Law of Jante

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Today, I came across the Law of Jante. I must confess, I had never heard of it before, but it apparently comes from the novel En Flyktning Krysser Sitt Spor (A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks) which was written by Aksel Sandemose.

Although the law is fiction, the book was written as an allegory to illustrate the attitude, which is apparently prevalent in Sweeden and certain other Nordic countries, toward individual success.

At first, I found it difficult to believe that this attitude is so widespread. But, after a little research, I discovered that it does appear to be. Here’s an interesting article on the subject.

Here is the Law of Jante

There are ten rules in the law as defined by Sandemose, all expressive of variations on a single theme and usually referred to as a homogeneous unit: You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.

The ten rules state:

  • You’re not to think you are anything special
  • You’re not to think you are as good as us
  • You’re not to think you are smarter than us
  • You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than us
  • You’re not to think you know more than us
  • You’re not to think you are more important than us
  • You’re not to think you are good at anything
  • You’re not to laugh at us
  • You’re not to think anyone cares about you
  • You’re not to think you can teach us anything

An eleventh rule recognized in the novel is:

  • You’re not to think that there aren’t a few things we know about you.

In the book, the Janters who transgress this unwritten ‘law’ are regarded with suspicion and some hostility, as it goes against the town’s communal desire to preserve harmony, social stability and uniformity. – Wikipedia

Anyway, for anyone plagued by similar messages from their childhood, I thought that we might put our own set of rules together. Let’s call it Janter’s Law after those rebels who, in the book, had the courage to stand up to the establishment.

Janter’s Law

The ten rules (of Janter’s Law) state:

    • You ARE to think you are VERY special
    • You ARE to know you are as good as ANYONE ELSE
    • You ARE to believe you are smarter than YOU THINK
    • You ARE to believe you are better than YOU THINK
    • You ARE to believe you know more than YOU THINK
    • You ARE to believe you are more important than YOU THINK
    • You ARE to believe you are good at WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO DO
    • You ARE to laugh at YOURSELF and THE ESTABLISHMENT
    • You ARE to understand that people care more about you than YOU THINK
    • You ARE to understand that YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

An eleventh rule – let’s go the whole hog – is:

  • You ARE not to care about what the ESTABLISHMENT knows about YOU

If you have been brought up to believe you are not as good as those around you, I recommend you print out Janter’s Law and put it somewhere you can read it everyday.

Start believing in yourself – it is one of life’s keys to success.

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