The Law of Jante

Paulo Coelho

– What do you think of Princess Martha-Louise?

The Norwegian journalist was interviewing me on the banks of Lake Geneva. As a rule I refuse to answer questions that are not relevant to my work, but in this case there was a reason for his curiosity: on the dress that she had worn on her 30th birthday, the Princess had asked them to embroider the names of some people who had been important in her life – and my name was among them (my wife found the idea so good that she decided to do the same when she turned 50, sewing in one corner of her dress the credit “inspired by the Princess of Norway”).

– I think she is a sensitive, delicate, intelligent person – I answered. – I had the opportunity to meet her in Oslo, when she introduced me to her husband, a writer like myself.

I paused a little, but felt the need to add:

– And there is something that I honestly fail to understand: why did the Norwegian press begin to criticize her husband’s literary work after he got married to the Princess? Before that, all his reviews were positive.

It was not exactly a question, more of a provocation, because I already imagined the answer: the reviews had changed because people feel envy, the most bitter of all human sentiments.

The journalist, however, was more sophisticated than that:

– Because he broke the Law of Jante.

Of course I had never heard of this, so he explained what it was. I continued on my journey and discovered it is hard to find anyone in any of the Scandinavian countries who does not know this law. Although the law exists since the beginning of civilization, it was only officially declared in 1933 by writer Aksel Sandemose in the novel “A refugee goes beyond limits.”

The sad truth is that the Law of Jante is not restricted to Scandinavia: this is a rule applied in every country in the world, despite the fact that Brazilians say that “this only happens here,” and the French claim that “unfortunately, that’s how it is in our country.” Now, the reader must be annoyed because he/she is already half way through the column and still does not know what the Law of Jante is all about, so I’ll try to explain it here briefly in my own words:

“You aren’t worth a thing, nobody is interested in what you think, mediocrity and anonymity are your best bet. If you act this way, you will never have any big problems in life.”

The Law of Jante focuses on the feeling of jealousy and envy that sometimes causes so much trouble to people like Ari Behn, the husband of Princess Martha-Louise. This is one of its negative aspects, but there is something far more dangerous.

And this law is accountable for the world being manipulated in all possible manners by people who have no fear of what the others say and end up practicing the evil they desire. We have just witnessed a useless war in Iraq, which is still costing many lives; we see a huge abyss between the rich and the poor countries of the world, social injustice on all sides, unbridled violence, people being forced to give up their dreams because of unfair and cowardly attacks. Before starting the second world war, Hitler sent out several signals as to his intentions, and what encouraged him to go ahead was the knowledge that nobody would dare to defy him because of the Law of Jante.

Mediocrity may be comfortable, up to the day that tragedy knocks at the door and people start to wonder: “but why did nobody say anything, if everybody could see that this was going to happen?”

Simple: nobody said anything because the others did not say anything either.

So in order to prevent things from growing any worse, maybe this is the right moment to write the anti-Law of Jante:

“You are worth far more than you think. Your work and presence on this Earth are important, even though you may not think so. Of course, thinking in this way, you might have many problems because you are breaking the Law of Jante – but don’t feel intimidated by them, go on living without fear and in the end you will win.”

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Comments

  1. Rishabh Bhasin says:

    Very Interesting. One may argue that even the Law of Jante has its positive side with it ensuring a sense of harmony. Its a conservative thought. But there is no doubt that in order to succeed, the law of Jante is meant to be broken

  2. Mr Coelho,
    Thank you very much for this story. This is first time I hear for set of these, I must say very destructive, rules of life.
    Unfortunately, I observe the popularity of this law in my country, Serbia. More and more countries practice that instead to work on own values. This is a work regarding Jante’s Law in Sweden.

    The Law of Jante in Swedish Society::
    A thesis written in 1998 while I attended the University of Minnesota. Written from the perspective of an American’s view of Jantelagen.

    If one asks a Swede what is the most prevalent characteristic of their society, they would probably say, “We are envious of our neighbors good fortune.” After talking with enough of them, one would come to realize it is truly a widespread mentality in the Swedish society as a whole. In fact, the Swedish Institute of Public Opinion Research found that in a poll conducted of which traits Swedes identify themselves mostly with, “Envious” was at the top of the list with 49% of the respondents. (Daun, 186). What is behind the prevalence of envy in this prosperous, industrialized, yet intensely jealous nation?

