The Daily Laws: Summary & Review

the daily laws by robert greene book cover

The Daily Laws (2021) is a compendium of 366 rules for life distilling Robert Greene’s previous work on power, strategies, seduction, and general self-development.

Exec Summary

  • Find your calling and become a master at your chosen craft
  • Learn power dynamics and social strategies to avoid toxic people and to achieve success and personal fulfillment with others and through others (including deeper relationships that are crucial for human’s happiness and mental health)
  • Get in touch with the sublime for life contentment, make peace with mortality, get in touch with something larger than yourself

FULL SUMMARY

About the Author:
Robert Greene is a popular writer of books on power, psychology, life strategies, and power dynamics.
Greene is one of this website’s favorite authors and distinguishes himself for the depth of his understanding of human nature -particularly the “darker side”-.
He is also the author of “The 48 Laws of Power“, “The Art of Seduction“, “Mastery”, “The 50th Law of Power“, and “The Laws of Human Nature“.

All quotes are from Robert Greene, sometimes slightly edited or cut out for brevity, and the boldened parts are mine to emphasize the most crucial passages.

Introduction: First Off, “Get Real”

The introduction might as well be one of my favorite parts of “The Daily Laws”.

And it’s a stark reminder of the importance of learning power dynamics and strategies:

Because we have increasingly gained control of our environment and the physical pressures have loosened dramatically, the dangers have become much more subtle—they come in the form of people (not leopards) and their tricky psychology, and the delicate political and social games we have to play.
And because of these less obvious dangers, our greatest problem is that our minds tend to become less sensitive to the environment; we turn inward, absorbed in our dreams and fantasies. We become naive.
To add to this dangerous brew, our culture tends to fill our heads with all kinds of false notions, making us believe things about what the world and human nature should be like, rather than what they are actually like.

And when it comes to companies’ politics, Greene acutely notices:

We feel that everyone is equal, and that hierarchies are a thing of the past.

With people, we operate under the belief that most of our friends and colleagues like us and want the best for us.
We think that those with a pattern of bad behavior can be trusted if they say they’ve reformed, that people full of conviction and a sense of outrage must be telling the truth, and that those in power, including our bosses, are not insecure.
We imagine that people who are extremely nice and accommodating are not potentially masking a dark and devious nature, that those who espouse progressive ideas have a corresponding virtuous character, and that people will be grateful for any favors we do for them.
With ourselves, we think that it’s important to be honest and to tell others what’s exactly on our minds.

Greene also discloses how and when he first thought -and at the same time pitched- his main commercial success “The 48 Laws of Power“:

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, an idea just gushed out of me. I told Joost that I was constantly reading books on history and the stories that I read of Julius Caesar and the Borgias and Louis XIV, these were the exact same stories that I had personally witnessed with my own eyes in all my different jobs, only less bloody. People want power and they want to disguise this wanting of power. And so, they play games. They covertly manipulate and intrigue, all the while presenting a nice even saintly front. I would expose these games.

1. January – Your Life’s Task: Planting the Seeds for Mastery

Why reach mastery?

Here’s why:

Your skill level will reach a point where you will be able to claim your independence from within the group you work for and move out on your own.
In a world in which there is so much we cannot control, this will bring you the ultimate form of power. You will determine your circumstances.
As your own Master, you will no longer be subject to the whims of tyrannical bosses or scheming peers.

You must choose what you want to do.
And first, you have to learn that -to become who you are, you first have to learn who you are-.
Once you know who you are, you can then focus on “fulfilling your destiny”.

If you’ve chosen something because of social pressure, or because of your parents, you must rebel.

Says Greene:

  1. Respect your own opinions more and those of others less, particularly when it comes to your areas of expertise, to the field you have immersed yourself in.
  2. Assert yourself, get into the habit in your daily life of asserting yourself more and compromising less
  3. Care less what people think of you. You will feel a tremendous sense of liberation
  4. Be OK with offending someone, realize that at times you must offend and even hurt people who block your path, who have ugly values, who unjustly criticize you. Use such moments of clear injustice to bring out your Shadow and show it proudly
  5. Push back against stupid and hypocrisy Feel free to play the impudent, willful child who mocks the stupidity and hypocrisy of others
  6. Find your own path, instead of following in other people’s footsteps or “tradition”, flout the conventions that others follow so scrupulously

Focus on growth and learning, more than on comfort.
Embrace and look for negative experiences.

