39 Jordan Peterson Quotes on Life, Love, Good, and Evil

Jordan Peterson Quotes

There’s something that our culture has largely failed to digest.

It’s a fact that has enormous potential for both your well being as an individual and our good as a society as a whole.

And it’s not that we haven’t noticed it, but it’s certainly something we have yet to truly understand.

That is, the real potential for YouTube to transform the next generation.

See, while two-dimension cultural narratives would say that we, as young people, are simply a bunch of video game playing, funny cat videos watching, silly meme-sharing entertainment-addicts (which we partially are), a look at the facts would differ.

If we follow the rise of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a psychology lecturer out of the University of Toronto, we may see a different story.

Dr. Peterson’s views have been heralded by some as controversial, but I’m not interested in that aspect of his fame. I was drawn to the fact that he went from being a relative unknown lecturer with a few thousand followers to a popular public figure with over a million YouTube followers. And this is all in less than two years.

I attended one of Dr. Peterson’s talks a few months ago, when he was on a book took in Australia, and I was fascinated by two things.

Firstly, this is a man who is giving complex lectures about Carl Jung, the Soviet Union and the nature of truth – and millions are watching. This is high-level academia, and it’s now both accessible and sought after by enough people to fill a small country. It turns out the masses aren’t so simple-minded after all.

Secondly, the audience at the talk was almost overwhelmingly young men, looking for meaning in their lives. Peterson frequently lectures about depression (his family has a long history), and I’m sure many of those in the audience had experiences with mental illness. They were more engaged than I’ve seen in any university lecture, and it seemed his ideas were giving their lives meaning and direction.

There are a lot of things I agree with Dr. Peterson on, and his talks particular around mythology inspired me to read a dozen or so books related to Jungian psychology. One thing I don’t agree with is his (apparent) perspective on meditation, though I think that his stance is probably from a lack of knowledge and experience rather than any ulterior motive.

His words have a certain depth that reveal a deep look into human nature, not in a way dissimilar to that of Viktor Frankl. His perspective has obviously been coloured by his experiences of depression, and it sometimes makes for terrifying reading.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Good and Evil

“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.”

“You cannot be protected from the things that frighten you and hurt you, but if you identify with the part of your being that is responsible for transformation, then you are always the equal, or more than the equal of the things that frighten you.”

“No tree can grow to Heaven,” adds the ever-terrifying Carl Gustav Jung, psychoanalyst extraordinaire, “unless its roots reach down to Hell.”

Having studied Soviet Russia and the evils of communism for many years, Peterson has developed an attitude that some would call hyper-realist. There is however always a spark of optimism, as he emphasise personal autonomy and responsibility, working first on yourself, before trying to save the world.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Truth

“If you don’t say what you think then you kill your unborn self.”

“We have to rediscover the eternal values and then live them out.”

“Without Christianity, and its emphasis on truth at all costs, science would never have come about.”

“That’s another hallmark of truth, is that it snaps things together. People write to me all the time and say it’s as if things were coming together in my mind. It’s like the Platonic idea that all learning was remembering. You have a nature, and when you feel that nature articulated, it’s like the act of snapping the puzzle pieces together.”

“If you don’t stand your ground, then all that happens is people push you backwards.”

“We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world. We must each tell the truth and repair what is in disrepair and break down and recreate what is old and outdated.”

“What path are you on?..Some of you is dark and some of you is light..get rid of the darkness and then you’re on the path of light.. What will happen to you when you’re on the path of light? The best that can happen to you.it might not not be easy…easy and best aren’t the same thing.”

“The truth is something that burns, it burns off deadwood and people don’t like having their deadwood burnt off because they’re 95% deadwood.”

“So, listen, to yourself and to those with whom you are speaking. Your wisdom then consists not of the knowledge you already have, but the continual search for knowledge, which is the highest form of wisdom.”

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Understanding

“What is your friend: the things you know, or the things you don’t know. First of all, there’s a lot more things you don’t know. And second, the things you don’t know is the birthplace of all your new knowledge! So if you make the things you don’t know your friend, rather than the things you know, well then you’re always on a quest in a sense. You’re always looking for new information in the off chance that somebody who doesn’t agree with you will tell you something you couldn’t have figured out on your own! It’s a completely different way of looking at the world. It’s the antithesis of opinionated.”

“Don’t compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday.”

“When you start to realise how much you of what you’ve constructed of yourself is based on deception and lies, that is a horrifying realisation.”

“We don’t understand the world. I do think the world is more like a musical masterpiece than it is like anything else. And things are oddly connected.”