    The foremost reason can be described by Jante’s Law. Jante’s Law comes from the Norwegian/Danish author Aksel Sandemose’s novel, “En flygtning krysser sitt spor”, in which the fictitious Danish town of Jante lives by its own ten commandments. Jante’s law is defined by Sandemose: “This is Jante: each little soul’s struggle for coequality and recognition, never without consciousness that all the others are greater than he.” These ten laws stand as both a criticism and a fairly accurate depiction of moral code in Sweden and Scandinavia today. It can be said that many modern swedes live by these laws, consciously or not, and embrace them deeply. “The Law of Jante was not merely a set of laws, it was the very core of the speech of the people, all they ever said could be traced straight back to the Law of Jante.” (Sandemose, 28). Envy, despite being a christian sin, is a principle part of Jante’s law, as the result of breaking this social code means that your neighbors will despise you for your individuality, uniqueness, or an excess show of wealth. In fact, one could venture to say that in Swedish society, breaking Jante’s law is in and of itself much worse than committing the sin of envy.

    What purpose does Jante’s law serve in Swedish society today? “By means of the Law of Jante people stamp out each other’s chances in life.” (Sandemose, 28). This cruel statement taken by itself paints a harsh and unforgiving picture of Swedish society. Yet, the laws serve a purpose deeply rooted in historical background. In early provincial Sweden, strong community solidarity was necessary to tie people together and to survive as a collective. The survival of the community as an entire entity was more important than any individual member, and thus the moral code behind Jante’s law was formed.

    As Sweden emerged as an egalitarian state, the envy and hatred of one’s neighbour became more prevalent in society as the disparity between incomes grew lesser. With every TV set and stereo ones neighbours purchased it became important that you had one as well. Society scolded those who bought flashier cars than such a person should have, yet all the while wishing deep inside it had an even better vehichle. The mere fact that economically one’s neighbours earn a much closer income makes the petty differences matter more to the average Swede. For example, if Per Löfgren is a doctor, and makes a bit higher salary than the Dahlbergs across the hall, it would be considered boastful and insulting to the Dahlbergs if he had them over to show off the pictures from his lavish vacation to India. In fact, just mentioning the vacation casually would be in violation of Jante’s law. In order to live by the law of Jante, one must not only show, but prove one thinks no more of themself than one thinks of the great and powerful “we”.

    Although Sweden is a successful and relatively financially secure nation, Jante’s law persists in society. This peasant law, which valued a strong work ethic and a communal mentality, exists today because Swedes deeply believe their society relies on it to succeed and to prosper. In his essay “A System out of Harmony with its Values”, Patrik Engellau describes the reliance of Swedes on Jante’s law. “The stability of Swedish society requires that all three pillars bear its weight. If we forget one or two of them and attempt the circus feat of standing on only one of them, we are in danger of losing our balance and falling flat on our faces.” (Engellau, 57). It is this fear of change and instability that keeps modern Swedes belief in middle-road equality alive.

    A good example of modern Sweden reacting in the way of Jante’s law is the Swedish perspective on fame and stardom. In Åke Daun’s book Swedish Mentality he writes, “Swedes are ambivalent about their ‘stars’ (the more neutral term ‘celebrity’ is seldom used) whether in sports, show business, or culture. The stars’ successes may be admired, but their exclusiveness and out-of-the-ordinary achievements often give rise to envy and therefore to malicious pleasure when the stars ‘fall.’

    The high value towards sameness makes all personal successes problematic.” (Daun, 107). It happens quite often that political figures are victims of newspaper and magazine exposés, as the public reacts quite zealously when seeing prominent figures fail. This presents a rather daunting problem for those in prominent positions, as it is their duty under Jante’s law to mask their successes as much as they can, and to never revel in them.

