It is only during the last few years, aided by the increasing fascination for the Viking Age, that we have started to look into the Viking mentality. In this blog post, I will try to explain how modern men and women can adopt that Viking mentality. It is not for everyone. But read on – it might be the perfect mindset for you.
Why are we fascinated by the Vikings? I’ll tell you why: It’s their mentality. However, this mentality is often poorly understood and for the last millennia, the world has looked at the Vikings through mainly Christian and Muslim lenses. The heathen Viking mentality was not popular among the kings who conquered Europe – it made people unruly, extremely independent and disobedient.
Since history is written by the victorious, the heathen Vikings of old were usually portrayed as bad guys. The Christian kings who fought them and often killed or enslaved all their women and children too, are seen as heroes. I can still remember the history books at school, portraying ruthless Viking kings like the Olafs (both of them) as valiant knights while those who fought them – who were probably only trying to protect their land, property and independence – were «the bad guys». But it’s the mentality of those «bad guys» that is interesting to us. If we can understand their mindset, we will not only understand why they instinctively fought the Christian kings, but more importantly, we will be able to adopt that mindset and become better men and women.
So, I have tried to list some ideas of the heathen Viking mind that we can incorporate in our modern lives. Others might want to add to this list, but let’s start with seven basic ideas:
1, Never give up
Or rather, the idea that giving up is simply impossible. Giving up is not only not an option – it would mean that you lose yourself. This is not the same as being stupid and never changing one’s mind. This is about fighting for what you believe is right, your life goals and your family. By the way, don’t be shy about this. Be honest and if people ask, tell them that it is not possible for you to give up, that is just how you are.
2, Kneel to no king
Your home is your castle, and if it needs defending, you are it’s army. You will not respect authority if such respect is demanded. You may choose to do so, but then it’s by choice and it is not being forced upon you. Don’t get me wrong here – I am not an advocate of anarchy. But for me to accept the authority of someone, that authority must first earn my respect, which I’ll get back to in a moment.
3, Seek adventure
You are not meant to live your life in front of your tv, and you are not meant to spend your days doing something you hate to do. Also, you have been granted this life and you should be grateful enough to do something meaningful while you’re here. For some, that could mean travelling. For others, it could mean making a change in their local community. (Or it could mean going Viking, which I’ve written about here: Going Viking)
4, Seek challenges
This idea is easy to grasp. And very, very hard to follow up in real life. But you should seek challenges. (I’ve written about that in the blog post The Law of Highest Resistance)
5, Wisdom is wealth
Wealth is not only material. Yes, the Vikings did raid, plunder and steal, though there were others in the same historical era that did so on a much larger scale. But we need to understand that going Viking was, as mentioned in the linked blog post above, not necessarily motivated by material wealth. In the Norse society, a wise man or woman was listened to and highly regarded. So always seek knowledge.
6, Respect must be earned – and that goes for you as well
You’ve heard this before. Respect must be earned. But that goes both ways, and while it is rather easy not to respect people if they misbehave, it can be much harder to understand that if you behave like an idiot, you yourself do not deserve respect. Let that sink in for a moment… I am sure we have all had moments we’re not proud of. But we move on, learn from our mistakes and become better men and women. However, if someone frequently behaves badly … Well, just don’t be that person.
7, Live so that you will be remembered in a good way
My Norse ancestors thought their memory was incredibly important. In fact, the ideal among the warriors and many others too, was to live in such a way that you were remembered forever, and in a good way. Today, I see a lot of people getting famous for stupid things. Which is very sad. We should remember scientists, explorers, teachers who made a difference etc. (We should not remember pop stars whose main feature is a big ass or an extravagant lifestyle.) So do think about what you are doing, and what you are planning to do in the future. Chances are that if you live your life so that you will be remembered in a good way, you will also have a good life.
So, there you have it. Seven ideas that could possibly be just what you need to live a great and adventurous life. Maybe you’re already following some of these ideas. Maybe you’d like to add some to the list. But whatever you do, always think like a Viking.
-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen (copyright)