If you can find a mentor, go for it. But since mentors give while you learn -and take-, always focus on “what’s in it for them” to keep that relationship balanced and find a way to give back to them.

2. February – The Ideal Apprenticeship: Transforming Yourself

When you start off, you’re a clean slate.

Anything is an opportunity to learn, including menial tasks, and anything you can observe from people, no matter how insignificant they can seem, can help you put together the pieces of the human puzzle.

Says Greene:

Over time, you will begin to see and understand more of the reality that eluded you at first.
For instance, a person whom you initially thought had great power ended up being someone with more bark than bite. Slowly, you begin to see behind the appearances. As you amass more information about the rules and power dynamics of your new environment, you can begin to analyze why they exist, and how they relate to larger trends in the field. You move from observation to analysis, honing your reasoning skills, but only after months of careful attention.

This is how we detail the learning process in Power University:

social mastery stages

Greene exhorts the readers to focus on putting in the time and hard work, and not to focus on shortcuts.
There is no bypassing the apprenticeship, he says, you must put in the work, and endure the setbacks.

Learn from your mentor, change his style, and venture on your own

Rebellion has no meaning or power if it occurs without something solid and real to rebel against.
The mentor, or father figure, gives you just such a standard from which you can deviate and establish your own identity.
You internalize the important and relevant parts of their knowledge, and you apply the knife to what has no bearing on your life. It is the dynamic of changing generations, and sometimes the father figure has to be killed in order for the sons and daughters to have space to discover themselves.

3. March – The Master at Work: Activating Skills and Attaining Mastery

Do not waste time on things you cannot change or influence. Just keep moving.

  • Fulfill your destiny to add your own personal contribution to the world

Greene says that to simply consume what others create or to live a life of hedonistic pleasures is selfish.

Instead, you must focus on bringing your own unique talent and gift into the world.

Mastery is not a question of genetics or luck, but of following your natural inclinations and the deep desire that stirs you from within. Everyone has such inclinations. This desire within you is not motivated by egotism or sheer ambition for power, both of which are emotions that get in the way of mastery. It is instead a deep expression of something natural, something that marked you at birth as unique. In following your inclinations and moving toward mastery, you make a great contribution to society, enriching it with discoveries and insights, and making the most of the diversity in nature and among human society.

  • Stay hungry for more knowledge, keep on growing your skills

As you grow more skilled, a danger lurks:

That you start thinking of yourself as an expert, and that you stop learning, seeking new information, questioning old ideas, and trying new approaches.
Instead, uphold the value of active wonder, remind yourself how little you truly know, and of how mysterious the world remains.

  • Create something new

People are dying for the new, for what expresses the spirit of the time in an original way. By creating something new you will create your own audience and attain the ultimate position of power in culture.

4. April – The Perfect Courtier: Playing the Game of Power

As the great Renaissance diplomat and courtier Niccolò Machiavelli wrote, “Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good.”

Robert Greene says that the game of power is the only real “open secret” that the most astute know of, but that they speak of:

When you enter the real world, you are suddenly blindsided by this whole realm that exists. It is like our dirty little secret. People will talk about their sex lives. But nobody talks about all the power games that are constantly going on in the world.

Keep it Cool, Don’t Overreact, & Be Calibrated

Angry people usually end up looking ridiculous, for their response seems out of proportion to what occasioned it. They have taken things too seriously, exaggerating the hurt or insult that has been done to them. They are so sensitive to slight that it becomes comical how much they take personally. More comical still is their belief that their outbursts signify power. The truth is the opposite: Petulance is not power, it is a sign of helplessness.
People may temporarily be cowed by your tantrums, but in the end they lose respect for you. They also realize they can easily undermine a person with so little self-control.

Also read:

10 Techniques Against Microaggression

Instead, focus on developing a great reputation, and once it’s set, don’t get angry or defensive. Take the high road instead.

Test People With Mixes Messages

Sayy or do something that can be read in more than one way, that may be superficially polite but that could also indicate a slight coolness on your part or be seen

Recognize False Alliance From True Alliance

A false alliance is out of immediate emotional needs, while a rule alliance is because of win-win based on mutual self-interest.
In a true alliance, you don’t fuse your identity with any group and you maintain your autonomy.

Recognize The Toxic Types

This is golden:

Power is a social game. To learn and master it, you must develop the ability to study and understand people.

We couldn’t agree more here on The Power Moves.
As a matter of fact, being able to spot “good people” and toxic types is one of the main benefits of learning power dynamics.

