By: Staff | Published: December 12th, 2022
To hear it from Jordan Peterson, “tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie” is one of the most important credos to live your life by. This is a deceptively simple phrase for what Peterson describes as a very complex psychological and social phenomenon, so how do you do it?
Telling the truth is firstly about being honest to yourself. This is your personal truth. Once you stop lying to yourself, you can begin only speaking and acting in a way that you truly believe and will therefore be truthful with others.
In the rest of the article, we are going to learn about Jordan Peterson’s thoughts on the truth and how it applies to your life by looking at his own introduction to living the truth, understanding how he defines truth and personal truth, briefly touching on his book, 12 Rules for Life, and learning about how you can tell the truth and live it to improve your own life.
Jordan Peterson: “Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie”
Jordan Peterson is famous for his 12 Rules for Life, the eighth of which is “Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie.” This philosophy is not something that he limits to his books. In fact, he talks about it quite often because he views it as an essential part of living your best life.
Telling the truth involves a deep understanding and awareness of your own thought processes. It requires you to look at not just what you are speaking, but also what you are thinking. When you can do this and assess your own thoughts, you can see how much of what you think you really believe and remove every thought and potential action that you view as untrue.
Jordan Peterson’s Revelation on Truth
Jordan Peterson’s move toward understanding truth and how we as people use it started out as a personal journey. In an incredible speech, he said that back when he was in his mid-20s, he thought about how he spoke and realized that almost everything he said was a lie.
This was not quite as diabolical as it sounds. In fact, to hear him speak about it, it all seems so innocent.
He speaks of bending information for the sake of winning arguments or doing the same to come out on top of a debate. He also speaks about how he used to demonstrate his own skills and intellectual prowess by embellishing ever-so-slightly on what the reality was.
The same was true for information that he had picked up and was repeating. This information may not have rung true, but it was the orthodoxy, and so he would repeat this information as academics do.
The Dismantling of a Lie
Of course, not all of these events were or had to be outright fabrications. Most untruths are simply omissions. He would leave information out that would go against his position, and he did this on purpose so as not to harm his position.
But perhaps the most salient point of all was that Jordan Peterson did not speak these kinds of falsehoods any more than any of his peers. All of this was perfectly normal.
So What Is the Truth?
It is easy to say that the truth is the solid objective reality that everything adheres to, but human perception is a lot more complicated than that. This is why Jordan Peterson talks about finding your personal truth.
Every individual’s personal truth is created from the sum of all of their own experiences. This means that people’s personal truths can differ somewhat but not that one person is correct and truthful and the other is incorrect and lying.
Everyone’s personal truth is what they know to be true.
This may sound like a self-defeating philosophy at first glance, but it touches on another famous revelation from an Ancient Greek philosopher. Although accounts of the event differ, and it may even have been apocryphal, Socrates is famed for realizing that the source of his wisdom is that he is aware of and accepting of the limitations of his knowledge.
The Essence of Personal Truth
As you can see, telling the truth does not mean that you are aware of every piece of information in existence and are reciting it, but rather that you know that you are not saying something while disbelieving it, while thinking the information sits on rocky foundations, or purposefully as an outright malicious fabrication.
The truth is about being authentic, and speaking truthfully is speaking with authenticity. Although Jordan Peterson admits that this is to an extent “an act of faith,” that is just a normal way of being and far more natural than lying.
Truth, even when sitting on a foundation of faith, is “the highest value,” Peterson believes
Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life
Jordan Peterson believes so strongly in the importance of telling and living the truth that “Tell the truth – or, at least don’t lie” is Rule 8 in his book, 12 Rules for Life.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos was released in 2018 and is described as everything between a philosophy book and a self-help manual. Because of its more straightforward writing style, it has sold more than five million copies worldwide and played perhaps the biggest part in Jordan Peterson’s rising fame.
That Peterson would dedicate an entire twelfth of these holistic rules for dealing with life shows how important he feels telling the truth and living your personal truth is. Furthermore, it shows that telling the truth does not live in isolation but is instead something that needs to be integrated into every part of your life in order to live your best.
How Do You Change Your Life to Tell the Truth?
Telling the truth is essential but not as easy to achieve as it may sound, according to Jordan Peterson. Not speaking outright fabrications is the simple part. The difficult part is stopping lying to yourself.
When you are thinking something and about to act on it, ask yourself whether you truly believe what you are thinking and believe in what you are about to do. If the answer is no, then you are not living your personal truth if you move forward with it.
While it can be disorienting at first to fragment yourself enough to be aware of how you are lying to yourself, it is worth the change. The parts of yourself that hold you back will hurt to “burn off,” as Jordan Peterson puts it, but the changes this brings will improve not only your own life, but society as a whole as more people do so.
If you hear Jordan Peterson tell the truth, you cannot necessarily be certain that what he is saying is absolute, unchangeable reality, but you can be certain that he believes it and is speaking honestly.
We learned today about Jordan Peterson’s thoughts on truth and how these can be incorporated into your life. Importantly, we learned about how personal truth is the foundation of living and speaking in an authentic way and a realistic way to achieve that.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out our Jordan Peterson Book List.