A few years ago, Jordan Peterson was just a psychologist from the University of Toronto.
Although well-respected in the field of psychology, he was by no means a household name in the world of self-improvement.
Fast forward to today, and the New York Times recently went as far as to say that Peterson is “the most influential public intellectual in the Western World Right Now.”
There’s no denying that Peterson has impacted the lives of millions, and you can count me as one of those millions.
Peterson certainly has a way with words, as his ability to articulate his thoughts has a lot to do with the popularity he’s been able to achieve. Let’s take a look at some of the best Jordan B. Peterson quotes ever.
My All-Time Favorite Jordan B. Peterson Quotes
To kick off this list of Jordan B Peterson quotes, I’m going to share quotes that are some of my personal favorites.
#1 – “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday not who someone else is today.”
This is one of my favorite Jordan B Peterson quotes of all time, and one I live by every single day.
It’s important to keep in mind that whenever you start down the path of improving any area of your life, there are going to be people who have already accomplished what seems so far out of reach for you in the moment.
This applies to anything, whether it’s business, health, relationships, etc.
If you want to improve your social life, there’s always going to be someone you know who has the kind of social life you want.
If you want to improve your physique, there’s always going to be someone at the gym with the exact body that you want.
The key to sustained motivation is to not use their progress as a measuring stick. If you compare yourself to someone else who has already achieved what you want, you’re aiming at an unrealistic standard of improvement.
Millionaires want to be like multi-millionaires. Multi-millionaires want to be like billionaires. The 20th richest man in the world wants to become the richest man in the world.
Chasing the success of other people is a never-ending rat race. Avoid it at all costs.
If you want to stay motivated on the path to achieving your goals, the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday. Because once you see yourself progressing, it becomes an addiction.
#2 – “It’s better to do something badly then to not do it at all.”
Many times, the reason we don’t try new things or get outside of our comfort zone is because we don’t want to look bad.
We care so much about our self-image that we tend to go through life avoiding situations where we might fail. Ultimately, this avoidance of failure just leads to failure on a larger scale.
We’re hard-wired to avoid rejection. Our brain does all that it can to push us away from situations where we may appear incompetent. Yet, by doing that it actually sabotages our ability to live up to our full potential.
Ultimately, you become the kind of person you want to be by taking action. Those moments of fear, doubt, and uncertainty are when you find out who you really are.
Peterson encourages us to embrace these moments even if it means looking a little silly.
#3 – “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.”
The one thing I love about Peterson’s message here is that he is bringing the future consequences of our present choices to the forefront.
Your future depends on what you do today.
As we go about our day to day life, it’s easy to dismiss the potential impact of the choices we make. Have you ever found yourself saying things like this to yourself?
- “It’s okay that I skipped my workout today, I’ll just make up for it tomorrow.”
- “It’s fine that I didn’t work on that presentation today, there’s still a week left before the deadline.”
- “It’s just one piece of cake, that’s not a big deal.”
On the surface, these statements are pretty logically sound. The problem is that our choices have a compound effect.
One cookie becomes four. One missed workout becomes two missed workouts. One day of procrastination turns into five days of zero output.
The choices you make in this very second are everything. They are the only thing that you have control over.
And yes, they do have an impact on the type of life you will be living 10 years down the road. Prioritizing instant gratification instead of doing the things that you know you need to be doing becomes a habit.
Once you build a habit of choosing the easy way out, it becomes harder and harder to change who you are.
#4 – “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
One of the reasons that this is on my list of “Favorite Jordan B Peterson Quotes” is because of how relevant it is to the world we live in today.
Today’s world is very noisy. It’s filled with people who feel strongly about certain issues criticizing the other side of their argument as if what they say has no merit. We don’t seem to listen to each other much anymore.
Peterson reminds us here that the best thing you can for yourself is to focus on you.
Not the people around you. Not the issues that you have no control over.
Oftentimes, Peterson is taken out of context here because people tend to say:
“Well, there are important issues in the world that need our attention, are you saying that we should ignore them completely?”
And you’d be absolutely right in saying that, but that is not what Peterson is trying today. He’s simply highlighting the fact that these issues are usually outside of your control and have zero affect on your ability to improve yourself.
Instead of looking at the world and latching onto everything that isn’t up to your standards, use that same energy to look inwards.
By looking inward, you will see glaring flaws and shortcomings that need to be addressed.
Peterson is telling us that when you set your own house in order first, you actually become more equipped to start tackling some of the undoubtedly important issues in the world. Prioritizing your own self-improvement gives you the opportunity to have an even greater impact on your community and the people around you.
#5 – “When you have something to say, silence is a lie.”