And later adds Greene:

To be a master player you must also be a master psychologist. You must recognize motivations and see through the cloud of dust with which people surround their actions. Some people, for instance, believe they can opt out of the game by behaving in ways that have nothing to do with power. You must beware of such people, for while they express such opinions outwardly, they are often among the most adept players at power. They are what I call “supposed nonplayers.”

Greene says the second type is overly Machiavellian and trips himself up.
Instead, you want to strike a balance:

Become a “positively cynic” or “radical realist”

I can’t help but quote this whole part, as it’s just what this The Power Moves stands for:

The desire for power is part of our nature. It is a part of how we evolved over millions of years. There is no point in denying our nature. It is who we are. And not only are we not going to deny it, but we are going to accept that this is the human being that we are, the product of evolution.
(…)
With such acceptance, it is not that we love it and want to go out in the world and play all these nasty games. It is that we understand they exist. If, occasionally, we have to use the laws in playing offense or defense, we’re okay with that, within reason. Most often it is the case that other people are practicing them on us, and it is better to understand what they’re up to than to live in the dream world of our angelic nature.
And so we understand the laws of power. We understand what people are up to, so they can’t easily hurt us. We learn how to recognize in advance the truly toxic narcissists, aggressors, and passive aggressors, the nonplayers, before getting too emotionally enmeshed in their dramas.
And armed with such an attitude and with such knowledge we are prepared to go to battle in the game of life. Instead of being blindsided by the manipulators, we have calmness, power, and the freedom that comes with awareness of the laws.

5. May – The Supposed Nonplayers of Power: Recognizing Toxic Types and Disguised Power Strategies

On outbursts of emotions and anger:

If a person explodes with anger at you (and it seems out of proportion to what you did to them), you must remind yourself that it is not exclusively directed at you—do not be so vain. The cause is much larger, goes way back in time, involves dozens of prior hurts, and is actually not worth the bother to understand. Instead of seeing it as a personal grudge, look at the emotional outburst as a disguised power move, an attempt to control or punish you cloaked in the form of hurt feelings and anger. This shift of perspective will let you play the game of power with more clarity and energy.

Be Watchful of “Nobel Gestures”

Some noble gestures are smokescreens for far darker motives.
Says Greene:

People want to believe apparently noble gestures are genuine, for the belief is pleasant. They rarely notice how deceptive these gestures can be.

  • Daily Law: Be most suspicious of those who seem unambitious.

Find the true motive, ask yourself: who’s benefiting (Cui Bono)?

To decipher events that seem hard to read, I sometimes rely on a strategy that comes from the Latin Cui bono? It was first used in this context by Cicero and it literally translates to, “For whose good, or benefit?” It means: when you are trying to figure out the motives behind some murky action, look to see whom it really benefits in the end, and then work backward. Self-interest rules the world.

6. June – The Divine Craft: Mastering the Arts of Indirection and Manipulation

Always make people feel smart(er), never stupid:

Given how important the idea of intelligence is to most people’s vanity, it is critical never inadvertently to insult or impugn a person’s brain power.

To hide your real goal, Greene doesn’t just advise not to talk about them, but to talk a lot about your fake goals.

Don’t always approach others with “what’s in it for them”, some people want to feel “good” and not self-interested

Some people are greedy and cool with it.
Approach them by appealing to their greed.
But some others want to look and feel charitable and noble, so you must avoid making them feel greedy and self-interested, and make them feel charitable instead:

Not everyone, then, can be approached through cynical self-interest. Some people will be put off by it, because they don’t want to seem to be motivated by such things. They need opportunities to display their good heart. Do not be shy. Give them that opportunity.

Lead From The Front

Morale is contagious, and it’s up to you to set it as the leader.

You don’t want to be a dick, but you also must make sure people don’t see you as “too nice” as that can dangerously overlap with “weak”:

in moments of danger and difficulty being seen as so nice will work against you: it says that you can be pushed around, discouraged, and obstructed. If you have never been willing to fight back before, no threatening gesture you make will be credible.
Understand: there is great value in letting people know that when necessary you can let go of your niceness and be downright difficult and nasty. A few clear, violent demonstrations will suffice.
Once people see you as a fighter, they will approach you with a little fear in their hearts. And as Machiavelli said, it is more useful to be feared than to be loved.

Albeit Greene doesn’t call it that way and he doesn’t really define the concept, he exhorts leaders to use emotional leverage by becoming “the judge” that others want to please:

A few timely criticisms here and there and they will only try harder to please you, to live up to your high standards. Instead of having to push and pull your army, you will find them chasing after you.

