#YAPClassic: Decoding the Laws of Human Nature with Robert Greene
#YAPClassic: Decoding the Laws of Human Nature with Robert Greene
If we want to improve ourselves and build strong relationships with others, we have to start at the root of everything: human nature. Best-selling author and expert in human nature, Robert Greene believes that by understanding the drives and motivations of ourselves and those around us, we can improve ourselves and thrive. In this episode, Hala and Robert talk about the Laws of Human Nature, including The Law of Rationality, The Law of Grandiosity, The Law of Narcissism, and more. They also yap about how humans are irrational beings, how to detach from the control of emotions, how to determine someone’s character, how to harness the “shadow self” for good, and so much more.
– Why Robert wrote “The Laws of Human Nature”
– The Law of Rationality
– Is it possible to become fully rational?
– The Law of Narcissism
– Who is a narcissist?
– What is our “shadow self”
– How to harness our “shadow self” for good
– How do we determine someone’s character?
– Strong vs weak character
– The Law of Grandiosity
– How success can be dangerous
– The Law of Death Denial
– Samurai warrior medication technique related to death
– And other topics…
Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature.
Robert has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, The New Yorker, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, and Forbes, among others. He has also appeared on The Today Show, CNBC, ABC, and more.
Robert attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
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YAP Episode #43: Decoding the Laws of Human Nature with Robert Greene [Part 1]: https://soundcloud.com/youngandprofiting/robert-greene-p1v1?in=king-robinson-470572546/sets/power
YAP Episode #44: Decoding the Laws of Human Nature with Robert Greene [Part 2]: https://www.youngandprofiting.com/44-decoding-the-laws-of-human-nature-with-robert-greene-part-2/
Robert’s Books: https://powerseductionandwar.com/books/
Robert’s Website: https://powerseductionandwar.com/
Robert’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertGreene
Robert’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robertgreeneofficial/
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[00:00:00] you are a master of human behavior. Some even call you a genius of human behavior. You have a Canon of best-selling books, including the wildly popular 48 laws of power.
[00:00:11] Hala: You've partnered with mega rap stars, like 50 cent for the 50th law. And most recently he released a book called the laws of human nature.
[00:00:20] What is Robert's research process?[00:00:20] What is Robert's Purpose in Life?
And it outlines 18 laws that defines who we humans are. would you just explain the purpose and reason behind the book and what you wanted readers to gain from it?
[00:00:31] What Can We Gain From "The Laws of Human Nature"
[00:00:31] Robert Greene: We all kind of are interested in, most of us, at least are in improving ourselves. We realize that we have. Faults and weaknesses gaps in our knowledge, et cetera. So we read self-help books, we read books on psychology, whatever, but it's my opinion does none of these books really ever change you that basically you remain kind of a prisoner of these patterns in life that you can't get out of and reading a book isn't really going to help you.
[00:00:58] Robert Greene: And so what [00:01:00] my purpose is in writing this book is to tell the reader, okay, look, let's bring this down to basic. Your success in life and your happiness depends on your ability to get along with other people, to be able to understand them on a deep level, to be able to recognize people who are toxic and avoid them, realize how to get along better and be more persuasive with the people you dealing with so that they will follow your ideas or be interested in what you have to do or what you have to say so that you're not always kind of budding.
[00:01:32] Robert Greene: With people's resistance. So life gets easier. You're not always having these emotional traumas. And also you need to understand yourself better because a big problem life is you don't really understand what motivates your own behavior and you do things kind of unconsciously and you get in trouble. So given that I want to get at the root cause of why we misunderstand human behavior.
[00:01:57] Robert Greene: And my idea is. The people [00:02:00] you're dealing with on a day-to-day level. And you can think about it right now. You can think about your boss. You can think about your colleagues. You can think about that audience, that clients or customers you're trying to reach. You have assumptions about them. You have a kind of a shorthand sort of easy snap judgements prejudices prejudgment about who they are usually based on your own desires.
