#MondayMotivation ‘Twelve Rules for Life’ #MondayBlogs #PersonalGrowth

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

Today I’m sharing my reflections on The 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology.

He’s a brilliant speaker and writer whose words and thoughts are sometimes controversial and always inspirational. I have to say that The 12 Rules for Life is the most intellectually demanding of all the personal growth books I’ve to read so far, as he includes many references to religion, ideology, anthropology, biology and psychology, and sometimes I felt the information and ideas were going over my head. It was a challenge to read, but I’m glad I did.

I humbly offer you a brief overview of his rules, which does little justice to the enormity and scope of the book.

I’ve added a question for you to think about for each rule and a very brief summary.

Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders straight

Do you value yourself?

Based on ample examples from the evolution of our species, he concludes that our whole universe and all known societies are hierarchal. Our confidence and demeanour will define our place in the hierarchy. If we straighten up, physically, emotionally and intellectually we can claim a higher position and subsequently more successful life.

2 Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping

Do you treat yourself well? 

You have to figure out how you want to be treated and treat others in the same way, so you’ll get that treatment back from other people. The choice is yours to treat yourself and others well and receive the treatment you deserve in return.

3 Befriend people who want the best for you

Do your friends support you?

Learn to tell the difference between people who support you and bring you down. Move away from those who do not serve you because you are not helping each other in your respective journeys.

Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

Are you better today than you were yesterday?

Don’t compare yourself to someone else. Acknowledge that wealth, intelligence, ability or luck never has been and never will be equally distributed. Don’t get bitter or jealous, work on yourself. You are on your own journey, not someone else’s.

He also suggests pushing yourself with gradually higher goals to do and be better than yourself. Divide big goals into smaller, doable pieces, so you’ll move forward each day.

Rule 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

Do you want your children to fit into society?

We all have a capacity for evil, parents should help children understand and control their dark side. He suggests two actions for doing so: positive and negative reinforcement.

Praise the positive actions your children do so they will repeat them.

If your children do things which annoy you, they will surely annoy other people, too. So, by curbing their negative actions, the child will play and interact with other people more effortlessly.

Listen to Jordan Peterson describing the rules himself in 14 minutes on YouTube.

6 Set your house in order before you criticise the world

What are you doing to solve your misfortune?  

Suffering is inevitable. Life can be cruel and unjust, but you can recover from hurt and trauma, through therapy, forgiveness and gratitude. Do not blame others for your situation or problems. Learn from your misfortunes and do not judge others or be resentful or act out of resentment.

7 Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient

How can I improve my life in the long term?  

Short-term satisfaction is fleeting. We need to learn to delay gratification, because meaningful relationships and events take time and patience. We must learn to trade with others, which means both to give or share and receive in exchange.

8 Tell the truth. Or at least don’t lie.

Do you lie to yourself?

We sometimes lie to others to avoid pain, appear better, get what we want, etc. But the worst lies are those we tell ourselves when we are in denial. They don’t allow us to grow because we don’t acknowledge our failings.

9 Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t know

Do you want to be right or to learn from others?

This rule is about humility and listening to others. You don’t know everything, so listen to those who know more than you about a specific topic. Listen actively. One strategy is to summarise what the speaker said to see if you understand.

Avoid misunderstandings and arguments which are due to lack of meaningful conversations and listening to each other.

10 Be precise in your speech

Do you know what you want, and why you want it?

First you have to know and understand yourself and your beliefs and desires, and then you should express them clearly. Identify what you want and what your problem is and verbalise it correctly in order to solve it, improve the situation, or move on.

This one is a follow up of the previous rule, which was about active listening, this one is about clear speaking and will also help to avoid or overcoming interpersonal conflicts.

11. Don’t bother children when they’re ice skating

Do you overprotect your children?

Do not restrict children’s natural development in fun and games. You can’t protect your children from everything because the child will eventually have to face the dangers of the real world and find their own way in life. Shelter will not teach children to stand on their own two feet. Encourage honesty, responsibility and participation.

12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

Do you take time to appreciate the good things in life? 

Suffering is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find moments of joy in your life. Be alert to the unexpected simple joy in life, and remember gratitude, especially when things are bad.

He also gives us an important tip for a long-term or serious difficulty; cut your timeframe until you can cope. Don’t think of next year, next month, or next week even, think of coping until tomorrow, or for the next hour and so on.

I studied and admired the French existentialists in my youth, so I wasn’t distressed by this book’s pessimism, nevertheless  I find Peterson’s proposals more optimistic and useful, because although he acknowledges the inevitability of struggle and strife, he implicitly rejects life’s ‘absurd’ nature by offering us twelve ways to make sense of life so it becomes ‘less chaotic’.

I enjoyed reading about his personal struggles and the real cases he describes. It was engagingly written, although I was sometimes overwhelmed with so much information, but overall it was a pleasure to read.

By the way, which is your favourite rule? 

Mine is number 4!

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 #Audiobooks ‘E’ is for Elizabeth Strout @LizStrout @Scribd @Audible ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with another of outstanding writer, Elizabeth Strout, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Olive Kitteridge, in 2009.   

Strout at the 2015 Texas Book Festival

The audiobook I listened to on Scribd, which I will be discussing in this post is, My Name is Lucy Barton, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016 and the Bailey Women’s Prize for fiction in the same year.

