12 Rules for Life
Author: Peterson, Jordan B.
Notes by: Jacopo Perfetti.

Foreword by Norman Doidge
Page xi · 181
Ideologies are simple ideas, disguised as science or philosophy, that purport to explain the complexity of the world and offer remedies that will perfect it.
Page xi · 186
Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge, and ideologues are always dangerous
Page xvi · 257
Today, the postmodernist left makes the additional claim that one group’s morality is nothing but its attempt to exercise power over another group. So, the decent thing to do
Page xvi · 259
is to show tolerance for people who think differently,
Page xvi · 260
one of the worst character flaws a person can have is to be “judgmental.”
Page xvi · 263
And so a generation has been raised untutored in what was once called, aptly, “practical wisdom,”
Page xvi · 264
Page xvi · 265
have actually suffered a form of serious intellectual and moral neglect.
Page xvi · 267
the very word “virtue” sounds out of date,
Page xvii · 273
Cultivating judgment about the difference between virtue and vice is the beginning of wisdom, something that can never be out of date.
Page xvii · 274
By contrast, our modern relativism begins by asserting that making judgments about how to live is impossible, because there is no real good, and no true virtue (as these too are relative
Page xvii · 276
Thus relativism’s closest approximation to “virtue” is “tolerance.”
Page xvii · 281
in a world where there is no right or wrong, it is worse: it is a sign you are embarrassingly unsophisticated or, possibly, dangerous.
Page xviii · 288
Where the relativist is filled with uncertainty, the ideologue is the very opposite.
Page xix · 314
The idea that human life can be free of moral concerns is a fantasy. We are rule generators.
Page xx · 327
the foremost rule is that you must take responsibility for your own life. Period.
Page xxviii · 461
We are not happy, technically speaking, unless we see ourselves progressing — and the very idea of progression implies value.
Page xxviii · 465
We must have the meaning inherent in a profound system of value or the horror of existence rapidly becomes paramount
Page xxviii · 466
So: no value, no meaning.
Page xxviii · 466
Between value systems, however, there is the possibility of conflict
Page xxix · 468
loss of group - centred belief renders life chaotic, miserable, intolerable; presence of group - centred belief makes conflict with other groups inevitable.
Page xxx · 494
We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world.
Page xxxi · 508
We require rules, standards, values — alone and together.
Page xxxi · 510
chaos can swamp us, so we drown
Page xxxi · 510
We need to stay on the straight and narrow path.
Page 7 · 644
A lobster loser’s brain chemistry differs importantly from that of a lobster winner. This is reflected in their relative postures.
Page 7 · 653
High serotonin / low octopamine characterizes the victor
Page 8 · 660
When a defeated lobster regains its courage and dares to fight again it is more likely to lose
Page 8 · 662
It’s winner - take - all in the lobster world, just as it is in human societies, where the top 1 percent have as much loot as the bottom 50 percent11 — and where the richest eighty - five people have as much as the bottom three and a half billion.
Page 8 · 664
That same brutal principle of unequal distribution applies outside the financial domain —
Page 8 · 666
A tiny proportion of musicians produces almost all the recorded commercial music.
Page 8 · 667
A million and a half separately titled books (!) sell each year in the US. However, only five hundred of these sell more than a hundred thousand copies.
Page 8 · 673
This principle is sometimes known as Price’s law,
Page 8 · 676
The basic principle had been discovered much earlier. Vilfredo Pareto (1848 – 1923),
Page 9 · 679
(90 percent of communication occurs using just 500 words),
Page 12 · 732
Mark Twain once said, “It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Page 12 · 739
There is nothing so certain that it cannot vary.
Page 12 · 741
Considering nature as purely static produces serious errors of apprehension.
Page 12 · 741
Nature “selects.”
Page 13 · 754
No one standing still can triumph, no matter how well constituted.
Page 13 · 755
Nature is not simply dynamic, either.
Page 13 · 758
It’s chaos, within order, within chaos, within higher order.
Page 14 · 774
The dominance hierarchy is not capitalism. It’s not communism, either, for that matter.
Page 14 · 776
It’s not even a human creation; not in the most profound sense. It is instead a near - eternal aspect of the environment,
Page 14 · 780
The part of our brain that keeps track of our position in the dominance hierarchy is therefore exceptionally ancient and fundamental.
Page 15 · 782
It powerfully affects every aspect of our Being, conscious and unconscious alike.
Page 15 · 788
Low serotonin means more response to stress
Page 15 · 790
Low serotonin means less happiness, more pain and anxiety, more illness, and a shorter lifespan
Page 16 · 811
The ancient part of your brain specialized for assessing dominance watches how you are treated by other people. On that evidence, it renders a determination of your value and assigns you a status. If you are judged by your peers as of little worth, the counter restricts serotonin availability.
Page 16 · 813
That makes you much more physically and psychologically reactive to any circumstance
Page 16 · 814
particularly if it is negative
Page 16 · 815
that physical hyper - response,
Page 16 · 816
burns up a lot of precious energy and physical resources
Page 17 · 823
The ancient counter will even shut down your immune system,
Page 17 · 835
Sometimes, however, the counter mechanism can go wrong.
Page 17 · 836
Erratic habits of sleeping and eating can interfere with its function.
Page 18 · 838
The acts of life we repeat every day need to be automatized
Page 18 · 842
I always ask my clinical clients first about sleep.
Page 18 · 844
waking up at a consistent hour is a necessity. Anxiety and depression cannot be easily treated if the sufferer has unpredictable daily routines.
Page 18 · 846
The next thing I ask about is breakfast.
Page 25 · 969
There is very little difference between the capacity for mayhem and destruction, integrated, and strength of character. This is one of the most difficult lessons of life.
Page 25 · 970
Maybe you are a loser. And maybe you’re not — but if you are, you don’t have to continue in that mode.
Page 25 · 973
Circumstances change.
Page 25 · 974
If you slump around, with the same bearing that characterizes a defeated lobster, people will assign you a lower status,
Page 25 · 975
Then your brain will not produce as much serotonin. This will make you less happy, and more anxious and sad, and more likely to back down when you should stand up for yourself.
Page 26 · 980
Circumstances change, and so can you. Positive feedback loops, adding effect to effect, can spiral counterproductively in a negative direction, but can also work to get you ahead.
Page 26 · 982
those who start to have will probably get more.
Page 26 · 985
Emotion is partly bodily expression, and can be amplified (or dampened) by that expression
Page 26 · 988
If your posture is poor, for example — if you slump, shoulders forward and rounded, chest tucked in, head down,
Page 26 · 989
then you will feel small, defeated and ineffectual. The reactions of others will amplify that. People, like lobsters, size each other up, partly in consequence of stance.
Page 26 · 990
If you present yourself as defeated, then people will react to you as if you are losing. If you start to straighten up, then people will look at and treat you differently.
Page 27 · 996
Standing up physically also implies and invokes and demands standing up metaphysically.
Page 27 · 996
Standing up means voluntarily accepting the burden of Being.
Page 27 · 1000
To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.
Page 27 · 1002
accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood,
Page 32 · 1061
People are better at filling and properly administering prescription medication to their pets than to themselves. That’s not good.
Page 35 · 1108
Chaos is where we are when we don’t know where we are, and what we are doing when we don’t know what we are doing.
Page 35 · 1112
Chaos is freedom,
Page 35 · 1112
Order, by contrast, is explored territory.
Page 35 · 1119
But order is sometimes tyranny and stultification,
Page 36 · 1140
Chaos is the new place and time that emerges when tragedy strikes suddenly,
Page 36 · 1141
even in the confines of your own home.
Page 37 · 1143
the space, the apparent space, may be the same. But we live in time, as well as space. In consequence, even the oldest and most familiar places retain an ineradicable capacity to surprise you.
Page 38 · 1166
“the hyperactive agency detector” within us. 35 We evolved, over millennia, within intensely social circumstances. This means that the most significant elements of our environment of origin were personalities,
Page 38 · 1176
Our brains are deeply social
Page 38 · 1177
Those creatures were literally our natural habitat — our environment.
Page 39 · 1184
our brains had been long concentrating on other people. Thus, it appears that we first began to perceive the unknown, chaotic, non - human world with the innate categories of our social brain.
Page 39 · 1191
Order, the known, appears symbolically associated with masculinity
Page 39 · 1192
This is perhaps because the primary hierarchical structure of human society is masculine,
Page 39 · 1196
Order is the peacetime army of policemen and soldiers.
Page 39 · 1197
It’s the “they” in “you know what they say.”
Page 40 · 1201
Chaos — the unknown — is symbolically associated with the feminine.
Page 40 · 1202
Chaos is mater, origin, source, mother; materia, the substance from which all things are made.
Page 42 · 1249
We eternally inhabit order, surrounded by chaos. We eternally occupy known territory, surrounded by the unknown.
Page 42 · 1252
To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure.
Page 42 · 1255
you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos.
Page 43 · 1257
It’s the right place to be, in every sense. You are there when — and where — it matters.
Page 43 · 1260
Chaos and order are fundamental elements because every lived situation (even every conceivable lived situation) is made up of both.
Page 43 · 1265
Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging, because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t long tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while you are learning what you still need to know.
Page 45 · 1297
The outside, chaos, always sneaks into the inside, because nothing can be completely walled off from the rest of reality.
Page 46 · 1310
The worst of all possible snakes is psychological, spiritual, personal, internal. No walls, however tall, will keep that out.
Page 57 · 1508
If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves — but we don’t, because we are — not least in our own eyes — fallen creatures.
Page 58 · 1526
It seems that people often don’t really believe that they deserve the best care, personally speaking.
Page 58 · 1527
They believe that other people shouldn’t suffer, and they will work diligently and altruistically to help them alleviate it.
Page 58 · 1528
They extend the same courtesy even to the animals they are acquainted with — but not so easily to themselves.
Page 58 · 1535
It is not virtuous to be victimized by a bully, even if that bully is oneself.