[00:02:23] Robert Greene: And I'm trying to make the point is that you're not really seeing people for who they are. And when you operate in life without knowledge, when you operate kind of based on path ideas of who people are, you're going to make terrible mistakes. You're going to come out with a product that doesn't resonate with people because you don't understand their psychology.
[00:02:42] Robert Greene: You're going to offend your colleagues without realizing it. You're not going to get people interested in financing your ideas. You don't know how to appeal to other people's self-interest et cetera, et cetera. So I want to make this book a game changer. I want to really, really show you in a deep level, what motivates human [00:03:00] behavior.
so I'm exploring. 18 different facets of human behavior. A lot of it is let's be honest, a lot of, sort of negative things that we can't control forces inside of us. That governor behavior that are kind of unconscious, which is our need to constantly compare ourselves to other people and think of well, what they have and what I don't have in comparison to them, which causes all kinds of problems in this ear of social.
[00:03:29] Robert Greene: So I want to make you aware of these things that are inside of you that are motivating your behavior. And more importantly, how it's motivating the people around you that you can find operate in life with enough, knowledge is never going to be perfect. You can never understand people perfectly, but the thing about human beings is we have a tool.
[00:03:49] Robert Greene: We have this amazing tool, which is what I would call empathy. We have the ability to think inside of other people. To imagine what their life is like to imagine what [00:04:00] their experience is like to imagine what it means to come from a totally different culture or to be a different gender or whatever. And by doing this, we kind of expand our knowledge and we gain a sense of intuitive feel for other people and this amazing tool that you have.
[00:04:17] Robert Greene: And I explained in the book where it comes from is like, you're not using it. It's like a muscle it's not even being developed. And I'm going to give you. Tools for honing this empathy, disability, put yourself inside the shoes and skin of the people that you do.
[00:04:35] Hala: That sounds incredible. And for my listeners out there, I read the book and it is truly the ultimate self-development self-help guide that is out there.
[00:04:45] Hala: It's great. Let's begin with the title of your book, the laws of human nature. To me, that almost implies that we're like animals. You know, we have predictable instincts and habits that are unavoidable and today with so much advancement and [00:05:00] technology, we kind of forget that we're in. And what you call our lower selves.
[00:05:05] Hala: The part of us that reacts on instinct and motion, as opposed to rationality, the first one, your book is the law of irrationality. We think we're rational, but we are not. Why is it true that today we have never been more enslaved by human nature and that we are mostly irrational beings.
[00:05:25] Robert Greene: Well, you know, human beings evolved over the course of hundreds of thousands of years ago.
[00:05:29] Robert Greene: Well, before the invention of language, It's arbitrary to say where, when this evolution began, you go back to primates, you can go back further and further to mammals, but let's say, you know, 2 million years ago, we started to evolve in the form that we are now. And in that period, you know, we were feeling certain pressures from the environment, human being.
[00:05:52] Robert Greene: Compared to like other animals in Africa where we emerged were kind of weak. We couldn't run very fast. We [00:06:00] had no claws, we weren't as strong as chimpanzees. And we were prayed with a lot of animals, like leopards, et cetera. And in many different moments, human beings almost became extinct because we were small in number and we were so physically weak.
[00:06:15] Robert Greene: But the strength of. Was being a social animal and learning how to cooperate on a much higher level. And in this process of dealing with a very harsh environment and then learning how to get along with other people and operating in a band that could be very cohesive and powerful, our brains developed and our brains developed in a very particular way.
[00:06:38] Robert Greene: And. One of these particular ways is emotion. So animals obviously feel emotions. Most definitely fear. The fear response is something that even reptiles have. It goes back billions and millions of years, but we humans evolve many more complex emotions, that animals experience, and basically the [00:07:00] reason for these emotions.
[00:07:01] Robert Greene: We developed was a form of communication. So that before the invention of language, if we feel fear or joy or excitement, it would, it would communicate itself on our face. And other people would notice that. And it was a way to communicate without having to say anything and to help us in our survival. So that if we were suddenly being stocked by a predator, we could all respond together very quickly because we saw the fear that people were expressing.