    From an American perspective, Jante’s law may be Scandinavia’s greatest cultural difference. In the American workplace, management uses positive reinforcement with employees as a method of motivation. In Sweden and much of Scandinavia, one is expected to get ones work done, without much herald. It can be related to the Swedish proverb, “Noble deeds are done in silence.” (Engellau, 57). If an American enters the Swedish workplace expecting the same treatment of endless compliments for a job well done, they are certainly in for a surprise. Likewise, should a Swede come to work in the states, they are not likely to know the proper response to the barrage of compliments they will receive. It is typical of Swedes to respond to compliments in a negative manner, by saying “No, I really didn’t do anything special,” or “It wasn’t anything anyone else couldn’t easily do.” In the states, responding to a compliment in this manner is insulting to the person giving the compliment in the way that it infers the person didn’t know what they were talking about. However, should the American respond to a compliment in a Swedish workplace with “Thanks, I did my best!” or “It was easy”, they will be received as being boastful, overly proud, and in direct violation of Jante’s law, thus instilling envy in their coworkers.

    Jante’s law isn’t strictly a Scandinavian philosophy, there is also a similar social code in Chile (Daun, 176). However, the strength of this mentality lingers stronger in Scandinavia than any other place on the map. In recent years, this has changed a little, partly because along with the growing popularity of the American economic system has come the adoption of American ideas and values, which are in strict conflict with Jante’s law. The increasing globalization of trade and the influx of immigrants into Swedish society has also diminished the strengh of Sweden’s social code. However, evidence of Jante’s law can still be seen in nearly all facets of society, and will most likely prevail for years to come.

    Copyright 1998: Crystal Lee Möller, all rights reserved.

    http://www.waste.org/~xtal/red/jante.html

  3. Ben says:

    ohh man!!
    politics……!!!!!!

  4. diddie says:

    the laws of jante may have caused so much suffering to those stated….i have meet so many people who act like that but in the long run i end up not judging them as in every individual there is individuality, and how the human brain thinks…is totally different

    1. Tom the Tom says:

      Mm

    2. Tom the Tom says:

      We shouldn’t be fixed on a single law. Life should not be governed by a single Law. Stoicism in my opinion is one other example how we can perceive things. Taking example of Marcus Aurelius, who said in his book of Meditations, ” Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together. ”

      As much as I have in awe for his leadership, I cannot help but to disagree with his statement. Putting it in clearer terms, or my terms in this case, doesn’t it also translate to say that we should start each day by expecting the worst to occur? Therefore in any case, along the course of the day, any occurrences can only be more positive than expected. Without the frustration, we can be a happier person.

      That in my humble opinion, should not be how we lead our lives. There is a certain good that we can take away from what Marcus Aurelius mentioned, the part where we should not expect the better of man. How about not expecting anything, nothing at all? Can we not start from zero, where anything that befalls us will not be of any ‘better or worse’. No comparisons made, things happen, and we let it happen.

  5. Per Solvang says:

    The problem with mediocrity is that its celebrated. America has been at war with science and the intellecuals since the days of Ronald Reagan. The general public getting more and more stupid thanks to all the stupidity they watch on TV, in America people dont read books anymore, they dont even read newspapers, no wonder they are getting more and more stupid.

    A disturbing fact is that IQ-levels in the most advanced nations in the world started to drop in the mid-ninties, for the first time in history, as long as it has been measuered IQ-levels has risen and risen, untill now. Where will this trend leave us ? Who is going to make the great inventions in the future ? The only ones who will benefit from a more stupid population are the rulers because stupid people are so easy to manipulate.

  6. Rose says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for your kinds words, but about what I said involving Jesus; I was merely repeating what Paulo said during an interview on Dutch TV I’d watched that evening.
    But yes, I totally agree with him as well and his view on this was a real eyeopener for me. Suffering is not the ultimate road to insight/enlightment.

    But just to make it clear; it wasn’t my original idea, but Paulo’s;-)

    Love,

    Rose

  7. grete says:

    Feeling almost as good, reading the letter – and all the comments -, as I did the night of Obama’s victory. The feeling of hope, and now; knowing you are not alone. Thanks to all!

    Let us spread the word.

    Grete.

    In Nebraska, U.S.A. “Passive Agressivness” is not considered a personality disorder- as it is in DSM # —- (A medical reference book – the diagnostic “Bible” in mental health. ) That is on way one copes in order to follow the Jante Law?

  8. SIDO66 says:

    brigit,

    Every grain of sand IS the desert and make its beauty

    We are,

    we form a group, and together we make only ONE

    chaque grain de sable forme le désert et en fait sa beauté

    nous sommes ,

    nous formons un ensemble , et c’est ensemble que nous ne faisons qu’UN

  9. Kathleen says:

    Brilliant! My met hate is envy. People need not envy, rather admire and learn from others who can teach them something.