Page 59 · 1545
your Being is inexorably tied up with that of others, and your mistreatment of yourself can have catastrophic consequences for others. This is most clearly evident, perhaps, in the aftermath of suicide, when those left behind are often both bereft and traumatized.
Page 61 · 1576
You are important to other people, as much as to yourself. You have some vital role to play in the unfolding destiny of the world. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself.
Page 61 · 1578
You may therefore have to conduct yourself habitually in a manner that allows you some respect for your own Being
Page 61 · 1582
To treat yourself as if you were someone you are responsible for helping is, instead, to consider what would be truly good for you.
Page 61 · 1583
This is not “what you want.” It is also not “what would make you happy.”
Page 61 · 1585
“Happy” is by no means synonymous with “good.”
Page 61 · 1588
You need to consider the future and think, “What might my life look like if I were caring for myself properly?
Page 62 · 1591
You need to know who you are, so that you understand your armament and bolster yourself in respect to your limitations.
Page 62 · 1592
You need to know where you are going, so that you can limit the extent of chaos in your life, restructure order, and bring the divine force of Hope to bear on the world.
Page 62 · 1596
You must discipline yourself carefully. You must keep the promises you make to yourself, and reward yourself, so that you can trust and motivate yourself. You need to determine how to act toward yourself so that you are most likely to become and to stay a good person.
Page 62 · 1603
Friedrich Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.”
Page 73 · 1764
Why did he — like his cousin, like my other friends — continually choose people who, and places that, were not good for him?
Page 73 · 1765
Sometimes, when people have a low opinion of their own worth — or, perhaps, when they refuse responsibility for their lives — they choose a new acquaintance, of precisely the type who proved troublesome in the past. Such people don’t believe that they deserve any better — so they don’t go looking for it.
Page 73 · 1768
Or, perhaps, they don’t want the trouble of better. Freud called this a “repetition compulsion.” He thought of it as an unconscious drive to repeat the horrors of the past
Page 73 · 1770
People create their worlds with the tools they have directly at hand. Faulty tools produce faulty results.
Page 74 · 1775
People choose friends who aren’t good for them for other reasons, too. Sometimes it’s because they want to rescue someone.
Page 74 · 1782
it is not easy to distinguish between someone truly wanting and needing help and someone who is merely exploiting a willing helper. The distinction is difficult
Page 76 · 1820
How do you know that your attempts to pull someone up won’t instead bring them — or you — further down?
Page 77 · 1838
Are you so sure the person crying out to be saved has not decided a thousand times to accept his lot of pointless and worsening suffering, simply because it is easier than shouldering any true responsibility?
Page 77 · 1841
You’re associating with people who are bad for you not because it’s better for anyone, but because it’s easier.
Page 77 · 1842
You’re all bound by an implicit contract — one aimed at nihilism, and failure, and suffering of the stupidest sort.
Page 78 · 1857
As the infamous father of the Simpson clan puts it, immediately prior to downing a jar of mayonnaise and vodka, “That’s a problem for Future Homer. Man, I don’t envy that guy !”
Page 79 · 1875
Maybe I should at least wait, to help you, until it’s clear that you want to be helped.
Page 79 · 1875
Carl Rogers, the famous humanistic psychologist, believed it was impossible to start a therapeutic relationship if the person seeking help did not want to improve.
Page 80 · 1888
If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn’t recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friend for yourself?
Page 80 · 1890
You should choose people who want things to be better, not worse. It’s a good thing, not a selfish thing, to choose people who are good for you.
Page 81 · 1907
Make friends with people who want the best for you.
Page 83 · 1914
IT WAS EASIER FOR PEOPLE to be good at something when more of us lived in small, rural communities.
Page 83 · 1916
these local heroes had the opportunity to enjoy the serotonin - fuelled confidence of the victor. It may be for that reason that people who were born in small towns are statistically overrepresented among the eminent.
Page 83 · 1919
most of us now live in cities. What’s more, we have become digitally connected to the entire seven billion.
Page 83 · 1921
No matter how good you are at something, or how you rank your accomplishments, there is someone out there who makes you look incompetent
Page 84 · 1935
A very small number of people produce very much of everything. The winners don’t take all, but they take most, and the bottom is not a good place to be. People are unhappy at the bottom.
Page 84 · 1938
It is for such reasons that a whole generation of social psychologists recommended “positive illusions” as the only reliable route to mental health. 69 Their credo? Let a lie be your umbrella.
Page 85 · 1942
Here is an alternative approach (and one that requires no illusions). If the cards are always stacked against you, perhaps the game you are playing is somehow rigged
Page 85 · 1956
Meaning itself requires the difference between better and worse.
Page 86 · 1958
the all - too - black - and - white words themselves: “success” or “failure.” You are either a success, a comprehensive, singular, over - all good thing, or its opposite, a failure, a comprehensive, singular, irredeemably bad thing.
Page 86 · 1961
in a world as complex as ours, such generalizations (really, such failure to differentiate) are a sign of naive, unsophisticated or even malevolent analysis. There are vital degrees and gradations of value obliterated by this binary system, and the consequences are not good.
Page 86 · 1965
The world allows for many ways of Being. If you don’t succeed at one, you can try another. You can pick something better matched to your unique mix of strengths, weaknesses and situation.
Page 86 · 1969
You might consider judging your success across all the games you play.
Page 86 · 1971
winning at everything might only mean that you’re not doing anything new or difficult.
Page 86 · 1972
You might be winning but you’re not growing, and growing might be the most important form of winning.
Page 86 · 1973
you might come to realize that the specifics of the many games you are playing are so unique to you, so individual, that comparison to others is simply inappropriate.
Page 87 · 1975
Perhaps you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do.
Page 87 · 1976
It’s also good protection against the dangers of victimhood and resentment. Your colleague outperforms you at work. His wife, however, is having an affair, while your marriage is stable and happy. Who has it better?
Page 87 · 1978
When the internal critic puts you down using such comparisons, here’s how it operates:
Page 87 · 1979
First, it selects a single, arbitrary domain of comparison (fame, maybe, or power). Then it acts as if that domain is the only one that is relevant. Then it contrasts you unfavourably with someone truly stellar, within that domain.
Page 89 · 2014
resentment always means one of two things.
Page 89 · 2014
Either the resentful person is immature, in which case he or she should shut up,
Page 89 · 2015
there is tyranny afoot — in which case the person subjugated has a moral obligation to speak up.
Page 89 · 2017
When you have something to say, silence is a lie — and tyranny feeds on lies.
Page 90 · 2043
We cannot navigate, without something to aim at and, while we are in this world, we must always navigate
Page 91 · 2054
Because we always contrast what is with what could be, we have to aim at what could be. But we can aim too high. Or too low. Or too chaotically. So we fail and live in disappointment, even when we appear to others to be living well.
Page 93 · 2097
Aim small.
Page 93 · 2099
the following goal: by the end of the day, I want things in my life to be a tiny bit better than they were this morning.
Page 94 · 2105
What you aim at determines what you see.
Page 94 · 2107
The dependency of sight on aim
Page 94 · 2108
was demonstrated unforgettably by the cognitive psychologist Daniel Simons more than fifteen years ago.
Page 94 · 2109
Simons was investigating something called “sustained inattentional blindness.”
Page 94 · 2114
he produced a video of two teams of three people. 73 One team was wearing white shirts, the other, black.
Page 94 · 2117
Each team had its own ball, which they bounced or threw to their other team members,
Page 95 · 2118
he showed it to his study participants. He asked each of them to count the number of times the white shirts threw the ball back and forth to one another.
Page 95 · 2120
Most answered “15.” That was the correct answer.
Page 95 · 2121
But then Dr. Simons asked, “Did you see the gorilla?”
Page 95 · 2123
a minute or so in, a man dressed in a gorilla suit waltzes right into the middle of the game
Page 95 · 2130
This is partly because vision is expensive — psych ophysi ologi cally expensive; neurologically expensive.
Page 95 · 2135
We point our high - resolution capacities at the few specific things we are aiming at. And we let everything else — which is almost everything — fade, unnoticed, into the background.
Page 96 · 2141
That’s how you deal with the overwhelming complexity of the world: you ignore it, while you concentrate minutely on your private concerns.
Page 96 · 2142
You see things that facilitate your movement forward, toward your desired goals. You detect obstacles, when they pop up in your path. You’re blind to everything else
Page 96 · 2148
Your eyes are tools. They are there to help you get what you want. The price you pay for that utility, that specific, focused direction, is blindness to everything else.
Page 96 · 2153
Since you’ve ignored so much, there is plenty of possibility left where you have not yet looked.
Page 98 · 2186
This will only work, however, if you genuinely want your life to improve. You can’t fool your implicit perceptual structures. Not even a bit. They aim where you point them.
Page 98 · 2189
making your life better means adopting a lot of responsibility, and that takes more effort and care than living stupidly in pain and remaining arrogant, deceitful and resentful.
Page 99 · 2196
We only see what we aim at. The rest of the world (and that’s most of it) is hidden.
Page 100 · 2219
You cannot aim yourself at anything if you are completely undisciplined and untutored.
Page 100 · 2220
You will not know what to target, and you won’t fly straight, even if you somehow get your aim right. And then you will conclude, “There is nothing to aim for.” And then you will be lost.
Page 101 · 2227
Of course, there must be vision, beyond discipline; beyond dogma. A tool still needs a purpose.
Page 101 · 2235
You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act.
Page 106 · 2317
You can find such somethings by asking yourself (as if you genuinely want to know) three questions:
Page 106 · 2318
“What is it that is bothering me?” “Is that something I could fix?” and “Would I actually be willing to fix it?” If
Page 106 · 2319
you find that the answer is “no,” to any or all of the questions, then look elsewhere.
Page 106 · 2320
Search until you find something that bothers you, that you could fix, that you would fix, and then fix it.
Page 109 · 2370
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
Page 112 · 2387
Because they did not dare to teach him what “No” means, he had no conception of the reasonable limits enabling maximal toddler autonomy. It was a classic example of too much chaos breeding too much order (and the inevitable reversal).