[00:07:31] Robert Greene: So we've all had the experience where we think we know what we want. We have a plan. We have a strategy we've spent time working with. And then suddenly under the stress of the moment or the pressure from other people or a change in circumstances and the emotions us and all our ability to think straight in all our planning goes out the window because emotions are much more powerful than the thinking part of us.
[00:07:58] Robert Greene: And then the other thing is [00:08:00] when we have emotions, they're not connected to the other parts of our brain. In other words, we think in terms of. But the emotional part of us, the limbic system where emotions emerge are not connected to the language part of our brain. So you never really know. You never can really quite verbalize the way you feel.
[00:08:23] Robert Greene: You wake up one morning and you're depressed and you don't know why and you can't rationalize. Can't put it into words. It just happened or you're angry. And you think you're angry for some reason, but that if you think about. There's probably, you don't really know exactly why you're angry. That's because these two parts of the brain don't really communicate well.
[00:08:44] Robert Greene: So basically your emotions are largely governing your behavior, governing your decisions on what you buy, particularly and economists and marketing people understand very well that your buying behavior is mostly emotional. It's [00:09:00] governing your career decisions, governing so much of what you do in life.
[00:09:04] Robert Greene: So I'm trying to make the point. Understand how your brain operates, understand that you are not born rational, understand that most of your decisions, most of your planning was to be strategies, stem from wishes and desires instead of actual thinking and strategizing and planning. And if you can realize that, then suddenly you have the ability to step back and go, okay.
[00:09:29] Robert Greene: I'm not going to let my emotions pushing me around. I'm going to be aware of the role that they're playing in my decision. And I'm going to try and introduce a little more thinking into what I do in life. So that's sort of, um, kind of giving you a long explanation because it is perhaps the most important chapter of the book, but that's sort of the reasoning of what I'm trying to make you more aware of who you are and what really is governing your bank.
[00:09:55] Where does your irrationality come from?
[00:09:55] Hala: In the past, you have said that we have a higher and a lower self, [00:10:00] like previously mentioned the lower self is the one that behaves like an animal. Whereas the higher self understands our innate human behaviors and tries to overcome them and use them to our benefit, to optimize our relationships and social standing.
[00:10:15] Hala: Do you think that it's truly possible? Transcend human nature and become fully rational, like a fully rational being. Or do you think that, you know, you're always going to have these emotional tendencies and animalistic
[00:10:28] Robert Greene: behaviors?
[00:10:30] Is it possible to become fully rational?
[00:10:30] Robert Greene: Well, there's no transcending human nature because it is our nature. You can't get out of that.
[00:10:35] Robert Greene: And I'm trying to make a big point is the fact that you think that you can somehow transcend that you can be different from other people that you are not irrational. You're not narcissistic, you're not aggressive is an illusion. The fact is you are very much a prisoner of human nature, but with that awareness, by being aware that you're not rational, that you have to learn how to become [00:11:00] rational, you can then use the actual tools that we humans have.
[00:11:05] Robert Greene: For much greater purpose. So you can use your human nature, you have human nature and it can be used for destructive purposes, but those animal things that you mentioned, or it can actually be channeled into very productive things, which is becoming part of that higher self. So like those moments in life where you overcame your own kind of selfishness and you felt like you were actually thinking about other people and acted on.
[00:11:32] Robert Greene: You felt that higher self operating it's part of you and you liked it, or when you actually, instead of being lazy and playing video games and taking the path of least resistance, you actually got your act together. And for six months you work really hard in a project and you made it come together. You felt great.
[00:11:50] Robert Greene: You felt, wow, this is part of me. This is a potential part of me. That's incredibly powerful. So the same energy that makes you aggressive and push people around [00:12:00] can be channeled into something productive. It can be channeled into being persistent. It can be channeled into fighting for a just cause you must take what you've given the tool that you're given and simply use them for better and higher purposes, but there's no escaping human nature.
How about we talk about the law of narcissism next? This probably was my favorite topic in your book. We often think about narcissists in one particular way. People who are selfish and absorbed with themselves and in love with themselves, but you say it's more complicated than that. And all humans are narcissists by our own nature.