    I don’t know whether I agree that the war in Iraq was pointless. Saddam Hussein that psycho and his sons are gone, and things are being rebuilt.

    Kathleen xx

  10. liliane says:

    agent provocateur – I like that

  11. lynne says:

    I agree with you Jessica, the anti-law needs to be published, and celebrated too…. (~: Lynne

  12. Are says:

    Nice that you had the oppertunety to meet the prinsess and the husband. Nice warm people with big hearts to all humans and mother earth. She is able to talks to the angels, witch is great. The link between our creator and humans. We all have somethink to learn, if we stop learning we are given up and accepting the law and becomming in injustice. Love Are

  13. maria tonidou says:

    dear paulo,
    i had a similar conversation with a friend of mine this past week..I explained to him, that i strongly feel that mediocrity and the ones who represent it, are the ones who rule in every domain..They are the ones who feel the urge to be jealous, to be protective of their false empires, to prevent the light from shining, to create a state of fear around them..Because they are mediocre, they know it, and they are more scared than the ones who are trying to scare…And that mediocrity is in my opinion an expression of evil…Far more dangerous than any other…The thing is that the more they are trying to prevent the light the more i feel the light will become stronger and blinding…This is a trap they aren t aware of…The season has changed…There is a new era coming…The more the think they have power on their hands, the more they will be fought until there will be noplce for the useless anymore, for it is the useless that has brought the world into such a dead end………….
    Have a nice week and thank you for the inspiring article…

  14. Rosa Ileana says:

    Quiero ser una persona ganadora y que todos los seamos…

  15. Therese says:

    I really agree that people should stand up for the fact that they are great. They should be proud of their skills and for who they are.

    But also there are people who tells everyone how great they are – in a way that means; I’m far better than you are! And you’re worth nothing…

    My reflection about the Jante Law – which I know well as I am Swedish – is that it came up to prevent the risk of one person to show disrespect to other people, so that people could deal with that person by having arguments against his behavior. To show a way of humility.

    Unfortuneatly “the law” went in a bad direction and causes that people wont allow themself to develope.

    That’s my thoughts.

    Your books are super, Mr Coelho, they are poetry!

  16. [...] The Law of Jante at Paulo Coelho’s Blog (tags: Life philosophy law) [...]

  17. luce says:

    Dear Paulo,

    Whole my life I was going against current, one way or other, in daily life, in filosophy of life, religion, interests etc…and never gave up, but I can tell you it is exhausting!

    Exactly today, for no special reason I feel tired of fighting it, this what you call “Jante Law”, and I am glad I opened your blog though I just wanted to sleep off this tiredness of my mind.

    Thank you for reminding us of this and helping us fight mediocrity !

    Love
    Luce

  18. Jack says:

    Paulo,
    I hadn’t read this “law” specifically until now, but I sure have experienced it in life. As a teacher and as an artist I have, and do, see it all of the time (Wikipedia has an informative article on this under Jante Law).
    I see this daily in the classroom when students don’t want to learn and refuse to allow teachers to pass on knowledge to themselves and others in the class because they do not to want allow this “law” to be broken. It relates to another “law” that operates in life. That is the law of failure. If I don’t succeed, it is because I didn’t try … I could have succeeded if I had tried, but I can’t be blamed for failure because I didn’t try; and don’t try to make me be better or take the chance of failure. It is hard to face that chance/challenge for many. Life so often teaches them that if they are the nail that sticks out of the board, they will be hammered down. Too many give up early in life and join the already hammered nails rather than stand out and take the chance that difference might engender; despite the chance that they might achieve something good, or even great in the effort. It’s just too scary out there where everyone can see you and your mistakes.
    Therein is the root of the almost universal attacks on those who do achieve. We see it everyday in the news. The rising actor/singer/writer who is lauded by the press on their way to the top of the mountain and then constantly hammered by the same press once they reach the heights. I am often reminded of Ayn Rands “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” when I see this, and have to deal with it in my own life. I takes a lot to swim against a “rip tide” and many drown. Only those willing to challenge the herd and awim sideways get out of the grip of the tide and survive. The cost is high in many ways, but the constant fight against the tide is even more costly to ones soul.
    Maybe, this is why some Scandinavian societies have their homogeneity, but also often have such high suicide rates.
    God bless all of those, who like you, continue to fight the “Jante Law” and try to make life a little better each day for themselves and so many others.

