12 Rules for an emotionally healthy life

Throughout the past 12 months, Jordan Peterson's book, 12 Rules for Life, has taken the world by storm.  And since it's release, I've heard many individuals like Malcolm Gladwell, Megan McArdle, and Tyler Cowen release their own 12 rules for life.  Thinking that it would be a fun exercise, I decided to write out my own rules, but with an exclusive focus on emotional wellbeing.

In doing so, I did my best to clarify what I've learned about personal development and emotional wellbeing from my own journey, my studies, mentors, clients, and friends because I wanted to lay out what unspoken "rules" I believe hold the potential to revolutionize, strengthen, and transform one's life and emotional wellbeing, regardless of an individuals level of maturity. 

Therefore, if you are struggling with grief, pain, an addiction, and taking action and building momentum toward the person you want to be, I believe that these rules will provide a sense of structure to the chaos of living.


My 12 Rules for an emotionally healthy life:

Rule 1) Practice showing radical compassion, acceptance, and kindness toward yourself in moments of failure, weakness, pain, and shame.

Rule 2) At a minimum, hang out with a trusted, close friend, one-on-one, at least one time every week.

Rule 3) Explore your feelings and emotions daily, with kindness and compassion, for the sake of connecting to your inner being and growing in self-awareness.

Rule 4) Pursue silence, solitude, and times of reflection and prayer.

Rule 5) Become best friends with your journal and write in it as frequently as you can.

Rule 6) Createmore than you consume.

Rule 7) Master the art of taking care of yourself and meeting your needs in a healthy way.

Rule 8) Pursue what brings you pleasure, have fun, be spontaneous, and live a life full of adventures.

Rule 9) Take time to regularly ponder, define, and write down what is meaningful to you and orient your life around such things.

Rule 10) Surround yourself with strong leaders, teachers, and wise counsel.

Rule 11) Set small, incremental goals toward the self-defined things that you're avoiding and are afraid of, that you know you need to do, and wholeheartedly pursue these goals to the best of your ability.

Rule 12) Invite God into every one of these rules, and layout your emotions before him as you do so.


*Bonus* Rule 13- If you are in an emotional crisis, or you experienced adversity and trauma as a child, or you are recognizing unhealthy cycles in your life, or if you feel stuck, I would add this one to the list:

Schedule counseling sessions on a consistentbasis.


Whenever I notice that something "feels off" inside or that I've lost the sense of peace in my heart, the chances are high that one or more of these rules has been neglected.  Whenever this becomes the case I simply adjust my steps, re-calibrate my aim, and get back on course.

I'm looking forward to re-evaluating these rules next year and seeing what points I would add or subtract.

I'll be breaking these rules down individually in more posts to come too.

But something that I think is more important than reading my rules is listing out your own...

So, from your experience and journey, what are your 12 rules for living an emotionally healthy life?

Doubling the value of your sessions

There is something ingrained into us that drives us to want to belong, to follow others, to fit into a tribe.  If we see that others are going in a different, more exciting direction than we are, we instinctively want to follow.

Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing then, because we can use this instinct to our advantage.

It’s the reason why the saying that you're the average of the five people you are closest to is true. 

Tribes move us... up or down, forward or backward.  

If you want to improve your diet, hang out with friends who are healthier than you.

If you want to learn to code, find friends to learn with.

If you want to double the value of your counseling sessions, find another friend to do it with you.  (And if you can, find two friends.)

Then meet with them every week to share about what you're both learning.  You'll expose each other to twice the knowledge, mistakes, and experience every week than you would have if you were running on your own.

With a second friend, you'll triple it.

And if your a consultant, therapist, or counselor is any good, they'll have more than triple the knowledge, expertise, and experience in this area than the three of you combined.  Now, you have a team, a tribe, a group to push you forward.

We need each other more than we realize.

Together, we help one another shortcut our way up in life.

if your heart speaks

if your heart tells you that it's best to be quiet,
can you listen to it
and rest secure in the shadows
and silence
as another man steals the show?

if your heart tells you that you won't ever
hold fame, that you weren’t made for the lights and screens,
can you accept it
and find joy and significance in what you are,
despite never being adored and widely seen?

if your heart tells you there’s more to life than what you know,
can you let go of what little you do know,
in hopes of finding more?

If your heart tells you she’s a lovely woman
but she’s not the right one
can you lay her down
because you know it's what is best?

if your heart tells you you’re hiding from yourself,
can you lay your pride down
and face the pain
that you run from?

If your heart tells you that you’ve taken the wrong path,
do you have what it takes to turn back for the right one,
despite how far you already traveled?

if your heart tells you you're chasing the wrong dream
will you lay it down
to go after the right one?

When your heart talks...
do you listen?

It's not about the porn

During a session this week, one of my clients shared with me how he always struggles with looking at porn the moment his wife leaves him home alone with the kids. 

Knowing that having a "craving" is anything but random, I asked why he thought he was tempted in this particular situation. 

At first, he didn’t know, so I asked him what emotion he feels whenever he’s left alone with the kids.


"I feel stuck."

And upon further thought, "Then my fear of being trapped turns into frustration, and then into anxiety, and from there the urge to look at porn arises and grows with my anxiety..."

“Oh, wow.”

It clicked.

He found the reason for his temptation. 

He wanted freedom and relief from feeling stuck and his anxiety, not porn.

There's a key to understanding any compulsive habit in this story, and it's that there’s always a reason for our temptations.  It doesn't matter whether the struggle is with shopping, gambling, drinking or any other relieving substance or behavior you can think of.

This man wasn’t looking for porn because that’s what he wanted to do, or because he was immoral, or weak, he wanted to look at porn because he wanted relief from the suffocating feelings of his anxieties and other emotions.

Thus, being tempted by porn is never something to be ashamed for, it’s only a signal that your heart is under some form of distress or pain and it wants relief.  Your job is to learn how to see and understand the signs and signals and to then find comfort in a way that won't hurt you or those around you over time.