Let us call the collection of these forces that push and pull at us from deep within human nature. Human nature stems from the particular wiring of our brains, the configuration of our nervous system and the way we humans process emotions, all of which developed and emerged over the course of the 5 million years or so of our evolution as a species.
In this episode of Made You Think, Nat and Neil talk about The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene. The author examines human behavior and suggests that it can be explained by different laws. Each law is presented and described in details: what every law means in your life, what you should do with it, how you should interpret it, and how you should use it.
We cover a wide range of topics, including:
- How humans really behave and how one should adapt to it
- Historical and contemporary examples to better understand each law
- How to apply each law to your life
- Why corporations don’t give much importance to Twitter (and it’s because of Trump)
- The effect of context on our mood and behavior (yes, Nazis and Twitter examples)
- Why you may feel miserable even with 1 billion in your account
And much more. Please enjoy, and be sure to grab a copy of The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene!
If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out our episode on Mastery by Robert Greene, a fantastic book on sculpting your mind and your life in the pursuit of mastery, as well as Denial of Death by Ernest Becker, another book that delves into the idea that fearlessness is essential for individual success outside of a traditional path, and even within it.
Be sure to join our mailing list to find out about what books are coming up, giveaways we’re running, special events, and more. Links from the Episode Mentioned in the show
- Irrationality [8:50]
- Self-awareness [10:37]
- Narcissism [12:49]
- Role-playing [17:16]
- South Sea Bubble [32:22]
- Black Swan Preparation [33:05]
- Herd Mentality [35:16]
- Instagram Influencer [35:39]
- The Godfather [38:45]
- Matrix [39:25]
- Primer [39:42]
- Self-sabotage [44:01]
- Mueller Report [45:45]
- Around the Horn [46:58]
- Pardon the Interruption [47:08]
- Crossfire [47:40]
- UC Berkeley [49:00]
- Lyft [49:22]
- New York Times [49:50]
- QueensBridge Venture Partners [50:41]
- Nazi [53:17]
- College as an incubator of Girardian terror by Dan Wang [59:40]
- American Psycho [1:01:44]
- Theranos [1:05:38]
- Enron [1:07:41]
- Apple [1:06:13]
- Nat's Article: Increasing the Difficulty [1:09:29]
- Social Justice Warrior [1:12:07]
- Neil's Article: Entertainment Isn't Dumb [1:16:40]
- Netflix [1:16:51]
- Cup & Leaf [1:17:45]
- Estee Lauder [1:21:23]
- Taco Bell [1:22:09]
- Slacktivism [1:31:38]
- Star Trek [1:38:19]
- The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
- Mastery by Robert Greene (book episode) [01:33]
- Antifragile by Nassim Taleb (Nat’s notes) (book episode) [1:34]
- Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (Nat's notes) (book episode) [1:35]
- The 50th Law by Robert Greene [03:00]
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Nat’s notes) [03:13]
- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio (Nat’s notes) (book episode) [6:58]
- Poor Charlie's Almanack by Charlie Munger [10:11]
- What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro [17:42] (Nat’s notes) (book episode)
- The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells [25:12]
- 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson (Nat’s notes) (Neil’s notes) (book episode) [28:50]
- 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup [55:36]
- Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb (Nat’s notes) (Neil’s notes) (book episode) [1:00:31]
- The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch (book episode) [1:29:26]
- Made in America by Sam Walton [1:32:30]
- The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker [1:34:45] (Nat’s notes) (book episode)
- The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson [1:36:27] (Neil’s notes)
- Robert Greene [01:15]
- Joe Rogan [07:55]
- Donald Trump [09:17]
- Charles T. Munger [10:11]
- Bill Clinton [18:17]
- Barack Obama [20:07]
- George W. Bush [21:33]
- Sam Harris [24:41]
- Daniel Kahneman [24:42]
- David Wallace-Wells [25:12]
- Jordan Peterson [28:50]
- Isaac Newton [32:27]
- Fredo Corleone [38:45]
- Nas [50:20]
- Steve Jobs [1:06:13]
- Tim Ferriss [1:11:54]
- Seth Godin [1:22:31]
- Kanye West [1:25:37]
- Sam Walton [1:32:28]
- Ernest Becker [1:34:45]
- Ray Kurzweil [1:35:44]
01:12 – Nat and Nate are major fans of Robert Greene. Takeaways from their top Robert Greene books, Mastery and The 50th Law.