Also read:

Leadership Power Dynamics

7. July – The Seductive Character: Penetrating Hearts and Minds

The siren call of seduction is irresistible because power is irresistible, and nothing will bring you more power in the modern world than the ability to seduce.

For this month, Greene borrows heavily from his previous book “The Art of Seduction“.

He says that you don’t need to be handsome or beautiful because seduction is a game of psychology, not beauty.
Learn more in Seduction University:

Seduction University

Seducers are performers, says Robert Greene:

All that is required is that you look at the world differently, through the eyes of a seducer. A seducer sees all of life as theater, everyone an actor. Most people feel they have constricted roles in life, which makes them unhappy. Seducers, on the other hand, can be anyone and can assume many roles.

Greene says that for women, having a frame of mind that you “need to be spoiled” can help in making men chase.
Independence also helps, because an air of independence makes men want to possess you.

8. August – The Master Persuader: Softening People’s Resistance

We humans cannot avoid trying to influence others.
(…) As social animals we cannot avoid constantly playing the game, whether we are conscious of this or not.

  • Use “bold language”, direct and high-confidence

Your audience will be so caught up in your bold language that they won’t have time to reflect on whether or not it is true. Never say, “I don’t think the other side made a wise decision”; say, “We deserve better,” or “They have made a mess of things.” Affirmative language is active language, full of verbs, imperatives, and short sentences.

  • Don’t argue, convince others indirectly

When you argue, you’re trying prove others wrong, and they will resist.
Instead, you want to convince people of your ideas indirectly, saving their face, and power-protecting them.

  • Make them feel your point, rather than explaining it with words only

It’s always better if you can make people feel what you want to explain, communicate, or persuade for.

  • Let them win on minor points, so they’re more open for your bigger points

… But of course, they don’t have to know that what you let them win for are the minor points.

  • Appeal to their ideal and higher selves

This one was really good:

Most people believe themselves to be inwardly greater than they outwardly appear to the world.
They are full of unrealized ideals: they could be artists, thinkers, leaders, spiritual figures, but the world has crushed them, denied them the chance to let their abilities flourish. This is the key to their seduction—and to keeping them seduced over time. Appeal only to people’s physical side, as many amateur seducers do, and they will resent you for playing upon their basest instincts.
But appeal to their better selves, to a higher standard of beauty, and they will hardly notice that they have been seduced.

9. September – The Grand Strategist: Rising Out of Tactical Hell

In war, strategy is the art of commanding the entire military operation. Tactics (…) is forming up the army for battle and dealing with the immediate needs of the battlefield.
Most of us in life are tacticians, not strategists. We become so enmeshed in the conflicts we face that we can think only of how to get what we want in the battle we are currently facing. To think strategically is difficult and unnatural.
(…)
To have the power that only strategy can bring, you must be able to elevate yourself above the battlefield, to focus on your long-term objectives, to craft an entire campaign, to get out of the reactive mode that so many battles in life lock you into.

Be jealous of your time, make the most of it

Time is just as important as space in strategic thought, and knowing how to use time will make you a superior strategist, giving an added dimension to your attacks and defense. To do this you must stop thinking of time as an abstraction: in reality, beginning the minute you are born, time is all you have. It is your only true commodity. People can take away your possessions, but—short of murder—not even the most powerful aggressors can take time away from you unless you let them.

Pick your battles – don’t get dragged into any

And do not get dragged in wars that you did not choose:

To waste your time in battles not of your choosing is more than just a mistake, it is stupidity of the highest order.

Avoid answering to people who criticize

Critics are choosing the easy route.
If you answer critics, you’re in the defensive position, and it’s always easier to attack other people’s work, than to defend.
The solution, rather than defending from their criticism, is to ask them what they would do or like to do.
Says Greene (redacted for brevity):

It is always easier to argue from the negative side—criticizing other people’s actions, dissecting their motives, etc. And that is why most people will opt for this.
It takes effort and thought to establish a positive position. It takes less effort to work on what other people have done, and poke holes.
It also makes you look tough and insightful, because people delight in hearing someone tear an idea apart.
If they had to describe a positive vision or how they would accomplish it, it would open them up to attacks and criticisms.
Facing these negative-mongers in a debate or argument is infuriating. They can come at you from all angles: hit you with sarcasm and snide comments, weave all kinds of abstractions that can make you look bad.
If you lower yourself to their position, you end up like a boxer throwing punches into thin air. These opponents give you nothing to hit. Your task is to force them off this position by getting them to commit to some positive position. Now, you have a target. If they resist or refuse to do this, you can attack them for this resistance.