  19. Maja says:

    when the nazi’s came for the communists

    I said nothing

    I never was a communist

    When they locked up the social democrats

    I said nothing

    I was never a socialist

    When they came for the trade unionists

    I didn’t protest

    I wasn’t a member of the union

    When they came for the Jews

    I didn’t protest

    I was never jewish

    When they came for me

    No one was left to protest

    This german poem is so true. and it shows what the “laws of jante” does to a person. Don’t rebel-don’t fight. stick to the safe and secure. don’t get to far out of line. do not speak your mind and if you do, don’t speak to loud. mind your own business.
    But in the end it’s a sad life. and many people here in scandinavia doesn’t understand that IF YOU STAND FOR NOTHING YOU’LL FALL FOR EVERYTHING.. unfortunately theese “laws” are something which is planted in our society but nobody will admit to be living by them, but everybody somewhat does.

  20. Sefer JAN says:

    Every human being worths much more than others give for him. In the story of Joseph it is symblized in the part where Joseph was sold for cheap in bazaar of slaves.

    PS: As it is written in Quran.

  21. jeeva says:

    Law of Jante, good to know what to call the phenomenon finally. Thanks Paulo, but at this point, it feels best when you said “at the end you will win”. Some call it faith some say confidence, whatever it is, thank you.

  22. THELMA says:

    Definition
    There are ten different rules in the law, but they are all variations on a single theme and are usually referred to as a homogeneous unit: Don’t think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.

    The ten rules are:[2]

    Don’t think you are anything. (Du skal ikke tro du er noget.)
    Don’t think you are as good as us. (Du skal ikke tro du er lige så meget som os.)
    Don’t think you are smarter than us. (Du skal ikke tro du er klogere end os.)
    Don’t fancy yourself better than us. (Du skal ikke bilde dig ind du er bedre end os.)
    Don’t think you know more than us. (Du skal ikke tro du ved mere end os.)
    Don’t think you are greater than us. (Du skal ikke tro du er mere end os.)
    Don’t think you are good for anything. (Du skal ikke tro du dur til noget.)
    Don’t laugh at us. (Du skal ikke le ad os.)
    Don’t think that anyone cares about you. (Du skal ikke tro nogen bryder sig om dig.)
    Don’t think you can teach us anything. (Du skal ikke tro, at du kan lære os noget.)
    In the book, those Janters who transgress this unwritten “law” are regarded with suspicion and some hostility, as it goes against communal desire in the town, which is to preserve social stability and uniformity.[3]

    Later in his book, Sandemose adds an 11th rule, formulated as a question:

    11. You think I don’t know anything about you? (Du tror måske ikke jeg ved noget om dig?)[3]

    This is the threat of punishment—that other Janters will know something about those who transgress, which can be used to punish them. Emphasis can be either on know or on you, or both.

    It has to be said that the general understanding of the law was an essential and fully integrated part of the Danish and Norwegian societies long before it was ever written down.[4] Sandemose, however, explicitly said that he had seen the Jante law in operation in all countries he had been in.

    The rules are not only applied outwards; Danes apply the rules equally towards themselves. This means that the rules of the Jante Law become a sort of social stabilizer where one does not wish to be either too high above or too far below others socially and economically.[5]
    ——————————————————————–

    I had to find in the wise Google and understand really this ‘unwritten Law’. It is, as it is stated, a social stabilizer for …. mediocrity!! It is the cowards’ desire to maintain the ‘status quo’. It is the ‘weapons’ society uses to break the .. wings and morale of the ‘free’ thinkers and souls. It is the tombstone of creative and imaginative thoughts and souls.
    It is the desire to stop evolution.
    BUT, we are all free and every second, we are ..creating the Cosmos with our ..Father on Heaven, the Demiourgos. Let His Will be done.
    LOVE,
    THELMA

  23. Gina says:

    One gift for you all, and special for Paulo Coelho ;-)
    http://it.youtube.com/watch?v=8SNmPzKK-70

  24. Bravo por la Anti Ley de Jante.
    Gracias Paulo.

  25. orly says:

    after reading the post about the law of Jante it makes me feel and see how many human beeing around us r jelous, selfish, cant see others success, they cant see others happiness, and also the way people just dont move a finger when events, wars, dictatura, is coming up, kind of apathy or indifference, and seeing poverty in parts of the world, and i wonder how in which way we should teach society this kind of behaviour,
    and i still believe that talking and shawing exsample, doing, in schools,,,,that apathy is not a solution!!!
    teaching from youth that we should be happy the way we r, we can try to change our destiny with our belief, but learning to respect others and learn to love ur friend the way u love ur self can do a bit of different.