Page 113 · 2419
Preferential treatment awarded a son during development might even help produce an attractive, well - rounded, confident man.
Page 113 · 2420
Freud, by his own account: “A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success.”
Page 115 · 2452
it is the things that occur every single day that truly make up our lives, and time spent the same way over and again adds up at an alarming rate.
Page 116 · 2464
“There are no bad children,” such people think, “only bad parents.” When the idealized image of an unsullied child is brought to mind, this notion appears fully justified.
Page 116 · 2468
That conclusion merely displaces the problem, back in time. It explains nothing, and solves no problems.
Page 117 · 2483
1960s, a decade whose excesses led to a general denigration of adulthood, an unthinking disbelief in the existence of competent power, and the inability to distinguish between the chaos of immaturity and responsible freedom. This has increased parental sensitivity to the short - term emotional suffering of their children, while heightening their fear of damaging their children to a painful and counterproductive degree.
Page 117 · 2491
Rousseau was a fervent believer in the corrupting influence of human society and private ownership alike.
Page 118 · 2492
He claimed that nothing was so gentle and wonderful as man in his pre - civilized state. At precisely the same time, noting his inability as a father, he abandoned five of his children to the tender and fatal mercies of the orphanages of the time.
Page 118 · 2495
The mythologically perfect Divine Child permanently inhabits our imagination.
Page 118 · 2499
In general, people improve with age, rather than worsening, becoming kinder, more conscientious, and more emotionally stable as they mature.
Page 118 · 2503
Furthermore, there is plenty of direct evidence that the horrors of human behaviour cannot be so easily attributed to history and society.
Page 119 · 2528
human beings have become more peaceful, rather than less so, as time has progressed and societies became larger and more organized.
Page 120 · 2538
Because children, like other human beings, are not only good, they cannot simply be left to their own devices, untouched by society, and bloom into perfection.
Page 120 · 2540
they are much more likely to go complexly astray if they are not trained, disciplined and properly encouraged.
Page 120 · 2541
This means that it is not just wrong to attribute all the violent tendencies of human beings to the pathologies of social structure. It’s wrong enough to be virtually backward. The vital process of socialization prevents much harm and fosters much good. Children must be shaped and informed, or they cannot thrive.
Page 120 · 2543
kids are utterly desperate for attention from both peers and adults because such attention, which renders them effective and sophisticated communal players, is vitally necessary.
Page 120 · 2545
Children can be damaged as much or more by a lack of incisive attention as they are by abuse, mental or physical. This is damage by omission, rather than commission, but it is no less severe and long - lasting.
Page 120 · 2547
Children are damaged when those charged with their care, afraid of any conflict or upset, no longer dare to correct them, and leave them without guidance.
Page 121 · 2564
modern parents are simply paralyzed by the fear that they will no longer be liked or even loved by their children if they chastise them for any reason.
Page 121 · 2565
They want their children’s friendship above all, and are willing to sacrifice respect to get it. This is not good. A child will have many friends, but only two parents — if that — and parents are more, not less, than friends.
Page 121 · 2567
Friends have very limited authority to correct. Every parent therefore needs to learn to tolerate the momentary anger or even hatred directed towards them by their children, after necessary corrective action has been taken, as the capacity of children to perceive or care about long - term consequences is very limited.
Page 122 · 2578
We assume that rules will irremediably inhibit what would otherwise be the boundless and intrinsic creativity of our children, even though the scientific literature clearly indicates, first, that creativity beyond the trivial is shockingly rare96 and, second, that strict limitations facilitate rather than inhibit creative achievement.
Page 122 · 2581
the purely destructive element of rules and structure is frequently conjoined with the idea that children will make good choices about when to sleep and what to eat, if their perfect natures are merely allowed to manifest themselves. These are equally ungrounded assumptions.
Page 123 · 2589
Such limits, when discovered, provide security, even if their detection causes momentary disappointment or frustration.
Page 123 · 2598
Violence, after all, is no mystery. It’s peace that’s the mystery. Violence is the default. It’s easy. It’s peace that is difficult: learned, inculcated, earned.
Page 123 · 2599
(People often get basic psychological questions backwards. Why do people take drugs? Not a mystery. It’s why they don’t take them all the time that’s the mystery.
Page 123 · 2601
Why do people suffer from anxiety? That’s not a mystery. How is it that people can ever be calm? There’s the mystery. We’re breakable and mortal. A million things can go wrong, in a million ways. We should be terrified out of our skulls at every second. But we’re not.
Page 124 · 2605
Children hit first because aggression is innate,
Page 124 · 2607
Two - year - olds, statistically speaking, are the most violent of people.
Page 124 · 2611
Infants are like blind people, searching for a wall. They have to push forward, and test, to see where the actual boundaries lie (and those are too - seldom where they are said to be).
Page 124 · 2612
Consistent correction of such action indicates the limits of acceptable aggression to the child. Its absence merely heightens curiosity — so the child will hit and bite and kick, if he is aggressive and dominant, until something indicates a limit.
Page 124 · 2614
Given that, correction is better sooner than later
Page 124 · 2616
Without that correction, no child is going to undergo the effortful process of organizing and regulating their impulses, so that those impulses can coexist, without conflict, within the psyche of the child, and in the broader social world. It is no simple matter to organize a mind.
Page 126 · 2653
Scared parents think that a crying child is always sad or hurt. This is simply not true. Anger is one of the most common reasons for crying.
Page 127 · 2673
Modern parents are terrified of two frequently juxtaposed words: discipline and punish.
Page 127 · 2675
Discipline and punish must be handled with care. The fear is unsurprising. But both are necessary. They can be applied unconsciously or consciously, badly or well, but there is no escaping their use.
Page 128 · 2677
rewarding good behaviour can be very effective.
Page 128 · 2684
reward of just the right size: not small enough to be inconsequential, and not so large that it devalued future rewards.
Page 128 · 2691
You can teach virtually anyone anything with such an approach. First, figure out what you want. Then, watch the people around you like a hawk. Finally, whenever you see anything a bit more like what you want, swoop in (hawk, remember) and deliver a reward.
Page 129 · 2696
Parental interventions that make children happy clearly can and should be used to shape behaviour.
Page 129 · 2698
He noted that use of reward was very difficult: the observer had to attend patiently until the target spontaneously manifested the desired behaviour, and then reinforce.
Page 129 · 2701
Negative emotions, like their positive counterparts, help us learn.
Page 129 · 2704
negative emotions, for all their unpleasantness, protect us. We feel hurt and scared and ashamed and disgusted so we can avoid damage. And we’re susceptible to feeling such things a lot.
Page 129 · 2705
In fact, we feel more negative about a loss of a given size than we feel good about the same - sized gain. Pain is more potent than pleasure, and anxiety more than hope.
Page 129 · 2709
Anxiety makes us stay away from hurtful people and bad places so we don’t have to feel pain. All these emotions must be balanced against each other, and carefully judged in context, but they’re all required to keep us alive and thriving.
Page 130 · 2719
the fundamental moral question is not how to shelter children completely from misadventure and failure, so they never experience any fear or pain, but how to maximize their learning so that useful knowledge may be gained with minimal cost.
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the case of the three - year - old who has not learned to share.
Page 131 · 2740
They’re annoyed, of course, when she won’t share with her sister, but they pretend everything is OK. It’s not OK. They’ll snap at her later, for something totally unrelated. She will be hurt by that, and confused, but learn nothing.
Page 132 · 2746
Parents who refuse to adopt the responsibility for disciplining their children think they can just opt out of the conflict necessary for proper child - rearing. They avoid being the bad guy (in the short term).
Page 132 · 2748
the judgmental and uncaring broader social world will mete out conflict and punishment far greater than that which would have been delivered by an awake parent.
Page 132 · 2761
parents must reward those attitudes and actions that will bring their child success in the world outside the family, and use threat and punishment when necessary to eliminate behaviours that will lead to misery and failure.
Page 133 · 2764
If a child has not been taught to behave properly by the age of four, it will forever be difficult for him or her to make friends.
Page 133 · 2765
peers are the primary source of socialization after the age of four. Rejected children cease to develop, because they are alienated from their peers. They fall further and further behind, as the other children continue to progress.
Page 133 · 2767
the friendless child too often becomes the lonely, antisocial or depressed teenager and adult.
Page 133 · 2775
If its hierarchies are based only (or even primarily) on power, instead of the competence necessary to get important and difficult things done, it will be prone to collapse, as well.
Page 133 · 2779
The issue is therefore not whether to use punishment and threat. The issue is whether to do it consciously and thoughtfully.
Page 134 · 2791
don’t encumber children — or their disciplinarians — with too many rules. That path leads to frustration.
Page 134 · 2792
Limit the rules. Then, figure out what to do when one of them gets broken.
Page 135 · 2800
minimum necessary force.
Page 135 · 2800
two general principles of discipline.
Page 135 · 2800
The first: limit the rules.
Page 135 · 2801
The second: use the least force necessary to enforce those rules.
Page 135 · 2809
What is minimum necessary force? This must be established experimentally, starting with the smallest possible intervention.
Page 136 · 2832
Deprivation of liberty causes pain in a manner essentially similar to that of physical trauma.
Page 136 · 2832
The same can be said of the use of social isolation (including time out).
Page 137 · 2837
What’s the proper punishment
Page 137 · 2838
whatever will stop it fastest, within reason. Because the alternative could be fatal.
Page 137 · 2847
You’re not doing your child any favors by overlooking any misbehavior
Page 137 · 2852
“If you continue to do that, something you do not like will happen to you.” Otherwise it means nothing. Or, worse, it means “another nonsensical nothing muttered by ignorable adults.” Or, worse still, it means, “all adults are ineffectual and weak.” This
Page 138 · 2859
what about the idea that hitting a child merely teaches them to hit? First: No. Wrong.