5:12 – The laws of human nature is based on how humans act and behave and what one can infer about other people or learn about them based on their behavior. Each law goes in-depth on historical and contemporary examples.
8:50 – Law of Irrationality: You may think you are rational but you're not. The first step towards becoming rational is to understand our fundamental irrationality. We all fall into this trap of thinking that we're the rational ones and everyone else is irrational. Green believes that we all have irrational beliefs and the best way to become more rational is having that awareness of yourself that you are also not a fully rational creature. What stems out from irrationality is the conviction bias or superiority bias, where you think like you're better than everyone. The key to stop making irrational decisions is self awareness and reflection. Increase your reaction time: when some event or interaction requires your response, train yourself to step back.
12:50 – Law of Narcissism: Transform self love into empathy. The idea of healthy narcissism is everyone is a narcissist to some extent, but if you're healthy about it, you have a stronger, more resilient sense of self and can recover more quickly from wounds and insults. There is not much validation needed from others. Social media is the medium of overly narcissists. Also, there are two monologues happening sometimes on shows like podcasts where you just happen to be speaking at each other, but you're not really having a conversation. Everybody just wants to feel heard, that's why people are posting on social media..
17:12 – Law of Role-playing: See through people's masks. Bill Clinton never lost sight of the fact that as president, he had to project confidence and power, but if he was speaking to a group of auto workers, he would adjust his accent and his words to fit the audience and he would do the same to a group of executives. Most of the time, trying too hard to adjust to your audience can be offensive.
21:38 – Law of Compulsive Behavior: Determine the strength of people's character. A lot of people do have some form of compulsion in how they act. The toxic types and drama magnets fall in this type of behavior. There are certain people, like in high school or in college, who always have drama no matter what's going on. The Laws of Human Nature can be read in two different ways – with the eye to learning more about other people or with an eye towards yourself. We go through Sam Harris’ interview of Daniel Kahneman and Joe Rogan's interview of David Wallace Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth.
26:43 – Law of Covetousness: Become an elusive object of desire. This law is very true for relationships, for instance, people who are using dating apps. The people you're connecting with on dating apps are always seemingly perfect, but then as you get to know them, you realize they're all human beings, they’re not perfect. Also, it states that if you don't give somebody too much information about yourself, then you have that air of mystery and they can project whatever they want to project onto you. In an era of so much advertising and marketing, it affects your decision-making, what is something that you actually want and what's something you need. We tackle the 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson, where he emphasizes on how many of our desires are actually internally-driven versus driven by what we're seeing other people do.
31:52 – Law of Short-sightedness: Elevate your perspective. It's basically civically training ourselves to detach from the heat of the moment. For any group or team, you kind of want someone in charge of revealing all the ways something could fail. Expecting the unexpected, the black swan preparedness. The concept of herd mentality, where you doubt your own logic in money and selfies. Take those Instagram influencers.
38:07 – Law of Defensiveness: Soften people's resistance by confirming their self opinion. Everyone thinks that they're autonomous and acting of their free will. Also, most think that they're intelligent and that they're good and decent. Regardless of whether or not those things are true, it behooves you to confirm people's beliefs in that about themselves. Fredo Corleone is a perfect example. He is the family idiot who also does some sleazy things and gets the family in trouble, but despite all of that and all the evidence staring him in the face, he still thinks he's an intelligent and good human being. Primer on being a Master Persuader: five strategies for instilling those beliefs in the people you're talking to.
42:50 – Law of Self-sabotage: Change your circumstances by changing your attitude. This part lists out a lot of bad mental routines people get into. When you see one of these self-sabotaging mentalities come out constantly from people, it makes it very hard to be around them. This happens in Twitter feed, where if you were constantly surrounded by political or hostile tweets or news, even if they're not directed at you, it changes your mood entirely. The click bait headlines confirming existing biases.
51:22 – Law of Repression: Confront your dark side. Part of the job in studying human nature is to recognize and examine the dark side of one’s character. You can't deny that there are going to be parts of your character that are bad. Seeking those out and figuring out where they're coming from can improve yourself to deal with those parts of your behavior. There's like very little genetic determination for whether you're a good or bad person. There may be some inclinations, but a lot of whether or not you become like a well-socialized or antisocial person is going to be from your environment and your upbringing. We dive in the two circumstances that can bring that type of thing out and study Nazi’s and slavery. Slave owners were not necessarily cruel individuals, it’s just that they were accustomed to such as they grow up.
