It’s Out of Control! What The Laws of Human Nature will do to your To-Read-List

Is your To-Read-List (TRL) growing faster the more effort you put into working your way through it? I know the feeling – and I feel it might be especially true for non-fiction readers.

Every good book opens up your eyes for new topics and bombards you with new exciting ideas of what to read up on next (as illustrated above 🤪), filling your TBR to the brink.

Today I’m presenting some new additions to my TRL, courtisey of the book The Laws Of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

📖 The Tigress of Forli by E. Lev 📖

Caterina Sforza, she seems to be such a bad ass warrior countess! Greene uses her as an example of how masculine/feminine aspects of one’s personality, when well integrated, leads to more authenticity. “In the theater of life, expand the roles you play.”

📖 Born Red by Gao Yuan 📖

Gao’s account of the Cultural revolution in China and how he and his fellow students “made revolution”. Greene uses this story as an example of how our personalities changes in a group context.

📖 Chekhov by Henri Troyat 📖

Chekhov, Russian play-write, is brought up by Greene as an example of how you can change your circumstances by changing you attitude. “He made a vow to himself: No more bowing and apologizing to people; no more complaining and blaming; no more disorderly living and wasted time.” Now I just want to know more about this exciting fellow!

What are you reading and what additions is that book adding to your To-Read-Lists? 🤔

Lab Report: Meditation -The First 6 Months

“If you continue to this simple practice everyday you will attain a wonderful power. Before you attain it, it is something wonderful, but after you attain it, it is nothing special.” – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki

The Lab Report – 008 – “Meditation: The First 6 Month”

For me these first 6 months was about establishing the habit of sitting daily. With that now in place it’s time to take it to the next level.

Instead of counting both inhalations and exhalations I’m now moving on to counting only my out-breath. The end goal is to not count at all, but that’s when I built up my ability to concentrate enough.


Mid term effects: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

– I still dose off from time to time.

– Resistance to the practice and boredom is no longer an issue.

– I had a mystical experience (a positive one) when I was a the peak of frustration and boredom with the practice (day 130). I can’t really share the details.


Long term effects: ❓❓❓

– Still unknown. I’m aiming for doing 365 consecutive days in this experiment. It’s still to early to tell.


Sustainability: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

– The habit has become automatic. I have missed 3 days so far which leaves me with a 98,3% success rate. Now I just need to find time to sit for longer sessions.

– Meditation time is in direct competition with my reading time.


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I don’t feel the same frustration about the practice that I felt in the beginning. Maybe it’s because I’m back on coffee and therefore don’t dose off as easily? More likely it’s because of habit and the well-being I get from sitting. It’s hard to put finger on the exact benefits but they are there and they are noticeable. I feel more calm, yet alert; more detached, yet more engaged.

What are your daily rituals? 🤔

Check out Lab Reports for more!

Green Beards, Altruism and Kinship – Halfway through Behave by Robert Sapolsky

Kin selection is the theory that we behave more altruistic towards people who share our genes—-given we believe in the darwinian paradigm that the overarching aim for an organism is to further its genes, of course.

Or as John Haldane humorously concluded while working on the mathematics of kin selection:

“I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins.”

The idea being that brothers and sisters share genes by 50% and cousins 12,5%. The math being something like this:

1 person = 8 cousins (12.5×8=100)

1 person = 4 nephews (4×25=100)

1 person = 2 siblings (2×50=100)

The Green Beard Effect started as a thought experiment that would explain why we exhibit altruistic behaviors towards people who share a genetic trait with us, i.e a green bearded person favors another green bearded person over someone else. It’s is a poor mans version of kin selection.

The behavior has been confirmed studies on fire ants in 1998.

… and a Review of Behave by Robert Sapolsky is coming soon!