Page 138 · 2862
Magnitude matters — and so does context,
Page 138 · 2863
Every child knows the difference between being bitten by a mean, unprovoked dog and being nipped by his own pet when he tries playfully but too carelessly to take its bone.
Page 138 · 2868
If you discipline ineffectively, then the baby will suffer.
Page 139 · 2875
a few practical hints:
Page 139 · 2875
time out can be an extremely effective form of punishment,
Page 139 · 2881
physical restraint might have to be added to the time out routine.
Page 139 · 2884
a swat across the backside can indicate requisite seriousness on the part of a responsible adult.
Page 140 · 2889
Disciplinary principle 1: limit the rules. Principle 2: use minimum necessary force. Here’s a third: parents should come in pairs.
Page 140 · 2891
Raising young children is demanding and exhausting. Because of this, it’s easy for a parent to make a mistake.
Page 140 · 2893
it is necessary to have someone else around, to observe, and step in, and discuss.
Page 140 · 2894
Parents should come in pairs so the father of a newborn can watch the new mother so she won’t get worn out and do something desperate
Page 140 · 2899
Here’s a fourth principle,
Page 140 · 2899
parents should understand their own capacity to be harsh, vengeful, arrogant, resentful, angry and deceitful.
Page 140 · 2902
no adult human being — no hierarchical, predatory ape — can truly tolerate being dominated by an upstart child. Revenge will come.
Page 141 · 2914
Here’s a fifth and final and most general principle.
Page 141 · 2915
Parents have a duty to act as proxies for the real world
Page 141 · 2916
It is the primary duty of parents to make their children socially desirable.
Page 142 · 2929
You love your kids, after all. If their actions make you dislike them, think what an effect they will have on other people, who care much less about them than you.
Page 142 · 2931
Better to let your little monsters know what is desirable and what is not, so they become sophisticated denizens of the world outside the family.
Page 145 · 2974
Whenever we experience injustice, real or imagined;
Page 145 · 2975
the temptation to question Being and then to curse it rises foully from the darkness.
Page 146 · 2982
Whose fault is it, then?
Page 148 · 3015
A religious man might shake his fist in desperation at the apparent injustice and blindness of God.
Page 148 · 3016
A more agnostic or atheistic individual might blame fate, or meditate bitterly on the brutality of chance. Another might tear himself apart, searching for the character flaws underlying his suffering and deterioration
Page 149 · 3040
people emerge from terrible pasts to do good, and not evil, although such an accomplishment can seem superhuman.
Page 150 · 3059
people who experience evil may certainly desire to perpetuate it, to pay it forward. But it is also possible to learn good by experiencing evil.
Page 150 · 3062
Many, perhaps even most, of the adults who abuse children were abused themselves as children. However, the majority of people who were abused as children do not abuse their own children.
Page 151 · 3074
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had every reason to question the structure of existence
Page 151 · 3077
His life had been rendered miserable by both Stalin and Hitler, two of the worst tyrants in history. He lived in brutal conditions.
Page 151 · 3079
Then he contracted an extremely serious disease.
Page 151 · 3080
did not allow his mind to turn towards vengeance and destruction. He opened his eyes, instead.
Page 152 · 3082
he asked himself the most difficult of questions: had he personally contributed to the catastrophe of his life?
Page 152 · 3088
He learned to watch and to listen. He found people he admired; who were honest, despite everything. He took himself apart, piece by piece, let what was unnecessary and harmful die, and resurrected himself.
Page 152 · 3089
Then he wrote The Gulag Archipelago,
Page 152 · 3095
One man’s decision to change his life, instead of cursing fate, shook the whole pathological system of communist tyranny to its core.
Page 153 · 3112
This is life. We build structures to live in. We build families, and states, and countries. We abstract the principles upon which those structures are founded and formulate systems of belief.
Page 153 · 3114
We forget to pay attention. We take what we have for granted. We turn a blind eye. We fail to notice that things are changing, or that corruption is taking root. And everything falls apart. Is that the fault of reality — of God? Or do things fall apart because we have not paid sufficient attention?
Page 154 · 3120
A hurricane is an act of God. But failure to prepare, when the necessity for preparation is well known — that’s sin. That’s failure to hit the mark.
Page 154 · 3124
If you are suffering — well, that’s the norm. People are limited and life is tragic. If your suffering is unbearable, however, and you are starting to become corrupted, here’s something to think about.
Page 154 · 3132
Have you cleaned up your life? If the answer is no, here’s something to try: Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong. Start stopping today. Don’t waste time questioning how you know that what you’re doing is wrong, if you are certain that it is. Inopportune questioning can confuse, without enlightening, as well as deflecting you from action. You can know that something is wrong or right without knowing why.
Page 155 · 3137
So, simply stop,
Page 155 · 3139
Do only those things that you could speak of with honour.
Page 155 · 3143
Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. Have some humility. If you cannot bring peace to your household, how dare you try to rule a city? Let your own soul guide you.
Page 156 · 3152
Perhaps you will discover that your now less - corrupted soul, much stronger than it might otherwise have been, is now able to bear those remaining, necessary, minimal, inescapable tragedies.
Page 156 · 3159
Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
Page 159 · 3178
The fact of life’s tragedy and the suffering that is part of it has been used to justify the pursuit of immediate selfish gratification for a very long time.
Page 161 · 3216
When engaging in sacrifice, our forefathers began to act out what would be considered a proposition, if it were stated in words: that something better might be attained in the future by giving up something of value in the present
Page 162 · 3229
We learned that behaving properly now, in the present — regulating our impulses, considering the plight of others — could bring rewards in the future, in a time and place that did not yet exist.
Page 162 · 3231
the discovery of the causal relationship between our efforts today and the quality of tomorrow motivated the social contract — the organization that enables today’s work to be stored, reliably
Page 162 · 3238
It takes a long time to learn to keep anything later for yourself, or to share it with someone else
Page 162 · 3239
It is much easier and far more likely to selfishly and immediately wolf down everything in sight.
Page 163 · 3248
Here’s a productive symbolic idea: the future is a judgmental father.
Page 163 · 3250
which is sacrifice now, to gain later.
Page 163 · 3250
First question. What must be sacrificed?
Page 163 · 3255
Second question (set of related questions, really): We’ve already established the basic principle — sacrifice will improve the future.
Page 164 · 3270
The realization that pleasure could be usefully forestalled dawned on us with great difficulty. It runs absolutely contrary to our ancient, fundamental animal instincts, which demand immediate satisfaction
Page 164 · 3274
It is for this reason that a wolf will down twenty pounds of raw meat in a single meal.
Page 165 · 3288
To share does not mean to give away something you value, and get nothing back.
Page 165 · 3289
To share means, properly, to initiate the process of trade. A child who can’t share — who can’t trade — can’t have any friends, because having friends is a form of trade.
Page 165 · 3297
It is better to have something than nothing. It’s better yet to share generously the something you have. It’s even better than that, however, to become widely known for generous sharing. That’s something that lasts.
Page 166 · 3314
What’s the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful? The successful sacrifice.
Page 170 · 3393
Socrates rejected expediency, and the necessity for manipulation that accompanied it. He chose instead, under the direst of conditions, to maintain his pursuit of the meaningful and the true. Twenty - five hundred years later, we remember his decision and take comfort from it. What can we learn from this? If you cease to utter falsehoods and live according to the dictates of your conscience, you can maintain your nobility, even when facing the ultimate threat; if you abide, truthfully and courageously, by the highest of ideals, you will be provided with more security and strength than will be offered by any short - sighted concentration on your own safety; if you live properly, fully, you can discover meaning so profound that it protects you even from the fear of death.
Page 171 · 3401
The tragedy of self - conscious Being produces suffering, inevitable suffering. That suffering in turn motivates the desire for selfish, immediate gratification — for expediency
Page 171 · 3402
But sacrifice — and work — serves far more effectively than short - term impulsive pleasure at keeping suffering at bay.
Page 171 · 3406
the problem of sacrifice is compounded in its complexity: it is not only privation and mortal limitation that must be addressed by work — by the willingness to offer, and to give up. It is the problem of evil as well.
Page 171 · 3415
once you become consciously aware that you, yourself, are vulnerable, you understand the nature of human vulnerability, in general. You understand what it’s like to be fearful, and angry, and resentful, and bitter. You understand what pain means. And once you truly understand such feelings in yourself, and how they’re produced, you understand how to produce them in others.
Page 174 · 3456
the voluntary evil we do one another can be profoundly and permanently damaging, even to the strong.
Page 174 · 3466
man’s capacity for evil makes it worse. This means that the central problem of life — the dealing with its brute facts — is not merely what and how to sacrifice to diminish suffering, but what and how to sacrifice to diminish suffering and evil — the conscious and voluntary and vengeful source of the worst suffering.
Page 177 · 3508
“No tree can grow to Heaven,” adds the ever - terrifying Carl Gustav Jung, psychoanalyst extraordinaire, “unless its roots reach down to Hell.”
Page 177 · 3510
There was no possibility for movement upward, in that great psychiatrist’s deeply considered opinion, without a corresponding move down.
Page 177 · 3522
Soldiers who develop post - traumatic stress disorder frequently develop it not because of something they saw, but because of something they did.
Page 178 · 3526
And he watches himself do it. And some dark part of him enjoys it — and that is the part that is most unforgettable.
Page 182 · 3602
Carl Jung hypothesized that the European mind found itself motivated to develop the cognitive technologies of science — to investigate the material world — after implicitly concluding that Christianity, with its laser - like emphasis on spiritual salvation, had failed to sufficiently address the problem of suffering in the here - and - now.
Page 183 · 3613
Christianity achieved the well - nigh impossible. The Christian doctrine elevated the individual soul, placing slave and master and commoner and nobleman alike on the same metaphysical footing, rendering them equal before God and the law. Christianity insisted that even the king was only one among many.
Page 183 · 3628
Christianity made explicit the surprising claim that even the lowliest person had rights, genuine rights — and that sovereign and state were morally charged, at a fundamental level, to recognize those rights.
