The Laws of Human Nature Book Summary


Are we humans inherently good or bad? That’s a question that almost everybody asks himself during the course of his lifetime. If you’re wondering how humans work and that our true nature is, keep reading as that’s the right content for you.

Why This Book

The Laws of Human Nature, written by Robert Greene, is a book that will help you uncover the secrets of human psychology and behavior so that you can better tackle your everyday life problems.

Anyway, is it really true that we are predictable beings and that by knowing how we and others work, we can get rid of the majority life daunting problems? 

Hi Success Titan reader, I’m Sal Damiata, and that’s what you’ll find out with this book summary of The Laws of Human Nature

Who’s It For

  • Everybody that would like to better understand himself and others;
  • Professionals that work with people and would like to improve their people skills;
  • Human psychology enthusiasts and researchers.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to better decode yourself and other people;
  • How to integrate your shadow self and your masculine/feminine parts in your personality;
  • How to maximize your own potential and creativity and attain fulfillment; 

In a Nutshell

As humans, we are predictable creatures, and because of that, we often make mistakes that can cost us a lot. Having a long term vision, understanding our negative patterns, having a positive attitude, understanding others, and will help us lead our life towards the attainment of what we want.

3 Sentence Summary

  • Each one of us has a masculine side and a feminine side inside that are determined by our genetic imprint and by the early influences of our parents. Since those parts are within us and can’t be separated, you must integrate them to maximize your own potential, like many geniuses of history have done.
  • If you want to experience a happy and fulfilling life, you have to get in touch with your authentic self and discover the natural talents and inclinations you privileged during your childhood. 

Then you should base your life path on one of a combination of those inclinations to provide service to the world that you find pleasant as well.

  • Stop adopting a reactive mode to anything that happens to your short term, instead choose a responding modality where you choose your actions based on a long-term vision. 

This will help you stay focussed and avoid emotional blunders that might prevent you from getting to where you want to get.

Big Ideas

The big ideas we’ll explore together:

  1. Beware of Short-sightedness
  2. Search for Patterns
  3. Develop a Sense of Purpose
  4. The Law of Repression
  5. Balance Masculine & Feminine Energies

Let’s Go!

Big Idea #1: Beware of Short-sightedness

One way to increase your odds of success is by developing a long-term thinking habit instead of being trapped by short-sightedness. 

Short-sightedness occurs whenever you react to a present event with too much frequency. This can make you commit mistakes the will impair your long-term wellbeing. 

Robert Greene suggests judging people by their narrowness or breath of their life vision. He says that it’s better to stay away from those who can’t see the larger consequences of their actions. 


That’s great advice you might be thinking, but how can you actually put this into practice?

First of all, create an elevated perspective so that you can see things with a broader vision and focus on your long-term goals. 

When you get some opportunities, detach yourself from the temporary emotional drive and think about the opportunity from an external point of view. 

Another way to get rid of short-sightedness is by changing your outlook of the world because the way you see, it will influence every part of your life since beliefs drive both thoughts and behavior. 

To create a change in attitude, you must change the meaning of the things you experience into something positive that will help you and others in the long run; this also means getting rid of disempowering meanings you give to the events.

A Relatable Example

A cool example the author provides on short-sightedness is the “Cobra Effect.” During British colonialism in India, the government was concerned about the huge numbers of cobras that were circulating at the time, so it offered money to everyone that would bring a dead cobra. 

The problem was that more people started to breed cobras due to the financial incentives, and, by the time the government saw that people were breeding cobras and extinguished the rewards, the cobra population had increased 3 times. 

This anecdote shows how attempting to solve a problem by neglecting its longer-term possibilities can actually make it worse as you can’t see where things will go whenever you make a decision. 

Anyway, by adopting more consequential thinking, you’ll have a clearer picture to avoid potential disasters. 

Big Idea #2: Search for Patterns

A large part of our character is formed when we are young, shaped by the external influences we receive from our caretakers. The character we have will show specific patterns of behavior from time to time that can be grasped by everybody observing with enough attention.

This awareness comes handy when meeting new people as it’s easy to be swayed by the first impression somebody gives us. 

However, when you are able to see their repeated actions more than their words and draw some conclusions about why they perform those actions, then you’ll be able to see the larger picture of things.

Apart from trying to understand others’ patterns of behavior, we must search for our own and understand through introspection why we do what we repeatedly do. This, again, most likely comes from the past experiences that shaped us. 

If we are driven by patterns that don’t help us get the things we want, self-sabotage will be inevitable; that’s why you have to discover yours and use them to your advantage.

A Relatable Example

In the book, the author talks about the story of Howard Hughes that when he was just 10 years old, he inherited a fortune from his parents that had died. 

He was raised by them in an over-controlling way where he had little or no freedom to make his own choices. 

This later backfired in him with the creation of a rebellious character that needed to control everything in his life, making everything on his own. 

The repressed desire for controlling his life impacted him in his business ventures as well, leading them eventually to failure.