[00:12:37] Hala: Why is that?
[00:12:42] Who is a narcissist?
[00:12:42] Robert Greene: Where this comes from. And essentially in your earliest years, when you were three or four years old, you don't even remember this, but you had to go through a period depending on your parents. This is how most people with their parents, where you had to deal with the situation where you're not getting as much [00:13:00] attention.
[00:13:00] Robert Greene: And recognition as you want it from your parents, perhaps there were other siblings, perhaps they felt you were getting older and needed to become more independent. And at that moment, psychologists talk about it. It's a very frightening moment because suddenly you have a sense of, you're almost being abandoned into the world.
[00:13:16] Robert Greene: You're not getting what you used to get so easily. And so what we humans do in that moment, and in those years is we develop a self, an image of ourselves. And to self that we can love. We can appreciate, we like our own thoughts. We like our own bodies. We like our own ideas and our own preferences. And so in those moments, when we're not getting attention, as we get older, we can always fall back on ourselves.
[00:13:46] Robert Greene: Well, I'm really actually a good person. I don't need to have constant attention from other people. I can go back into myself and be entertained and find that validation and recognition on my own. I don't need other people. [00:14:00] As you get older, this sort of self gets more and more pronounced. It becomes kind of like this hard shell.
[00:14:06] Robert Greene: And so you'll notice if you look at yourself. You'll notice that you tend to like people who are like you, you like people who look like you, you like people who have the same values that you do. You like people who like the same movies that you like. It's because you're basically a narcissist, they've given you a mirror reflection of who you are.
[00:14:29] Robert Greene: They're giving you that sense of validation by reflecting back to you, your own sort of image of who you are. And so nobody escapes that process. If you didn't have a self to love. You would be at the mercy of other people, you would constantly feel empty. You would constantly feel the need to draw attention to other people by acting out by being dramatic, by playing all kinds of.
[00:14:55] Robert Greene: And so my idea is that you are [00:15:00] self-absorbed if you look at yourself, honestly, when you're talking in a conversation with people. Half the time, more than half the time. You're not listening to them. You're involved in your own thoughts because you think that your own thoughts are more interesting than theirs.
[00:15:14] Robert Greene: You're involved in your own anxieties, your own plans, your own ideas, because you think that that's more interesting than other people you are. Self-absorbed get over that stuff, trying to be in denial. And once you recognize that you have this tendency, you can then begin to overcome it. You can then begin.
[00:15:32] Robert Greene: I say, because reversal where you turn that kind of self-love and inner fascination with yourself towards other people, you can start becoming more fascinated. What other people have to say in your own thoughts and your own ideas.
[00:15:47] Robert Greene: And so empathy, as I mentioned before is an incredibly powerful tool, It gets you out of yourself. It gets you out of your own little world and it kind of it's refreshing and energizing.
[00:15:59] Robert Greene: [00:16:00] So it's not only going to make you a better social person to learn how to deal with your own self-absorption will also help. Mentally and creatively and make you a happier, more fulfilled person.
[00:16:13] Hala: That's super powerful. And so for my listeners out there, the key takeaway is everyone's a narcissist, even if you're a little bit narcissistic and you should transform yourself, love. Empathy. So that's a great lesson.
[00:16:26] PART 2
could you explain to us what this dark side is and why we shouldn't repress these feelings and how we could spin it to be used in positive ways?
[00:16:36] What is our shadow self, and how can we use it in positive ways?
[00:16:36] Robert Greene: Well, once again, we have to kind of look at early childhood. If you can remember your own childhood or if you've had children.
[00:16:43] Robert Greene: You know that children are like these complete selves, they experienced all sorts of emotions. They experienced love towards their parents, and it can be very angelic and giving at the same time, they can be very angry, very selfish, [00:17:00] very domineering, and they want everything for themselves. They can be very nice and sweet and they can also be incredibly aggressive and.
