Halfway through the book and this chapter is short and sweet. Rule number 6 is to “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world”. I think the best thing about this rule is that it can be taken in a lot of different ways and to me, like a good movie I get something a little different each time I read it. However, I think the most prevalent meaning I take from it is to look inward, and do what is best for myself.
When Offie and I went to see Dr. Peterson he spoke largely about seeing the world through a prism of your own experiences and that it was so deeply ingrained in you that it would affect the options that display themselves to you when thinking or problem solving. This same prism through which I and everyone else sees the world, sets a value system that are your core beliefs and wants, the things that are most important to you. That in itself, is going to set forth what you strive for in your life. Whether you marry early or wait, have kids early or wait, work as much as you possibly can in your youth or use it to travel and experience the world.
Once you are able to look inward and identify that value system in a way that you can comprehend and make tangible in your life, you can set forward solid steps on how to strive for and achieve the goals you’ve set base on said value system. You can also better identify things you are doing in your life that are actively fighting against your effort to reach your goals. Maybe you didn’t know before you had clearly laid out your values for yourself but now that you know what you’re going for you can see what you are doing wrong and stop doing it. Set yourself in order.
I also think it can be taken at a little more face value; don’t be hypocritical. Don’t be judgmental. If you are leading a life in which you make mistakes, which everyone does, then you have no room to judge anyone for anything they do in their life. I am will be the first person to admit that I make comments all the time about any manner of things I see people do in public simply for my own entertainment and the entertainment of my wife, but I can also honestly say that none of the silly judgments I make in the name of comedy would actually bare any relevance on my opinion were I to meet any of these people.
I have made more mistakes in my 23 years than I would ever like to admit. There are still things to this day that I have done in my past, that upon recollection often make me feel sick. I have identified these mistakes and carry them with me consciously. There are few inexcusable acts that I feel comfortable judging an individual on, none of which I have ever or would ever commit. I do not like the idea of just keeping your head down and nose to the grind stone because I think it’s important to understand what’s happening around you and be able to interact well with the people around you, but the actions of other people often bare no relevance or have really any affect on what you are doing or your pursuit of your value system based goals.
However the chapter is perceived by you, I think this is one rule that everyone can find something valuable in. There are a lot of people in internet media that like to say that Dr. Petersons writings are full of dog whistles for all right male youth, but I don’t know a single person who couldn’t be leading their life more effectively or a little less focused on the person next to them. I think most people have seen the meme of one of the last times Michael Phelps won a gold medal. Near the very end of the race, Phelps is looking forward focused on himself and finishing as fast as he can. His competitor is watching Phelps. Worry about what you are doing before you worry about the person next to you. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.