Today I’ve got a great book to share and it’s called, The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene. I am a true fan of Robert Greene and I love how he uses very interesting historical examples to support his point of view. This book attempts to explain something that should be so simple, yet it’s so difficult, our own nature as human beings. In this book summary, I’ll give you all the 18 laws of human nature, plus historical examples of how they may apply to real life.
If you are new to RAGWise, subscribe, because you don’t want to miss a new life-changing book every single week. Okay, now let’s hop into the laws.
Law #1: The law of irrationality
We tend to think that humans are rational beings, but if you look around carefully, you see often people are dominated by emotions and behave irrationally without even realizing it.
In 400 B.C., when Pericles became the ruler of Athens, the country was involved in so many unnecessary wars. Pericles saw that previous rulers had operated on emotions. He started training himself to never make decisions under the influence of strong emotion. He would go to his room and lock himself there until the emotions subsided. By doing so, he was able to make intelligent decisions for the greater good of Athens, and Athenians prospered under his leadership.
So the first law says you need to control your emotions if you want to behave rationally.
Law #2: The law of narcissism
You should know that many people are narcissists.
Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, was one of them. He was a very charming person and had so many friends but behind his friendly appearance was a dark side. Sergei Kirov, who was a close friend of Stalin, once proved his loyalty to him by telling Stalin that people were conspiring against him and they wanted Kirov as their leader. Stalin thanked Kirov for his loyalty. But after that, he not only killed Kirov, he grew suspicious of everyone around him and he started killing his friends one by one. Narcissistic people may sound friendly when everything is going well, but their dark side will soon come to the surface.
Law #3: The law of role-playing
People tend to wear a mask and hide their true personalities behind it.
Milton Erickson discovered how to see people's true nature that lies behind the mask. He was a psychologist of the 20th century. In his teenage years, he contracted polio and was stuck in a bed, unable to move. He started observing people around him very carefully. He was able to examine body language and read what people were really thinking. This made him a master reader of people's body language, and he started teaching this technique for the first time.
So be aware that what you see of people at the first glance is not who they really are, but you can train yourself to see right through their mask.
Law #4: The law of compulsive behavior
You should know that people never do something just once and they will inevitably repeat the bad behavior. Howard Hughes was an American business magnate who founded the Hughes aircraft company, but he had a weak character since his childhood. He managed to disguise it in his early career, which brought him success. However, it manifested later in his life and resulted in many failures, including the Hughes aircraft company.
You should take the behavior of people seriously, if you see someone act in a peculiar way, don't turn a blind eye because they are bound to repeat it.
Low #5: The law of Covetousness
This law simply says that people continually desire to possess what they don't have.
Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer. She became so successful not only because she created great products, but because she understood that people desire what they don't have and created a mystery around her work. So instead of focusing on what you want, focus on what others want that they don't already have it, and then offer something new.
Law #6: The law of short-sightedness
This law says people tend to overreact to present circumstances and ignore what may happen in the future. The South Sea Company was a British joint-stock company, became known as the South Sea bubble. The stock price was going up and up and it was obvious that the company cannot succeed in the long term. But it didn't stop many people from investing in it. People who lost all their money.
So when making decisions, elevate your perspective. Don't just focus on the current situation and think about what may happen in the future.
Law #7: The law of defensiveness
This law says that people don't like it when you try to change their opinion. Lyndon Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, gained his influence and power not by trying to change others' opinions, but by focusing on others, listening to them, and then confirming their self-opinion. This softens people's resistance.
What we can learn from Johnson is that our ego really serves no purpose in social relationships. So don't try to change people's opinions or prove them wrong. Just confirm their self-opinion and move on. Then they are more likely to listen to your opinion.
Law #8: The Law of Self Sabotage
This law says, our attitude determines much of what happens in our life. Don't see yourself as limited by birth. think that you can grow and improve.
Anton Chekhov, a great Russian writer, is an example of an individual of this type. He was born in a poor Russian town. His father was always drunk. His brothers left the family and then his father fled to Moscow. He was left behind completely alone at the age of 16. He didn't want it to be like the other members of his family. And despite his tough childhood, he was able to change his life by changing his view of the world from negative to positive.
His story shows us that no matter how bad your circumstances, you can change it by changing your attitude.
Law #9: The law of repression
People are rarely who they seem to be and beneath the polite exterior is a dark side filled with insecurities that are usually repressed.
Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, always had a positive image in the public. He was a hero, a man of the people. But everything changed after the Watergate scandal, which revealed his hidden personality in his childhood. Nixon was needy and desperate for attention and was abandoned by his mother. So he wanted to show everyone that he is tough and doesn't need other’s validation.
His story teaches us that we should confront our dark side because sooner or later it will come to the surface and reveal our true personality.
Law #10: The Law of envy.
This law says that people are basically envious. In some parts of the world, the idea of the evil eye still exists. Envy is an old emotion and we all feel it. Mary Shelley, author of the novel Frankenstein. She was betrayed by her envious friend who kind of ruined everything in her life, her relationship with her husband and her friends out of envy. So, this can be kind of dangerous. Be aware of the fragile ego, learn to deflect envy by drawing attention away from yourself.
Law #11: The Law of grandiosity
This law says that you should know your limits. Sometimes we may feel an unrealistic sense of superiority when we are having some success and lose contact with reality.
This is exactly what happened to Michael Eisner, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company. After having some measure of success as a CEO, his grandiosity elevated and he taught he can do anything. He lost contact with reality and make irrational decisions. And after lots of failures, he was forced to resign from the CEO position. So be aware because his fate could easily be yours. We all have limitations, know your limits, and have a realistic assessment of yourself.
Law #12: The law of gender rigidity
All of us have masculine and feminine qualities within us, but often we tend to repress one and over-identify with the other, losing much of our creative powers.
Caterina Sforza, an Italian noblewoman of the 15th century, is a good example of how embracing both our male and female qualities can benefit us in achieving our goals. By accepting her masculine qualities, Caterina became the Lady of Imola, which was very unusual for women in her time. You must become aware of these lost masculines or feminine qualities and slowly reconnect to them, unleashing creative powers in the process.
Law #13: The law of aimlessness
This law says that people become most successful when they have a sense of purpose in their life.
Martin Luther King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience. We all know his famous speech. “I Have a Dream”. His dream directed his actions and helped him to go through hard times, we all can learn from him by discovering our calling in life and developing our own dream, and then advancing with a sense of purpose.
Law #14: The law of conformity
This law states that we all tend to imitate others and try to fit into the group without even being aware of it. This makes us prone to act irrationally because everyone else is doing it. To overcome this, we have to develop a sense of self-awareness. Gao Yuan, In his book called Born Red, which is a first-hand account of the Chinese revolution, tells a story that shows people in groups behave emotionally, and don't engage in deep thinking and analysis.
While being a part of a group can be good, but we should resist the downward pull of the group and retain our independence and rationality
Law #15: The law of Fickleness
This law says when you are a leader of a group, people are continually prepared to turn on you the moment you seem weak or experience a setback.
Elizabeth I, queen of England in the 16th century had to constantly prove herself as the leader of the country. She never relied on her royal blood on this. Her story teaches us that we are not entitled to anything. And if we want something, we must earn it by proving ourselves with hard work.
Law #16: The law of aggression.
This law says that we are all aggressive and to try to deny this part of human nature is unwise. And you should learn to see the hostility behind a friendly facet.
John D. Rockefeller is the perfect example of this law. He monopolized the oil industry by aggressively buying other oil companies or making them go out of business. He seemed calm and even weak to others, but this was because he knew how to hide his aggression well.
You must recognize the signs that indicate the dangerous types. They depend on making you emotional and unable to think straight. Don't give them this power.
Law #17: The Law of Generational Myopia
This law says that we are born into a generation that defines who we are more than we can imagine. And no one can isolate himself from the generational influences.
King Louis XVI of France, is a great example of someone out of tune with the times. When he took the throne, he assumed that the old systems would remain the same, but he was wrong. There was increasing unrest in the streets, and finally, people revolted against his monarchy. He got executed and France was declared to be a republic.
The trick is to know how to take advantage of this change and not to be a victim of it the way King Louis was.
Law #18: The law of death denial
This law says that most people spend their lives avoiding the thought of death. Mary Flannery was an American novelist who was diagnosed with lupus at the age of 27. This gave her a sense of urgency. She used the closeness of death to teach her what really matters and anchor herself in the present moment, making her appreciate every moment.
We all can learn from her and meditate on our common mortality. Reminding ourselves that we will die one day helps us to waste less time on things that don't matter.
You can see all the 18 laws here in one place. Hope you learned something new, which in that case, please don’t forget to like, it helps a lot with the YouTube algorithm and also subscribes for more book summaries in the future. See you at the next video.