[00:17:08] Robert Greene: Even boys and girls, I included that they have aggressive impulses. They feel envious. They want the attention that the sibling is getting, and they're not sitting there managing their emotions. They're not trying. Play a certain self to get what they want. They can't control it. It's who they are. They feel the, all of these certain emotions.
[00:17:31] Robert Greene: They're a complete person. And then what happens as you get older, as you get five or six or seven years old, is you being tired? Well, that behavior is in polite. That isn't what you should be doing. You really need to tamp down those aggressive impulses. You need to get along better with people. You need to be sweeter and nicer and appear to be someone who's very cooperative.
[00:17:54] Robert Greene: Who's very loving and giving. And so as you get older and you feel these pressures, all of that [00:18:00] natural energy, you have. Other than natural impulses that are built in that are wired into the human animal. You repressed because your whole goal in life is to please other people, as you get older, you want them to see you as this kind of perfect, great person.
[00:18:16] Robert Greene: Who's not insecure. Doesn't have these problems. And so you kind of craft a mask that isn't really who you are and you wear this throughout your social life and it can get you very far in the world, but those emotions that you have that you've repressed in childhood, they don't go well with. There's lingering in you.
[00:18:38] Robert Greene: And what you've discovered even with you or with other people in life is suddenly that dark side, that shadow will spring to life. When you will be suspected, you'll get angry and you don't even know why you get angry. You will fall in love with exactly the wrong kind of person for you. And you don't even really know where this came from.
[00:18:56] Robert Greene: You will put all of your money. Some investors. [00:19:00] Because other people are doing it. You don't even really know why. And this is the dark side that's coming out because you haven't come to terms with it. It's not part of you anymore. It's something you've repressed. It's a shadow and moments of stress or moments where you're not very happy.
[00:19:16] Robert Greene: Or you're not completely feeling fulfilled that shadow will emerge and it will come out and it will cause all kinds of weird behavior. And so my point is, I want you to be aware of this dark side that everybody carries with them. You know, it could be this dark side can be an extremely competitive, ambitious person.
[00:19:37] Robert Greene: I know I have that problem and you're not comfortable with it because you don't want people to think that you're doing. The scheming of the person, but I'm trying to tell you, you need to come to terms with it. You need to accept that part of yourself, that you repressed that child within you, that felt these strong emotions, and you need to look at it squarely, and you need to see that this shadow, this dark [00:20:00] side actually contains incredible about the power.
[00:20:04] Robert Greene: If you learn how to tap into it. So, I mean, I, I think a lot about great athletes, right? I think of somebody like a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. These are people who are extremely competitive and if they didn't do this competitive instincts in basketball and sports, They might get involved in things that weren't very good or very productive.
[00:20:25] Robert Greene: They'd be in a lot of trouble, but they channel all of that into something very powerful. So you can take that ambition and you can channel it into making it the best possible product into destroying all of your rivals in business and making it yours, the number one seller for whatever it is or you can, I tell a lot of people who were interested in the.
[00:20:46] Robert Greene: Using your anger using your frustration, using that dark side is really powerful to bring out in your music or the books that you write, because people are really excited by [00:21:00] any expression of the dark side. Look at all the movies that we watch now, the television shows were fascinated by Matthew belly characters by the con.
[00:21:10] Robert Greene: But people who seem to get away with things, we're fascinated with it because it's a part of ourselves that we haven't come to terms with where we're pressing. So in your artwork or in your music, you need to bring that out. You need to bring out that edge in your own pursuits, in life, in your own ambitions, et cetera.
[00:21:30] Robert Greene: And I have maintained that getting rid of that kind of hypocritical need to be so saintly will actually make people more interested in you because you will see more human and more often.
[00:21:42] Hala: That's a really good point. It's kind of like Gary V who like curses and things like that, but people love him. So related to this in some capacity, his character, and the fact that you say.
[00:21:55] Hala: Character is a primary value that we should evaluate people on when it comes [00:22:00] to like working relationships and things like that. So how can we determine if someone has a strong or weak character and how is the law of compulsive behavior related to this?
