The following 121 rules for a sovereign life are based on many sources and on many philosophies. Nevertheless, all 121 of them share three common threads: an affirmative approach toward life, a deeply responsible stance against living, and an unconditional love for freedom.
For too long have I searched for a set of rules on which to base my life upon. Now, with the help of great thinkers, I have formulated a more-or-less comprehensive corpus of laws. The inspiration was the excellent book of Dr Jordan Peterson “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” and an article of his on Quora, on which I have drawn heavily.
The rules are categorised in 6 sections, depending on the scope and meaning. For the sake of providing an easy reading, I have not included the attributions to the original authors. For example, all the rules of the fifth section are taken from a video of Sam Ovens. This is by no means an original work, so be advised to check the third appendix, where I provide sources and links for further reading.
I hope this collection proves beneficiary to you, as it had to me.
Don’t forget to share it, if it resonates within you.
121 rules for a sovereign life.
The Way of Wisdom.
- Tell the truth… or at least don’t lie ✾ Do not live or work in an environment that promotes untruthfulness.
- Speak the truth about unpleasant things ✾ But do not take too much pleasure in it.
- Do not hide unwanted things in the fog ✾ For they will rot and their foul smell will make your life ugly.
- Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know ✾ Listen to them hard enough so that they will share it with you.
- Turn meaningless gossip into meaningful conversation ✾ And watch how people respond.
- Be careful who you share good news with; be careful who you share bad news with ✾ Accept other people’s good news cheerfully and bad news solemnly.
- Don’t be around negative people ✾ Negativity is counter-productive and contagious.
- Do not be quick to denigrate social institutions or artistic achievement ✾ Aim at understanding and appreciating, not criticising.
- Make friends with people who want the best for you ✾ Not only with people you want the best for them.
- Ask someone to do you a favour, so they can ask you to do them a favour ✾ Build familiarity and trust in your social interactions.
- Do not try to rescue someone who does not want to be rescued ✾ And be very careful about rescuing someone who does.
- When you see fraud, say fraud ✾ Lest you become a fraud yourself.
- Never offer your opinion without having been asked ✾ And only if the recipient is in the right frame of mind to receive counsel.
- When in service, be clear in stating your opinion, if you disagree with what is being said ✾ Doing so in hindsight is useless and undignified.
- Do not pursue happiness; pursue meaningful ‒ for you ‒ goals ✾ Happiness will follow when you are progressing towards your goals by overcoming obstacles.
- Before sleep, set your personal space in order and prepare for the next morning ✾ Waste no precious morning time on superfluous activities.
- Plan as if all is left to chance; execute as if nothing is left to chance ✾ Plan meticulously, execute decisively.
- Try to make one ‒ or every ‒ room in your house as beautiful as possible ✾ But not at the expense of practicality.
- Do not put your trust in wealth ✾ Trust only your ability to generate wealth.
- Do not associate yourself with people who do not show control around money, booze or the opposite sex ✾ Always exhibit restrain and act with dignity.
- Live being true to the single purpose of the moment ✾ There is surely nothing other than that.
- Pay close attention ✾ Immerse yourself into the drama as an impartial spectator and watch closely how the agents act.
- Never assume that weakness signals virtue, or power equals vice ✾ Do not underestimate the callousness of the weak or the goodness of the strong.
- Remember that what you do not yet know is more important than what you already know ✾ And that you don’t always know what you don’t know.
- Know thyself ✾ Become aware of your own insufficiencies: your cowardice, malevolence, resentment and hatred.
- Delve into philosophy, without becoming soft ✾ Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist.
- Be tirelessly curious ✾ Never stop learning new things.
- Do not allow yourself to become arrogant or resentful ✾ Stay modest but not too humble.
- Be precise in your speech ✾ And choose your words wisely.
- Read great books or something written by someone great or significant ✾ Spare your time from reading sub-standard texts.
The Way of Power.
- Maintain diligently your connections with people ✾ Do not underestimate the effectiveness of social norms.
- Be ready to lead people ✾ Always lead from the front line.
- Be disagreeable but not so that you seem and act like an idiot ✾ Be agreeable enough to be kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm and considerate only to those who deserve it.
- Leave no false accusation or implied insult unanswered ✾ Lest you seem a weak fool.
- Write a letter to the government if you see something that needs fixing ✾ And propose a solution.
- Do not do things that you truly hate ✾ Consider that a clear gain; it’s not necessary to do things you love.
- Make at least one thing better in every single place you go ✾ Including yourself; that’s also a criterion for deciding whether to go somewhere or not.
- Set your household in perfect order before you criticise the world ✾ And do not delude yourself into thinking that you can set the world in perfect order.
- Simplify your thoughts, your actions, your life ✾ Simple but not simplistic, refined but not pretentious.
- Dress like the person you want to be ✾ Do not fake it ‒ act it.
- Store up wealth for the future ✾ Build your own vast fortune.
- Take extreme responsibility and ownership of every situation ✾ Keep yourself accountable for everything.
- Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one ✾ Just do the right thing ‒ the rest doesn’t matter.
- Be always clean and neat ✾ But do not shy away from dirt when the task in hand demands it.
- Treasure time ✾ For it is the only hard currency of life.
- Do not wait for those who are always late in appointments ✾ For lack of respect for someone else’s time is lack of respect for his/her personality.
- Implant in your mind that ‘in due time’ is ‘right now’ ✾ Address all issues ‘right now’ and schedule their solution immediately.
- Do not let anger have the reins of your chariot ✾ Use anger as a log to feed your fire, not as fire to burn down your house.
- Treat yourself as if you were someone that you are responsible for helping ✾ Because you are.
- Always keep a promise, a secret and your word ✾ Be the most dependable person in every group.
- Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today ✾ But aspire to be measured against great men, not random fellows.
- Do not engage in tasks half-heartedly ✾ Let everything you do be representative of your character.
- Speak with resolution and confidence ✾ Your voice is a weapon ‒ learn to wield it effectively.
- Don’t do unnecessarily dangerous things ✾ Take only well calculated risks.
- Treat all other life-forms with respect ‒ not just the fluffy ones ✾ But remember that they are not human.
- Never settle for time-dependent solutions and false security ✾ Complacency will bloody kill you!
- Know that winners take ‒ if not all ‒ most, and that the bottom is not a good place to be ✾ But far more depressing is being just above average.
- Keep your body strong, fit and healthy ✾ Able to carry out your duties.
- Have good manners, and, better still, be upright in your intentions and actions ✾ Good manners without good intentions are despicable.
- Promote the best in people ✾ Be exemplary.
- In a profitable year, give to charity 9% of your profits ✾ Never forget that fortunes are built and destroyed by fortune.
The Way of Courage.
- Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act ✾ Sly manipulation of truth is a sign of a lesser character ‒ don’t do it.
- Keep a war journal ✾ Log your schedule, diet, activities, thoughts, sentiments, personal relations, training, affirmations and vision.
- Don’t be ‘too’ civilised ✾ Keep yourself safe from decay and degeneration.
- Be calm and carry on ✾ Perseverance is the ultimate power in the universe; if you don’t give up you haven’t yet lost.
- Establish a destination and a path ✾ Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at achieving just that.
- Never ‒ ever ‒ give up on life ✾ And if life seems meaningless to you, give life a meaning that resonates with your soul.
- Remember that the obstacle is the way ✾ And happiness comes from overcoming obstacles.
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back ✾ As if gods are pulling you up.
- Don’t avoid something frightening if it stands in your way ✾ Rejoice in adversity.
- Stand up for the oppressed ✾ And don’t let oppressive forces take a hold in society.
- Be vigilant against the rise of totalitarianism ✾ Live and contribute in societies that promote personal, economical and political freedom.
- Be better, not bitter ✾ Act so that you leave no space for regret or remorse.
- Never forget to look up at the stars ✾ As a reminder that, as all humans, you are both exceptionally unique and utterly insignificant.
- Admire beauty in all things, but without turpitude ✾ Remember that beauty is a cruel mistress.
- Never ‒ ever ‒ complain about anything ✾ Especially not about a badly dealt hand; adapt to any situation and learn to play any hand.
- Be grateful in spite of your suffering ✾ Build mental and physical fortitude to endure any suffering.
- In every situation pause and feel the Force flowing through you ✾ Whether summoned or not, the Force is always present.
- Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you ✾ For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
- Live courageously and fear nothing ✾ For courage leads to freedom, and freedom leads to bliss.
- Become insane and desperate ✾ Common sense will not accomplish great things.
- Do or do not; there is no try ✾ Do not let empty or weak rationalisations hinder action.
- Confront death with courage and a smile ✾ Cheers to that!
- Do what must be done, do not hesitate, show yourself no mercy ✾ And you always know what must be done.
- Discipline your spirit ✾ Excellence is not a random or heaven-sent event, but a continuous process, a conscious habit.
The Way of Man.
- Be pious and reverent ✾ Worship Nature and consult the ancestral spirits.
- Provide a warm and secure home to your family ✾ A man’s house is his castle ‒ build a beautiful and strong one.
- Protect your daughters from exploitation ✾ Teach them prudence without making them hard.
- Protect your sons from their own recklessness ✾ Teach them prudence without making them soft.
- Guard the women and children from harm and want ✾ That’s the foremost duty of a man.
- Dare to slaughter an animal ✾ For food or protection.
- Organize yourself with other families ✾ Respect and reinforce the bonds of society.
- Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationship ✾ Cut and stack logs to keep the fire in the hearth alive.
- Be faithful and respectful to your wife ✾ Be a steadfast companion, a caring friend and a wonderful lover.
- Be hospitable to friends and strangers ✾ Keep your cellar door open.
- Gather your friends to the banquet ✾ Respect the primordial feast rituals.
- Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them ✾ Raise by example good and strong children.
- Make and fix things with your hands and your tools ✾ Learn to be useful and crafty.
