Saturday, December 14, 2019

An Antidote to Chaos: A series of rules from my experience

Another rules book!  Most if not all humans lack discipline to just do the right thing without some guidance.  Perhaps I am just projecting, but I feel the same way.  Maybe this one will be easier to follow and guide me to happiness.  OR remind me of some habits that may have waned or even give me some new idea to hook on to.

My life has been like others--a search to find the right path to success, happiness and a sense of purpose.  It has been a struggle, but there has been lots of advice requiring some discipline and overcoming temptations. Many books have influenced me, even causing me to modify my behavior, but so have many other books and experiences.

The 10 Commandments were given at a young age.  No particular complaint, but they seemed a series of things not to do.

Dale Carnegie did make a difference.  The course was designed in a sequence that helped build up self confidence.  Learning how to memorize names not only was useful, but motivating.  For lesson 5, I thought I had an unfair advantage in that we were requested to bring some newspapers and at the time I worked for a newspaper and fancied myself clever at improvising.  However I was wrong.  It had nothing to do with reading the paper, but rather used the paper as a tool to unleash our inhibitions.  It turned out to be a big breakthrough for me, allowing me to feel more comfortable speaking to a crowd.  I had read the two main books, "How to Make Friends and Influence People," and "How to Stop worrying and Start Living" with lots of good ideas.  One fairly new concept for me was the importance of listening.

I didn't want to take the course, even having read the books lying around my home.  My father would refer to it in positive tones.  I felt that my father was a poor example of what the course could do, but I came to appreciate a new concept.  It is not how good you are at the end, but how much better you became.  My father was aware of his shortcomings.  Read about my father and the course:

Ben Franklin was brought to my attention through different means, but I think Dale Carnegie might have been the first.  It was very simple.  When confronted with a difficult decision one should write down a list of the reasons for and the reasons against and weigh them, not just with quantity, but also with quality.  Many years later I read another book that didn't dismiss the notion, but suggested it was inadequate. argument-

At a sales meeting I was shown a video about Alan Lakein,  "How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life"  Bought the book, underlined dozens of passage and years later gave it away to someone who I thought needed it.  Quite a bit penetrated my thinking with the key concept that time is the essence of life.  It is better to be early.  Every minute is important, but concedes that rest is crucial.  A way to set goals is to decide what you would most want to do if you had a short time to live and then work backwards to start prioritizing tasks that move you towards your goal.

A few years later my daughter Heather's gifted me  "The Time Paradox." that had a different perspective.  Most time management books focus on setting goals and planning the future.  The suggestion of this book was that you should not focus on your failures, but on your successes--the ones that build your confidence and remind you how to overcome difficulties.

Time management became an obsession of mine, particularly as I had chosen a series of sales positions, although only moderately successful.  I learned from many many mistakes and failings, but also did have successes and worked to multiply them.

Often as a parent I felt inadequate. I stumbled on a book by Dr Wayne Dyer (raising children),  The original motive was to know how to train my kids to be better.  His method was to model whatever behavior you desired, but that meant a lot of effort.  But it did give a different focus.  Wayne had good ideas for how one might steer their children to turn out and most were agreeable.  Because I wanted my children to be better than myself I was forced to consider how to make myself better.  Some of the chapter headings:  "I want my children to value themselves," "I want my children to be risk takers,"I want my children to fulfill their higher needs."

Stephen R. Covey did impact me.  I read the book, multi times and listened to his tapes for literally hundreds of hours (my daughter memorized much of it as I drove her to swim practice).  I actually set up goals and plans as best I could handle his ideas.  They were all good.  My favorite was you must seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.

A modern set of rules was brought to my attention by my sister Jennifer, "get your SH*T together."  A lot of books serve to remind me of things I had slacked off a bit and primarily this accomplished that, but in a different style.  One point she made was that fear of uncomfortable conversations delays resolution giving a personal awkward example as to how she overcame bullima.   There was one slight apparent contrast to my favorite Stephen R. Covey which is covered in my post:

With "Twelve Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos" Jordan Peterson views life as chaos overcome by order.  Oversimplified as he sees some merit in chaos.  There is a lot of suffering in life no matter our circumstances.  We can be happy and successful, but it works best if we pay heed to his 12 rules.

Remembered Jordan Peterson as a guest with Steve Paikin offering a psychological perspective and always seemed to make sense.  Jordan is a psycho analyst who recounts some of his experiences with patients in a non invasive manner while giving some perspectives on psychoanalysis.

What sets this book apart from the others is that the goal is not so much happiness and success, but a deeper meaning to life.  A quote, "If we each live properly, we will collectively flourish."

Some of his rules are humorously expressed, but supported by both psychological and philosophical ideas are familiar. There are differences and he gives a few different perspectives.

To get an accurate feeling for his rules you need to read the whole book.  Here I am interested to glean something interesting and maybe useful.  His rules are backed up by well presented arguments.

One rule (#5) is  "Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them."  He believes that if a child is not taught to behave properly before age 4 they are doomed to have difficulties to make friends.  At that age socialization is mainly through peers.  You need rules for your children, but 1) they should be limited; 2) the least force necessary to enforce should be used and 3). parents should come in pairs.

Rule #7 reads "Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).  Control your impulses.  Peterson believes success comes from delayed gratification.

Rule #9 reads "Assume the Person you are listening to might know something you don't."  Listening is how you learn things.  Peterson suggests you summarize what was said before you make your point.

Rule #10 reads "Be precise in your speech."  As he says "it is very difficult to make sense of the inter-connected chaos of reality just by looking at it.  We see enough to function.

In his justification for some of the rules he reminds me of the concerns about evolution  I read in "Super Cooperators" which gives many practical examples of how humans evolved to cooperate and organize out of chaos.

He has some leftist sympathies, but seems basically conservative which fits in with his idea that the world we encounter is chaotic and we have evolved into a pragmatic organization in which inequality is inevitable if often unfair.  It is true that aggression is learned, but much of it is natural and the result of evolution and has served a purpose.

Do we really need rules?  I would say yes.  Do we need to think about them?  Habits can be good, but also bad, so we need to examine what we really want and how best to achieve our aims.  Many new titles are useful as much for reminders, but also bearing in mind there are often different ways to accomplish tasks and that a different perspective might hit us more effectively.  I prefer "guidelines"--other people have given great thought to their rules, but I have the option to choose, partly for comfort and partly for what is most appropriate for my talents and disposition.  I am grateful to all those covered in this post.

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