There are no laws, circumstances dictate everything

In his most famous book, Greene famously lays out a list of 48 laws.
We’ve never been big fans of lists on TPM, and I was glad to see that this time Greene speels it a bit more clearly that there are not laws that apply all the time, no matter what:

Everything in life depends on the circumstances you’re in. That’s why the last law in The 48 Laws of Power is “Assume Formlessness.” The idea is that being formless like water is the highest form of power and strategy. In that chapter, I contradict my entire book and I essentially say: There are no laws. You have to be in the moment. You have to understand the circumstances you’re in. Learning to adapt to each new circumstance means seeing events through your own eyes, and often ignoring the advice that people constantly peddle your way. It means that ultimately you must throw out the laws that others preach, and the books they write to tell you what to do, and the sage advice of the elder.

10. October – The Emotional Self: Coming to Terms with Our Dark Side

If I had to say what the primary law of human nature is, it is to deny that we have human nature, to deny that we are subject to these forces.
We think, I’m not irrational, I’m not aggressive, I don’t feel envy, I am not a narcissist. It’s always the other side. It’s the Republicans, it’s the Spartans, it’s the Ethiopians—they’re the ones who are irrational and aggressive.
Me? No.

We’re all in pain (before we learn advanced people’s skills)

I more than once thought the same:

After much deep thinking about these experiences and my own experiences with people I knew, I came to the following conclusion:

We humans have a dirty little secret. It’s a secret that has nothing to do with sex lives or fantasies or anything as exciting as that. Rather, the secret is that all of us, to some degree, are in pain. It’s a pain that we don’t discuss or even understand.

Green says the source is other people (albeit I think the reason is larger, other people are indeed often a big part of it):

The source of this pain is other people.

Specifically, from shallow relationships:

What I mean is our often disappointing, superficial, unsatisfactory relationships with people. This comes in the form of relationships and connections that aren’t very deep between us and those whom we consider our friends, leading to a lot of loneliness.

On top of shallow relationships, Greene says it’s also bad relationships:

It comes in the form of bad choices for associates and partners—leading to all this struggle and messy breakups. It comes from letting some toxic narcissist into our life—leading to all kinds of emotional trauma that can take years to get over, if we even ever do.

And from failure to be effective with people:

And it also comes from our inability to persuade, to move people, to influence them, to get them interested in our ideas—generating feelings of frustration and anger.

As social animals we need good relationships:

We are deeply social animals and having dysfunctional social relationships leads to all kinds of problems. It leads to depression. It leads to recurring obsessive thoughts, to the inability to focus on our work, to eating disorders, to even physical diseases such as heart disease. We only see the surface phenomenon—the loneliness or the depression or physical ailment. We don’t see the underlying source. And sometimes we’re not even aware that we suffer from loneliness.

I often had the same thoughts.

Rational people are aware of their irrationality

Greene says that calling someone “irrational” is a power move.
So to use it as an actual adjective or, even better, as a tool to improve our strategic thinking, we need first to know what “rational” means.
He says:

We constantly feel emotions, and they continually infect our thinking, making us veer toward thoughts that please us and soothe our egos. It is impossible to not have our inclinations and feelings somehow involved in what we think. Rational people are aware of this and through introspection and effort are able, to some extent, to subtract emotions from their thinking and counteract their effect.
Irrational people have no such awareness. They rush into action without carefully considering the ramifications and consequences. In all cases, the degree of awareness represents the difference.

Rational people readily admit the limitations of their own rationality, while irrational people do not -and even get emotional, angry or defensive when challenged about the limitations of their own rationality-.

Be aware of groups’ madness to maintain your own individual power and rationality

Madness is something rare in individuals—but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages it is the rule.

The daily law says that you must maintain your individuality and protect it from group dynamics and “sense of belonging” if you want to maintain your ability to doubt, reflect, and consider other options (ie.: your rationality):

If as individuals we had some plan that was clearly ridiculous, others would warn us and bring us back down to earth, but in a group the opposite happens—everyone seems to validate the scheme, no matter how delusional (such as invading Iraq and expecting to be greeted as liberators), and there are no outsiders to splash some cold water on us. Whenever you feel unusually certain and excited about a plan or idea, you must step back and gauge whether it is a viral group effect operating on you. If you can detach yourself for a moment from your excitement, you might notice how your thinking is used to rationalize your emotions, to confirm the certainty you want to feel.