- Always keep your armour, weapons and spirit battle-ready ✾ Negligence is an extremely dangerous thing – don’t be negligent!
The Way of Everyday Excellence.
- Resist impulses ✾ Resist all urges to eat or drink bad food, to buy useless and unnecessary stuff, or to distract yourself from your vision.
- Love pain ✾ Everyday take yourself to dark places, confront difficulties, feel the pain and love it.
- Stretch and exercise ✾ Regardless of whether you want to; train your mind to love the burn and revel in the burst of power.
- Eat clean ✾ Get a healthy diet plan and stick to it; don’t get fooled by cheat days’ and monitor your numbers.
- Meditate ✾ Meditate religiously without ever missing a single day.
- Sleep well ✾ Make sure you wake up at the same, early time everyday; don’t delude yourself into thinking that a good night’s sleep is weakness.
- Organize your life ✾ Keep your office, house, car, drawers, desktop, email and everything in your life clean, tidy, orderly and organized.
- Manage your time ✾ Plan your years, months, weeks, days and hours deliberately and stick to it; say ‘no’ to every rude intrusion.
- Set goals ✾ Be absolutely precise, specific and honest; only those who know exactly what they want can come up with an effective plan to get it.
- Exercise gratitude ✾ What you now enjoy, being alive, not starving, not naked, under a roof or not terminal ill, is priceless ‒ be grateful!
- Persiste! ✾ Stick to your plan daily and never waver despite emotion, drama, failure, uncertainty or difficulty.
Distillation of Delphic Maxims.
- Respect, rule and know yourself.
- Scorn softness and do not stoop to it.
- Live frugally, nobly and ascetically.
- Endure suffering; practice and work for beauty.
- Refrain from ethics; act with importance and no remorse.
- Guard yourself from love, flattery and people.
- Accept change and things as they may or may not be.
- Govern over pleasures, your tongue and luck.
- Treasure your time, for life is short and lonely.
- Pursue wisdom, power, death.
- Live in obscurity and pass away smiling.
I. Cautionary reminder: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene.
- Never outshine the master.
- Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies.
- Conceal your intentions.
- Always say less than necessary.
- So much depends on reputation, guard it with your life.
- Court attention at all costs.
- Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit.
- Make other people seek you out.
- Win through your actions, never through argument.
- Avoid the unhappy or the unlucky.
- Learn to keep people dependent on you.
- Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim.
- When asking for help, appeal to people’s self interest.
- Pose as a friend, work as a spy.
- Crush your enemy totally.
- Use absence to increase strength and honour.
- Cultivate an air of unpredictability.
- Do not build a fortress to protect yourself.
- Know who you’re dealing with.
- Do not commit to anyone.
- Play a sucker to catch a sucker, seem dumber than your mark.
- Transform weakness into power.
- Concentrate your forces.
- Play the perfect courtier.
- Re-create yourself.
- Keep your hands clean.
- Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult-like following.
- Enter action with boldness.
- Plan all the way to the end.
- Make your accomplishments seem effortless.
- Control the options, get others to play with the cards you deal.
- Play to people’s fantasies.
- Discover each man’s thumbscrew.
- Be royal in your own fashion.
- Master the art of timing.
- Disdain things you cannot have, ignoring them is the best revenge.
- Create compelling spectacles.
- Think as you like but behave like others.
- Stir up waters to catch fish.
- Despise the free lunch.
- Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes.
- Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.
- Work on the hearts and minds of others.
- Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect.
- Preach the need to change, but never reform too much at once.
- Never appear too perfect.
- Do not go past the mark you aimed for.
- Assume formlessness.
II. Distillation of Delphic Maxims in Ancient Greek.
- σεαυτὸν σέβου, ἄρχε, γνῶθι.
- καταφρόνει καὶ μὴ καταδέχου μαλακίαν.
- βιοῦ ὁλιγαρκῶς, εὐγενικῶς καὶ ἀσκητικῶς.
- παιδείας ἀντέχου, φιλοκαλίαν ἄσκει κι ἀπεργάζου.
- ἠθικῆς ἀπέχου, πράττε ἀμετανοήτως καὶ σπουδαίως.
- ἀγάπης τε κολακείας καὶ ἀνθρώπων φυλάττου.
- ἀλλαγήν τε καὶ πράγματα δέχου ὡς ἂν εἶεν ἢ μή.
- ἄρχε ἡδονῶν, γλώττης, τύχης.
- χρόνου φείδου, ὅτι βραχὺς γὰρ ὁ βίος καὶ μόνος.
- δίωκε σοφίαν, ἰσχύν, θάνατον.
- λάθε βιώσας καὶ τελεύτα εὐμειδής.
III. Further reading.
Values, blogpost by Akira.
3 plus 1 epigrams to base your life upon, blogpost by Akira.
What are the most valuable things everyone should know?, post by Dr Jordan Peterson on Quora.
Delphic maxims, article on Wikipedia.
12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson, on Goodreads.
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, on Goodreads.
Monk-like Discipline, by Sam Oven on YouTube.