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- Hide Preview | 30 Comments | submitted about a year ago by gmos905 [Post Locked]

Since I discovered there was a ton of admiration for the 48 Laws of Power summaries, I'm creating summaries to Robert Greene's newest book The Laws of Human Nature:

Video Summary:

Written Summary:

We imagine ourselves in control of our fate. Consciously planning the course of your life as best we can. But we are largely unaware of how much our emotions dominate us.

Rationality is the way to counteract these emotions. It does not come naturally and needs to be cultivated. But in doing so, we realize our greatest potential.


Every athenian politician believed he was rational. Fellow athenians are all driven by base emotions; hunger for power, attention and money.

Paraclise fixed this by worshipping nous: The ancient greek word for mind or intelligence. A force that permeates the universe and creates meaning and order.

Athena stood for rationality. The greatest gift of the Gods to mortals.

To cultivate his inner Athena, Pericles had to find a way to master his emotions. Emotions turn us inward. He analyzed his feelings, realizing that his anger or fear was not really justified. Had to physically get away from the situation, locking himself in his house for days on end.

Like everyone, you think you are rational. But you are not. Cultivate your inner athena.

First Task

Look at those emotions that are continually affecting your decisions and emotions. Learn to question yourself. Why this anger or resentment? Where does this incessant need for attention come from? Under scrutiny, your emotions will lose their hold on you. You will begin to think for yourself instead of reacting to your emotions. Your mind will open up and you’ll be able to see more solutions and options.

Keys to Human Nature

When something goes wrong in our life we try to find some explanation. But we don’t --

Certainly there are a bunch of situations that we cannot control and that have an affect on us. But generally what causes us to go astray and make bad decisions is our deep rooted irrationality.

It is hard to learn from experience, when we are not looking inward at the true causes.

First step to becoming rational: Understand our fundamental irrationality. Nobody is exempt from the irrationalities of the mind. Even the wisest among us. Irrationality is a natural function of our minds and how we process emotions. We evolved with irrationality because it kept us alive in the wild. Our brains are made of 3 parts. The oldest is the reptilian part of our brain, which controls all automatic responses that regulate the body. The instinctive part. Above that is the mammalian or limbic brain, governing feeling and emotion. Above that has evolved our neocortex, which controls cognition and language.

When we process an emotion, anger, or envy. It originates in our reptilian brain, then needs to be processed by our neocortex. Since the neocortex didn’t produce the emotion though, it is prone to mislabeling.

We do not have conscious access to the origins of our emotions and the moods they generate. Once we feel them, all we can do is try to interpret the emotion. Translate it into language, but more often than not, we get this wrong.

Progress and technology have not rewired us. They merely rewired the forms of our emotions and the type of irrationality that come with them. Example: politicians can use social media to play on our emotions in subtler and more effective ways. We are prone to new forms of emotion.

Here is a description of rational and irrational: we constantly feel emotions and they continually affect our thinking. Making us veer toward thoughts that please us and soothe our egos. Rational people are aware of this, and through introspection and thinking, to some extent, to subtract emotions from their thinking and counteract their effect. Irrational people have no such awareness and rush into action without carefully considering the ramifications of their actions and consequences.

Rational people demonstrate over time that they are able to finish a project, realize their goals, work effectively with a team, and to create something that lasts.

Irrational people reveal negative patterns: mistakes that keep repeating, unnecessary conflicts that follow them wherever they go, dreams and projects that are never realized. Anger and desires for change that are never translated into concrete action. They are emotional, reactive, and unaware of this.

Everyone is capable of irrational decisions, some of which are cause by circumstances beyond our control. Even emotional types can hit upon great ideas or success through bold action, so it’s important to judge over time whether a person is rational or irrational. Are they able to sustain success and hit upon multiple good strategies?

Rationality is not some means of transcending emotion. But we need a state of balance. A clear understanding of why we feel the way we do. Conscious of our impulses so we can think without being secretly compelled by our emotions. We want the energy that comes from our emotions to serve our thinking self. That is our ideal.

Acquiring rationality is not complicated. It simply requires knowing and working through a 3 step process:

  1. Be aware of what we call Low Grade Irrationality. This is a function of the continual moods and feelings that we experience in life, below the level of consciousness. When we plan or make decisions we aren’t aware of how much these emotions skew the thinking process. Being aware of our biases and emotions, we can begin to counter their effects.
  2. We must understand the nature of what we call High Grade Irrationality. This occurs when our emotions become enflamed because of certain pressures. When we feel anger, excitement, depression etc. everything we see and hear is interpreted through this emotional lens. This form of irrationality leads to more accute problems. Crises, conflicts and disastrous decisions. Understanding how this type of irrationality operates can allow us to recognize this reactive state as it is happening and pull back before we do something that we regret.
  3. We need to enact certain strategies and exercises that will strengthen the thinking part of the brain and give it more power in the eternal struggle with our emotions. The following 3 steps will help you begin on the path to rationality. Incorporate all 3 steps into your practice of human nature.