[00:22:10] How can we determine someone's character?
[00:22:10] Robert Greene: Well, it's one of the most important things in the book because throughout life, you're going to have to choose people to work with.
[00:22:18] Robert Greene: To be a business partner to hire, to help you to work on a project, or you're going to be choosing someone to be your intimate partner at some level and making the wrong choice can destroy your life. It really literally can. If you choose somebody that has a toxic personality, you choose a deep narcissist and get involved with them.
[00:22:39] Robert Greene: It can take you years and years to ever recover from the experience so I want you to be constantly judging people, not for their charm, not for their intelligence, not for their results. Oh, for how much you liked them, but for their character and character is something that is deeply engraved in a person.
[00:22:57] Robert Greene: It means these are the patterns that [00:23:00] they have in life. This is who they are. This is their nature in the deepest sense of it. And so I talk about, there are people with strong. And there are people with weak character and finding people with strong character, particularly in, in a business sense is the most important thing that you need to do.
[00:23:17] Robert Greene: People of strong character. What are the parameters that kind of determined? The two, the biggest parameters is stress. So if somebody of weak character will tend to fall apart under stress, they'll get emotional. They'll act out, it becomes this kind of child. And you'll that. Wow. I didn't realize that person will have that problem.
[00:23:37] Robert Greene: I hired them. I thought they were really smart and reasonable. And suddenly you realize that they're not like that. Whereas this person of strong character rises to the occasion. They keep their emotional balance. They're able to not react. There's relatively competent, the circumstance. So that's one barometer.
[00:23:56] Robert Greene: Another barometer is how they treat other people when you're not [00:24:00] looking. So a person, a weak character. So pretend to be very nice to everybody around them. They're very nice to you. But behind closed doors, there's. A whole to their secretaries, their assistance to people who work for them. So their spouse, they're two faced.
[00:24:17] Robert Greene: They were one safe for you and another for the world. And you need to see that you need to see what people are like when they're not necessarily around you. People of strong character don't need to do that. They're consistent with that. They treat everybody the same way. They treat us system. With dignity and they're not abusive.
[00:24:37] Robert Greene: And you see that. The other thing is how well people can take criticism person and a weak character. Can't stand the slightest bit of criticism and take that as if it's a judgment of who they are. And they crumble of what somebody will have strong character. You criticize them. They don't take it personally.
[00:24:54] Robert Greene: Their first reaction. How can I learn from this? Maybe you're right. Maybe I can use that [00:25:00] criticism to get better. I'm going to work on myself, that strong character, and finally how people work other than. So I'm going to have weak character can't work with other people. They can't delegate authority because everything has to be on their terms.
[00:25:13] Robert Greene: Everything has to be according to their agenda. They're very weak and selfish. What does somebody who's strong character actually enjoy giving other people credit, enjoys working with other people, enjoys the team process. And so that's another sign of a strong character.Knowing this language, how to read people's character.
[00:25:32] Robert Greene: We'll save you so much emotional drama in your life. And we'll help you avoid the wrong choices. And believe me, I've worked as a consultant for people in business for over 20 years now. And that's the number one problem that they have is they hire the absolute worst business partner or the absolute worst lieutenants.
[00:25:51] Robert Greene: And they realized that. And boy has it caused them problems. So this is a very important chapter for people to understand.
[00:25:58] Hala: Yeah,
[00:25:59] What about genetically bad character?
[00:25:59] Hala: Let's [00:26:00] move on to the law of grandiosity.
[00:26:03] Hala: Basically the law says that the more successful we get, the more superior we feel and we get disconnected from reality and the 48 laws of power. You wrote something that resonated with this. There is nothing more intoxicating than victory and nothing more dangerous. tell us about this. Why do we need to be careful of feeling to superior?
[00:26:24] How can success be dangerous?
[00:26:24] Robert Greene: Well, not only is success dangerous, but failure is a great thing. Failure is a great way to learn about yourself and it's a great way to improve. If you've ever tried to learn anything like a skill, like the piano or a sport, and you make a mistake or you do something like.