Also read:

Winner’s Mindsets: 10 Commandments of Enlightened “Me First”

The world goes through waves of irrationality

Throughout history, we witness continual cycles of rising and falling levels of the irrational.

11. November – The Rational Human: Realizing Your Higher Self

Robert Greene says that it’s a myth that advancement has made humanity and society stably more rational.
In truth, irrationality is cyclical, and will always find an outlet.
In some periods, that irrationality may wane, but in some other periods, will also grow “stronger”:

Throughout history we witness continual cycles of rising and falling levels of the irrational. (…)
The irrational simply changes its look and its fashions.
We may no longer have literal witch hunts, but in the twentieth century, not so very long ago, we witnessed the show trials of Stalin, the McCarthy hearings in the U.S. Senate, and the mass persecutions during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Various cults are continually being generated, including cults of personality and the fetishizing of celebrities. Technology now inspires religious fervor. People have a desperate need to believe in something and they will find it anywhere.
As long as there are humans, the irrational will find its voices and means of spreading.

My Note: I only partially agree here: I think there is an uptrend and improvement.
Greene in fact may be overly optimistic thinking that period such as the Renaissance or Athens golden age were far more rational, when in truth it was only a handful of leaders and top 1 percenters who lead that charge -with the masses being as irrational, and probably more, than today’s masses-.
On the other hand, I partially agree with him as well as humans haven’t upgraded their brain circuitry all that much, and authors such as Steven Pinker are naively optimistic.

There’s hope: great humans and individuals show us the path

Two factors should give us all hope.
First and foremost he existence throughout history and cultures of people of high rationality, the types who have made progress possible. They serve as ideals for all of us to aim for.
These include Pericles, the ruler Aśoka of ancient India, Marcus Aurelius of ancient Rome, Marguerite de Valois in medieval France, Leonardo da Vinci (…).
All of these types share certain qualities—a realistic appraisal of themselves and their weaknesses; a devotion to truth and reality; a tolerant attitude toward people; and the ability to reach goals that they have set. The second factor is that almost all of us at some point in our lives have experienced moments of greater rationality.

Practice Mitfreude

Schadenfreude, the experience of pleasure in the pain of other people, is distinctly related to envy, as several studies have demonstrated.
When we envy someone, we are prone to feel excitement, even joy, if they experience a setback or suffer in some way. But it would be wise to practice instead the opposite, what the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called Mitfreude—“joying with.” This means that instead of merely congratulating people on their good fortune, something easy to do and easily forgotten, you must instead actively try to feel their joy, as a form of empathy. This can be somewhat unnatural, as our first tendency is to feel a pang of envy, but we can train ourselves to imagine how it must feel to others to experience their happiness or satisfaction.

Robert Greene says that you can use mitfreude to love and appreciate what other people accomplish not as something that they did as individuals, but as something that they did as part of the human species.
This is something I also recommend in the foundational “ubermensch” article here on TPM.

Winner’s Mindsets: 10 Commandments of Enlightened “Me First”

In recognizing the greatness of someone, we are celebrating the highest potential of our species. We are experiencing Mitfreude with the best in human nature. We share the pride that comes from any great human achievement. Such admiration elevates us above the pettiness of our day-to-day life and will have a calming effect.

Learn to detach yourself emotionally from fools

Your time and energy are limited, and you must learn how to preserve them.
The world is full of fools—You encounter them everywhere: the indecisive boss, the rash colleague, the hysterical subordinate. When working alongside fools, do not fight them. Instead think of them the way you think of children, or pets, not important enough to affect your mental balance. The ability to stay cheerful in the face of fools is an important skill.

12. December – The Cosmic Sublime: Expanding the Mind to Its Furthest Reaches

Embrace your mortality

If you’re in denial of it, if you’re repressing it—which most people are—it comes out in secret ways. It makes you anxious in your daily life because you’re not dealing with the one most important thing. You don’t realize it, but it’s infecting you in your day-to-day decisions, how you interact with people. It is very simple: you need to confront this fear and find ways to transform it into vitality and power.

Also read:

The Power of Accepting & Leveraging Death to Live Fully

Keep your time for yourself, don’t give it away

The time that you’re alive is the only thing you truly possess, and you can give it away. You can give it away by working for other people—they own your time and you can be miserable. You can give it away by reaching for external pleasures and distractions—spending the time that you have as a slave to different passions and different obsessions. Or you can make the time that you’re alive your own. You can actually come and possess it and take ownership of this time and make each moment count.