Step 1: Recognize the Biases

Emotions are constantly affecting our decisions beyond the surface of consciousness. The most common emotions are the desire for pleasure, and the avoidance of pain. We imagine we are looking for answers and the truth, but really. This pleasure principle is the root of all of our biases. It’s best to look at the biases that we have and see how they affect us or operate inside of others.

Confirmation Bias - I look at the evidence, and arrive at my decisions through more or less rational processes. Because of the pleasure principle, we look at information that confirms our biases. The more important the person, the more powerful the confirmation bias. Never accept “evidence”, you should

Conviction Bias - I believe in this idea so strongly, it must be true. If a leader shares an idea with such confidence and conviction, we assume they must have examined the idea carefully in order to believe in it with such conviction. Those who express nuances seem less trustworthy

Appearance Bias - I understand the people I deal with, I see them just as they are. We see people as they appear to us, not how they are. People have trained themselves to put the version of themselves forward that will provide the best appearance.

Group Bias - My ideas are my own, I did not listen to the group, I am not a conformist. We experience tremendous relief when we find people who share the same ideas as us.

Blame Bias - I learn from my experiences and mistakes. Our natural response to mistakes is to look for outside forces to blame, as it’s too painful to look inwardly at the cause of our mistakes.

Superiority Bias - I’m different. More rational than others, more ethical than others. Everything we’ve got comes from natural talent and hard work, but other people we can look at as using Machiavellian tactics to arrive at their results. Rationality and ethical qualities must be achieved through awareness and effort, they do not come naturally. They come through a maturation process.

Step 2: Beware the Inflaming Factors

Low grade emotions continually affect our thinking and originate from our own impulses (the desire for pleasing and comforting thoughts). High grade emotions, come at certain moments, reaches an explosive pitch, and is generally sparked by something external. It captures our attention and the more we think about it the more explosive it gets. We become reactive.

High grade emotion usually culminates in some rash action with disastrous consequences. It’s best to be aware of these factors so we do not fall victim to our actions, and so we can recognize these emotions in others. To either get out of their way or help bring them back to reality.

Causes include:

  • Trigger points from early childhood. Maybe fear of abandoment from a child affects your relationships. And in a relaitonship if you are citicized it accesses this trigger and makes you act irrationally. This reaction causes exactly what you fear. Abandonment. Recognize this behavior in yourself by looking at your emotions that seem out of character or immature. The great danger here is that by reacting to past traumas we are acting in a way that only strengthens the wound. We are programmed to repeat the traumas in the presence.
  • Sudden gains or losses. When gains come quickly we lose sight of the fact that true gains must come through hard work and luck. We try again and again to get the quick gains, which can’t be sustained. Unexpected losses also create a fear of curse of bad luck, and can lead to more losses. Whenever we experience quick losses or gains, that is precisely the time to step back and counterbalance them with necessary pessimism or optimism. Be extra wary of sudden success or attention. They aren’t built on anything that lasts and they have an addictive pull.
  • Rising Pressure. Everyone seems to be put together or in control. But add some pressure and the cool mask comes off. Under stress or pressure, the most primitive parts of the brain get engaged and overwhelm anyones reasoning powers. Whenever you notice rising pressures or stress in your life, observe yourself carefully. Observe with as much detachment as possible. You need perspective. Never imagine you’re someone who can withstand rising stress without emotional leakage. It is not possible. But with self awareness and reflection you can train yourself to refrain from making decisions that you’ll come to regret.
  • Inflaming individuals. There’s certain people who cause strong emotions from almost everyone that they encounter. These types have charisma, can also be narcissistic. This leads to profound feelings in some and repulsion in others. Recognize these inflamers by how they affect yourself and others. No one can remain indifferent to them. On either end of the spectrum with these people, you will tend to be irrational, and you need to distance yourself. They try to cast a larger than life image. Recognize their human traits and de-mythologize them.
  • The group effect. We become different when in a group. Being in a group does not stimulate independent reasoning. But rather the intense desire to belong. This effect does not need to be in person, it can be spread over social media. Beware of demigogs who exploit the group effect and stimulate outbreaks of irrationality. They begin by warming up the crowd, talking about ideas that everyone shares. They rely on vague but loaded words filled with emotive qualities (justice, truth), talk of abstract, noble goals, and nothing with actual action plans. Consider your reasoning powers. Resent any intrusion of your independent mind by others.

Do not imagine the more extreme types of irrationality have been overcome with progress in technology and society. The irrational just simply changes their look. The cycle will continue. As long as their are humans, the irrational will find its way of spreading. Rationality is something to be acquired by individuals. Not by mass movements or technological progress. Feeling superior and beyond it is a sure sign that the irrational is at work.

