Stand up straight with your shoulders back – Jordan Peterson

For the last number of months, a book written by a Christian has been in the best sellers list. 12 rules for life by Jordan Peterson is well worth reading, I have found it tremendously helpful and strongly recommend it. However, it is a long book and I am aware that few will read the book, so I will be posting a few of my highlights over the coming weeks.

The first chapter is long but was one of the most helpful.

The basic premise is that all life, from lobsters to humans, has adapted to its environment to produce a dominance hierarchy. Chicken’s have a pecking order, cows know their position in the milking queue, humans know where they fit in the hierarchy. Lobsters are the extreme example according to Peterson and he goes into great depth about how their hierarchy is formed. This hierarchy matters for us and for lobsters.

If you’re at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy – as either lobster or human – life is harder on you. Low status lobsters and humans produce less serotonin. “Low serotonin means decreased confidence. Low serotonin means more response to stress and costlier physical preparedness for emergency…higher serotonin levels…are characterized by less illness, misery and death.

He powerfully describes the problems of being at the lower levels of the hierarchy and the challenges of moving from it.

If you are a low-status ……. male or female, you have nowhere to live (or nowhere good). Your food is terrible, when you’re not going hungry. You’re in poor physical and mental condition. You’re of minimal romantic interest to anyone, unless they are as desperate as you. You are more likely to fall ill, age rapidly, and die young, with few, if any, to mourn you. Even money itself may prove of little use. You won’t know how to use it, because it is difficult to use money properly, particularly if you are unfamiliar with it. Money will make you liable to the dangerous temptations of drugs and alcohol, which are much more rewarding if you have been deprived of pleasure for a long period. Money will also make you a target for predators and psychopaths, who thrive on exploiting those who exist on the lower rungs of society. The bottom of the dominance hierarchy is a terrible, dangerous place to be.

It is therefore important to produce more serotonin and move up the hierarchy. He gives practical suggestions.

Look at your sleep……………..

I always ask my clinical clients first about sleep. Do they wake up in the morning at approximately the time the typical person wakes up, and at the same time every day? If the answer is no, fixing that is the first thing I recommend. It doesn’t matter so much if they go to bed at the same time each evening, but waking up at a consistent hour is a necessity.

But not just your sleep. Act and think as if you are at the top of the hierarchy, that produces more serotonin.

So, attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence.

I have been trying to put this into practice! So, when you find me speaking my mind you know what I am doing! Do the same yourself……..

Written by Tony Thompson

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