Stop the stupidity of wanting to live forever

I absolutely loved this part, albeit I’m ambivalent about it.
Greene says that wanting to live forever, an obsession of some silicon valley rich entrepreneurs, is utter stupidity:

I’m often asked what I think of Silicon Valley’s obsession now with either indefinitely prolonging death or ending death. I think it’s the ultimate stupidity and I’ve been ranting against it for years. It’s like you’re running away from the only reality that exists. We can argue about what reality is. We have our own reality. Our reality is not what a bat or a fly sees. We don’t have echolocation. Every creature has its own reality. But the one thing that we can say is that we’re born and we die.

Greene says that such an idea is narcissistic, something I also agree with:

And the idea that you want to escape death and prolong your life—how selfish and narcissistic is this?

However, I don’t necessarily agree with why it’s bad idea, such as that there wouldn’t be enough space or resources for “everyone”:

What if everybody tries to extend their life for 50, 100 years? What will happen to the planet? We already have 8 billion people on this planet. People need to die or we won’t have resources, we won’t have air to breathe, water to drink. So in trying to prolong life, you’re prioritizing yourself.

the daily laws by robert greene book cover

MORE WISDOM

Play pool to learn strategies & assess others

Pool, it became clear to me, is all about angles. First, there are simple angles, as you must hit the cue ball to either side when you are not straight on. This is often not as easy as it seems. Then, there are the angles you take when you bank the targeted ball off the sides, an entirely new game in and of itself. This goes further with the double bank shot.

I had indeed noticed, and even written, that how people play at the pool when they’re first starting tells you a lot about how Machiavellian they are -or if at all-.
However, “when first starting out” is the keyword, as people can improve just by playing, looking at others, or going through tutorials, and then at that point, it has less to do with true Machiavellian thinking, and more about general mastering a craft.

https://thepowermoves.com/forum/topic/billiard-tells-you-all-you-need-to-know-about-peoples-machiavellianism

Human nature has never been more potentially destructive than it is today

we have never been more in the thrall of human nature and its destructive potential than now. And by ignoring this fact, we are playing with fire. Look at how the permeability of our emotions has only been heightened through social media, where viral effects are continually sweeping through us and where the most manipulative leaders are able to exploit and control us. Look at the aggression that is now openly displayed in the virtual world, where it is so much easier to play out our shadow sides without repercussions.

Robert Greene also says that our tribal tendencies have also grown with the digital world:

look at our tribal tendencies and how they have now found the perfect medium to operate in—we can find a group to identify with, reinforce our tribal opinions in a virtual echo chamber, and demonize any outsiders, leading to mob intimidation.

As an example of tribalism, also read:

You Can Do Better Than The Red Pill. Here’s Why

Don’t accept people’s ideas because they supplied “evidence”, but search it for yourself

On the internet, it is easy to find studies that support both sides of an argument. In general, you should never accept the validity of people’s ideas because they have supplied “evidence.” Instead, examine the evidence yourself in the cold light of day, with as much skepticism as you can muster.

To learn more, read “how to lie with statistics” and our various articles on manipulation and con artists.

QUOTES

On trusting yourself more rather than trusting others too much:

And you need to feel more confident in your own judgment. Understand: we tend to overestimate other people’s abilities—after all, they’re trying hard to make it look as if they knew what they were doing—and we tend to underestimate our own.
(…)
In other words, there are layers of angles, all more subtle and artistic as you go up the ladder and improve your game.

On not wasting time for battles you didn’t choose:

To waste your time in battles not of your choosing is more than just a mistake, it is stupidity of the highest order.

On Machiavellian leadership:

Your hands are clean. Never overtly play the Machiavellian leader—that only works well on television.

CONS

First, let’s start with an analysis of Robert Greene as the author:

Lucio: On the plus side, Robert Greene has fantastic intuition.
On the con side, he has more limited experience and his work almost completely lacks in empirical evidence.
Overall, he does make up for those limitations and still delivers some of the best work on topics of power, manipulation, and human nature

Still promoting the over-cynical life approach?

I was surprised and a bit disappointed to find this:

Daily Law: Take credit from those below you. Give credit to those above.

I thought Greene had moved past that overly-cynical approach after he achieved commercial success with it.

Apparently not.

There are several more instances where I felt it was overly cynical -including advice on “practice luring people into traps”.