  26. Valentin says:

    Well, I’d like to thank you for putting a name onto this law anyone of us can see at work every day. But what I really like is your Anti-Law. I’m deeply convinced our presence on Earth is very important and that’s here and now we should do what we are supposed to do, elevating our “inner light” and readying it for the next ones. Let’s stop waiting for the promised land and let’s start building it here and now!

  27. Brigit says:

    The minute we are conceived we have an impact on the two people who have conceived us and from when we are born we have an impact on the planet. We consume the planet’ss food, add to its trash with the amount of diappers we use and effect the people closest to us, who in turn effect others. We don’t have a choice about having an effect on this planet, we do have a choice as to having a negative or a positive one. I think our life purpose is to make that effect a positive one. With that in mind how can one conform to the Law of Jante? Mediocracy stifles, ingenuity and creativity, in fear of being different. Does this law work? Obviously not when you look at the class differences, the have and have nots, the reasons for war, and the financial crises the world is in. As much as each individual is only “one grain of sand,” there are small grains of sand and larger grains of sand. Each individual has something different to offer the planetary life force that we are all part of.

  28. Rose says:

    Oops, my laptop leads his own life. I was not finished with my post yet…:-)

    Your view that Jesus led a joyfull life and that the suffering was only a small part of it. I absolutely agree. 33 years of joy and 3 days of suffering. The church has chosen to focus on that. Why?

    Well, hopefully that will change one day. Maybe that will be the day when Jesus will be welcome on earth again. ;-)
    Anyway, great interview. That hapiness was invented as a concept was also new for me, but it makes perfect sense. I love learning new things. Thanks for letting so many people know that it’s okay to be okay to be different. To be your own crazy self. I’m still busy accepting myself, but I’ll get there.

  29. Rose says:

    Yes, finally a name for it….
    This law caused so many tragedies and wars…
    Like you used Hitler as an example…
    It caused the Holocaust….

    It puzzles me…
    But there’s hope…
    There are always exceptions to the rule…
    The rebels who speak up, act up….

    The example of the husband of the princess in connection with this law made me think about people who get critized because they defy this law.

    You can see it with Bono, one of the world’s most beloved rocksingers. As long as he just fulfilled his role as rockstar most people like him well enoough. But since he has been advocating to end poverty and aids in Africa, critism has gotten louder and louder.

    ‘Shut up and just make another album.’ Confirm to your role.
    You’re a rockstar millionaire and a hypocrite. It’s easy for you to go about and say these things with all these millions on your bank.
    Sigh. So a person’s opinion is automatically not genuine anymore if they are rich, or even worse, rich AND famous???

    False perceptions. It’s just an example because I happen to like U2 and think Bono is true to his heart in his efforts.
    But when you ask people why they don’t like him; it’s because of the reasons I’ve stated above.

    I applaud people who speak up. Or act up. Luckily enough they are plenyt of them, but still not enough.
    Love your anti law of Jante.

    P.S. Paulo, I really enjoyed your interview with Rik Felderhof on Dutch television tonight. Am so agreeing with your view about Jesus'; that he led a joyfull life and th

  30. Pablo says:

    Hello, if I rememer it well, I had read about “Law of Jante” in one of your books ot interviews.

    I am from Czech republic, where people are evaluating themselves very strongly (and frequently) as a nation full of envy – this is very extensive feeling around here. It’s interesteing to see, that it’s happening all over…

    Anways, I was thinking about a word which would best characterize this trait (or people’s nature), still speaking of “The law of Jante”. I used a dictinary to find an English equivalent depicting the same thing. Dictionary listed the following experessions/idioms:

    – indifference
    – indolence
    – indifferentism
    – inertia
    – incuriousness
    – inattentiveness
    – neglectfulness
    – lethargy
    – insensibility
    – insensitiveness
    – insentience
    – impassivity
    – impassiveness
    – half-heartedness
    – easiness
    – apathy
    – allofness
    – equanimity
    – indifferency
    – lukewarmness
    – regardlessness

    I wouldn’t express it better.

