones doing it (and can rationalize any action given enough time).
But the truth is, all of us, you, me, and everyone you know are capable of more evil than we possibly realize. The world can (and often will) break us all. And as Jordan points out, it’s only once we recognize and have firsthand experience with our capacity for evil, that we can fully appreciate and understand our capacity for good.
For example, the man who believes himself “immune” to addiction will be far more likely to experiment with narcotics (and put himself on a dangerous path) than the man who has suffered the pain of addiction firsthand and knows he’s only one misstep away from drug-induced destitution.
Knowing your capacity for both good and evil causes you to be more tempered…more conscientious…and more aware of the influences in your life and the effect they can have on your future.
When you know the darkness that dwells inside of you, you’ll be more strongly drawn toward the light.
8. “It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order.”
Most men live their lives as incurable ingrates. We bitch and moan about the traffic, slow Wi-Fi, cold food, and lackluster service without ever stopping to consider the millennia’s worth of effort that went into everything we take for granted on a daily basis.
To get to where we are today, humans fought, innovated, bled, and suffered for more than 200,000 years. Yet in our modern lives, we are quick to forget the price that was paid to bring us 4G, Chipotle burrito bowls, and yearly installments of Call of Duty.
Instead of complaining about the challenges of modern life, be grateful. You no longer have to fear death at the hands of once-common diseases like mumps, measles, or yellow fever. You don’t have to spend days on end trecking through violent terrain to find your next meal. You don’t have to worry about returning home to find your village pillaged and razed by a rivaling tribe.
Instead, you enjoy a life of relative safety and unprecedented ease. And when tempted to bemoan the “challenges” of life in the 21st century, take a moment to reflect and be grateful for everything that brought you here.
A little gratitude might just change your life.
9. “If you don’t say what you think then you kill your unborn self. When you have something to say, silence is a lie.”
This is perhaps my favorite Jordan Peterson quote of all time. And the reason is simple…
Men today have lost their backbone, they’ve lost the fire in their belly and the passion in their soul. Most men today aren’t living, they’re merely existing (and bleakly existing at that). Every day, they are given an opportunity to speak their truth, to stand their ground, to authentically express themselves and share with the world who and what they really are.
But they rarely take it. Through years of subconscious social conditioning, we’ve been taught to bite our tongues. To avoid rocking the boat. To play it safe and try to please everyone around us…even when those around us need to be called out and held accountable for their words or actions.
Dr. Peterson’s quote that “when you have something to say, silence is a lie”, serves as a helpful reminder that it is your duty and obligation to speak up when necessary.
While others ignore injustice and bury their heads in the sand, it is your duty to speak up. To stand for your values and ethics. To make it known when boundaries have been crossed.
Anything else is a lie. And over the long term, those little lies will castrate and corrode your masculine spirit.
10. “The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.”
If you asked ten strangers the purpose of life, their response would likely be “Happiness.” And while happiness is something we all can and should pursue and choose (because make no mistake, happiness is a choice), it is not the end goal of life.
The true purpose of our lives, of all human life, is to do good. And the only way to do good is to find the greatest burden you can carry and then carry it.
While the particular manifestations of this purpose will vary from man to man (for example, not all of us can or should carry Elon Musk’s purported burden of “saving the world”), we all have a burden we have been called to carry. We all have a mission to achieve during our brief existence.
And the only way to achieve lasting fulfillment and a true and unshakable sense of peace is to carry our burdens and pursue our missions.
Your purpose is to be useful to your fellow man. To “be the change” you wish to see in this world. To right the wrongs to which you are subjected and to serve others with unrequited effort.
And if you will do this…if you will take up the mantle of servanthood and purpose, your life will be more magnificent and inspiring than you can possibly imagine.
11. “You’re going to pay a price for every bloody thing you do and everything you don’t do. You don’t get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you’re going to take.”
Of the innumerable fallacies into which us silly humans fall, none is more egregious than the belief that anything in this life comes without a price.
No matter what decision you make, you are always paying a price…whether you’re conscious of it or not.
The decision to play small, stay safe, and stick to the status quo comes with the price of unrealized potential, boredom, and stagnant life.
The decision to go all out, take bold risks, and challenge the status quo comes with the price of being misunderstood, of suffering for years (possibly decades) in pursuit of the uncommon, and of facing judgment and ridicule from the very people who should support us.
No matter what you do, you’re paying a price.
And the only decision that matters is what price you want to pay. You must pick your poison in this life…to either suffer the pain of discipline…or suffer the pain of regret. There is no middle ground and there is no free lunch.
You must choose…so choose wisely.
12. You must determine where you are going in your life, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction. Random wandering will not move you forward. It will instead disappoint and frustrate you and make you anxious and unhappy and hard to get along with (and then resentful, and then vengeful, and then worse).
Happiness, success, and lasting fulfillment are the province of those with clarity. A life lived haphazardly, without direction, without purpose, will always lead to disappointment, anxiety, and regret.
As such, every man must, at some point in his life, commit to a course of action. He must pick a goal, an ideal for his life, a path and a purpose, and stick to it no matter what.
A man without purpose, a man who has no direction in his life and no destination he is trying to reach, is like a leaf in the wind. He will be blown to and fro in the slightest gust and his lack of vision will derail his success and lead to unnecessary pain.
But when you know your purpose…when you have a clear direction for your life and a specific outcome you are trying to achieve, everything becomes easier.
You no longer have to labor over important decisions or spend each day wondering “What’s next?” Instead, you can wake up with clarity, knowing the purpose of each action and the end game of each pursuit.
Get clear on your purpose and your life will change forever.
13. “You have to treat yourself like you matter because if you don’t then you don’t take care of yourself and you become vengeful and cruel and you take it out on people around you and you are not a positive force. None of that is good…you suffer more and so does everyone else around you.”
Men today, more than ever before, are feeling the sting of obsolescence. With the unprecedented rise in gender equality (which is a good thing), men are no longer needed as providers and protectors the way they once were. And while feminism has served to confuse and confound men the world over…no one has done more damage to modern masculinity than men themselves.
We no longer treat ourselves as if we matter…whether this has been caused by the rise in secular nihilism or the economic shifts following the feminist movement, the fact remains that men no longer treat themselves as if they matter…because they feel as if they don’t.
But the truth is you do matter. As cliche as it may seem, you are a vessel of limitless potential with the power to transform the very fabric of reality of forever change the course of human existence.
But the only way to reach your potential and fulfill your mission on this planet is to treat yourself like you matter…to care for yourself…to prioritize yourself…to be selfish enough to give yourself what you need while realizing that it is only from a place of self love and care that you can love and care for others.
Wherever you are in your life today, I challenge you to prioritize yourself. To do the things you’ve always wanted to do, to treat yourself to the things you enjoy, and prioritize your own health, performance, and happiness as if they are the only things that matter…because in your world, they are.
Self-love is the only antidote to the chaos of existence. And if you don’t love and care for yourself and your own needs, you will cause unnecessary suffering both for yourself and others.
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