Page 184 · 3632
We forget that the opposite was self - evident throughout most of human history. We think that it is the desire to enslave and dominate that requires explanation. We have it backwards, yet again.
Page 184 · 3635
The society produced by Christianity was far less barbaric than the pagan — even the Roman — ones it replaced.
Page 185 · 3649
by the time Nietzsche entered the picture, in the late nineteenth century, the problems Christianity had left unsolved had become paramount.
Page 185 · 3658
Carl Jung continued to develop Nietzsche’s arguments decades later, pointing out that Europe awoke, during the Enlightenment, as if from a Christian dream, noticing that everything it had heretofore taken for granted could and should be questioned.
Page 185 · 3663
The central dogmas of the Western faith were no longer credible, according to Nietzsche, given what the Western mind now considered truth.
Page 186 · 3677
Dogmatic belief in the central axioms of Christianity (that Christ’s crucifixion redeemed the world; that salvation was reserved for the hereafter; that salvation could not be achieved through works) had three mutually reinforcing consequences:
Page 186 · 3679
First, devaluation of the significance of earthly life, as only the hereafter mattered.
Page 186 · 3680
Second, passive acceptance of the status quo, because salvation could not be earned in any case through effort in this life
Page 186 · 3682
third, the right of the believer to reject any real moral burden (outside of the stated belief in salvation through Christ), because the Son of God had already done all the important work.
Page 189 · 3725
For Nietzsche and Dostoevsky alike, freedom — even the ability to act — requires constraint. For this reason, they both recognized the vital necessity of the dogma of the Church. The individual must be constrained, moulded — even brought close to destruction — by a restrictive, coherent disciplinary structure, before he or she can act freely and competently.
Page 189 · 3730
If a father disciplines his son properly, he obviously interferes with his freedom, particularly in the here - and - now.
Page 189 · 3731
He puts limits on the voluntary expression of his son’s Being, forcing him to take his place as a socialized member of the world.
Page 189 · 3733
might be considered a destructive force,
Page 189 · 3734
But if the father does not take such action, he merely lets his son remain Peter Pan,
Page 189 · 3735
That is not a morally acceptable alternative.
Page 189 · 3737
long period of unfreedom — adherence to a singular interpretive structure — is necessary for the development of a free mind.
Page 190 · 3738
Christian dogma provided that unfreedom. But the dogma is dead, at least to the modern Western mind.
Page 190 · 3739
What has emerged from behind its corpse, however
Page 190 · 3740
is something even more dead; something that was never alive, even in the past: nihilism, as well as an equally dangerous susceptibility to new, totalizing, utopian ideas.
Page 190 · 3741
It was in the aftermath of God’s death that the great collective horrors of Communism and Fascism sprang forth
Page 190 · 3744
we cannot invent our own values, because we cannot merely impose what we believe on our souls. This was Carl Jung’s great discovery
Page 190 · 3746
I cannot merely order myself to action, and neither can you.
Page 191 · 3769
Karl Popper, certainly no mystic, regarded thinking itself as a logical extension of the Darwinian process. A creature that cannot think must solely embody its Being. It can merely act out its nature, concretely, in the here - and - now. If it cannot manifest in its behavior what the environment demands while doing so, it will simply die.
Page 191 · 3771
But that is not true of human beings. We can produce abstracted representations of potential modes of Being. We can produce an idea in the theatre of the imagination.
Page 192 · 3774
Then the essential part, the creator of those ideas, can continue onward, now untrammeled, by comparison, with error. Faith in the part of us that continues across those deaths is a prerequisite to thinking itself.
Page 192 · 3776
Now, an idea is not the same thing as a fact.
Page 192 · 3776
A fact is something that is dead,
Page 192 · 3778
an idea that grips a person is alive. It wants to express itself, to live in the world.
Page 192 · 3780
An idea has an aim. It wants something. It posits a value structure.
Page 192 · 3780
An idea believes that what it is aiming for is better than what it has now.
Page 192 · 3791
“If you are disciplined and privilege the future over the present you can change the structure of reality in your favour
Page 194 · 3825
Each human being has an immense capacity for evil. Each human being understands, a priori, perhaps not what is good, but certainly what is not. And if there is something that is not good, then there is something that is good. If the worst sin is the torment of others, merely for the sake of the suffering produced — then the good is whatever is diametrically opposed to that. The good is whatever stops such things from happening.
Page 195 · 3838
to the best of my ability I will act in a manner that leads to the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering.
Page 195 · 3839
Why? Because we know the alternative. The alternative was the twentieth century. The alternative was so close to Hell that the difference is not worth discussing.
Page 196 · 3846
it’s a personality — or, more precisely, a choice between two opposing personalities. It’s Sherlock Holmes or Moriarty.
Page 196 · 3850
That’s the inescapable, archetypal reality.
Page 196 · 3850
Expedience is the following of blind impulse. It’s short - term gain. It’s narrow, and selfish. It lies to get its way.
Page 196 · 3852
Meaning is its mature replacement. Meaning emerges when impulses are regulated, organized and unified.
Page 196 · 3854
It will provide the antidote for chaos and suffering. It will make everything matter. It will make everything better.
Page 196 · 3861
You may come to ask yourself, “What should I do today?” in a manner that means “How could I use my time to make things better, instead of worse?”
Page 197 · 3866
It’s not bliss. It’s not happiness. It is something more like atonement for the criminal fact of your fractured and damaged Being.
Page 197 · 3869
Expedience — that’s hiding all the skeletons in the closet.
Page 197 · 3870
That’s avoiding responsibility. It’s cowardly, and shallow, and wrong. It’s wrong because mere expedience, multiplied by many repetitions, produces the character of a demon.
Page 197 · 3877
Meaning signifies that you are in the right place, at the right time, properly balanced between order and chaos, where everything lines up as best it can at that moment.
Page 197 · 3878
What is expedient works only for the moment. It’s immediate, impulsive and limited.
Page 197 · 3879
What is meaningful, by contrast, is the organization of what would otherwise merely be expedient into a symphony of Being.
Page 198 · 3892
Meaning is the ultimate balance between, on the one hand, the chaos of transformation and possibility and on the other, the discipline of pristine order, whose purpose is to produce out of the attendant chaos a new order that will be even more immaculate, and capable of bringing forth a still more balanced and productive chaos and order.
Page 202 · 3949
Paranoid people are hyper - alert and hyper - focused. They are attending to non - verbal cues with an intentness never manifest during ordinary human interactions.
Page 202 · 3950
They make mistakes in interpretation (that’s the paranoia) but they are still almost uncanny in their ability to detect mixed motives, judgment and falsehood.
Page 206 · 4010
You can use words to manipulate the world into delivering what you want. This is what it means to “act politically.” This is spin. It’s the specialty of unscrupulous marketers, salesmen, advertisers, pickup artists, slogan - possessed utopians and psychopaths.
Page 206 · 4013
It’s what everyone does when they want something, and decide to falsify themselves to please and flatter.
Page 206 · 4014
To conduct life like this is to become possessed by some ill - formed desire, and then to craft speech and action in a manner that appears likely, rationally, to bring about that end.
Page 206 · 4016
Typical calculated ends might include “to impose my ideological beliefs,” “to prove that I am (or was) right,”
Page 206 · 4022
These are all examples of what Sigmund Freud’s compatriot, the lesser - known Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, called “life - lies.”
Page 207 · 4025
Someone living a life - lie is attempting to manipulate reality with perception, thought and action, so that only some narrowly desired and pre - defined outcome is allowed to exist.
Page 207 · 4026
A life lived in this manner is based, consciously or unconsciously, on two premises.
Page 207 · 4026
The first is that current knowledge is sufficient to define what is good, unquestioningly, far into the future.
Page 207 · 4027
The second is that reality would be unbearable if left to its own devices.
Page 208 · 4044
This kind of oversimplification and falsification is particularly typical of ideologues. They adopt a single axiom: government is bad, immigration is bad, capitalism is bad, patriarchy is bad. Then they filter and screen their experiences and insist ever more narrowly that everything can be explained by that axiom.
Page 208 · 4047
There is another fundamental problem, too, with the life - lie, particularly when it is based on avoidance.
Page 208 · 4050
Consider the person who insists that everything is right in her life. She avoids conflict, and smiles, and does what she is asked to do.
Page 208 · 4053
She is lonesome and isolated and unfulfilled. But her obedience and self - obliteration eliminate all the meaning from her life. She has become nothing but a slave, a tool for others to exploit. She does not get what she wants, or needs, because doing so would mean speaking her mind. So, there is nothing of value in her existence to counter - balance life’s troubles. And that makes her sick.
Page 209 · 4059
If you will not reveal yourself to others, you cannot reveal yourself to yourself.
Page 209 · 4061
When you explore boldly, when you voluntarily confront the unknown, you gather information and build your renewed self out of that information
Page 209 · 4067
If you say no to your boss, or your spouse, or your mother, when it needs to be said, then you transform yourself into someone who can say no when it needs to be said.
Page 209 · 4069
If you ever wonder how perfectly ordinary, decent people could find themselves doing the terrible things the gulag camp guards did, you now have your answer. By the time no seriously needed to be said, there was no one left capable of saying it.
Page 209 · 4073
Only the most cynical, hopeless philosophy insists that reality could be improved through falsification.
Page 210 · 4080
Willful blindness is the refusal to know something that could be known.
Page 210 · 4082
Every game has rules.
Page 210 · 4083
You accept them merely by deciding to play the game. The first of these rules is that the game is important. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t be playing it.
Page 210 · 4084
The second is that moves undertaken during the game are valid if they help you win.
Page 210 · 4090
Error necessitates sacrifice to correct it, and serious error necessitates serious sacrifice.
Page 212 · 4121
Viktor Frankl,
Page 212 · 4122
who wrote the classic Man’s Search for Meaning, drew a similar social - psychological conclusion: deceitful, inauthentic individual existence is the precursor to social totalitarianism.
