Rule 7 / Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

This is one of the more philosophical chapters. Peterson goes into a lengthy discussion on the benefits of delayed gratification as a corrective to expediency. Our natural human tendency is to do what is expedient for ourselves. However, this leads to greed, selfishness and pain for others. Expediency isn’t good for us or our relationships and will interfere with our sense of community. We are social beings who need community. Over time we learn the value of forestalling immediate pleasure for better outcomes that provide greater meaning to our lives. Therefore Peterson tells his readers to practise sacrifice and sharing, with the promise that things will go well for them. This is based on the premise that successful people regularly sacrifice and share.

However, there are bound to be exceptions to this principle. I’m sure some people have sacrificed and shared and been taken advantage of. Peterson also doesn’t address the problem of how to move people to pursue meaningfulness, over expediency.

From a Christian perspective, we find God teaching his people the value of sharing and belonging to a community and warns them against the selfishness and greed which comes from expediency. So in general Christians would agree with Peterson. However, Christians have the advantage of being empowered by God to pursue meaningfulness through their relationship with God. This will lead them to sacrifice and share as Jesus modelled for us.

Click for: Peterson’s 6th Rule for Life

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