My Synopsis of Jordan Peterson’s “Personality and Its Transformations”

The following is a brief synopsis of Jordan Peterson’s “Personality and Its Transformations” class, the lectures for which are available here.

Your best life is spent in enthusiastic pursuit of that which feels meaningful, important, and intriguing. These pursuits will take many forms over the course of your life: education, career, relationships, raising children, philanthropic endeavors… Each of these “life adventures” will lead you to confront uncomfortable realities, and each of these encounters will present you with choices about how to respond. They are forks in the road.

One approach is to “bend your world” by filtering your perceptions, subtly warping uncomfortable realities so present paradigms will still accommodate them. Fundamentally, this is choosing to deny reality rather than facing it. This is the easier and more common approach to the complexities of life. It elevates your present “self” at the expense of your goal, forestalling painful transformation at the expense of progress. Stack up enough of these decisions, however, and cumulatively they result in poor performance. Ultimately, they will manifest in maladjustment and dysfunction.

A better, more empowered response is to “take the red pill.” Search out the truth embodied in unpleasant experiences, and allow them to shape your conceptions, so that you become better suited to your chosen pursuit. The resulting process will be painful: the necessary changes in your mental schema entail self-sacrifice in a very literal sense.

This is what the mythological hero does. He accepts and pushes into the suffering and difficulties inherent to the journeys he voluntarily undertakes. His embrace of that painful process transforms him, the people to whom he is connected, and ultimately, his world.

More Practically and Succinctly

Choose to make sacrifices for something that feels important. Approach the pursuit you’ve chosen with bold, decisive action, but hold on loosely to outcomes, and iterate rapidly based on the feedback you receive.

Do not give up.

Consider yourself a work in progress, and work hard on progressing, but do it in service of that for which you are sacrificing. That will result in the best version of you, and create the most meaningful life possible.

In One Sentence

To live the best life possible, choose to sacrifice your time and energy for something larger, heroically embracing the resulting discomfort.

These are my takeaways from Jordan Peterson’s “Personality and its Transformations” class, the lectures for which Jordan Peterson has graciously made freely available. Viewing them is, well, transformational, and I highly recommend spending the time.