Page 212 · 4123
Sigmund Freud, for his part, analogously believed that “repression” contributed in a non - trivial manner to the development of mental illness (and the difference between repression of truth and a lie is a matter of degree, not kind).
Page 212 · 4127
lies warp the structure of Being. Untruth corrupts the soul and the state alike, and one form of corruption feeds the other.
Page 213 · 4140
the family that fights in the ruins of their earthquake - devastated dwelling place is much less likely to rebuild than the family made strong by mutual trust and devotion.
Page 214 · 4153
The capacity of the rational mind to deceive, manipulate, scheme, trick, falsify, minimize, mislead, betray, prevaricate, deny, omit, rationalize, bias, exaggerate and obscure is so endless, so remarkable, that centuries of pre - scientific thought, concentrating on clarifying the nature of moral endeavour, regarded it as positively demonic. This is not because of rationality itself, as a process. That process can produce clarity and progress. It is because rationality is subject to the single worst temptation — to raise what it knows now to the status of an absolute.
Page 215 · 4174
it is the greatest temptation of the rational faculty to glorify its own capacity and its own productions and to claim that in the face of its theories nothing transcendent or outside its domain need exist. This means that all important facts have been discovered. This means that nothing important remains unknown. But most importantly, it means denial of the necessity for courageous individual confrontation with Being.
Page 215 · 4178
What saves is the willingness to learn from what you don’t know. That is faith in the possibility of human transformation. That is faith in the sacrifice of the current self for the self that could be. The totalitarian denies the necessity for the individual to take ultimate responsibility for Being.
Page 215 · 4181
That is what totalitarian means: Everything that needs to be discovered has been discovered.
Page 218 · 4223
What happens if, instead, we decide to stop lying?
Page 218 · 4225
An aim, an ambition, provides the structure necessary for action. An aim provides a destination, a point of contrast against the present, and a framework, within which all things can be evaluated. An aim defines progress and makes such progress exciting. An aim reduces anxiety, because if you have no aim everything can mean anything or nothing, and neither of those two options makes for a tranquil spirit.
Page 218 · 4231
it is necessary to aim at your target, however traditional, with your eyes wide open.
Page 218 · 4232
You may have been led astray by your own ignorance — and, worse, by your own unrevealed corruption.
Page 218 · 4233
You must make friends, therefore, with what you don’t know, instead of what you know.
Page 220 · 4256
It is our responsibility to see what is before our eyes, courageously, and to learn from it, even if it seems horrible — even if the horror of seeing it damages our consciousness, and half - blinds us. The act of seeing is particularly important when it challenges what we know and rely on, upsetting and destabilizing us. It is the act of seeing that informs the individual and updates the state.
Page 220 · 4259
Nietzsche said that a man’s worth was determined by how much truth he could tolerate.
Page 220 · 4260
You are by no means only what you already know. You are also all that which you could know, if you only would.
Page 220 · 4261
you should never sacrifice what you could be for what you are. You should never give up the better that resides within for the security you already have — and certainly not when you have already caught a glimpse, an undeniable glimpse, of something beyond.
Page 221 · 4272
Set your ambitions, even if you are uncertain about what they should be. The better ambitions have to do with the development of character and ability, rather than status and power.
Page 221 · 4273
Status you can lose. You carry character with you wherever you go, and it allows you to prevail against adversity.
Page 221 · 4286
All people serve their ambition. In that matter, there are no atheists. There are only people who know, and don’t know, what God they serve.
Page 223 · 4305
As you continue to live in accordance with the truth, as it reveals itself to you, you will have to accept and deal with the conflicts that mode of Being will generate. If you do so, you will continue to mature and become more responsible,
Page 223 · 4314
This is the “act of faith” whose necessity was insisted upon by the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard.
Page 223 · 4316
the sacrifice of personal will to the will of God. It is not an act of submission (at least as submission is currently understood). It is an act of courage. It is faith that the wind will blow your ship to a new and better port. It is the faith that Being can be corrected by becoming. It is the spirit of exploration itself.
Page 223 · 4319
Everyone needs a concrete, specific goal — an ambition, and a purpose — to limit chaos and make intelligible sense of his or her life. But all such concrete goals can and should be subordinated to what might be considered a meta - goal, which is a way of approaching and formulating goals themselves. The meta - goal could be “live in truth.”
Page 224 · 4338
The human capacity for imagination makes us capable of dreaming up and creating alternative worlds. This is the ultimate source of our creativity. With that singular capacity, however, comes the counterpart, the opposite side of the coin: we can deceive ourselves and others into believing and acting as if things are other than we know they are.
Page 225 · 4348
Things fall apart: this is one of the great discoveries of humanity. And we speed the natural deterioration of great things through blindness, inaction and deceit. Without attention, culture degenerates and dies, and evil prevails.
Page 225 · 4352
When the lies get big enough, the whole world spoils. But if you look close enough, the biggest of lies is composed of smaller lies, and those are composed of still smaller lies — and the smallest of lies is where the big lie starts.
Page 226 · 4369
Hell comes when lies have destroyed the relationship between individual or state and reality itself. Things fall apart. Life degenerates. Everything becomes frustration and disappointment. Hope consistently betrays.
Page 226 · 4371
Tortured by constant failure, the individual becomes bitter. Disappointment and failure amalgamate, and produce a fantasy: the world is bent on my personal suffering, my particular undoing, my destruction. I need, I deserve, I must have — my revenge.
Page 227 · 4380
Truth is the ultimate, inexhaustible natural resource. It’s the light in the darkness.
Page 227 · 4382
Truth will not come in the guise of opinions shared by others, as the truth is neither a collection of slogans nor an ideology. It will instead be personal. Your truth is something only you can tell, based as it is on the unique circumstances of your life.
Page 229 · 4401
Psychotherapy is genuine conversation. Genuine conversation is exploration, articulation and strategizing. When you’re involved in a genuine conversation, you’re listening, and talking — but mostly listening.
Page 233 · 4457
how easy it might be to instill a false memory into the mental landscape
Page 233 · 4458
The past appears fixed, but it’s not — not in an important psychological sense. There is an awful lot to the past, after all, and the way we organize it can be subject to drastic revision.
Page 233 · 4461
A sufficiently happy ending can change the meaning of all the previous events.
Page 233 · 4467
When you are remembering the past, as well, you remember some parts of it and forget others.
Page 233 · 4469
There is a mysterious arbitrariness about all of this.
Page 233 · 4471
You’re not objective, either. You’re alive.
Page 235 · 4496
Memory is not a description of the objective past. Memory is a tool. Memory is the past’s guide to the future. If you remember that something bad happened, and you can figure out why, then you can try to avoid that bad thing happening again. That’s the purpose of memory. It’s not “to remember the past.” It’s to stop the same damn thing from happening over and over.
Page 236 · 4526
When people think, they simulate the world, and plan how to act in it. If they do a good job of simulating, they can figure out what stupid things they shouldn’t do.
Page 236 · 4528
We simulate the world, and plan our actions in it. Only human beings do this. That’s how brilliant we are. We make little avatars of ourselves. We place those avatars in fictional worlds. Then we watch what happens.
Page 237 · 4538
To think, you have to be at least two people at the same time. Then you have to let those people disagree. Thinking is an internal dialogue between two or more different views of the world.
Page 237 · 4543
You’re matching what you want against a weak opponent so that you don’t have to change your mind.
Page 238 · 4550
thinking is emotionally painful, as well as physiologically demanding; more so than anything else — except not thinking.
Page 238 · 4554
A listening person is a representative of common humanity. He stands for the crowd. Now the crowd is by no means always right, but it’s commonly right.
Page 238 · 4556
If you say something that takes everyone aback, therefore, you should reconsider what you said.
Page 239 · 4568
A listening person can reflect the crowd. He can do that without talking. He can do that merely by letting the talking person listen to himself. That is what Freud recommended.
Page 239 · 4570
That’s his method of free association. That’s the way the Freudian psychoanalyst avoids transferring his or her own personal biases and opinions into the internal landscape of the patient.
Page 239 · 4577
But there are disadvantages to the detached and somewhat distant approach recommended by Freud.
Page 239 · 4578
Many of those who seek therapy desire and need a closer, more personal relationship
Page 241 · 4611
A good therapist will tell you the truth about what he thinks.
Page 242 · 4621
“Stop the discussion for a moment, and institute this rule: ‘ Each person can speak up for himself only after he has first restated the ideas and feelings of the previous speaker accurately, and to that speaker’s satisfaction.’”
Page 242 · 4623
I routinely summarize what people have said to me, and ask them if I have understood properly.
Page 242 · 4630
The second advantage to the act of summary is that it aids the person in consolidation and utility of memory.
Page 243 · 4638
The third advantage to employing the Rogerian method is the difficulty it poses to the careless construction of straw - man arguments. When someone opposes you, it is very tempting to oversimplify,
Page 243 · 4641
By contrast, if you are called upon to summarize someone’s position, so that the speaking person agrees with that summary, you may have to state the argument even more clearly and succinctly than the speaker has even yet managed.
Page 244 · 4657
If you listen, instead, without premature judgment, people will generally tell you everything they are thinking — and with very little deceit.
Page 244 · 4661
Not all talking is thinking. Nor does all listening foster transformation.
Page 244 · 4662
There is the conversation, for example, where one participant is speaking merely to establish or confirm his place in the dominance hierarchy.
Page 244 · 4669
There is another, closely allied form of conversation, where neither speaker is listening in the least to the other.
Page 244 · 4670
Instead, each is using the time occupied by the current speaker to conjure up what he or she will say next, which will often be something off - topic, because the person anxiously waiting to speak has not been listening.
Page 245 · 4674
Then there is the conversation where one participant is trying to attain victory for his point of view.
Page 245 · 4678
the purpose of the conversation is to make the case that not thinking is the correct tack.
Page 245 · 4679
The person who is speaking in this manner believes that winning the argument makes him right, and that doing so necessarily validates the assumption - structure of the dominance hierarchy he most identifies with.
