Robert Greene (@RobertGreene) is the author of five New York Times Best Sellers. His highly anticipated sixth book, The Laws of Human Nature, is out now.

What We Discuss with Robert Greene:

  • Why you can’t monumentally improve your life by modifying your behavior if you don’t understand what causes such behavior.
  • Why it’s liberating to understand that the reason other people react to you in whatever way they do has more to do with them and their own baggage than you and yours.
  • How oversimplifying the impression you have of someone robs you of the ability to relate to them beyond a surface level — and what you can do to change the game.
  • Why your lower nature seems to be the default you’ll fall into without effort and what it takes to tap into the potential of your higher nature.
  • The difference between active and passive envy, where envy comes from, why it’s so often destructive, and how you can flip envy to your benefit.
  • And much more…

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The motivations that drive us are often a mystery — even to ourselves. But if we draw back the shroud of emotions that obscure our view of these motivations, we take the first step toward true self-mastery and understanding what makes us — and others — tick.

On this episode, The Laws of Human Nature author Robert Greene shares his deep insight into our own nature as humans, delves into what makes us so easy to manipulate, and observes how our dark side, built as the result of our upbringing, creeps into everything we do as adults. Robert will then help us make better decisions based on these revelations. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

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More About This Show

Fans of Robert Greene’s earlier best-selling work — from The 48 Laws of Power to The Art of Seduction to Mastery and beyond — won’t be surprised to learn that his highly anticipated latest book, The Laws of Human Nature, is an exhaustively researched, hefty tome well worth its weight (and wait).

Critics might find digging into the Machiavellian levers of human behavior something of a dark art that should be buried away from those who would abuse its potential, but we take the other approach: this is information to which everyone should have access. It allows us to better know ourselves and explain why we behave the way we do, it gives us valuable insight into the mechanisms by which others operate, and it gives us the tools to resist manipulation by others for their own ends.

“We’re all flawed,” says Robert. “We all evolved from the same roots, and we can’t control who we are, to a large extent…this is who we are. It’s not to be depressing. If you don’t have self-awareness, you can’t possibly change yourself. Everybody wants to think they can change themselves — that’s why self-help books sell so well.”

But Robert’s criticism of many books in the self-help genre is that they don’t really dig deep and examine what makes and motivates the human animal, telling people a comfortable version of what they want to hear as a soothing, topical dressing for what ails them instead of the painful work of surgery they really require. In this latest work, he takes a hard, brutal, and honest look at the basis of human behavior — the roots, as he says, we all share from taking the same evolutionary journey.

At the core, each of us is wrapped up in our own emotional baggage that colors how we interpret the world around us. And when we encounter one another, we often make the mistake of thinking that this baggage is somehow unique to us; we forget (or perhaps never realize) that the reason other people react to us in whatever way they do has more to do with them and their own baggage than us and ours. In other words: it’s not personal. And this, Robert says, is liberating.

“People are wrapped up in their own emotions — their own traumas,” says Robert. “They’re reliving things from their childhood. They get angry at you, but you’re not really the trigger. The trigger is something that happened to them when they were four or five or 20 — or whatever. So to realize that it’s not personal — that people are acting out of their own dramas, their own traumas, their own emotional problems from way back — should take all the burdens away from you.”

Further liberating is the fact that we’re not solely responsible for packing the emotional baggage we carry — it’s loaded onto us by others we encounter and the life experiences we have along the way. We shouldn’t blame ourselves if our emotional baggage is heavier than we feel capable of carrying, nor should we fall into the trap of making snap judgments of others who are just as burdened by the weight of their own baggage.

“We’re social animals to the core,” Robert says. “You wouldn’t be here talking without the billions of people who created language before you, without your education, without your parents, without your teachers. They have molded you. They have made you who you are. So we are not really individuals; we are built by other people by being social. We’re kind of a conglomerate of all these other interactions of relationships. So we’re really generally kind of bad at this aspect of life because we don’t understand other people. We take a simple snapshot of people: they’re nice. They’re not nice. They’re pleasant. They’re not pleasant. They’re smart. They’re not smart.

“But people are infinitely complex. They have a wealth of emotions. They’re going through things that you are not even beginning to see. And if you can begin to pierce their mask and get inside their psychology and understand where they’re coming from, suddenly the whole game changes. And what you say and how you act with them will change as well and you will find your relationships are much more smoother, your bonds with people will be much deeper, and you’ll be able to deal with those ugly, toxic types that inevitably cross your path.”

Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about why our lower nature seems to be the default, what it takes to tap into the potential of our higher nature, why Coleridge compared the careful cultivation of this higher nature to the vigilant tending of a garden, the pros and cons of the lower nature versus the higher nature, the source of envy and how we can flip it to our benefit, the difference between active and passive envy, spotting telltale signs of envy in others, the five envy types, the most dangerous people, how to approach a balance to confirmation bias, why we’re all narcissists to some degree, and much more.

THANKS, ROBERT GREENE!

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