57:53 – Law of Envy: Beware the fragile ego. This delves into how you can pick up on other people, the little things they say and do that convey some sense of envy or insecurity around you. Women talk about this a lot with other women but men are not exempted from this. The closer you are to other people, the more you will envy them and resent them. We touch on College as an Incubator of Girardian Terror by Dan Wang – how there is no clear sign of any diversity on college campuses. Also, there are different things that motivate people, and all these motivations are mashed up in our brains leading us to have different types of behaviors. The concept of Alpha dog, where it's more on status than the actual money itself.
1:04:58 – Law of Grandiosity: Know your limits. You should tie any feelings of greatness to your actual work and achievements in your contributions to society and not to something special about you because that's where it can get dangerous. A case in point is Theranos. If the projects you attempt are below or at your skill level, you'll become easily bored and less focused. If they are too ambitious, you will feel crushed by your failure.
1:10:18 – Law of Gender Rigidity: Reconnect to the masculine or feminine within you. Some of the things that you find attractive in the opposite sex is something that you need to develop within yourself. This is a good tool for introspection and personal development. Greene used these masculine and feminine traits as descriptors. Opposite traits complement one another.
1:13:13 – Law of Aimlessness: To advance with a sense of purpose. You'll be most motivated and happiest if you have a higher sense of purpose or mission that drives you on what you are doing as opposed to just following the direction or the goals of your parents for you and your peers. Purpose is doing something where you actually want to wake up and instantly start moving. People judge themselves if that sense of purpose isn't something big and special.
1:18:08 – Law of Conformity: Resist the downward pull of the group. Being aware that you're not immune to the way being in a group will change how you think. Notice how being around people changes the way you're behaving and thinking. Making decisions based on what you want think, not just what the group wants or thinks. LinkedIn launch table. Different groups hold different heuristics. Corporate America doesn’t use Twitter, they think it’s a Trump thing.
1:22:35 – Law of Fickleness: Make them want to follow you. You want to turn yourself into someone that people want to follow. There are three core things under this law: listening skills, dedicating yourself by respecting people's individual needs and proving that you're working for the greater good, and then taking the leadership as a huge responsibility and making sure that you're considering the welfare of the group as early on in your career as possible. Not letting other people categorize you so they will pay more attention trying to find out more about you. You want to develop the highest possible standards for your work and training yourself to be super aware of how your manner in tone are affecting the people around you. Reputation is going to play a really big role in whether or not you can succeed in becoming some kind of leader. The idea of sending mixed signals and showing qualities that are ever so slightly contrary. If you send mixed signals, if you're not allowing people to instantly categorize you, they're going to pay more attention because they're trying to figure you out.
1:26:10 – Law of Aggression: See the hostility behind the friendly facade. Too friendly person who you don’t actually know is irritating. We all have aggressive tendencies. Aggressiveness spectrum. Aggressiveness can be seen in sports too, and they can bring out that aggressive part in people who might not have thought they were aggressive. Everyone has an aggressive side, whether you exhibit it overly or passively, and your task is to not deny that you are aggressive, but to learn how you can channel it into something productive. Almost nothing in the world can resist persistent human energy. The trick is to want something badly enough that nothing will stop you or double your energy. And lastly, “most people engage at some cathartic release of their angers, some giant protest, and then it goes away and they slip back into complacency or become bitter”.
1:31:02 – Law of General Myopia: Seize the historical moment. Society moves in cycles of like kind of four generations. The first generation is that of revolutionaries who make a radical break with the past to establish new rules and create chaos. The second generation craves some order, and they want to stabilize the world and establish some new conventions in dogma. Then the third generation has little connection to the founders of the revolution and they're less passionate about it, they just want to make life comfortable and they don't want things to be getting upset. And lastly, the fourth generation feels society has lost its vitality and they're not sure what should replace it. The goal is to understand as deeply as possible the spirit of your generation, of the times that you live in. Learn how you can take advantage of it and how that has affected how you perceive the world. The premise behind Sam Walton’s Walmart. “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
1:34:35 – The Law of Death Denial: Meditate on your common mortality. Essentially, we don't like to think about the fact that we're going to die and that makes us act in ways that we might not. It causes us to buy into philosophies that will save us from that fact. We dive into the technological transcendence being the modern version of religion. No one is ever going to upload their brain into a computer. We must think of our mortality as a kind of continual deadline. We must stop fooling ourselves. We could die tomorrow and even if we live for another 80 years, it is but a drop in the ocean of the vastness of time and it passes always more quickly than we imagine. We have to awaken to this reality and make it a continual meditation.
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