Step 3: Strategies Towards Bringing Out the Rational Self

Two factors should give us all hope: 1. the existence of rational individuals through all times in human history (Marcus Aurelius, Warren Buffett, Leonardo Divinci). All of these rational types share certain qualities:

  • A realistic appraisal of themselves and their weaknesses
  • A devotion to truth and reality
  • A tolerant attitude towards people
  • The ability to reach goals that they have set

All of us have experienced moments of greater rationality. When we have deadlines to meet, we don’t have the luxury of other emotions. We have to get it done. We focus on the work. Our mind is calm, our ego doesn’t intrude.

Here are some strategies to bring out that inner paraclese or athena:

  1. Know yourself thoroughly. The emotional self thrives on ignorance. The moment you are aware of how it operates and dominates you is the moment it can be tamed. First step towards the rational is always inward. You want to catch the emotional self in action. Reflect on how you operate under stress. What emotions come out under such moments. Desire to please, bully or control? Examine your strengths, what makes you different from other people? This will help you decide on goals that align with your interests and your strengths. By knowing yourself, you’ll also be able to resist the pull of the group effect.
  2. Examine your emotions to their roots. Look at your emotions, dig behind any trigger points to see where they started. It may be wise to keep a journal where you record your self assessments with ruthless objectivity. Greatest danger here is your ego. Find a neutral position where you can observe your actions objectively and even with a little humor.
  3. Increase your reaction time. Comes through practice and repetition. When something comes up that requires your reaction, you must take a step back. Maybe even physically seclude yourself where you can be alone. Sleep on it. Don’t make emotional decisions. Cool down your emotions. Perspective comes with times. The longer you can resist reacting, the more mental space you have for actual reflection. The stronger your mind will become.
  4. Accept people as facts. Interactions with people are the main source of emotional turmoil. We are always judging people, wishing that they were something that they’re not. Most often we wish they were more like us. Instead, see people as phenomena. As neutral as comets or plants. They simply exist and come in all varieties. Make understanding people a fun game. A puzzle to solve. Make your acceptance of human nature as radical as possible. Each person, no matter how twisted, has a reason for what they’ve become. A logic that makes sense to them.
  5. Find the optimal balance of thinking and emotion. We cannot divorce emotions with thinking, the two are intertwined. But one is more powerful. Find the proper ratio that results in the most effective action. Look at the video for Switch, for more information on this. Bring as much thinking as possible to a situation, before we make a decision. But once we decide what to do, loosen the reigns and enter action with boldness and a spirit of adventure. Instead of being slaves to this emotion, we channel it. This is the essence of rationality. Try to maintain a balance of skepticism (rider) and curiosity (horse). If you take thinking too far, you’ll close off your mind to possibilites. Retain the elasticity of spirit you had as a child, interested in everything, while retaining the hard nosed need to verify and scrutize for yourself, all ideas and beliefs. The two can coexist, and is a balance that all geniuses possess.
  6. Love the Rational. Don’t think of the path to rationality as something painful and ascetic. It brings powers that are deeply satisfying and pleasureable. Much deeper than the more manic pleasures the world tends to offer us. Being able to tame the emotional self leads to a calmness and clarity. You’re less consumed by petty conflicts and your actions are more effective which leads to less turmoil. Knowing all of this it will become easier to be motivated to pursue this path.
  7. Trust your feelings. Feelings are nothing final, behind them stand judgements and evaluations which we inherit in the form of inclinations, aversions. The inspiration born of a feeling is the grandchild of a judgement (often a false judgement). To trust ones feelings means to give more obedience to ones grandfather, grandmother, their grandparents, then to the gods, which are in us.

Anyone else read this masterpiece?



[-] AshyLarry27 7 Points about a year ago

Just got this book in the mail a few minutes ago. Have you finished? This one looks promising too.

[-] gmos905 4 Points about a year ago

Yep, went through it once. Now going through again and summarizing the important points. Great book

[-] 420KUSHBUSH 4 Points about a year ago

I am nearly halfway through I believe, solid work

[-] Spartan1590 2 Points about a year ago

It's really fucking good, I had some doubts because it's been written and published during the current political climate, but Greene is still the same.

[-] gmos905 2 Points about a year ago

I felt the beginning of it was a little soft due to the changing times, but it went back to 48 Laws form towards the middle and end.

[-] Javares 6 Points about a year ago

This book is long as hell lmaooo. I got the audiobook and have been knawing at it for weeks now. I regret getting the audio version as many of the stories he associates with his lessons often don't stick. The numerous sermons he gives when he says " as a student of human nature you should..." in various occasions i wanted to jot it down but I was running or lifting an the moment passes. These written summaries are a great supplement.