“If you have a comprehensive explanation for everything then it decreases uncertainty and anxiety and reduces your cognitive load. And if you can use that simplifying algorithm to put yourself on the side of moral virtue then you’re constantly a good person with a minimum of effort.”

Peterson has often said that he is high in trait empathy and openness. This is partially why I am attracted to his ideas, as well as those of Jung, as we share a similar temperament. Looking at what you don’t know is therefore always an opportunity for growth, change, and increased connectedness.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Life

“It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.”

“Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities.”

“Specify your damn goals because how are you going to hit something if you don’t know what it is?”

“So, attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence.”

“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).”

“If your life isn’t everything it could be..[stop] wasting all of the opportunities that are in front of you.”

“Life without law remains chaotic, effectively intolerable. Life that is pure law becomes sterile, equally unbearable. The domination of chaos or sterility equally breeds murderous resentment and hatred.”

Peterson’s ideas may be complex, but his advice for life is surprisingly simple; start small and start with yourself, take on as much responsibility you can bear, and aim straight at a goal before being willing to discard it for the next one.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Suffering

“There are many systems of interaction between brain, body and social world that can get caught in positive feedback loops. Depressed people, for example, can start feeling useless and burdensome, as well as grief-stricken and pained. This makes them withdraw from contact with friends and family. Then the withdrawal makes them more lonesome and isolated, and more likely to feel useless and burdensome. Then they withdraw more. In this manner, depression spirals and amplifies.”

“Some people degenerate into the hell of resentment and the hatred of Being, but most refuse to do so, despite their suffering and disappointments and losses and inadequacies and ugliness, and again that is a miracle for those with the eyes to see it.”

“Life is suffering, and suffering can make you resentful, murderous, and then genocidal, if you take it far enough. So you need an antidote to suffering. And maybe you think that you can build walls of luxury around yourself, and that that will protect you from the suffering. Good luck with that.”

“Any perceptible alteration in heart-rate can trigger thoughts both of heart attack and an all-too-public and embarrassing display of post-heart attack distress and suffering (death and social humiliation constituting the two most basic fears).

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Love

“We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect. You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself. You should take care of, help and be good to yourself the same way you would take care of, help and be good to someone you loved and valued.”

“I learned two very important lessons from Carl Jung, the famous Swiss depth psychologist, about “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “loving your neighbour as yourself.” The first lesson was that neither of these statements has anything to do with being nice. The second was that both are equations, rather than injunctions. If I am someone’s friend, family member, or lover, then I am morally obliged to bargain as hard on my own behalf as they are on theirs. If I fail to do so, I will end up a slave, and the other person a tyrant. What good is that? It is much better for any relationship when both partners are strong.”

“Men and women aren’t the same. And they won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be treated fairly.”

It’s normal that we would equate love with respect, and therefore self-love is a natural byproduct of self-respect. To earn self-respect, we must take on responsibility. I would add that love is also related to attention, and therefore to place attention on bettering yourself is an act of self-love.

Jordan Peterson Quotes on Responsibility

“The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.”

“It’s in responsibility that most people find the meaning that sustains them through life. It’s not in happiness. It’s not in impulsive pleasure.”

“Consciousness is a mystery that faces the mystery of potential and transforms it into actuality. We do that with every choice we make. Our choices determine the destiny of the world. By making a choice, you alter the structure of reality.”

“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).”

“If you fulfill your obligations everyday you don’t need to worry about the future.”

“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. That’s it.”

“One of the things that the Hindus do in relationship to Kali, is offer sacrifices. So you can say, well why would you offer sacrifices to something you’re afraid of. And it’s because that is what you do, that’s always what you do. You offer up sacrifices to the unknown in the hope that good things will happen to you.

“One example is that you’re worried about your future. Maybe you’re worried about your job, or who you’re going to marry, or your family, there’s a whole category of things to be worried about, so you’re worried about your future. SO what’re you doing in university? And the answer is you’re sacrificing your free time in the present, to the cosmos so to speak, in the hope that if you offer up that sacrifice properly, the future will smile upon you.”

I hope you liked this post. To learn more, check out this list of books Jordan Peterson has recommended on his blog and in his interviews.

Published by

Ben Fishel

Ben is an author, psychotherapist and the creator of Project Monkey Mind, a blog that looks at Psychology and Spirituality to find practical wisdom for the digital age. He holds an MSc. in Applied Neuroscience from King's College London and a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Queensland.

One thought on “39 Jordan Peterson Quotes on Life, Love, Good, and Evil”

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