Every day, we are given opportunities to speak our truth and authentically express who we really are and what we really stand for. Yet, most of us rarely capitalize on these opportunities.
Instead, due to years and years of social conditioning, we tend to stay silent. We get pulled towards comfort because we don’t want to rock the boat or upset the people around us.
Peterson’s quote serves as a reminder that it is your duty and obligation to speak up when the situation calls for it. Not doing so is to betray yourself and what you stand for.
Staying silent when you have something to say is also incredibly detrimental to your personal relationships.
When a friend/spouse says or does something that upsets you, for the sake of the relationship you need to speak up and say something about it.
If you let things fester instead of addressing issues head-on, then you’ll subconsciously look for ways to get even through passive-aggressive behavior.
This tends to cause blow-ups and arguments that could have easily been avoided with just a little bit of truth.
# 6 – “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.”
This is one of these Jordan B. Peterson quotes where there is a lot to unpack.
First off, the main takeaway here is that clarity is power.
Most people think that they lack the motivation and willpower to get the life they want, when what they really lack is clarity.
Your life needs to be intentional. You need to be building good daily habits that align with your values. You need to go into each day with a plan of action for what you are going to do and how you are going to spend your time.
Otherwise, you’ll end up waking up each day with foggy intentions that will lead you down the path of disappointment and anxiety.
Now, the second part of Peterson’s quote deals with what happens when you start moving further along that dark path. And the result, as far as he’s concerned, is that you start to resent yourself and the people around you because you aren’t living up to your full potential.
We see this all the time in life as well:
The person who takes their anger out on their kids because they aren’t where they thought they would be in their career.
The parent who doesn’t let their child chase their dreams and take risks because they tried and failed themselves.
As they get older, most people tend to pile up regrets as opposed to accomplishments. This accumulation of regret causes them to feel bitter and ashamed, and typically other people feel the burden of the subconscious negative beliefs that they have acquired.
The main point that Peterson is trying to make here is that you could easily end up that bitter, vengeful person if you don’t set your life in order and start getting clear about what you really want to do with your life.
Sit down and craft a plan for getting what you want and then take focused action. The only thing you have control of in life is the amount of action that you take towards your goals.
As long as you do that, you can let the chips fall where they may and be satisfied that you gave it all you had, regardless of the outcome.
Jordan B Peterson Quotes on Suffering Through Life
At this point, there’s no need for me to go into detail and interpret the next batch of quotes I’m going to share with you.
Those six quotes above warranted an analysis because based on every piece of content I’ve seen from Peterson, I believe those are his six most impactful quotes.
However, I do want to touch on a subject that Peterson himself talk about regularly, which is the idea of suffering.
One of the key philosophies that Peterson echoes constantly is that life is suffering.
At first, this used to confuse me. It felt odd that someone who was so inspirational had a worldview that appeared to be so negative.
But the truth is, he’s right. Life is filled with sudden deaths, natural disasters, tragic accidents, inexplicable atrocities, and an unending amount of stress.
Yet, that’s only half of the story.
Peterson also argues that the antidote to suffering is responsibility and meaning. When you take on responsibility and pursue things that you find meaningful, the pursuit of those things make any suffering that you will encounter along the way worthwhile.
If you are trying to accomplish great things, there’s going to be an immense amount of suffering involved. You’re going to deal with:
- Feelings of self-doubt
- Repeated failure
- Other people waiting for you to fail
- Anxiety about the future
- Other people undermining your changes of success
The point is this – you need something to aim at in life to counteract suffering.
When you engage in meaningful pursuits, you’re well equipped to handle the obstacles that life throws at you because you have a reason to overcome them.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the best Jordan B Peterson quotes on suffering:
- “To suffer terribly and to know yourself as the cause: that is Hell.”
- “The purpose of life, as far as I can tell… is to find a mode of being that’s so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant.”
- “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.”
- “You don’t get to choose not to pay a price, you only get to choose which price you pay”
- “It’s a luxury to pursue what makes you happy; it’s a moral obligation to pursue what you find meaningful.”
- “We require rules, standards, values— alone and together. We’re pack animals, beasts of burden. We must bear a load, to justify our miserable existence.”
- “The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.”
Well, there you have my list of the best Jordan B Peterson quotes.
If you’re looking to improve your life, Peterson is someone that you need to pay attention to.
He’s incredibly smart, masterfully articulate, and you can tell he genuinely cares about the people that he is trying to help.
He has what all charismatic communicators possess — which is the ability to break down complex, meaningful topics into simple language that you can understand and put into practice.
If you take anything away from this article let it be this:
Life is suffering, and taking responsibility and picking up your burdens is the only way to overcome it.