Robert Greene has written best-selling books on seduction, power, war, self-mastery and now knowledge. Although the sum and total of his output of books gives the wrong impression about the man. He’s not an evil and Machiavellian type jockeying for power – rather his books are about understanding the lesser-known shadowy parts of ourselves to better master the complex demands of living in the world – and to still remain healthy and alive. A feat at times!
In his latest book The Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene wants you, the reader to fully expose your own self-destructive and myopic patterns of thought and behaviour to the light of day. In so doing, you will be able to accurately anticipate and annul all sources of chaos, disorder and unhappiness in your life.
Greene’s The Laws of Human Nature is his magnum opus of psychology. It’s an antidote to the trashy online world of quacks, fakers and new age hippy-dippy bullshit spinners who have nothing new to offer the world, and yet claim to have all the answers.
The Laws of Human Nature, is far superior to any other book written on psychology. It’s a methodical and multi-disciplinary distillation of the past 3,000 years of human history that draws upon the vast wells of knowledge in philosophy, psychology, spirituality and biology.
Green highlights how to avoid mistakes and roadblocks in every aspect of life, breaking these down into bite-sized chunks in his chapters. He offers practical, actionable steps to know yourself better, and therefore make the world a better place for everyone who knows you.
It is both disconcerting and comforting to knowing that every other Homo Sapien walking around on the planet has a cumbersome, ancient and wayward brain that is weighed down by these same afflictions, insecurities, trigger points and weaknesses. It’s what you consciously do with these brain farts that matters.
Throughout the book, Green uses notorious examples where the shit really hits the fan for well-known and lesser-known individuals and groups that he cherry-picks from throughout history. He highlights the Mao revolutionists in China; Russian writer Anton Chekhov and his family, Cut-throat executives in the Disney Corporation in the 80’s; the rags to riches tale of fashion icon Coco Chanel; and much more.
These potent and well-constructed examples of epic failure and epic success in the book serve to cement its knowledge and lessons.
Although this structure may sound slightly patronising or allegorical, Greene’s writing and persona is anything but. Watching him being interviewed about the book is a lesson in how to be a humble, likeable and interesting person without thinking you have all of the answers.
This book is like a hypodermic needle injecting you with the sum and total of knowledge on human psychology in one weighty tome – if you are open-minded and ready enough to receive it.
Rather than wade through the 624 page written version, I recommend getting the audio book and doing some walking or cycling while listening to it. At about 20 hours in length, the audiobook was highly rewarding to listen to and incredibly rewarding to finish while doing exercise, with so many mind-boggling insights as to be worthy of several re-reads/re-listens.
Below is a brief summary I found of The Laws of Human Nature on the website 12 Minutes. Apologies that I didn’t create this summary of chapters myself, I simply don’t have time right now.
Although please beware of thinking that this summary accurately reflects all that there is to learn in this book. It is a completely superficial treatment of the most extensive book on human nature in the history of the world.
I know – that’s a big call, but I have read a fair bit on this subject and I would like to say this is better than anything else I’ve ever read. The below will give you an idea of what to expect. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Here’s a link to get it on Audible or Book Depository.
The Law of Irrationality
The first law interprets our emotional attachment to the decision making. Instead of perceiving the world through the lens of rationality, we lean toward emotions as a way of expressing our dismay over the issues that grab our attention.
Unfortunately, this is one of those things that we can’t inherit or adopt. It’s a mindset that must be cultivated in order to achieve a maximum effect.
The Law of Narcissism
It goes without saying that we are all narcissistic, at least to some degree. Anyway, to lower people’s resistance when introducing your agenda, you ought to redirect that self-appreciation outwardly.
On top of that, pay heed to narcissists who are either passive or active aggressors and want to drag you into their endless drama. Beware of their hidden intentions and envy.
The Law of Role-playing
You don’t need anyone telling you that people love to wear masks, one for each occasion – metaphorically speaking. Nonetheless, they often reveal their true intentions through various non-verbal cues such as facial expression, body posture, nervous gestures, etc.
By being able to spot these signs of insecurity, you’ll able to outmanoeuvre and be one step ahead of them at all times. It’s an opportunity one must not take for granted, to say the least.
The Law of Compulsive Behaviour
Honestly, people’s character is tricky to understand. It is often the real pillar of the rinse and repeat process. To put it differently, people tend to sing same old song throughout their lives.
You should bear this in mind, and grow fond of individuals who show signs of strength and courage. Being aware of your negative patterns will help you keep toxic people at a distance. If you don’t comply, this law will get the better of you.
The Law of Covetousness
It’s strange but true that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. A philosophical illustration that shows why humans bend over backward to obtain something slipping from their grasp. You can use this momentum to create a mysterious aura around your presence and leverage that position.
It’s a great way to become an intellectual lodestar and earn some respect. People love to explore the unknown, and playing by those rules could give you the upper hand.
The Law of Short-sightedness
The idea of maintaining long-term vision is too much for most people. They are lured by recent trends, opinions, and backlashes. These people who can’t see beyond their nose, often fall under the short-sighted category.
