The Laws of Human Nature (English) Robert Greene


The Laws of Human Nature are the weaknesses that humans cannot avoid having. We have the tendency to be short-minded, covetous, aimless, fickle or self-defeating. But by understanding these laws or weaknesses, we will not fall victim to the schemes that other people might play on us. We will not be taken advantage of.There are also times when our own weaknesses are pulling us down. In this book, you will learn stories of famous people who have risen above human nature and become successful in life. As humans, we are imperfect. We have many flaws. If we let our flaws govern our life, then we will become miserable. But if we recognize and defeat these weaknesses, then we will become better people.

The Law of Covetousness

Gabrielle Chanel’s mother died when she was 11 years old. Her father left her and her two sisters in a convent in France. He never came back.One day, Gabrielle found some romance novels in the convent. Someone must have smuggled them in. She became fascinated with the Cinderella-like stories. She read about girls who grew up in poverty but came to be wealthy and admired.When she was 18, she left the convent and studied as a seamstress in a boarding school. Gabrielle explored around town and fell in love with the theatre. She was amazed with the colorful clothes and the actresses in makeup.
Gabrielle decided then that she wanted to become a famous actress. She joined the theatre and used the stage name “Coco Chanel.” She learned how to sing, dance and act. But Gabrielle soon realized that she was far from the success that she desired to be. She learned about actresses who were supported by wealthy lovers. These women enjoyed lots of clothes, jewelry and shoes.The truth is that they were mistresses and courtesans, but they were very beautiful. They knew how to make men follow their every whim.It so happened that Coco had a rich admirer: Etienne Balsan.
He invited her to live in his mansion. There were other lady guests in Balsan’s house. Coco became insecure around them. They had curvy, sexy bodies, while she looked like a boy.She could get anything and any man she wanted, but still Coco was restless. She was not satisfied with the life she had. One day, Coco went to Mr.Balsan’s bedroom and checked out his wardrobe. She tried on some of the clothes. She experimented with the buttoned shirts, coats, pants and hats. She came up with the androgynous style.Coco stopped wearing corsets and gowns. She felt free and comfortable wearing men’s clothes. The other mistresses were now envious of her. The androgynous style fitted her body so well. Even Mr. Balsan was greatly charmed by her new look.
Coco Chanel now realized that this was what she was looking for.She wanted the freedom and power that men have. She wanted to achieve it even in the sense of fashion.The other mistresses came to her and tried on the hats that she had designed. Chanel put feathers and ribbons on them. They were stylish, yet easy to wear.The ladies walked around town wearing Chanel’s hats. Soon, other women got curious as to where they had bought them.Mr.Balsan offered Chanel his apartment in Paris so that she could use it for her new business. Aside from hats, she began to sell clothes with the androgynous style. The clothes for women at the time were only corsets and gowns. But Chanel completely moved away from these.The ladies enjoyed her designs because they could move around more.
The Chanel brand came to be known as stylish, confident and daring. Coco even cut her hair short and encouraged her customers to do so too. The rich women went to their parties wearing Chanel and flaunting their new hairstyle.By 1920, Coco Chanel was already one of the best fashion designers in the world. She became an authority in fashion. But Coco did not stop there. She thought of creating her own brand of perfume. Again, no fashion house had ever done that before.The existing perfumes were only floral in scent. Chanel decided that her scent would be unlike any other. It would not be associated to any kind of flower, yet it would be fragrant nonetheless. She wanted men and women to be attracted to it.She chose a unique name for her perfume. All the scents out there were named after flowers. But Coco chose a mysterious name, which was Chanel No. 5. She also chose modern packaging, and created the logo of two interlocking C’s.
To launch her perfume, what Chanel did was to spray it all over her shop. The fragrant scent filled the air. Anyone who passed by the store smelled it, and many bought a bottle. Chanel also gave samples to her richest customers. They really loved it, and soon every rich Parisian was using Chanel no.5.People just couldn’t get enough of it. Chanel no. 5 became the best-selling perfume in history.Humans are attracted to mystery and taboo. Coco Chanel was aware of this. That is why she remained secretive about her past. She told different stories to everyone.
She also never shared her creative process, and she limited her public appearances. This created a mystery around her.Coco Chanel also made her brand a little rebellious. Women were expected to be demure and feminine during that time. But Chanel dared to be different. She encouraged women to rebel against social expectations, from the short hair, to the swimsuits, the little black dress and the androgynous style of clothing.The name Chanel no. 5 did not reveal what the scent was made of. But the truth is that it was just a combination of jasmine and other flowers. That is how Coco Chanel used the power of desire, mystery and taboo in her business. Because of that, she became really successful. 