A big issue with it is: it often isn’t the most effective approach to attaining success. Especially not if you have eagles -or people who expect some foundational ethics and values- in your team because they’ll abandon you very quickly. Same for those above you if they sniff your dirty games -and people often do catch the overly Machiavellian ones-.

Which is funny, because Greene himself says so little later in the book:

The second type of person besides the deniers are those who love this Machiavellian part of our nature and revel in it. They are master manipulators, con artists, and outright aggressors. They have no problem handling this part of the game. In fact, they love it. This type of person, which usually you will find one or two in any office or group, can get pretty far, but eventually they are tripped up in life because they are too Machiavellian. They don’t understand that there is a whole other side to the game, which requires empathy, cooperation, and seducing people into working with you. They are too tied to their egos to see the limits of the games they are playing and so they inevitably go too far and experience a fall from power. There is a wall they can never get past.

True.
Actually, it’s more than good, it’s golden wisdom.
And still, sometimes Greene seems to be promoting overly-Machiavellian approaches, rather than the more empathic and win-win that he says he prefers.

“The 10.000 hours myth”: perpetration and promotion of a myth

With the amount of research Greene says he does, I was almost shocked that he fell for this.

Greene recycles that debunked pop-psychology myth, and also lends it credibility:

Although it might seem that the time necessary to master the requisite skills and attain a level of expertise would depend on the field and your own talent level, those who have researched the subject repeatedly come up with the number of 10,000 hours. This seems to be the amount of quality practice time that is needed for someone to reach a high level of skill and it applies to composers, chess players, writers, and athletes, among others. This number has an almost magical or mystical resonance to it. It means that so much practice time—no matter the person or the field—leads to a qualitative change in the human brain.

There’s nothing magical about 10.000 except the amount of publicity -and money- Malcom Gladwell managed to pocket while spreading misinformation.

This is what Anderson, the author of that initial research, actually says about the 10.000 hours “rule” myth:

Gladwell, Anders Ericsson explains, did not understand his study well.
In details:

  1. There is nothing “magical” about 10k hours and there is no fixed time: some will need less to achieve the top of the field, some more
  2. How much you need to train to reach the top does depend on the field, including its competitiveness levels
  3. How you train matters: time matters too, of course, but how you train is equally, if not more, important

The dvice on seduction can easily backfire (if you seek effective dating)

Greene’s seduction advice is very atypical.

One of the “laws” is called “prove yourself”, which will already raise some eyebrows for the more power-aware folks:

Making your deed as dashing and chivalrous as possible will elevate the seduction to a new level, stir up deep emotions, and conceal any ulterior motives you may have. The sacrifices you are making must be visible; talking about them, or explaining what they have cost you, will seem like bragging. Lose sleep, fall ill, lose valuable time, put your career on the line, spend more money than you can afford.

This may work, in some limited cases.
But it’s also low-power dating and almost inherently lower-value dating, and that’s not very effective.
Also see:

The 5 Foundations Of Dating Most Men Still Ignore

Margaret Mead is an example of “rationality”?

I don’t know what Greene’s sources were, but…

… The way I studied and learned about Margaret Mead would better fit the example of an ultra-biased ideologue who was shrewd, dominant and confident enough to fool enough people and sidetrack science and truth for long enough before more rational land level-headed individuals finally re-established truth.

PROS

The usual “pros” of much of Robert Greene’s work:

  • “Keep it real” self-help for the real world, as opposed to much “naive self-help
  • Genius insights on human nature, strategies, and advanced social skills, as much of Greene’s work
  • Deep insights from a bright mind, some of which will make you reflect and very possibly even reach a higher level of understanding, efficacy, and self-development
  • Very much in-line with TPM, much of what Greene says well aligns and complements with this website’s

REVIEW

Another great book by one of our favorite authors.

Greene lays out the book with the system that first made him popular: concept -> storytelling -> lesson learned.
The story is as engrossing as possible, and should contain a surprise, “wow” or unexpected moment that makes the book captivating and enthralling.
However, there are fewer stories this time and even more wisdom.

And, as Robert Greene has spoiled us to expect from him, there are enough (new) sparkles of genius to make the book more than a mix of Greene’s previous work.
Also, I find it great because it ties Greene’s trademark wisdom on power and strategies to his equally great and undeservingly less appreciated self-hep content.

So “The Daily Laws” is a wonderful and recommendable book not just to those who are new to Robert Greene, but even to those who have read everything from him.

Check the best books collection or get the book on Amazon.

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