“We see people not as they are, but as they appear to us. And these appearances are usually misleading.” ― Robert Greene
This post is the notes I made from chapter 1 — Master your emotions from the The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene. It’s a mixture of quotes from the chapter and my notes on the chapter
Emotions dominate your actions, if you don’t control them. Controls your emotions or they will control you.
Your emotions make you react to situations.
Instead you should strategically observe, think and respond to the situation.
“You are largely unaware of how deeply your emotions dominate you. They make you veer towards ideas that soothe your ego. They make you look for evidence that confirms what you already believe” Robert Greene
Emotions hijack your thinking and override your thinking, making you react without thinking. The first step is knowing this will happen, you can then strategically observe yourself and others. You can’t stop emotions happening but you can catch them and step in before you react and instead think and strategically respond to events.
“What I fear is no the enemy’s strategy but own mistakes” Pericles
People support the opposite strategy, believe change is better than the existing situation. This is a version of the grass is always greener and our bias for action over non action.
Most decisions are made for the benefit of the individual and not for the larger community, understanding others perspective and logic will help predict behaviour.
“What guides their decisions was their base emotions — hunger for power, attention and money.” Robert Greene
Emotions focus our thoughts inwards, to our desires and needs..
“Pericles trained himself to never react to the moment, to never make a decision while under the influence of a strong emotion” Robert Greene
Emotions weight you mind down and fog your thinking. We first look for others to blame and lastly ourselves.
Bubbles are caused by an overload to the system of people thinking the same.
“Bubbles occur because of the intense emotional pull they have on people, which overwhelms an reasoning powers an individual mind might possess” Robert Greene
We believe simple solutions that confirm our our thinking.
Emotions and thinking are in constant conflict. Irrational people let emotions drive their decisions.
“People want to hear their own ideas and preferences confirmed by an expert opinion” Robert Greene
Evaluate other ideas yourself and be skeptical. When we have an idea or believe, we try to prove it’s right by finding evidence that supports it.
We are sucked in to agree with the group, thinking the same as the group brings safety in numbers but doesn’t make the idea any more right. Groups influence us and make it harder to disagree with and easier to agree. We are drawn to follow the group.
The blame bias
“Our natural response is to blame others circumstance or a momentary lapse of judgement. The reason is that it is often too painful to look at our mistakes” Robert Greene
it’s hard to see and admit your own faults, most people can’t or won’t. We find it easier to find faults in others.
The only defense against emotional reactions is to be aware and to watch your readiness. Create time and space to think. Emotional reactions can be triggered from events that happened in the past, we often don’t see the real trigger.
“under stress or any threat, the most primitive parts of the brain are aroused and engaged, overwhelming peoples reasoning powers.” Robert Greene
Your ability to think different ideas from everyone else, makes you unique. Give yourself time to respond strategically. Perspective comes from distance and time from decisions.
“The ability to think for yourself, you most previous possession.” Robert Greene
The ancient Greeks had a metaphor for emotions — rider and the horse.
“The horse is our emotional nature, continually impelling us to move. This is horse has tremendous energy and power but with the rider it cannot be guided, it is wild, subject to the predators and continually heading into trouble” Robert Greene
People are a puzzle to understand