A summary of the ‘Laws of Human Nature’ by Robert Greene
Law # 1 Master your Emotional Self
Premise: Everyone believes they are rational but people are guided by their base emotions (i.e ‘hunger for power, attention and money’) as it soothes the ego. This is known, as what Greene (2018) defines as, the Pleasure Principal.
Dilemma: Human beings have to focus on something. They have a need to worship and direct their energies towards some object and for most people it is their ego.
Solution: Try not to focus on the ‘ego’ but on Nous.
Nous as what I understood is the natural order of things. It is the universe in its most absolute and factual form. It is the world when we do not look at it through the lens of emotions. (Greene, 2018 , pg. 19)
Tips for Mastery:
- Know the types of irrationality. Greene (2018) describes Low-grade irrationality as one that stems from the subconscious impact by moods and emotions. They are responsible for most of your biases. He defines High-Grade irrationality as one that results from an aggravation in emotions. It makes you excited and reactive.
- Know to what extent you have these Biases:
- Confirmation Bias: We tend to look for evidence that supports our existing beliefs.
- Conviction Bias: If your belief in something is strong, it must be true.
- Appearance Bias: What you ‘see’ is the absolute truth.
- Group Bias: The belief that you are not impacted by your social spheres or groups. The misleading thought that all your beliefs are formed on your own accord.
- Blame Bias: The skewed belief that you actually learn from your mistakes. In reality, one’s ‘introspection is limited’ and blame sways towards ‘circumstances, others or momentary lapses of judgment’.
- Superiority Bias: The belief that you are more rational and ethical than others. (Greene, 2018, pg. 29 – 31)
- Understand Trigger Points from Early Childhood. When pressure is applied on a trigger point it inflames the emotion and results in high grade irrationality. Learn to step back (either literally or mentally) and dig deep into the reactive feeling you had. It helps if you record it in a journal.
- Understand your experience with Sudden Gains or Losses. Unexpected gains boost our ego and make us repeat a mantra that might not exactly work and a sudden loss might induce an irrational fear in us.
- Look out for pressure moments. Only in a high pressure situation does one’s true nature ooze out. Most of the time, people conceal their true identity with a mask. Look at how you operate under stress. Learn to master your ‘mask’ in a moment of intense pressure and see how people act in these moments.
- Watch out for inflaming individuals. These people have a ‘larger than life’ image and trigger powerful emotions in others. See through this mask and understand the reactions they bring about in yourself and others.
- Understand how your vision, emotions and behaviour changes with different groups you hang out with.
- Accept people as facts. You can’t easily change their beliefs. Treat each person like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle; you have to figure out their strenghts and ‘rough edges’.
- Increase your reaction time. Try to take couple steps back, calm down and then formulate a reaction. A helpful tip is to role play with yourself how you would react to particular situations. (Greene, 2018, pg. 32 – 40)
To learn more about Robert Greene and his catalogue of work check out his website @ https://powerseductionandwar.com/
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- Greene, R., 2018. Laws Of Human Nature. London: Profile Books Ltd., pp.19 to 40.