Roots of Swedish Modesty
If you ask a Swede what is the most prevalent characteristic of their society, they would probably say, “We are all and same.” After talking with enough of them, you would come to realize it is truly a widespread mentality in the Swedish society as a whole.
From a different culture rich in individualism and collectivism join hands, coming to Sweden has proven that the society, which I am accustomed to, is not something I have experienced before. Turkey, a country in which western values meet eastern life style, promises a great way of collective mentality and tolerance. However, Sweden takes it step further and practices togetherness and tolerance.
End yes; they called it “Law of Jante” or Jantelov
It is hard to find anyone in any of the Scandinavian countries who does not know this law. Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are the countries, which try to teach this law to next generations and to practice this law in social relations, business and even in politics. The sad truth is that the Jantelov is a rule tried to apply in every country in the world, despite the fact that Brazilians say, “this only happens here,” and the French claim that “unfortunately, that’s how it is in our country.” However, Scandinavians, especially Sweden is very good at it.
I know, you may be annoyed because you read three paragraphs and still do not know what Jantelov is all about, so I’ll try to explain it here briefly in my own words:
“You aren’t worth a thing alone, nobody is interested in what you think about your life, mediocrity and anonymity are your best bet”
I know it sounds weird however if you are not satisfied my own words, here you can find complete Jantelov:
Don’t think you’re something
Don’t think you are worth the same as us
Don’t think you’re smarter than us
Don’t think you’re better than us
Don’t think you’re wiser than us
Don’t think you’re more than us
Don’t think you’re good at anything
Don’t laugh at us
Don’t think anyone care about you
Don’t think you have anything to teach us
I know, it started to sound a little bit more weirdJ The main question we need to ask to figure out what the law tries to say: Who is “us”? What I have observed so far shows that Jantelov points out “a strong work ethic and a communal mentality” while saying “us”. If you try to see Jantelov from this perspective, it may actually sound good and more importantly sustainable.
It is good to remember that Sweden, having a form of Jantelov, is leading one among some of the happiest countries in the world. It seems as though there might be something in this Jantelov. Unlike “Keeping up with the Jones’” where it pushes us to constantly be better than everyone around you, Janteloven teaches us that it is not always good to stand out amongst others and you shouldn’t always compare yourself to others, but only to yourself.
Maybe, we should first look to ourselves to find happiness before comparing to outside factors. It seems as though the Swedes have it figured out when it comes to happiness. So, is it time that we start incorporating their methods to ourselves?
If you ask my opinion, I am still skeptical of Jantelov. It is also good to keep in mind that lots of people dismiss this and some have even made up their own rule.
What do you think? Please share your opinions; maybe we can create our own laws based on comments. Keep me posted.