World-renowned author and meditation practitioner Sharon Salsburg said, “The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” And Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer said, “It is not primarily our physical selves that limit us, but rather our mindset about our physical limits.”
I couldn’t think of a better quote to introduce part two of our two-part blog post covering my exciting podcast interview with the brilliant psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson. That’s because in part two today, we’re discussing the keys to building confidence and attracting the life you want, and talking about how to overcome feeling lazy and unmotivated in your life. We’re also discussing why cultivating inner peace is important, and learning what Jordan has to say about money — and how understanding the psychology of money can help you earn more.
If you haven’t listened to part one, where we discussed marriage, relationships, resentment, and healing the past, I highly recommend heading there first before continuing.
The entire conversation was absolutely captivating. It ended up going an hour longer than we planned — almost two and a half hours in total! — which is why we had to split it into two parts. (It’s worth it though!)
Let’s jump right in with a recap on who Jordan is. Then, we’ll start by discussing how Jordan says he developed confidence.
I’ve had the honor of interviewing Dr. Peterson in the past (Episodes #664 and #665), and it was a joy to have him back on the show! Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist, and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, #1 for nonfiction in 2018 in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Brazil and Norway, and slated for translation into 50 languages.
With his students and colleagues, Dr. Peterson has published more than a hundred scientific papers, advancing the modern understanding of creativity, competence, and personality, while his now-classic book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (released in June 2018 as a new bestselling author-read audiobook) transformed the psychology of religion. He was nominated for five consecutive years as one of Ontario’s Best University Lecturers and is one of only three professors rated as “life-changing” in the U of T’s underground student handbook of course ratings.
Dr. Peterson recently came out with his new book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life, and I suggest you pick up a copy! This book is full of wisdom on how to bring order to the chaos of our daily lives.
Obviously, if you’re looking for real, actionable, and effective self-improvement insights, Jordan’s a great guy to turn to. And what’s one of the biggest and most critical keys to self-improvement?
Confidence. Believe it or not, it’s something Jordan — just like you and me — has struggled with before. Let’s learn how he found his!
It’s normal to feel nervous and anxious about the big things in life, like figuring out how to advance in our careers, getting our finances in order, or navigating different important relationships. But Jordan says those are anxieties we can overcome through various confidence-building exercises and some time spent in self-reflection.
On Jordan’s website Self-Authoring, for example, three exercises can help you with taking stock of any feelings that might be affecting your confidence levels. One exercise invites you to write about your past (Past Authoring), one about your present (Present Authoring), and one about your future (Future Authoring).
In particular, the Present Authoring exercises can help you assess your faults and virtues. According to Jordan, recognizing your faults is a good thing. By identifying and recording those things we consider to be our faults, we’re also getting some insight into what exactly is inspiring so much insecurity and anxiety in us, or making it feel nearly impossible to take action on the things we know would make us feel better or would improve our lives in some way.
Because here’s the thing: No one should be beating themselves into the ground because they aren’t everything they think they should be. Beating yourself into the ground is destructive because it makes it that much harder to get up and improve. Instead, realize that it’s actually a gift to be able to identify and own whatever it is you think your faults might be: that self-awareness is the first step to creating major change and building confidence in yourself.
According to Jordan, this is a lot like what happens in therapy. You identify what you believe your faults are and make a plan to change your perspective or your actions. The only thing is that you can’t let those faults beat you down, as we mentioned earlier — you have to want to change them.
“You still have to think strategically and figure out how to … [make changes] step by step. Carl Rogers, the psychotherapist, pointed out that for therapy to be successful, the person has to want to change. They have to recognize that they have a problem. If someone is mandated by the court to attend therapy, it’s very difficult for the therapist to convince them that they have a problem.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson
Jordan makes a powerful point there: change has to start with us. It can be really hard to spend time thinking about what it is you might need to change about who you are or what you’re doing with your life, but that’s okay. There is no magic solution when it comes to self-improvement or growing your confidence — just patience and dedication.
In these chaotic times, many people have found themselves feeling goalless, lazy, unmotivated, and unsure of what they want to do. If you’d like to turn your life around and find the motivation to unlock a life you believe is greater than the one you have right now, here are some tips from Jordan on how to begin that journey.
The first tip is pretty surprising:
“[Motivation] can be found in shame, in guilt, in [your] conscience, in anger. You can find it in interest and engagement and beauty. There are lots of pathways. If you’re angry about something in the world, that’s an indication in some sense, that it’s your problem. It’s speaking to you in a moral sense. Maybe you’re the person who should do something about it. Maybe it’ll take your whole life to figure out how to do that, but it’s bothering you for a reason.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson
See? I told you that was surprising! We’re always trying to escape negative emotions and experiences, but Jordan advises that we should allow them to guide us, suggesting that negative emotions can be a pathway to transformation.
Take the emotion of shame as an example: Asking yourself “What am I ashamed of?” can help you identify if you’re feeling ashamed of something you might actually be able to heal or fix. Instead of allowing the shame to crush you or turn you into a complete nihilist, you can respond positively to it by spending time with the feeling, and working to figure out what it’s trying to communicate to you or teach you.
In Jordan’s experience, this works. This practical knowledge demonstrates how you can get a really long way with very small, incremental changes, like taking just a few moments to self-reflect and notice what’s bothering you.