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Big Idea #3: Develop a Sense of Purpose

Even if this might sound hard to you, each one of us has his own natural inclinations that usually show up clearly during our childhood. 

Unfortunately, our parents might unconsciously put the projection of their ideal son/daughter onto us, inevitably conditioning the natural tendencies of the child. 

The problem is that those natural tendencies we have are where we can find our uniqueness, talents, and gifts. That’s why you must remember who you were and what you liked as a kid and claim it back to you. 

If you want to experience a happy and fulfilling life, you have to stop being influenced by the opinions of others on what you should do with it. Learn to trust yourself and your gut feeling and get others’ identities out of yourself as they’re not part of who you are. 

A Relatable Example

If you see how the majority of people are living their lives, you’ll see that many of them are spending their time fighting with themselves, getting into a career path they don’t like, and cultivating social relationships they don’t want. 

The frustrated husband that hates his job, the sexually unsatisfied wife that still keeps asking herself why she didn’t ask for a divorce, the college student that spends hours on books he’s not interested in. 

To avoid such an end, start recalling for some signs of primal inclinations in your early years. Usually, those signs reveal themselves as moments where you were naturally interested in a particular activity or subject. 

After that, you should explore the widest possible range in the field related to your calling until you find its part that appeals to you the most.

Big Idea #4: The Law of Repression

When we were young, we used to express our emotions freely and without any concern for what the expression of those emotions would cause in our lives. 

Then, When growing up, we are told that certain emotions are better than others and that we shouldn’t express the totality of what we feel as human beings. 

This is detrimental because, in reality, there are no good or bad emotions but only emotions that are more or less appropriate to certain situations. When we are taught that an emotion we feel is bad, we tend to repress it, thus causing an internal fracture.

Repressing those traits of us starts to attack our subconscious mind without us being aware of this; that’s what creates the shadow. The shadow self that is created in the early years represents our repressed desires, traits, and tendencies. 

Usually, in our shadow self, we can find what we consider unacceptable about us or that is considered as such by society. Our shadow self becomes more evident during moments of stress as it needs to release itself if it has been repressed harshly.

The solution lies in creating an integrated human that can accept his shadow self and express it properly. Moreover, the integrated human is mostly in tune with his child within as that’s its most authentic part to which people are naturally attracted.

A Relatable Example

How can you integrate your shadow self?

The first thing you should do is see your shadow self for what it really is. After that, you should embrace that part of you like yourself because it is a part of who you really are. 

Then you must integrate it into your personality and discover more of it so that it’s structured and embedded in who you are. Finally, you should show it to the world through a proper expression of it.

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A relevant case the author brings up is Steve Job’s shadow self that he is to see, accept and integrate into his personality so well that he could express it with his job by acting independently and being rough sometimes. When you manage to do this, you will have become a whole human being capable of higher levels of creativity and personal power. 

Big Idea #5: Balance Masculine & Feminine Energies

Each one of us has a masculine side and a feminine side inside that are determined by our genetic imprint and by the early influences of our parents. Since those parts that are within us can’t be separated, you must acknowledge them just like your shadow self.

The problem is that even if every man and woman at the early stages of their lives have an innate feminine and masculine part, respectively, our society conditions us to think that men should behave like men and women like women. 

This makes them afraid to explore their feminine and masculine side, causing an internal fracture that causes unhappiness and a loss of power in the individual.

A Relatable Example

The greatest minds of our ages, like Leonardo da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, Salvador Dalì, and many more, acknowledged, used, and expressed both their masculine and feminine sides to create their genius works.

They’ve managed to create that because when you can combine the good qualities of female energy with the good qualities of male energy, you will tap into the ultimate power of the union of the opposites. 

Just as it happens during sexual intercourse, where a child is born with the union of the sperm cell with the female egg, when you fuse those two energies within you, you’ll be able to unleash your creativity.

Your Takeaway

Human nature might seem complicated to understand, but when you see the same behavioral patterns repeating themselves for millennia, it’s understandable with an attentive observation. There’s still more to learn about us but those foundational principles.

If You Were My Best Friend 

My honest advice for you is to observe people around you as much as possible and to validate the theories explained in this book. Most of all, anyway, what you should do is to apply the advice on your own because the only enemy we face in life is ourselves.

About the Author

Robert Greene is a New York Times bestselling author in the realm of human behavior, power, and strategy. 

His books aim at describing how social dynamics work by adopting a deductive and scientific approach to human behavior, pointing out relevant historical examples as a way to prove those theories.

After having graduated in classical studies and having worked more than 70 jobs, he wrote his first book, “The 48 Laws of Power,” that eventually became a worldwide best-seller, forever changing his life.

Reading Suggestions

  • “The 48 Laws of Power”, Robert Greene
  • “Mastery,” Robert Greene
  • “Atomic Habits,” James Clear
  • “Everything is F*cked,” Mark Manson
  • “Deep Work,” Cal Newport

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P.S. If you want to share your own life experiences related to this, let everybody know!

Armin is an online entrepreneur and writer in the dating, psychology and spirituality areas of the self-help industry.
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