[-] Nervous_Jellyfish 1 Point about a year ago

I found myself having to stop and reflect after each chapter to fully digest the ideas. Its pretty insane how each law feels like they can develop into a complete book themselves.

[-] gmos905 1 Point about a year ago

Yeah I have it on audio as well and missed so much just listening the first time through. Going through it and writing it all down though and summarizing the important points are really helping to retain the information.

[-] heronmarkedblade1984 3 Points about a year ago

What are the odds, reading Mastery currently.

[-] Howdoiusesync 3 Points about a year ago

I would suggest Peak as well kinda the same vein but practicing explained a bit more throughly.


[-] heronmarkedblade1984 2 Points about a year ago

I'll definitely check that out! Just finished Extreme ownership, a great book that's applicable to what we discuss without being directly related.

[-] Howdoiusesync 2 Points about a year ago

really? Fuck, another book to read. thanks broham.

[-] heronmarkedblade1984 4 Points about a year ago

Yeah but I'm something of a bibliophile, stopped watching television about 6 years ago(I'll watch an occasional movie with the wife), got rid of all social media this year(Besides reddit) so it makes much more time for self improvement. And books are a very big part of that. If your pressed for time audio books have come a LONG LONG way in the last decade, they make trips to and from work and the store a force multiplier.

[-] Howdoiusesync 2 Points about a year ago

Same about TV just can never get into it. Social media I have to use to run business stuff really and talking with other collaborators but it's okay. When I'm home I just leave my phone in a closet. I'm in monk mode rn so it's just more fun. I only mean't another book since I have like 3 that i'm currently have lined up.

[-] GoldZone1 1 Point about a year ago

Reading 48 Laws of Power and getting myself Mastery next week, do you have any more recommendations I am making big list trying to ready as much as posssible

[-] Thisismybot8 2 Points about a year ago

I love this man. I need to get this book soon.

[-] Flying_Wingback 2 Points about a year ago

Appreciate this my man. Gonna watch and read as soon as home

[-] Master_Elrond 2 Points about a year ago

Awesome, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. I'm listening to the audiobook and this really helps drill it in

[-] gmos905 1 Point about a year ago

My pleasure. Rereading it and summarizing it has really helped drill it in on my end as well.

[-] PatrickBateman523 2 Points about a year ago

This is good. I’ve heard his new one Laws of Human Nature is great too.

[-] [deleted] about a year ago
[-] Thunderbird93 1 Point about a year ago

True humans are irrational. Its like making a Type I vs Type II Error in Statistics. When primitive man heard rustling in the grass it was either a predator like a lion or the wind. Either a false positive or false negative are possible so we have evolved to see patterns in everything. As a schizophrenic I see it a lot in paleidolia

[-] Feelinggood702 1 Point about a year ago

A bit extreme on saying “true” humans there, but I understand where you’re coming from. More reliant on intuition than on socially conditioned concepts.

[-] godsbestgift 1 Point about a year ago

Great chapter 1 write up! I listened to the 28 hour audio book over the last 3 week or so, it really is another masterpiece. I'm obsessed with mastering my human condition and accepting others as unpredictable beings, it really is just such an interesting concept. The write-up definitely was a good cheat sheet to help solidify important concepts into my head. I should've read it sooner but ya kno, i had the thread up for 5 days waiting for the right moment. I look forward to reading your chapter write-ups, totally got my follow brother!!

[-] gmos905 2 Points about a year ago

Glad you enjoyed it. I'll be posting chapter 2 this weekend :)

I agree it's a masterpiece. I haven't enjoyed a book like this in a long time.

[-] Feelinggood702 1 Point about a year ago

Funny. Something that actually focuses on the roots of our reactivity doesn’t get as many upvotes as posts that tickles our emotive responses.

Wanted to point out too- that as important as it is to control your thought processes, it is important to note the we are governed by our limbic system and ultimately are not nearly as much in control as we think we are. Sure, we can contemplate why we think the way we do, but how did we get to that contemplation in the first place? It wasn’t a conscious decision.

[-] gmos905 1 Point about a year ago

While I'm summarizing chapter 4 of this book I'm learning this actually. In terms of compulsive behavior, there are 3 ways we form our character... some of it's genetics, some of it's our upbringing when we are very young, and then the rest is habits.

We think the way we do because we formed like that early on and if we aren't conscious of it that will direct our thoughts for our entire life/

[-] Feelinggood702 1 Point about a year ago

How do you define character as? I think that today it is more defined as personality (or rather, a focus on how one is perceived). Personally I view it as something that is built to stand the test of time as it grows, more like frame. I guess I’m focusing on semantics here, but it’s interesting how people view words through time.

[-] [deleted] about a year ago
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