Although many people say we shouldn’t let others’ negative comments and opinions hold us back from taking action on our goals, Jordan believes differently. He says that by listening to other people’s opinions, we can learn a lot about who we are and what we’re capable of, which can help us improve our lives. Here’s how he explains that:
“Generally, someone else’s comment is unlikely to bring you to a halt unless you value that comment. Imagine you’re going to pursue a goal but you’re full of doubts — so 40% [of your mindset] are doubts and 60% [of your mindset is on] the goal —then five or six people object [to what you’re trying to do] using [your own] doubts. Well, it’s going to be really hard on you. Partly what that means is you probably haven’t thought it through completely. What are you doing and why? If you have a bunch of doubts and they haven’t been addressed, then you’re vulnerable and it may be that your goal is not everything it could be. It may be that your strategy isn’t fully fleshed out. You [must] have a conversation with your doubts and take them seriously and see if you can construct a goal that you’re on board with.”- Dr. Jordan Peterson
What Jordan is saying is that when we have specific doubts about what we’re trying to do, and then find our confidence in ourselves completely demolished when someone criticizes us by citing those exact same doubts, it’s possible that we haven’t actually thought our goal through all the way, or that we need to shift gears and try going in another direction.
As long as our goals are driven from an ethical standpoint to enhance the world, or to ease suffering, Jordan believes it will be harder for the criticism to dismiss your goal rather than help you flesh out your strategy to achieve it.
From my experience, helping another person and being generous is one of the most satisfying things we can do — and it’s one of the main reasons I have this podcast. I was interested to hear Jordan’s perspective on this considering he’s helped millions of people either directly through his clinical sessions, or indirectly through his videos, books, and courses.
According to Jordan, if you want to enjoy a lot of wins in life — whether that’s successful relationships, or a successful career and financial life — generosity is what will make you a true winning “athlete!”
He explains why:
“There’s no better strategy for life [than being generous]. Imagine I take two people and I say, I’m going to give you $100 and you have to give some of it to the person beside you — and they can either agree or disagree with [how the person chooses to split the money] If they disagree, you don’t get anything. Classical economists would say the person should take the $100 and offer the person next to them $1, and the person should accept it because why not — they get a dollar instead of nothing, but what happens if you don’t offer that other person something close to 50, 50? They tell you to go to hell! Why would people do that? The answer is we don’t just play one game with other people. We play a repeating game.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson
He goes on to ask you to imagine there was a crowd watching this game play out. If you offer the person next to you $70, and the person says something like, “I’m not sure that’s fair to you to take more than half of the $100, but if it’s okay with you, sure.” — everyone in the crowd will see that.
Now, when it’s the crowd’s turn to play the game, and they get an opportunity to choose who they’re going to play with, guess who they’ll pick? You, of course. This type of generous behavior turns you into the person that everyone wants to play with. That means more support, popularity, and stronger relationships in your life.
“If you want to have everything you could possibly want and more, then be a good person. The better person you are, the more likely that is to happen. That doesn’t mean that you’re completely protected against getting cut off at the knees, but there’s no better strategy.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson
And if you’re worried that the idea of being generous so that you can win sounds a little selfish, it’s okay. Jordan says there’s nothing wrong with considering your own best interests, and here’s why:
In the $100 example, you could argue that the only reason you gave the person you were playing with more than half of the $100 you were given — rather than just giving them a dollar, or just $50 — is because you wanted to be popular. You didn’t want to be picked last in the game. You wanted people to like you.
Maybe that sounds selfish, but what you’re actually saying with this behavior is: “I want to win in a way that makes you win.” So appreciate that relationship between helping others to help yourself: it results in victory for everyone.
Jordan has been a college professor for most of his life (who aren’t typically multi-millionaires.) However, with Jordan’s success these past few years with his books, I’ve wondered how he’s learned to manage his mindset while navigating new financial territory.
Here’s what he had to say about his current relationship with money:
“I’m not hedonistic in the manner that money would aid [me and my life] in some sense, partly because I’m not 16, I’m 60, so what am I going to do with [more money]? I’ve also learned to be careful what you buy because it’s not clear who owns who when you buy something.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson
How true that what we own can often end up owning us!
Likewise, many of you want to attract more wealth, gain more wealth, and make more money, especially through business growth. Jordan’s perspective here is that, while hard work and patience are both important, conscientiousness, industriousness, and orderliness are particularly important.
For those of you working on developing a product for your business, this is great to remember. Being conscientious, industrious, and orderly will help ensure you’re always asking the right questions, and paying attention to what’s most important. It can also help keep you focused on enduring the most challenging parts of business growth: all those little nuts and bolts that can be really tedious, frustrating, or even boring to manage. You just have to remember: We tend to despise things that are necessary to our success … at the expense of our success! So endure — and grow!
Guys, this interview was so fantastic—that extra hour was worth it! I hope you enjoyed part two as much as I did. Make sure you listen to the full episode to get the detailed information and don’t forget to share the episode with someone who needs to hear it. You could change someone’s life!
Make sure you visit Jordan’s website if you’d like to purchase any of his books, his merchandise, or to register for some of the courses he discussed. You can also visit his YouTube channel, and I highly recommend checking out his podcast too.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge Jordan because I know he’s been through more than most. He’s still going through a lot of pain, challenges, and adversity. I acknowledge him for continually showing up in times of uncertainty. The fact that Jordan continues to show up and serve is truly commendable. I’m incredibly grateful that he took the time to come on my show and share this knowledge because I know the impact it’ll have. In all these difficulties that Jordan has experienced, his strength of character shines through in his definition of Greatness:
“[Greatness is] the capacity to utter and abide by beautiful truths.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson
If you enjoyed this episode, let us know on Instagram! Tag Jordan, @jordan.b.peterson, and me, @lewishowes, with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways! That wraps up this interview in its entirety, if you haven’t checked out part one yet, click here.