This is the blurb

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

My Review

My name is Lucy Barton isn’t an easy novel to read and much less to review. There’s no traditional plot, a confusing time-line, plenty of gaps in Lucy’s erratic story, and very little by way of characterisation.

The novel is about a writer, Lucy Barton’s, disjointed memories regarding her deprived childhood and dysfunctional family, mainly told with tense and sometimes unnerving conversations with her mother, while she’s in hospital, much later in life.

The timelines are blurred, as we learn that although she’s a successful novelist, she is a lonely and emotionally damaged person. After her first marriage broke up, she remarried and abandoned her family in search of ‘herself’. Her daughters never visit and don’t seem to  have a  close relationship with her, but strangely, it doesn’t seem to bother her.

There were times I wondered where the novel was going, as there was no plot or chronological order to help me find my bearings, yet I kept on reading, because it was well-written and I expected some sort of a plot might develop, but it didn’t.

When I finished, l realised it’s not about plot, or even character. It’s about the inexplicable and existential quality of life.

Resultado de imagen de camus quote on life

Lucy was born with a tragic destiny: the futile and obsessive search for the meaning of her life. The novel hints that this obsession was due to her loveless and emotionally and financially impoverished family. She has difficulty loving herself or anyone else, even her own children.

Lucy left her poor, narrow-minded and cruel family thanks to a scholarship, years later, she left her own family, still in search of herself and the elusive meaning of life. She’s trying to ‘find peace’ with herself through writing, but there’s a limit to the power of so much introspection. In the end, you’re responsible for your own choices and your own happiness or unhappiness.

Resultado de imagen de camus quote on life

I ended up not liking Lucy very much and feeling very little sympathy for her, because she could have done so much more to improve her own life and her relationship with her daughters and her husbands.

It certainly gave me a great deal to think about, especially regarding the art of writing a novel, because Elizabeth Strout breaks all the rules to great effect!  It’s the kind of novel I’m sure I’ll read again, at a later date.

It is a short read and it’s the kind of novel that really benefits from listening to the audiobook. The narrator, Kimberly Farr, does a really excellent job, because she reads each page with the appropriate rhythm and pace to Lucy’s changing moods. I could imagine Lucy as I listened. I’m sure I would have been more confused, especially at the beginning, if I had read the paper or kindle version.

****

My Name is Lucy Barton, is especially for readers who enjoy complex, almost experimental, literary novels, which explore a character’s psyche intensely.

Elizabeth Strout’s Scribd page

Elizabeth Strout’s Audible Author Page

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back on Monday! There will be a round-up tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!

 

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge: Strike at the Quarry

This post was written in response to Chari Mills Carrot Ranch weekly 99-word fiction challenge

January 19, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a about a quarry. It can be a place or include the by-product. The quarry can be operational, abandoned, it can be in real-tie or mentioned from another time. Where will the quarry take you? Go where the prompt leads.

january-19

Strike at the Quarry

Look at him, the great Sisyphus. Ever wondered where his rocks come from?’

‘Rocks? There’s only one.’

‘One, for all eternity? They get worn down in no time, and he’s got an army to roll ‘em up for him.’

‘Really?’

‘Do you know who does all the work?’ He asked pointing a finger at the pickets.

‘We dug those rocks out of the quarry, carried them for bloody miles, and pushed them up, but he gets all the praise.’

‘What a nerve!’

‘We’re going on strike. No more exploitation of the working classes. Get your own rocks, Sisyphus!’   

****

I’ve gone all the way back in time to Greek mythology for my inspiration this time.

The myth of Sisyphus, the mortal King of Corinth who was punished by the Gods to carry the same rock up and down a hill for all eternity, has always fascinated me.

sisyphus-by-titian-1548-49-prado-musem

Sisyphus by Titian (1548-49) Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain.

Then the great Albert Camus tried to convince me that Sisyphus was happy, because he had accepted his lot. Rebellion leads to unhappiness. Accept that life is harsh and absurd and you’ll be all right. A shocking suggestion for a nonconformist optimist like me, and yet the concept fascinates me because it’s what so many people do without questioning.

camus-quote

Am I doing what I want to do?

Is this the life I want for myself?

If your answer is no, you need to answer so many more questions you may never find the answer to, such as what are the alternatives? How can I achieve them? What if I fail? Will I ever be happy or satisfied? Will I be worse off in the end if I don’t accept my lot? etc.

According to Camus, questioning the harshness and absurdity of life will only lead to greater unhappiness.

However, if your answer is yes, I’ll do as I’m told, your problem is solved. Just get on with pushing the rock up every time it goes down. Don’t think, don’t complain, just do it. Obey.

on-camus-sisyphus

I’ve discovered my own answer.

I’m not following anyone’s rules.

I’m terribly disobedient, disrespectful, and challenging.

I’m not interested in doing what I’m told or even explicitly searching for happiness.

I want to experience life as an ongoing process, a journey which ends in death, and may or may not continue on to other unknown destinations.

And while I’m here, I can’t stop asking: what if?

What if Sisyphus wasn’t punished at all?

What if he craved glory?

What if he needed to be praised and loves carrying the rocks up the hill?

What if he loved showing off his muscles and his strength?

What if others were envious of him and his fame?

What if he got others to do his dirty work?