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Learn the key ideas of the book by Robert Greene

The Laws of Human Nature

The laws that govern human nature

In the 18 chapters of The Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene analyses 18 characteristics typical to human nature. He begins by presenting a famous figure that encapsulates the specific attitude or behaviour under examination as an example, before then moving on to provide practical instructions as to how to improve and gain deep insights into every aspect of human nature. When you have an in-depth understanding of the topic, you will be able to avoid toxic people, correct any negative attitudes you may have, and grow as much as possible as an individual, as part of an on-going journey towards becoming the best version of yourself.

The Laws of Human Nature
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Seven good reasons to learn the laws of human nature

During the course of our lives, we are repeatedly faced with having to deal with a variety of individuals seemingly set upon making our lives difficult. They may be aggressive or passive-aggressive, however they are generally true professionals when it comes to playing with other people’s emotions: they know how to confuse and lead you into a web of drama, in which they are the ones pulling the strings.

The reasons why people do nasty things, as well as the causes of behaviours that we catch ourselves out with at times, are almost always unknown, even though the fact is that human beings generally only skim the surface, with reactions to what others say or do dictated by emotion. If we were able to truly understand the origins of human behaviour, it would be much harder for people to “get away with” things, even those that are most destructive or adept at it.

Moreover, the knowledge that we do not hold complete control over ourselves or our actions, while quite an unsettling thought, is a harsh reality. This collection of forces that push and pull human beings from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other can be considered as human nature.

In order to become an expert in human nature, you must be a keen observer; you need to be able to distance yourself, in order to better understand situations without becoming emotionally involved, and be able to learn from the past, or rather from great historians, philosophers and writers from the past.

One just has to think of the impact that human emotions can have, which have been further intensified with the advent of social media, where the viral effects are constantly sweeping through people’s spirits and where leaders well-versed in manipulation are able to exploit and control their followers. 

At the end of the day, the concept is quite simple: human nature is a stronger force than any type of individualism, institution, or technological invention. It shapes what we create and is reflected in every manifestation of humanity, moving human beings around like pieces on a chessboard.

Being aware of human nature is very useful: firstly, knowing the laws will help you to become a calmer and more strategic observer of those around you, helping you to stay free of unnecessary drama. Secondly, it will enable you to decodify the signals constantly sent by people, helping you to be a better judge of character. Thirdly, knowing the laws of human nature will allow you to identify and distance yourself from toxic people, whom you will inevitably come across in life, and who usually cause long-term emotional damage. The fourth reason is that the laws of human nature will also reveal ways that you can motivate and influence people, making your life easier. In fifth place, they will show you how deeply rooted the laws of human nature are in each of us, giving you the opportunity to alter any negative behavioural patterns you may have. In sixth place, being aware of the laws of human nature will enable you to become more empathetic and create deeper and more satisfying connections with the people around you. And lastly, knowing the laws of human nature will help you to realise your full potential, revealing a better self, just waiting to be brought to the light.


The key ideas of "The Laws of Human Nature"

Seven good reasons to learn the laws of human nature
You need to be rational to prevent yourself from succumbing to your emotions and subsequently regretting things done in the heat of the moment
Three steps to becoming more rational: recognise the biases and the inflaming factors, and develop strategies to bring out your rational side
The truth is that we are all narcissists, but to avoid becoming a deep narcissist, you must never forget to be empathetic
Everyone is wearing a mask: understanding human nature will help you to see through them
Know your character to avoid making the same mistakes, and know that of those around you to avoid unnecessary problems
Become an object of desire by exploiting the grass-is-always-greener syndrome
It is crucial that you elevate your perspective and broaden your horizons to navigate the present, without denying your past
Convince others to do what you want without them even realising, by using their own weapons against them
Never stop learning and trying new things to create a positive and expansive attitude
Accepting your dark side is easier than constantly donning a mask
Never underestimate the power of envy – be it your own or that of others
Become stronger by acknowledging your limits and so counteracting the natural sense of superiority
Gender roles hold massive amounts of repressed energy: accept your male or female side to strengthen your personality
Trust in your talents and your calling in life to help you find your place in the world and achieve your purpose
You need to be a consummate actor to survive in a group, cooperating with others without losing your own personality
Human emotions are never simple, especially when it comes to figures of authority – a position everyone strives for, but achieved only by a few
Correctly channel aggressivity and anger instead of repressing them to exploit their positive potential
The sense of belonging that you feel with your generation should not restrict you from interacting with the past and (especially) the future
Historical patterns: generational succession is cyclical and recurring – by recognising these patterns, you will be able to better understand not only the present, but also what’s to come
“Remember brother, that you must die”: denying human mortality is more costly than it seems
Take-home message

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