Sources:
http://www.eoht.info/m/page/John+Haldane
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green-beard_effect

Threats to our Creativity and Women Who Run with the Wolves

One of my favorite parts of this book revolve around the topic of self-sabotaging our own creativity:

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📝 “Some of the malevolent complexes’ favorite thieveries and punishments of women’s creativity revolve around promising the soul-self “time to create” somewhere of in the foggy future. Or promising that when one has several days in a row free, then the rumpus will begin at last. It’s hogwash.”

——

This is just a way to suffocate the creative impulse further.

——

Another great way of suffocating creativity is Only-iffing; Only if I had a such and such degree then my work would be decent. Only if I receive such and such thing…

——-

Many put their talents in the back burner:

——-

📝 “I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write…. and you know it’s a funny thing about house cleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman.” 🧹

———

How do you nourish and protect your creative life? And if you don’t; How do you procrastinate? 🤔

———

(And yes! A Review of Women Who Runs With The Wolves is coming soon!) 🐺

The Laws of Human Nature: Discover Your Dark Side

Recall Britney’s 2008 breakdown, Clinton’s sex affair and the behavior Nixon’s behavior in the White House before his resignation?

“When we experience those moments when people reveal their dark side, we see something come over their face; their voice and body language of altered— almost as if another person is confronting us, the features of the upset child suddenly becoming visible” – Robert Greene

Carl Jung called it The Shadow.

The Shadow consists of all the qualities we try to deny about ourselves and repress. You can try really hard to cover up these aspects but they will pop back up sooner of later. You can see glimpses of it showing from people in moments of stress.

“You can throw out Nature with a pitchfork, but she’ll always come back.”

Hiding The Shadow side of yourself takes energy. You must be adept to see when The Shadow is appearing in yourself and others.

The Shadow also tends to show more with age. “Later in life we tire of the masks we have been wearing, and the leakage is greater.”

I’ve started to study Jung but I haven’t read up on the concept of The Shadow yet. What I’ve got from The Laws of Human Nature is an introduction that left me wanting to know more – What reading do you recommend on the Shadow and Shadow work? Let’s confront our dark sides! 🤔

Lab Report: Quitting the News

“If you get your view of the world from the news, you’re always going to think that we’re living in violent times.”

– Steven Pinker

What’s the message of the mainstream media? Be afraid! Stay inside! Out there are Isis, the 1% staling your money and clowns! No wonder we feel anxious and afraid even though we live in the safest era in human history.


The Lab Report – 006 – “Quit the News”

I stopped following the news about 3 years ago. I don’t read any newspapers, I don’t listen to the radio and I don’t follow any blogs or news feeds.

How has this experiment pan out?


Short term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

– “Fear of Missing Out” might haunt you in the beginning – don’t worry, if it’s important (most news aren’t) you will hear about it.

– Fearmonger stories triggers stress and spikes your cortisol. Without these spikes you can enjoy a stronger immune system.


Long term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– Reduced fear and anxiety.

– Less drama, more focus.

– The media is experts at masking us feel concerned. Being concerned makes us feel like we are doing something while we’re not. Now you freed up time to do shit.


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

– You might work at a job where you’re unable to control news exposure i.e a places where TVs and radios on all the time.

– Social media feeds can be challenging to manage. I solved it by not looking at social media feeds.

– Ones your out off it, and if you pay attention to the positive effects, then it’s very hard to relapse.


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Quitting the news is the closest thing I’ve found to a silver bullet for improved happiness and inner peace. 👌🏻 ☯️

Of course you should not take my word for it. Think for yourself. And also -what is the counter argument to what I just said? 🧐 🤔

You Find More Lab Reports and Experiments Here!

Lab Report: Growing a Beard

I really like to try new things. actually, I originally started this site to be mainly about different small experiments I conduct (Reading a more books where one of there experiments. I guess that one stuck with me 😂). Here we go:


The Lab Report – 001 – “Beards”


Growing a full beard is something every man should try at least ones in their life if they have the genes for it. Why? Because you fucking can!