Page 246 · 4692
Much of what we consider healthy mental function is the result of our ability to use the reactions of others to keep our complex selves functional. We outsource the problem of our sanity. This is why it is the fundamental responsibility of parents to render their children socially acceptable.
Page 246 · 4698
The sympathetic responses offered during a genuine conversation indicate that the teller is valued, and that the story being told is important, serious, deserving of consideration, and understandable.
Page 246 · 4700
Men and women often misunderstand each other when these conversations are focused on a specified problem.
Page 246 · 4701
Men are often accused of wanting to “fix things” too early on in a discussion.
Page 246 · 4703
Women are often intent on formulating the problem when they are discussing something, and they need to be listened to — even questioned — to help ensure clarity in the formulation.
Page 247 · 4706
too - early problem - solving may also merely indicate a desire to escape from the effort of the problem - formulating conversation.)
Page 247 · 4707
Another conversational variant is the lecture.
Page 247 · 4708
The lecturer speaks, but the audience communicates with him or her non - verbally.
Page 247 · 4710
A good lecturer is not only delivering facts
Page 247 · 4710
but also telling stories about those facts,
Page 247 · 4713
To demonstrate the importance of some set of facts is to tell those audience members how such knowledge could change their behaviour, or influence the way they interpret the world,
Page 247 · 4715
A good lecturer is thus talking with and not at or even to his or her listeners.
Page 247 · 4717
A good lecturer speaks directly to and watches the response of single, identifiable people,
Page 247 · 4720
You don’t present. You talk.
Page 248 · 4721
There is also no “audience.” There are individuals, who need to be included in the conversation.
Page 249 · 4750
The final type of conversation, akin to listening, is a form of mutual exploration.
Page 249 · 4752
A conversation of mutual exploration has a topic, generally complex, of genuine interest to the participants.
Page 249 · 4753
All are acting on the premise that they have something to learn.
Page 250 · 4756
They must be existentially involved with their philosophy: that is, they must be living it, not merely believing or understanding it.
Page 250 · 4760
requires people who have decided that the unknown makes a better friend than the known.
Page 250 · 4768
To have this kind of conversation, it is necessary to respect the personal experience of your conversational partners.
Page 251 · 4775
It’s as if you are listening to yourself during such a conversation, just as you are listening to the other person.
Page 251 · 4779
A conversation such as this is one where it is the desire for truth itself — on the part of both participants — that is truly listening and speaking.
Page 251 · 4780
That’s why it’s engaging, vital, interesting and meaningful.
Page 252 · 4791
Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.
Page 256 · 4844
We don’t see valueless entities and then attribute meaning to them. We perceive the meaning directly. 160 We see floors, to walk on, and doors, to duck through,
Page 256 · 4849
The world reveals itself to us as something to utilize and something to navigate through — not as something that merely is.
Page 257 · 4857
When we look at the world, we perceive only what is enough for our plans and actions to work and for us to get by. What we inhabit, then, is this “enough.”
Page 257 · 4858
That is a radical, functional, unconscious simplification of the world — and it’s almost impossible for us not to mistake it for the world itself.
Page 257 · 4861
We perceive not them, but their functional utility and, in doing so, we make them sufficiently simple for sufficient understanding. It is for this reason that we must be precise in our aim. Absent that, we drown in the complexity of the world.
Page 259 · 4889
Our capacity for identification is something that manifests itself at every level of our Being.
Page 259 · 4890
To the degree that we are patriotic, similarly, our country is not just important to us. It is us.
Page 259 · 4896
The World Is Simple Only When It Behaves
Page 259 · 4901
The conscious illusion of complete and sufficient perception only sustains itself, for example — only remains sufficient for our purposes — when everything goes according to plan.
Page 260 · 4904
The hidden complexities of our private cars only intrude on our consciousness when that machinery fails,
Page 260 · 4912
our peace of mind disappears along with our functioning vehicle.
Page 260 · 4915
In a crisis, when our thing no longer goes, we turn to those whose expertise far transcends ours to restore the match between our expectant desire and what actually happens.
Page 261 · 4922
Then the more complex world that was always there, invisible and conveniently ignored, makes its presence known.
Page 262 · 4938
The past is not necessarily what it was, even though it has already been. The present is chaotic and indeterminate.
Page 262 · 4939
Equally, the future, not yet here, changes into something it was not supposed to be.
Page 262 · 4947
when something fundamental goes wrong. The dreadful inadequacy of our senses reveals itself. Everything we hold dear crumbles to dust.
Page 263 · 4955
What we don’t see is the well - known and comforting world of tools — of useful objects — of personalities. We don’t even see familiar obstacles — sufficiently troubling though they are in normal times, already mastered — that we can simply step around.
Page 263 · 4957
What we perceive, when things fall apart, is no longer the stage and settings of habitable order. It’s the eternal watery tohu va bohu, formless emptiness, and the tehom, the abyss, to speak biblically — the chaos forever lurking beneath our thin surfaces of security.
Page 263 · 4959
It’s from that chaos that the Holy Word of God Himself extracted order at the beginning of time,
Page 263 · 4962
It’s chaos that we see, when things fall apart (even though we cannot truly see it).
Page 263 · 4967
Our bodies react much faster than our minds.
Page 263 · 4968
When things collapse around us our perception disappears, and we act. Ancient reflexive responses, rendered automatic and efficient over hundreds of millions of years, protect us in those dire moments when not only thought but perception itself fails.
Page 263 · 4971
First, we freeze.
Page 264 · 4974
Our hearts beat faster. Our breath quickens.
Page 264 · 4977
And then we begin to parse apart the chaos.
Page 266 · 5010
Communication would require admission of terrible emotions: resentment, terror, loneliness, despair, jealousy, frustration, hatred, boredom. Moment by moment, it’s easier to keep the peace.
Page 266 · 5011
But in the background,
Page 266 · 5012
the dragon grows.
Page 266 · 5012
One day it bursts forth, in a form that no one can ignore.
Page 266 · 5017
Don’t ever underestimate the destructive power of sins of omission.
Page 269 · 5059
Everything clarified and articulated becomes visible;
Page 269 · 5075
All she — he — they — or we — must do to ensure such an outcome is nothing: don’t notice, don’t react, don’t attend, don’t discuss, don’t consider, don’t work for peace, don’t take responsibility. Don’t confront the chaos and turn it into order — just wait, anything but naïve and innocent, for the chaos to rise up and engulf you instead.
Page 270 · 5078
Why avoid, when avoidance necessarily and inevitably poisons the future? Because the possibility of a monster lurks underneath all disagreements and errors.
Page 270 · 5081
Having the argument necessary to solve a real problem therefore necessitates willingness to confront two forms of miserable and dangerous potential simultaneously
Page 270 · 5082
chaos (the potential fragility of the relationship — of all relationships — of life itself)
Page 270 · 5083
and Hell (the fact that you — and your partner — could each be the person bad enough to ruin everything with your laziness and spite).
Page 270 · 5084
There’s every motivation to avoid. But it doesn’t help.
Page 270 · 5091
Isn’t it better under such conditions to live in willful blindness and enjoy the bliss of ignorance? Well, not if the monster is real !
Page 271 · 5105
Why refuse to specify, when specifying the problem would enable its solution? Because to specify the problem is to admit that it exists.
Page 271 · 5109
Why refuse to specify? Because while you are failing to define success (and thereby rendering it impossible) you are also refusing to define failure, to yourself, so that if and when you fail you won’t notice, and it won’t hurt. But that won’t work !
Page 271 · 5112
You will instead carry with you a continual sense of disappointment in your own Being and the self - contempt that comes along with that and the increasing hatred for the world that all of that generates (or degenerates).
Page 275 · 5168
damaged machinery will continue to malfunction if its problems are neither diagnosed nor fixed.
Page 275 · 5176
Precision may leave the tragedy intact, but it chases away the ghouls and the demons.
Page 277 · 5201
You have to consciously define the topic of a conversation, particularly when it is difficult — or it becomes about everything, and everything is too much.
Page 277 · 5204
No one can have a discussion about “everything.” Instead, you can say, “This exact, precise thing — that is what is making me unhappy. This exact, precise thing — that is what I want,
Page 277 · 5207
But to do that, you have to think: What is wrong, exactly? What do I want, exactly?
Page 277 · 5210
You must determine where you have been in your life, so that you can know where you are now. If you don’t know where you are, precisely, then you could be anywhere. Anywhere is too many places to be, and some of those places are very bad.
Page 277 · 5214
You must determine where you are going in your life, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction.
Page 280 · 5240
The crazy kids, almost always boys, would pull back about fifteen yards from the top of the steps. Then they would place a foot on their boards, and skate like mad to get up some speed.
Page 281 · 5247
They weren’t trying to be safe. They were trying to become competent — and it’s competence that makes people as safe as they can truly be.
Page 282 · 5265
People, including children (who are people too, after all), don’t seek to minimize risk. They seek to optimize it.
Page 282 · 5267
Thus, if things are made too safe, people (including children) start to figure out ways to make them dangerous again.
Page 282 · 5272
Overprotected, we will fail when something dangerous, unexpected and full of opportunity suddenly makes its appearance, as it inevitably will.
Page 284 · 5315
Jung who developed the most surgically wicked of psychoanalytic dicta: if you cannot understand why someone did something, look at the consequences — and infer the motivation.
Page 293 · 5458
Boys are suffering, in the modern world. They are more disobedient — negatively — or more independent — positively — than girls,
Page 293 · 5465
this is the opposite of what would be expected by those who insist, ever more loudly, that gender is a social construct. It isn’t. This isn’t a debate. The data are in.
Page 293 · 5467
Boys like competition, and they don’t like to obey, particularly when they are adolescents
Page 293 · 5472
Other factors play their role in the decline of boys. Girls will, for example, play boys’ games, but boys are much more reluctant to play girls’ games.
Page 294 · 5488
The disparity is still rapidly increasing. At this rate, there will be very few men in most university disciplines in fifteen years.
Page 294 · 5494
A stable, loving relationship is highly desirable, for men as well as women. For women, however, it is often what is most wanted.