The Law of Self-Sabotage

Anton Chekhov grew up in the town of Taganrog, Russia. His father was a grocery store owner and his mother a housewife. He had 4 brothers and 1 sister. Their family was poor. His father, Pavel, was a drunkard who always beat his children. He would beat them even for no apparent reason.The time came when Anton’s older brothers had had enough. They decided to go to Moscow. Nikolai wanted to be an artist, while Alexander wanted to study in university. They both wanted to start a new life away from their abusive father.Pavel could not stop his sons. He was facing a big problem in the grocery store.
His debts were piling up. He became bankrupt. Pavel was never a good business manager and because of that, he failed.One night, he simply left home without saying a word. He escaped from his debts and followed his two sons. Eventually, the Chekhovs were kicked out of their own home. All of them moved to Moscow. Only Anton was left to finish his studies.Anton was only 16 then. He had no money and no family to rely on. He became independent. Anton was angry at his father. He became depressed, but he soon realized that he had to face his problems. He thought of earning money by offering his services as a family tutor.He decided that he wanted to be a doctor. And so, he strived hard. Anton tutored as many students as possible. Then he studied intensely at the town library. He found sanctuary in books. He read many fiction stories which took him far away. Anton began writing his own original stories too.
Anton became proud of being able to support himself. Taganrog was still the same, but he had changed. His mind was focused on seeking greater knowledge. He would receive letters from Moscow saying that their father was making life miserable for everyone again.Anton told Alexander, “Stop thinking about father and focus on improving your own self.” He told Mikhail, “Never say that you are worthless. Of all people, you should be the one proving your self-worth.”He forgave his father for being what he was. Anton realized that his father was also beaten as a child. Pavel was bitter because he wanted to be an artist, but his father forced him to be a merchant.
Anton realized that he and his siblings were inheriting that life of bitterness and anger. He decided to break free and help his siblings to change their lives too. No more wasting time. No more self-pity.No more negative outlook.“Work and love, work and love.” That was Anton’s new motto in life. He wanted to share it with his siblings and other people so that they could live happily. He spread the message of “work and love” through the short stories and plays he wrote.In 1879, Anton joined his family in Moscow to study medicine. He was greatly saddened by their situation. The Chekhovs lived in a cramped basement in the red light district.
There was no window and no good source of light, and even worse than this was the low morale of the family. His father kept drinking, womanizing and taking odd jobs. His mother was stressed about their living expenses, and burdened by household chores. His younger siblings didn’t go to school anymore.Alexander and Nikolai worked as a writer and an artist, but they had become drunkards as well. Anton decided that he would set a good example and lead his family to change. He started by cleaning the house and washing their clothes. His brothers became ashamed, and they began to help.Anton saved money from his medical scholarship. He worked hard to send his younger siblings back to school. He found a more respectful job for his father. Anton was also able to find a better apartment for his whole family. They finally moved out of their hopeless situation.
Anton Chekhov said that his wife was medicine and his mistress wa…

The Law of Aimlessness

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a middle-class black community in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was the pastor of a large church. He wanted Martin Jr. to study theology in college, and then become the head pastor when he retired.Martin Jr. followed his father’s advice to study theology. But he opened up his mind to more knowledge. He read the books of Karl Marx. He was inspired by the passive resistance of Gandhi.He finished his doctorate of theology at Boston University. He wanted to take another path, but his father had prepared the position of pastor for him at the local church.Martin Jr. got married at this time and started a family. It would have been practical for him to settle in the North where there was less racial discrimination and social conflict. But Martin Jr. felt a strong calling to serve in the South.
He wanted to be a pastor of a large church community there where he could help many people. This path was more challenging than what his father had planned for him. But Martin Jr. felt that this was where he belonged.He started preaching at the Baptist Church located in Montgomery, Alabama. He studied hard before each sermon he gave. He made sure that his words were full of insights. Martin Luther King did not teach about the afterlife. He taught the people about ideas that they could apply every day, like, for example, forgiveness and loving your enemies. 
There was widespread violence in Montgomery. Racial discrimination was strong. The white and black people were segregated. In the streets and in public transportation, there was space reserved only for white people, and black people could never occupy them. If they did, they would end up in jail.
Martin Luther King became active in the NAACP or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was offered the role of president, but he declined. He wanted to serve people more through the church. Nevertheless, he became friends with the NAACP.He was known as Dr. King. Something happened in Montgomery in 1955 that started a huge protest movement. An old black lady named Rosa Parks sat on the bus seat reserved for white people. She was asked to move and let a white man take her place.But Rosa Parks refused.Because of that, she was arrested.Rosa Parks was an active member of NAACP. News about her situation spread quickly. The whole black community joined in boycotting the Montgomery buses. The one-day strike extended to one week, and then several weeks. The black people walked or carpooled to work.
The black community decided to start a new bigger and stronger organization, called the Montgomery Improvement Association. Dr. King was invited to lead once again. This time, he accepted. He felt that the people really needed him. He felt that they had strong faith in him, and he did not want to disappoint them.Dr. King gave many inspiring speeches about passive resistance and non-violence. He took insight from the teachings of Gandhi. He told the people that they could win the fight against discrimination through peaceful means. They could continue the boycotts and organized protests.Dr. King encouraged the people to stand strong until the segregation in Montgomery was completely removed. It was a great risk for him. He received death threats from angry white people.The police arrested him for driving over the speed limit, but they only wanted to stop his protest movements.
Before the court trial, Dr. King received a call. The man on the phone said, “Nigger, if you don’t leave this town in 3 days, we will blow up your house and blow up your brain.”He greatly feared for his wife and his new-born daughter. Dr. King felt a great weight on his shoulders. He prayed to God.He said, “Lord, I am weak now. I lost my courage. I do not know what to do.” In his deep silence and concentration, he heard voice say, “Martin Luther King, stand up for what is right. Stand up for truth and justice.”A few days after, his house was bombed. It is a miracle that his wife and daughter were safe. Angry black people went to his home and sympathized with him. They were prepared to attack the white community. But Dr. King said, “Let us love our enemies. Be good to them and let them know that you love them.”
In the next months, the Supreme Court finally approved the ruling which stopped bus segregation in Montgomery. Black people could finally take their seats without fear. Martin Luther King was the first black man to ride freely on any seat he wanted. It was a historic day.Humans have the tendency to be aimless. There was a time when Dr. King was unsure about his purpose in life. The pressure placed on him by his father was bringing him down. He wanted to make his own path, but his duty as a son troubled him.
But, he soon found a meaningful path. Dr. King realized that he did not just want to be a pastor. He wanted to lead and help many people. Like everyone else, Dr. King was challenged by fear and hesitation, but finally he gained the courage to answer his calling. He was able to serve others even if he faced threats to his life.It became his life’s work to finally end the discrimination on black people. It became his passion. And because he had this higher purpose,Martin Luther King succeeded and brought about change.  