    By chance, I was thinking about this people’s attitude while watching evening news on TV tonight.

    After the car accident, nobody came to help the victims. Though, there were hundrets of cars passing by the place of accident, nobody helped…

    I thought why is it so?Would I act the same way?

    Finaly, I would like to share about the fact that similer acts in the past were recognized and discribed as “Bystenders effect”. See english Wikipedia by searching “bystanders effect”.

    Thank you for publishing this topic. Made me think…

    Pavel/Pablo

  31. Nancy says:

    This Law of Jante or any other name is at its worst when it is believed by the government. So much goes wrong.

  32. Vivi-Mari says:

    I know this very well since I’m from Finland, and there’s a saying that the national sickness in this country is envy. One reason why it’s out in the open more than in other countries could be that Finns are also reputedly honest about what they experience. For instance, I have a lot of trouble with the American way of bringing out the self and enjoying competition in a way that’s anything but bashful. I feel that both extremes are detrimental. We should certainly be allowed to have dignity (which is perhaps a better word for “proud” of who you are) and be allowed to be dissident. Unfortunately, people are quick to jump at your throat or even kill you. It happens to me all the time on the internet. It’s probably going on in real life too, I just don’t know about it! On the internet, people are more likely to voice their opinion – for better and for worse I might say. It’s very confusing! In any case I believe in the golden middle path also in this respect. Glad you brought this up.

  33. T.K. says:

    God bless you Mr. Coelho! Your words are more than comforting, but inspiring.

    A person I know who is an ordained minister once recommended the book “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. After reading the book I was disturbed by its content. My eyes were open to a system that I felt I had fallen prey to. The minister that recommended the book to me said that it was valuable to practice those laws. Yet somehow in reading its content it gave me a sense of oppression.

    I have seen these laws practice in various circles (politics, religion, etc) and it can be frightening.

    However, after reading your post today I feel liberated to stand strong and march to my own drummer’s beat.

    Thanks again for all you contribute to liberating one’s soul. I appreciate you.

  34. Alexandra says:

    Laws.I feel sick.Sorry ever mentioned that word.Is so easy to play with words meanings.Emerson,now I love you.

  35. Anlao says:

    Only after reading the words I realized how much I needed to read them.
    Thank you.

  36. Cristina says:

    Well done Paulo!!!
    I happened meet social laws that, in the end, were not so “condivisible”.
    The important thing is that we can change them, maybe only by changing our way of thinking (and after that, our way of acting).
    I broke many laws of Jante in my childhood, cause I thought that it was important to listen to people and acting following our soul (of course without doing harm to other people, taking drugs, stealing etc.)
    If you express yourself, other people envy your “courage”, and try to make you get weak.
    This is, I think, our personal “good battle” of Saint Paul.
    Don’t you agree?
    Have a nice day.

  37. Recuerdo que hace aproximadamente 6 meses leí esa historia en su libro “ser como el río que fluye” y le agradezco todo lo que escribe, porque de verdad que deja un mensaje profundo dentro del alma sutil de los lectores.
    Y si puede compartir la historia del cazador y su águila que está incluída en el mismo libro, creo que muchos lectores se lo agradeceríamos.
    Mateio

  38. cheri says:

    Yesterday I was looking up “for Justice” I won’t say the name of the website . I saw a petition with so many names added , but I am afraid to say I was afraid to sign my name.I am a coward but one who prays.

  39. Gina says:

    IN OTHERS WORDS: “TRUMAN SHOW LAW” OF “ILLUMINATI”?! ;-)

    1. Don’t think you are anything.
    2. Don’t think you are as good as us.
    3. Don’t think you are smarter than us.
    4. Don’t fancy yourself better than us.
    5. Don’t think you know more than us.
    6. Don’t think you are greater than us.
    7. Don’t think you are good for anything.
    8. Don’t laugh at us.
    9. Don’t think that anyone cares about you.
    10. Don’t think you can teach us anything.
    11. You think I don’t know anything about you?

    MY GOD! MY GOD!!! O_O

  40. [...] The Law of Jante at Paulo Coelho’s Blog. [...]