The Laws of Human Nature - Deepstash
The Laws of Human Nature

The Laws of Human Nature

Robert Greene

104

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ROBERT GREENE

“Direct your inherent restlessness and discontent into tangible improvements. Instead of chasing after every distraction, know what you truly want so you won’t be distracted by what others are trying to influence you to want.”

ROBERT GREENE

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Understanding Humanity

“If you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity… you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge”

Humans act instinctively in certain ways because of how our brains are wired after millions of years of evolution. By understanding why people behave the way they do, you can become a better judge of character, manage your thought patterns, stay calm and strategic, and motivate or influence others more effectively.

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Free yourself

“Irrationality is a function of the structure of our brains and is wired into our very nature by the way we process emotions”

  • Law of irrationality - Master Your Emotions

We humans think that we are in control, but what drives us are our emotions. We follow our emotional impulses to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We tend to feel an emotion before we interpret it consciously, as different parts of our brain control these two functions. 

Become aware of your irrationality, then practice introspection and reflection to manage your emotions.

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The common biases that distort your perception are:

1. Confirmation bias - You look for evidence that confirms your beliefs

2. Conviction bias - You convince yourself your beliefs are the right ones

3. Appearance bias - You think you can see people as they really are 

4. Group bias - You follow the herd

5. Superiority bias - You think you are more rational than others

6. Blame bias - You blame others for your mistakes

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The inflaming factors that can intensify emotions are: 

1. Childhood memories - Cause strong positive or negative feelings

2. Sudden wins or losses - Cause extreme optimism or pessimism

3. Extreme stress - Changes our behavior

4. Narcissistic individuals - Causes strong feelings in us and others

5. Large groups - Causes infectious emotions

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Law of narcissism - Become empathetic

We can empathize naturally when we are not self-absorbed. We need attention to grow our self-worth, but we can’t rely on it alone, or we become narcissists.

Deep narcissists take everything personally, demand control and attention in their relationships, and are expert manipulators.

Healthy narcissists direct their sensitivity to others through empathy or to their work through creativity.

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Law of role-playing - Present yourself better

(and learn to read others)

Everyone wears a mask to present themselves to others. We want to look good, but our real feelings show up through (mostly unconscious) body language. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and don’t get lost in your own internal dialogue

Signs of dislike or displeasure include: 

• Eyes narrowing, lips pursing, arms folding

• Tension, coldness, or silence

Signs that the other person likes you include: 

• A relaxed and open posture

• A smile that touches the eyes

• Pupil dilation

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<p>People who are confident te...

People who are confident tend to be relaxed, move more freely, and make eye contact. 

Insecure people are more hesitant, speak in higher pitches, and avoid eye contact.

People who are hiding something tend to become extra-animated, unusually chatty, or forceful.

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Law of shortsightedness - Think about the future

We tend to overemphasize what we see and hear in the present, especially what is the most dramatic. In doing so, we lose sight of the bigger picture. 

In this complex world, any action can have far-reaching consequences. Learn to step back and consider the bigger picture instead of reacting to what’s in front of you.

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Keep your long-term goals in sight

1. Think about possible chain reactions for every action.

2. Step back to regain perspective.

3. Draw up a ladder of your values and priorities.


Refocus your time and energy accordingly. When you feel lost in trivialities use your ladder of priorities to weed out nonessentials.

4. If you are chasing and reacting to instantaneous updates, refocus on your long-term goals and stick to them. 

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Understand others

“When choosing people to work and associate with, do not be mesmerized by their reputation or taken in by the surface image they try to project. Instead, train yourself to look deep within them and see their character.”

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Law of compulsive behavior - see people's character

Our character is deeply ingrained and compels us to act in unconscious ways. Forged by 3 components

1. Genes

2. Early attachments formed with our caregivers 

3. Habits and experiences

Learn to look beyond appearances. Assess people’s true character based on how they handle adversity, adapt, learn, and interact with others. This involves understanding our own character to address the negative patterns in our lives and becoming skilled at reading others.

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Law of conformity - be aware of how we change in groups

We like to believe that we’re independent and progressive, but we can’t help conforming with our groups: we unconsciously imitate others and are influenced by their reactions and opinions.

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Here’s how we are individually influenced by groups:

• We change our appearances or adopt the group’s ideas, beliefs and values because of our desire to fit in.

• We perform the roles expected of us as team members. 

• We try to minimize our flaws and present our strengths.

• We’re infected by their emotions, especially fear and anxiety.

• We feel hyper-certain about an idea that the group is certain about, even though we’d have doubted it on our own.

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There are some common dynamics you may notice in groups:

• A culture or spirit is based on a shared ideal.