The Law of Fickleness

Queen Elizabeth I was 25 years old when she was crowned. This was in the year 1559. It is tradition that the new king or queen would have a procession all around London. England was in crisis during that time. The government owed so much debt. Many people became thieves and beggars.The worst challenge that Queen Elizabeth faced was the rift between Protestants and Catholics. Her father, Henry VIII, made Protestantism the official religion of the country. But after him came the leadership of his elder daughter Queen Mary. She decreed for England to be exclusively Catholic again and so a bloody civil war ensued, which is why she is known as “Bloody Mary.”
The people were worried because Queen Elizabeth was inexperienced in leadership. They had no idea of the changes that she would bring. Her real name was Elizabeth Tudor. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who he beheaded. Elizabeth was left alone from age 3. The people of England did not know what her personality was or what to expect from her.It was a grand procession. The streets were beautifully decorated. There were jesters and musicians to entertain the crowd.Queen Elizabeth I was wearing an elegant golden robe studded with precious gems. The people were surprised that she mingled among them. She spoke in a simple way, and showed sincere affection.
There was an old lady who gave her a twig of rosemary. Queen Elizabeth held it during the entire procession. She smiled at the people. She looked them in the eye. She listened to their woes. She easily won the heart of the crowd. Other royals kept their distance from everyone, but not Queen Elizabeth.Her chief adviser, William Cecil, led a secret plot to take over. Cecil believed that a woman could never be an effective leader. He thought about the reign of Bloody Mary and how it had ruined England. Cecil and the other advisers planned to influence all of Queen Elizabeth’s decisions.That is until they could find a husband for her, and this new king would be the true authority.
Henry VIII let his advisers run the whole country while he went hunting wild animals and chasing beautiful women. But Queen Elizabeth was different. She was really involved with all the affairs of England. She worked daily until past midnight. Cecil never expected this of her.Queen Elizabeth had an interesting strategy in handling foreign affairs. When Spain initiated war in Europe, the Queen showed an intention of marrying the leader of France. Spain feared the English–French alliance, and backed off.If it was France and Spain who were causing trouble, she would favor the archduke of Austria, suggesting an English–Austrian alliance. When the queen got what she wanted, her intentions would grow cold.
There were also times when the Parliament intimidated her by threatening to end funding for the monarchy if she didn’t get married soon. Queen Elizabeth would then show interest in one king, prince or archduke. When she got the funding for the Crown, she would back off from the marriage negotiations and think of an excuse. This scheme of Queen Elizabeth went on for several years.The truth is that she didn’t want to marry yet. Queen Elizabeth proved that she could effectively lead the country on her own. Not even the advisers or her suitors could challenge her.Humans have the tendency to be fickle.
They are sometimes indecisive and irresponsible in their actions.Other political leaders think that because they have power and position, they can do whatever they want. They think that the people should automatically follow and respect them. But this is not the case.Queen Elizabeth understood this. She took her responsibility seriously. She proved her worthiness in front of everyone. She earned the respect of people and practiced what she preached. She set a good example for her subordinates. People followed her not because of fear or manipulation, but because she had good character.


You learned about Coco Chanel and the Law of Covetousness.Humans are attracted to mystery. If you inject the element of mystery in your business, you will sell many products.You learned about Anton Chekhov and the Law of Self-sabotage.If you adopt a positive attitude, you can change your situation in life.You learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Law of Aimlessness.
If you pursue a higher purpose, it is impossible for you to fail.You learned about Queen Elizabeth I and the Law of Fickleness. In order to become a great leader, you should set a good example and choose to do what is right.Our imperfections as humans will always be there. But we also have free will. You can have a life of happiness, peace and meaning. It all depends on you. Just like the famous people in this book, you can overcome the weaknesses in human nature and rise up stronger.

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