I’ve had a few smaller beard variations throughout my life but I’m never gone all the way before. With all the way I mean not shaving for 6 – 12 months (In beard circles this is called a “yeard” or a “half yeard” respectively). So I had to try it out and here is my report:


Short term effects: ⭐️

Itchiness is one downside of growing a beard. But it will pass rather quickly. Worse is the “awkward beard”- stage from about week 8 to month 3. This is the period where your beard looks like a patchy mess and you look like you’ve given up on life. This is where most people give up.


Long term effects: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

– People think you are wiser and more competent. (Probably because bearded men are portrayed in that way in popular culture).

– It’s harder to eat and drink.

– You can stroke your beard while thinking which unlocks extra cognitive abilities.

– Has some protective quality in blizzards.


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

– It takes a fair share grooming to maintain a respectable-looking beard.

– Makes eating greasy food close impossible. (Good or bad depending on you dietary goals)


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Beards are great! Go get one!”

You Find More Lab Reports and Experiments Here!

Lab Report: The First 100 Days of Meditation

We keep reading about it; the most important endeavor one can undertake is self knowledge – “Know thyself” as the inscription reads at the Temple of Apollo – and what better way to start that examination than practice of meditation?

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The Lab Report – 005 – “Meditation:

The First 100 Days”

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The meditation style I do is Zazen. This first phase of the experiment is about establishing the habit of sitting everyday (I prioritize consistency over duration) and building up my capacity concentration.

I count each inhalation and exhalation starting from 1 and going up to 10, then repeat. Its easier said than done!

This meditation is done with open eyes. I started with 8 minute sessions and I’m now at ~20 min sessions and I’m gradually increasing the duration.


Short term effects: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

– It can be quite frustrating to observe when one’s mind wanders off.

– I dose off all the time.

– Observing one’s thoughts and “monkey mind” creates a gap between Me and my thoughts.

– Outside of meditation I feel that it is easier to catch myself when getting lost in thoughts and snap back to presence.


Long term effects: ❓❓❓

– Still unknown. I’m aiming for doing 365 consecutive days in this experiment, so it’s still to early to tell.


Sustainability: ⭐️⭐️ ⭐️

– I find activities like this one, that should be performed everyday, to be tricky. I only missed 1 day out of 100 so far. But the only way for me to achieve that was to make meditation my number one priority during this period. So that’s what I did.


FINAL VERDICT: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

It’s still the early days but I’m happy to have established a solid habit. But it can be a frustrating practice. I guess Being is hard when you are used to Doing. Still, I love taking a few minutes out of my day for self care!


Tell me about your experiences with mediation? 🤔

Find more experiments in the Experiment archives.

Favorite Books of the Year 2018: “Demian” – Hermann Hesse

A short and moody novel that revolves around young Sinclair and the difficult task of finding oneself. Growing up in a protected and pious middle class home he eventually has to face the real world. Sinclair gets a new mysterious classmates, Demian, who guides him to detach and revolt from the superficial world of form and awaken to his true self.

📝 “All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?”

This is most memorable fictional book I’ve read this year. A coming of age story with strong connections to Jungian psychology and symbolism. It came to me at a perfect time; Since I, much like Hesse did when writing the book, just “began to explore the writings of Freud and Jung on dreams and archetypes”. Something that really influenced Hesses writings.

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!

Favorite Books of the Year 2018: “Trust Me, I’m Lying” – Ryan Holiday

“Each generation of media has a different cock in its mouth.” – Ryan Holiday, Trust me I’m lying.

😔 I thought I was on top of my media game and was able to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I WAS WRONG!

📰 😱I knew the situation was bad; I even quit following “the news” 3 years ago because I thought it misrepresented reality to a larger degree than it represented it (and also for the sake of my wellbeing). But Ryan Holidays confessions from his career as a media manipulator paints a even darker picture than I could ever imagine!

👨🏼‍💻Understanding the structure and constraints of click-based media is essential. These structure explains almost everything they do. It’s in the nature of the system.

🥇 The first half of this book is should be mandatory reading (the other half turns into a bit of a rant). This is probably the book that influenced me the most this year!

What was your most influential books this year? 🤔

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!