• Rules and codes define what is acceptable.

• A hierarchy:

◦ Alpha and sub-leaders whom people try to get close to

◦ The Intriguer (seems loyal but is secretly amassing power)

◦ The Stirrer (hides his envy to spread discord)

◦ The Gatekeeper (uses his position to monopolize information and isolate the leader)

• At least one group enemy that they resist.

• As a group gets bigger, factions emerge with their own interests

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Assess someone’s true character

1. Watch for signs that reveal someone’s character


What are the actions or decisions they repeat over time?

2. Identify and distance yourself from toxic characters-

  • Hyperperfectionist (seems dedicated but is a control freak)

  • Personalizer (sensitive but takes everything personally)
-
  • Moralizer (condemns what he secretly envies)
-
  • Big Talker (all talk and no action)

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Develop a superior character

1. Look deeply into the layers of your character. 

2. Be honest about your primal inclinations, strengths and weaknesses, flaws and mistakes

3. Cultivate traits like resilience, attention to detail, the ability to finish tasks and work with others

4. Improve your habits—the only layer you can control—to shape your character

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Build a healthy group

1. Define a collective purpose

Clearly state and publicize this. 

2. Assemble the right team.

Look for people with complementary strengths but diverse skills, temperaments, and backgrounds.

3. Encourage a free flow of ideas and information up and down the line.

4. Infect the group with productive emotions.
Get people to focus on meaningful and concrete tasks.

5. Challenge members to see how they respond.
Push them to work together under stress.

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Defend yourself from others

“Learn to deflect envy by drawing attention away from yourself. Develop your sense of self-worth from internal standards and not incessant comparisons.”

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Law of envy - draw attention away from yourself

Humans constantly compare themselves with one another.

When we feel envious, we deny our envy as it implies inferiority. Instead, we tell ourselves that we’re just angry or indignant.

Envious people can turn hostile and actively seek to hurt you, whether consciously or unconsciously. This is the most common and painful betrayal among friends.

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Signs of envy include:

• Disappointment at your good news, or glee at your misfortune

• Poisonous praise that makes you feel uncomfortable 

• Talking maliciously about someone who is not present.

• Push-and-pull, i.e., pulling you in with friendship then criticizing you once they know your weak points

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The personality types of enviers are:

• Levelers: They are good at putting others down but can’t take jokes at their own expense. 

• Self-entitled slackers: They earn their positions through charm or politics instead of getting things done. 

• Status fiends: They reduce everything to rank, position, and material benchmarks.

• Attachers: They affix themselves to the people they envy with malicious intent. 

• Insecure masters: They are unsure about their abilities and may fire those they envy.

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Situations that often trigger active envy in others include: 

• A sudden change in your status

• Having talents that elevate you above others

• Being a woman who rises to success

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Law of aggression - recognize dangerous people

On the surface, people seem friendly and civilized. However, beneath the mask, everyone has an aggressive side.

The most chronic aggressors are actually people with the deepest insecurities. They can’t tolerate feelings of helplessness and anxiety, they see others as tools to get what they want, and they may even get addicted to the thrill of aggression.

Sophisticated aggressors can cleverly mask their maneuvers to become successful and powerful.

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ROBERT GREENE

“Be a master observer of aggression so you can identify and manage chronic aggressors. These types of people tend to have lots of enemies, present themselves as a crusader or eccentric genius, or have obsessive habits. Focus on their real goals instead of their false fronts, outwit them instead of using direct confrontation, and temporarily cross the lines yourself if need be.”

ROBERT GREENE

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Examples of passive-aggressive strategies include: 

• The subtle-superiority strategy: always turning up late with an excuse and insincere apology

• The sympathy strategy: playing the victim but secretly relishing the pain or drama 

• The dependence strategy: offering concern and help, then withdrawing them later

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Move beyond envy

1. Get closer to those you envy


You’ll see that they also have problems

2. Counter envy with gratitude
Compare yourself with those who have less than you

3. Actively cultivate empathy in your day-to-day life


Tell yourself to feel joy for other people’s fortune - don’t just congratulate them

4. Transform envy into emulation


Use it as a motivating force for excellence

5. Find happiness and satisfaction outside of your own successes


Celebrate and admire nature or human greatness

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Use controlled aggression to harness

the positive aspects of your assertive energy

1. Be aware of your own aggressive tendencies

2. Be relentlessly persistent in trying new angles until you achieve your goal.

3. Have the childlike fearlessness to ask or push for what you want.


Assert yourself in small things then ramp it up.

4. Direct your anger toward real, specific problems to be solved.

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