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The Laws of Human Nature Free Audiobook Summary
The Laws of Human Nature delves deep into what drives and motivates humans. These motivations can be conscious or unconscious. Importantly, we all can utilize these motivations to better ourselves and those around us. This book utilizes guidance and examples from some of the most influential people in history, from Martin Luther King Jr to Queen Elizabeth I. These insights are pulled together to provide guidance that applies to everyone.
About Robert Greene
Robert Greene is a highly successful American author. His books primarily focus on strategy, power, and seduction. Many of his ideas are supported by Zen Buddhist principles, as he is a student of Zen Buddhism. He is currently the author of six international bestsellers.
StoryShot #1: Irrationality Is Part of Human Behavior
“You like to imagine yourself in control of your fate, consciously planning the course of your life as best you can. But you are largely unaware of how deeply your emotions dominate you. They make you veer toward ideas that soothe your ego. They make you look for evidence that confirms what you already want to believe. They make you see what you want to see, depending on your mood, and this disconnect from reality is the source of the bad decisions and negative patterns that haunt your life. Rationality is the ability to counteract these emotional effects, to think instead of react, to open your mind to what is really happening, as opposed to what you are feeling. It does not come naturally; it is a power we must cultivate, but in doing so we realize our greatest potential.”– Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature
It is often claimed that modern society is based on rationality and reason. However, the reality is that we make a large proportion of our decisions based on emotional reactions. These emotional reactions have no association with logic. Hence, as humans, we are highly prone to making irrational choices.
This dilemma of seeking rationality and failing dates back to the fifth century BC. Robert Greene describes an Athenian statesman, Pericles, who is supposedly one of the first people to encourage rational behavior. During this time, there were rumors that the Spartans were set to attack Athens. Pericles encouraged the leaders of Athens to show restraint rather than making the first attack. If the leaders acted on their emotions, they could have started a full-blown war. Soon after, Pericles passed away from the plague. Without his rational insight, Athens based its decisions on emotions. Athens fought the Spartans, and it nearly destroyed Athens.
We can learn a lot from Pericles. Pericles showed patience. Patience is fundamental to making decisions based on rationality rather than making quick decisions based on emotions. Pericles would also consider every option when making decisions. He would pull all the information together and make informed decisions. This sometimes meant disagreeing with the majority of people and those in power. However, it is more important that your decisions are based on logic and reason rather than being popular.
In addition to this, even when humans take time to make a rational decision, there are still several biases that humans are prone to when deciding:
- Confirmation bias – Seeking out information that supports ideas that you already hold
- Conviction bias – Believing that our ideas are more likely to be true because we have stronger emotions regarding the topic
- Appearance bias – People who look appealing, whether that be based on looks or wealth, are automatically a good person
- Group bias – Automatically believing things that our in-group believes
Robert does not recommend being emotionless. Instead, try to balance your thoughts with your emotions and give yourself time to make informed decisions that are mainly based on evidence.
StoryShot #2: Accept People as They Are
As humans, we have a fetish for changing other people. We are the biggest reason for trauma in other humans. We are always judging people and wishing they’ll become something that they are not. However, the sooner we accept that we cannot change other people, the happier we will be. Robert provides the example of parents who threaten their child with punishment so their child will comply. Punishment and threats do not change the troublemaking child. Instead, they will teach the child how to better avoid being caught.
If we accept that we are all different, we will be far less frustrated. Try to understand and accept people rather than trying to change them. Attempt to understand their motives and what makes them who they are. Genuinely listen to them when you ask them about their motives, gathering as much information as possible. People love talking about themselves, so this shouldn’t be difficult. After acquiring this information, you should stop to analyze this information. Adopting these approaches will help you better understand who this person is and how you can help them prosper.
Additionally, we should seek to use our empathy to obtain a greater recognition of others’ characters. Utilizing our empathy will help us understand when people are wearing a mask in life. This is an important skill, as you can then aim to help this individual genuinely express themselves. We can better understand a person’s true character by observing how this person reacts to adversity.
StoryShot #3: Strive to Be a Better Version of Yourself
Robert explains that we all go through life wearing a mask. We are always seeking to show the best of ourselves to the world, even if what we are presenting isn’t accurate. This approach is encouraged from a young age, as we do what our parents say so we can gain certain benefits. This is how society works. Our society promotes teamwork and kindness. Therefore, presenting strong feelings about an individual or being selfish is frowned upon. Thus, these behaviors are not engaged with even if we dislike another individual or just want what is best for ourselves.
Social media has made it even easier to craft your persona. Robert says that we should wear masks displaying our best persona. If we all displayed our true selves, the world would be a worse place. On top of this, putting on a persona helps protect ourselves from our insecurities. It helps us feel like we already have what we want, and believing this means you will soon become that person.
StoryShot #4: We Are Short-Sighted
Humans tend to react to obvious problems rather than those that have less impact on their daily lives. For example, more money and attention is being spent on fighting terrorism than climate change. This tendency has evolutionary origins. Historically, humans had to focus on immediate threats rather than those that had the potential for greater impact.
Robert Greene recommends that we adopt a farsighted perceptive rather than our current short-sighted nature. We should take a step back and look at the potential options, as well as what the consequences of neglecting a less obvious problem might be. One way to understand this is that our current problems are often the result of previous short-sightedness. If we can understand this point, then we can more effectively prioritize the most critical problems.
We rate The Laws of Human Nature 4.2/5.
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