[00:26:40] Robert Greene: A red light goes on and you learn, okay, this is what I have to improve without failure in life, you would never ever get to the point where you can actually begin to work on yourself and improve your own defects. So failure is great. Failure is important. Embrace failure. It's the best learning tool you'll ever have success on.
[00:26:59] Robert Greene: The [00:27:00] other end is extremely dangerous. And why is that? Well, whenever you have success in life, whether it's writing a book or starting a business or running for political office, because of various things that I talked about earlier about our absorption, et cetera, your first tendency is to go, wow, I'm great.
[00:27:22] Robert Greene: I've got the golden touch. You know, I really nailed it. This time. People really liked me. They really responded. It's amazing what I accomplished here, but the truth is in any kind of success in life, there are contingencies, there are circumstances. First of all, there's luck. You know, if I wrote the 48 laws of power in 1980 or in 2016, I don't think it would have sold nearly as well as it did when it came out.
[00:27:51] Robert Greene: So luck and timing played a huge role in your success. Other people, other people helped you a lot in this process. So [00:28:00] it's not all you, it's not all about you. I had met that man in 1996. Uh, produce my books. I don't know where I would be right now. Okay. And then also your education, your parents, all these other people who have influenced you in life, you know, your teachers, et cetera, have helped shape you and giving you the skills that you needed, the masters that you apprentice for.
[00:28:22] Robert Greene: So your success is contingent on all these other packages. It's never just about you, but what happens when you're successful, as you tend to forget about it all. You want to take all of the credit. You want to imagine that you did everything yourself. You're hungry for that kind of self validation. You tend to discount all the other factors that went into it.
[00:28:44] Robert Greene: And so I maintain that in daily life. All of us are, let's say two or three feet off the ground. And what I mean. We walk around with an opinion about ourselves that slightly elevated from the reality [00:29:00] and studies have shown us. We tend to think that we're smarter and better. And more independent than an actual reality, but the discrepancy is never big enough for us to be insane for us to people.
[00:29:12] Robert Greene: Cause that guy is delusional that woman's delusional. Excess will slowly make you go five feet, 10 feet, 20, 30, 40, 50 feet off the ground. And you'll start losing touch with reality. And you'll imagine that no matter what you do, it's definitely success. Successful feed into these animal type properties that we have. It will distance you from the reality of who you are and your second attempt, your next attempt will probably fail because you won't be so careful.
[00:29:44] Real Life Examples of success going to someone's head
[00:29:44] Hala: that's great. Thank you for those examples. The next thought I want to cover is I believe the last chapter of your book, the law of death denial. And this one is an example of humans not facing reality. We avoid thoughts about death. We fear [00:30:00] death. We're all in this desk. Denial. Why do you feel that it's important to accept our deaths and how will our lives benefit by doing
[00:30:07] Robert Greene: this?
[00:30:11] The law of death denial
[00:30:11] Robert Greene: What is real about politics, about whether, you know, some people deny there's global warming, although that's kind of ridiculous, but we can argue endlessly about things in the world, but there's, nobody can argue that death doesn't exist. It's the ultimate reality. I don't care who you are. You're going to die at some point and it could be tomorrow.
[00:30:31] Robert Greene: It could be five minutes. so not coming to terms with that is like turning your back. Um, what it means to be alive, to turning your back on reality, it's making you into a distorted person. You're not facing the ultimate thing that is facing you in life, and it's causing you all kinds of problems. A lot of times you feel it life, you feel anxious.
[00:30:57] Robert Greene: About your life, about things going on about [00:31:00] your decisions and you don't really know why you're feeling anxious. You have this kind of deep well of anxiety. A lot of that anxiety comes from the fact that you're not confronting your own mortality. It's eating away at you. It's because if you try and repress it, all that happens that eats away at you in the form of this kind of nameless anxiety.
[00:31:22] Robert Greene: Whereas the other way of life. I was looking at it, squarely in the eye and saying, well, you know, my life is short. I'm in my twenties, but I could be dead when I'm 30. I only have so much time in life. And this is the reality. Well, number one, it wakes you up. It makes you more urgent and desperate. I better get things done that I wanted to get to do.
