The Laws of Human Nature
From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power comes the definitive new book on decoding the behavior of the people around you
Robert Greene is a master guide for millions of readers, distilling ancient wisdom and philosophy into essential texts for seekers of power, understanding and mastery. Now he turns to the most important subject of all – understanding people’s drives and motivations, even when they are unconscious of them themselves.
We are social animals. Our very lives depend on our relationships with people. Knowing why people do what they do is the most important tool we can possess, without which our other talents can only take us so far. Drawing from the ideas and examples of Pericles, Queen Elizabeth I, Martin Luther King Jr, and many others, Greene teaches us how to detach ourselves from our own emotions and master self-control, how to develop the empathy that leads to insight, how to look behind people’s masks, and how to resist conformity to develop your singular sense of purpose. Whether at work, in relationships, or in shaping the world around you, The Laws of Human Nature offers brilliant tactics for success, self-improvement, and self-defense.
“The writing is engaging and the ideas are fascinating… we could all use the insights Greene provides…. a hopeful book that advocates freedom and creativity.” — Quartz
“The lessons have profound implications. There’s a chapter on reading body language that is absolutely profound; each “law” has stunningly vivid descriptions of an historical figure.” — Inc.
“The Laws of Human Nature provides some first-rate comprehensive and in-depth information about how to deal with our fellow human beings effectively. Greene’s intense curiosity about the inner workings of humanity is contagious, as he invites us to join him as fellow sleuths on his investigation of why people, including ourselves, do what we do. He rightly (and frequently) reminds us that in order to understand others, we must first and foremost understand what makes ourselves tick.” — New York Journal of Books
“In this detailed and expansive guide, Greene (Mastery) seeks to … transform the reader into a ‘calmer and more strategic observer,’ immune to ’emotional drama.’ Those are lofty promises, but even skeptics will become believers after diving into Greene’s well-organized text. Overcoming the “law of irrationality,” for instance, leads to the ability to “open your mind to what is really happening, as opposed to what you are feeling.” Greene’s thoughtful examination of self and society will, for the committed reader, deliver a refreshing and revitalizing perspective.” — Publishers Weekly
Praise for Robert Greene:
“Greene’s specialty is analyzing the lives and philosophies of historical figures like Sun Tzu and Napoleon, and extracting from them tips on how to manipulate people and situations–a cutthroat worldview that has earned him a devoted following among a like-minded readership of rappers, drug dealers and corporate executives.” —The New York Times
Praise for The 48 Laws of Power:
“Machiavelli has a new rival. And Sun Tzu had better watch his back. Greene . . . has put together a checklist of ambitious behavior. Just reading the table of contents is enough to stir a little corner-office lust.”—New York magazine
“Beguiling . . . literate . . . fascinating. A wry primer for people who desperately want to be on top.”—People
“An heir to Machiavelli’s Prince . . . gentler souls will find this book frightening, those whose moral compass is oriented solely to power will have a perfect vade mecum.” —Publishers Weekly
“Satisfyingly dense and . . . literary, with fantastic examples of genius power-game players. It’s The Rules meets In Pursuit of Wow! with a degree in comparative literature.”—Allure
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
1 Master Your Emotional Self
The Law of Irrationality
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
The Inner Athena
One day toward the end of the year 432 BC, the citizens of Athens received some very disturbing news: representatives from the city-state of Sparta had arrived in town and presented to the Athenian governing council new terms of peace. If Athens did not agree to these terms, then Sparta would declare war. Sparta was Athens’s archenemy and in many ways its polar opposite. Athens led a league of democratic states in the region, while Sparta led a confederation of oligarchies, known as the Peloponnesians. Athens depended on its navy and on its wealth-it was the preeminent commercial power in the Mediterranean. Sparta depended on its army. It was a total military state. Up until then, the two powers had largely avoided a direct war because the consequences could be devastating-not only could the defeated side lose its influence in the region, but its whole way of life could be put in jeopardy-certainly for Athens its democracy and its wealth. Now, however, war seemed inevitable and a sense of impending doom quickly settled on the city.