Page 297 · 5539
Fatherless children are at much greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse. Children living with married biological parents are less anxious, depressed and delinquent than children living with one or more non - biological parents. Children in single - parent families are also twice as likely to commit suicide.
Page 298 · 5558
any hierarchy creates winners and losers. The winners are, of course, more likely to justify the hierarchy and the losers to criticize it.
Page 298 · 5559
(1) the collective pursuit of any valued goal produces a hierarchy
Page 298 · 5560
(2) it is the pursuit of goals that in large part lends life its sustaining meaning.
Page 298 · 5564
a complex, sophisticated culture allows for many games and many successful players, and that a well - structured culture allows the individuals that compose it to play and to win, in many different fashions.
Page 299 · 5581
It looks to me like the so - called oppression of the patriarchy was instead an imperfect collective attempt by men and women, stretching over millennia, to free each other from privation, disease and drudgery.
Page 301 · 5613
Max Horkheimer,
Page 301 · 5614
regarded himself as a Marxist.
Page 301 · 5614
He believed that Western principles of individual freedom or the free market were merely masks that served to disguise the true conditions of the West: inequality, domination and exploitation.
Page 302 · 5625
Marxist ideas were very attractive to intellectual utopians.
Page 306 · 5694
Derrida famously said (although he denied it, later): “Il n’y a pas de hors - texte”
Page 306 · 5696
“everything is interpretation,”
Page 311 · 5785
Here’s the fundamental problem: group identity can be fractionated right down to the level of the individual. That sentence should be written in capital letters. Every person is unique — and not just in a trivial manner: importantly, significantly, meaningfully unique. Group membership cannot capture that variability. Period.
Page 311 · 5789
The claim that all gender differences are a consequence of socialization is neither provable, nor disprovable,
Page 311 · 5791
We know, for example, from studies of adopted - out identical twins, 190 that culture can produce a fifteen - point (or one standard deviation) increase in IQ
Page 312 · 5801
if men and women act, voluntarily, to produce gender - unequal outcomes, those very choices must have been determined by cultural bias.
Page 312 · 5809
theory that the world would be much improved if boys were socialized like girls.
Page 312 · 5810
that aggression is a learned behaviour, and can therefore simply not be taught,
Page 312 · 5811
“boys should be socialized the way girls have been traditionally socialized, and they should be encouraged to develop socially positive qualities
Page 312 · 5815
There are so many things wrong with this idea
Page 312 · 5815
First, it is not the case that aggression is merely learned. Aggression is there at the beginning.
Page 313 · 5823
nonetheless socialized effectively by the age of four. 196 This is not, however, because they have been encouraged to act like little girls. Instead, they are taught or otherwise learn in early childhood to integrate their aggressive tendencies into more sophisticated behavioural routines.
Page 313 · 5826
Determination is its admirable, pro - social face.
Page 313 · 5832
Many of the female clients
Page 313 · 5833
have trouble in their jobs and family lives not because they are too aggressive, but because they are not aggressive enough.
Page 313 · 5834
Cognitive - behavioural therapists call the treatment of such people, generally characterized by the more feminine traits of agreeableness (politeness and compassion) and neuroticism (anxiety and emotional pain), “assertiveness training.”
Page 313 · 5836
do too much for others. They tend to treat those around them as if they were distressed children.
Page 314 · 5840
Because too - agreeable people bend over backwards for other people, they do not stand up properly for themselves. Assuming that others think as they do, they expect — instead of ensuring — reciprocity for their thoughtful actions. When this does not happen, they don’t speak up. They do not or cannot straightforwardly demand recognition. The dark side of their characters emerges, because of their subjugation, and they become resentful.
Page 314 · 5845
There are only two major reasons for resentment: being taken advantage of (or allowing yourself to be taken advantage of), or whiny refusal to adopt responsibility and grow up.
Page 315 · 5856
It’s a good idea to tell the person you are confronting exactly what you would like them to do instead of what they have done or currently are doing.
Page 315 · 5857
You might think, “if they loved me, they would know what to do.” That’s the voice of resentment.
Page 315 · 5861
Make your request as small and reasonable as possible — but ensure that its fulfillment would satisfy you.
Page 315 · 5865
Agreeable people will go along with whoever makes a suggestion, instead of insisting, at least sometimes, on their own way. So, they lose their way, and become indecisive and too easily swayed.
Page 315 · 5867
That’s the pathway to dependent personality disorder, technically speaking.
Page 316 · 5872
The Oedipal mother (and fathers can play this role too, but it’s comparatively rare) says to her child, “I only live for you.”
Page 316 · 5873
She does everything for her children. She ties their shoes, and cuts up their food, and lets them crawl into bed with her and her partner far too often.
Page 316 · 5875
The Oedipal mother makes a pact with herself, her children, and the devil himself. The deal is this: “Above all, never leave me. In return, I will do everything for you. As you age without maturing, you will become worthless and bitter, but you will never have to take any responsibility, and everything you do that’s wrong will always be someone else’s fault.” The children can accept or reject this — and they have some choice in the matter.
Page 317 · 5890
Too much protection devastates the developing soul.
Page 325 · 6042
When softness and harmlessness become the only consciously acceptable virtues, then hardness and dominance will start to exert an unconscious fascination.
Page 325 · 6043
men are pushed too hard to feminize, they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology.
Page 326 · 6048
Men have to toughen up. Men demand it, and women want it, even though they may not approve of the harsh and contemptuous attitude that is part and parcel of the socially demanding process that fosters and then enforces that toughness.
Page 326 · 6064
If they’re healthy, women don’t want boys. They want men. They want someone to contend with; someone to grapple with. If they’re tough, they want someone tougher. If they’re smart, they want someone smarter. They desire someone who brings to the table something they can’t already provide.
Page 330 · 6105
phenomenon known as “minimal group identification,” discovered by the social psychologist Henri Tajfel.
Page 331 · 6112
even when the subjects were informed of the way the groups were composed. People still favoured the co - members of their personal group.
Page 331 · 6113
Tajfel’s studies demonstrated two things:
Page 331 · 6113
first, that people are social; second, that people are antisocial.
Page 331 · 6114
People are social because they like the members of their own group.
Page 331 · 6115
People are antisocial because they don’t like the members of other groups.
Page 331 · 6117
because of the antipathy between cooperation and competition, both of which are socially and psychologically desirable. Cooperation is for safety, security and companionship. Competition is for personal growth and status.
Page 331 · 6119
given group is too small, it has no power or prestige, and cannot fend off other groups. In consequence, being one of its members is not that useful. If the group is too large, however, the probability of climbing near or to the top declines. So, it becomes too hard to get ahead.
Page 335 · 6190
what can be truly loved about a person is inseparable from their limitations.
Page 339 · 6260
that became Superman’s problem: he developed powers so extreme that he could “deus” himself out of anything, at any time. In consequence, in the 1980s, the franchise nearly died. Artist - writer John Byrne successfully rebooted it, rewriting Superman, retaining his biography, but depriving him of many of his new powers.
Page 339 · 6263
A superhero who can do anything turns out to be no hero at all.
Page 339 · 6264
He has nothing to strive against, so he can’t be admirable. Being of any reasonable sort appears to require limitation. Perhaps this is because Being requires Becoming,
Page 341 · 6302
When existence reveals itself as existentially intolerable, thinking collapses in on itself. In such situations — in the depths — it’s noticing, not thinking, that does the trick. Perhaps you might start by noticing this: when you love someone, it’s not despite their limitations. It’s because of their limitations.
Page 344 · 6360
Set aside some time to talk and to think about the illness or other crisis and how it should be managed every day. Do not talk or think about it otherwise. If you do not limit its effect, you will become exhausted, and everything will spiral into the ground.
Page 345 · 6363
When worries associated with the crisis arise at other times, remind yourself that you will think them through, during the scheduled period. This usually works. The parts of your brain that generate anxiety are more interested in the fact that there is a plan than in the details of the plan. Don’t schedule your time to think in the evening or at night. Then you won’t be able to sleep. If you can’t sleep, then everything will go rapidly downhill.
Page 345 · 6376
People are very tough. People can survive through much pain and loss. But to persevere they must see the good in Being. If they lose that, they are truly lost.
Page 349 · 6439
we would each ask ourselves the same single question: What had we each done to contribute to the situation we were arguing about? However small, however distant … we had each made some error. Then we would reunite, and share the results of our questioning: Here’s how I was wrong ….
Page 349 · 6442
you must truly want the answer. And the problem with doing that is that you won’t like the answer. When you are arguing with someone, you want to be right, and you want the other person to be wrong.
Page 350 · 6452
to seek peace — you have to decide that you want the answer, more than you want to be right. That’s the way out of the prison of your stubborn preconceptions. That’s the prerequisite for negotiation.
Page 352 · 6492
Orient yourself properly. Then — and only then — concentrate on the day. Set your sights at the Good, the Beautiful, and the True, and then focus pointedly and carefully on the concerns of each moment. Aim continually at Heaven while you work diligently on Earth.
Page 354 · 6522
What shall I do with a fallen soul? Offer a genuine and cautious hand, but do not join it in the mire.
Page 354 · 6528
How shall I educate my people? Share with them those things I regard as truly important.
Page 355 · 6535
What shall I do for God my Father? Sacrifice everything I hold dear to yet greater perfection
Page 355 · 6551
What shall I do when I despise what I have? Remember those who have nothing and strive to be grateful.
Page 357 · 6575
What shall I do when greed consumes me? Remember that it is truly better to give than to receive.
Page 357 · 6587
What shall I do when my enemy succeeds? Aim a little higher and be grateful for the lesson.
Page 358 · 6593
What shall I do when I’m tired and impatient? Gratefully accept an outstretched helping hand.
Page 358 · 6598
What shall I do with the fact of aging? Replace the potential of my youth with the accomplishments of my maturity.
Page 358 · 6608
What shall I do in the next dire moment? Focus my attention on the next right move.