[00:31:47] Robert Greene: I better put that business together or to cure my children's future now. Delaying things. I am on death ground. I better have that sense of energy and necessity at my heels. [00:32:00] And the other part of it is, is that being aware of desk will connect you to other people in a kind of granted way. Everybody is mortal, everybody that you know.
[00:32:11] Robert Greene: So look at that person that you sort of take for granted. It could be your spouse. It could be your friend. And imagine that tomorrow they're gone. And with that field, Suddenly your level of appreciation of them will be much more heightened. Look at yourself, you know, tomorrow it could be all over. So the things that I appreciate now are much more beautiful, are much more heightened.
[00:32:35] Robert Greene: This that'd be the last time that I look out my window and see those trees and hear those birds. So life has a greater intensity. Colors are more vibrant. The world is more exciting and it tends when you come to terms with this reality.
[00:32:50] Robert Greene: Um, and then I kind of connected to what I call the blond. We, humans are the only animal aware of our mortality and it's the cause of so [00:33:00] much of our problems in life.
[00:33:02] Robert Greene: So many of our destructive impulses and our ability to actually look at death and come to terms with it and accepted it and see it as a beautiful thing. And it's something natural and wonderful. It's like the ultimate human tribe. It's like becoming truly human. We take our natural fear, our greatest fear.
[00:33:20] Robert Greene: And we turned into a string and I don't know if you know this, but this particular chapter is something personal to me because two months after I wrote that chapter, I suffered a stroke and I came within five minutes of dying. Or within a few minutes of having permanent brain damage and I survived. And so I can speak from, from real experience what it means to like actually go through death and come back alive and how it changes you.
[00:33:51] Robert Greene: You don't have to go through that. That has happened too. With the point here, you can actually do it through your thinking. It's what your daily meditation and through [00:34:00] confronting this reality, but it's not something to be afraid of. It's something to embrace and incorporate into your. Yeah.
[00:34:07] Hala: So it's almost like you're saying except your desk and kind of helps you like find your purpose, live life with a sense of urgency and appreciate the people around you and things like that's a beautiful message.
[00:34:18] Hala: It's it seems negative, but it's like a truly beautiful message. So. Thanks for sharing that. Staying on this topic, I know that you have an interesting technique when you meditate that samurai warriors also do that's related to this Dustin aisle. Would you share that with us?
[00:34:34] Ancient samurai warrior technique related to death.
[00:34:34] Hala: It was
[00:34:34] Robert Greene: before I had my stroke, I would imagine what it's like the last day of my life.
[00:34:39] Robert Greene: I would visualize here I am in a bed. That's how I die. And this is what it's going to be like. This is how it's going to feel. These are the people that's going to be around. Or if it's an accident, something happens. These are my last second, my last bit of consciousness and it has a different effects.
[00:34:59] Robert Greene: [00:35:00] One is it kind of brings the reality close to home. It makes it very much a part of your blood in your brain. It's not just an abstract thought something very real. It also really makes you, as I said before, appreciate things that are around you. So as I'm there and I'm going. Yeah. All the things that I take for granted, I shouldn't take for granted because this is what's facing me.
[00:35:24] Robert Greene: It just brings it. It makes it very real, as opposed to just this kind of vague abstract thought, literally conceiving what it's going to be like, what it will feel like, what will happen to me, but it's not so bad. It's like a warm fall. It's not a negative thought. And the other thing that it does, like I said, this is probably the biggest effect.
[00:35:47] Robert Greene: All right. Robert, in 500 years, you will have been dead for like 480 years or something. What does it matter today that you're having this problem that you're worried [00:36:00] about this particular issue? It's all very petty, nothing matters compared to the fact that some days it's all gone. So it gives you a sense of really priorities of what really matters in life and what doesn't matter.
[00:36:13] Robert Greene: Those, those are sort of the main.
[00:36:15] What are generational cycles?
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