Keep your distance and associate with individuals whose goals are governed by a long-term perspective. They rarely become victims to some brinkmanship and prefer calmness over reaction.
The Law of Defensiveness
It’s needless to say that over time people take up a defensive stance, and react fiercely when someone advocates for change. If you want to ease off their resistance, you must urge them to alter their viewpoints but not by offending them.
If you want to take gigantic strides towards achieving your goals, one must strive for creativeness. Explain your noble intentions, and make them feel like they are in control of their opinions and patterns.
The Law of Self-sabotage
Whatever you feel, you radiate. By confining solely to negativity and fear, all the people with whom you share as much as a word will sense the habitual scepticism. Such an attitude will lower your chances of success, and make you more vulnerable.
It starts to sound a bit like a cliché, but a positive attitude is the only bridge standing between you and success. Cultivating such a mindset will help you to get the best out of everything, and see opportunities where others see a trap.
The Law of Repression
People are not who they pretend to be. It’s in their nature to try and conceal the darkness that prevails in their heart. Before you embark on a journey to observe the overall ignorance, one must become acutely aware of its shady urges.
By consolidating your enigmatic side into your personality, you’ll get to a vantage point from where you can act as an observer. This action ultimately has a pivotal role in your efforts to draw people to you.
The Law of Envy
The social construct of today endorses the struggle for position, status, and achievement. This, however, often stipulates a dose of stubbornness, which could be the fundamental basis for deep envy. Some individuals only wish to emulate the success of others, but not all of them.
Stay on full alert for unwanted attention and try to avert a potential conflict. Comparing yourself with others will only lower your self-worth and jeopardize your position in the societal circle.
Remember, actions speak louder than words!
The Law of Grandiosity
By all means, humans have a tendency to ponder about a lot of things. This includes our perpetual lust for success associated with the elevation to higher societal status. Nonetheless, most of the time these thoughts take the shape of grandiosity – a far cry from the actual truth.
We strive to gain superiority, and in the process, we lose contact with reality. As a result, we form irrational judgments and confine solely to fictional limits. Your attitude toward success must be brought into line with your overall contribution and the value you bring to other people.
The Law of Gender Rigidity
Truthfully, it’s not as straightforward as using a magic wand to subdue all masculine and feminine qualities. You have to work on your urges, and understand how this affects your thinking mechanism, and make you predictable and rigid in day-to-day encounters.
By eradicating these signs of masculine and feminine energy, you’ll introduce an authentic version of yourself to the world. You’ll no longer be obliged to act in a specific manner based on the features imposed upon you.
In other words, resisting the temptation to play gender roles will put you on the fast track to success.
The Law of Aimlessness
In the digital age, people have to outdo themselves on an occasional basis in order to deal with the temporary disappointments and setbacks in life. On top of that, we fail to acknowledge the fact that a sequence of defeats is merely the end result of lacking direction.
Our judgment and decision are formed to fill in the short-term quote, leaving us exposed to potential threats that may hamper our chances for success. We know ourselves better than anyone, and we ought to use this knowledge to eradicate this sense of aimlessness.
The Law of Conformity
People want to give the impression of confident and self-sufficient individuals, but that’s rarely the case. We tend to pattern our choices after the group’s strides and inclinations. This social construct makes us adjust our mindset, and imitate the mob.
As much as we want to pull back from this group mood, our lives are already infiltrated to the point of no return. In doing so, we end up deprived of our uniqueness followed by an impaired thinking mechanism.
The Law of Fickleness
When you absorb the role of a leader, prepare yourself for special treatment. Each mistake you make will be recognized as a chance for someone else to step up and take your crown. If you withstand these attacks, you’ll tackle all suspicions and maintain your status.
The best tool for such an endeavour is the authority. A wielder of legitimate power must help people to see him/her as the rightful leader. Proficient leaders practice this craft from early on because they are aware of its side-effects.
The Law of Aggression
The world needs your energy, and people feel disposed to try every trick in the book to get the better of you. They try to fulfil their longings by outmanoeuvring different persons and assert their superiority on them.
Dealing with this group takes a bit of expertise and composure. If you remain only the observer of these aggressive moves, you’ll be able to stand your ground when things get out of hand.
Passive aggressors can be spotted from a mile away if you know the array of cues which correlate with their behaviour. Aggressive energy is by no means bad! If you know how to channelize it, it will help you to remain bound and determined regardless of the temporary setbacks.
The Law of Generational Myopia
The generation gap is not a myth, because each new generation creates its own separate values and agendas. It forms the behaviour of its members and compels them to exert a powerful influence on the world.
The problem is that yet again we are doing this at the cost of our innateness. We are restricting ourselves, without casting a shred of doubt on these concepts.
Make strides toward uniqueness, not mediocrity! Leave the generational narrowmindedness aside!
The Law of Death Denial
Death smiles at us all, and that’s the truth. Being aware of the unpredictability and shortness of this existence is truly a powerful tool one can embrace. It will help you to create a sense of urgency that will fuel your day-to-day activities.
Training your mind to think and act in a similar manner is undoubtedly a great way to achieve results much quicker. Don’t be obsessed with overshadowing others; just remain keenly aware of the mortality as an integral part of life.