You can only change yourself

“If you can’t change the world. Change yourself,” sings the English post-punk band The The in their song “Lonely Planet.”

On the surface, it is both liberating and sad to hear that perhaps we cannot change the world. However, that does not mean that we should be resigned. On the contrary. The challenge is rather to change ourselves, that is, change our approach or relationship to the world. And that too can be difficult.

The moral is the following: It is people who change the world. A change occurs by which certain people have another approach or relationship to the world. By that I am saying nothing about what is good or bad, only that if you want a different world, a slightly better and more loving world, it is not going to happen by itself. Nothing comes of nothing. Everything starts here and now with you and with me.

Another important element in this line of thinking is that there is no reason to preach or moralize. No one has lucrative access to the truth or goodness. But you can inspire others through your actions. You can lead by example. Meet the world with kindness.

Everyone is a mutable process without reference to a given essence but to something permanent. To something that I can help influence or cultivate. This type of cultivation requires that we look inward and outward. It is important to realize that you can always be influenced by or influence the surroundings of which you are a part.
Why would you like to change the world?

One possible answer could be that you want a world without hierarchies, whether they are patriarchal, racial, social or economic. It could also be that you want to create a more harmonic balance with the nature of which we are a part.

Behavioural economics, motivational theories, compulsion and threats can change people’s behaviour, but only in the short-term. Fear is a repressive solution model. Lasting changes come about through shifts in mentality, another way of thinking, feeling and living. No one can bear to live in constant fear. If I begin living differently, for example, am more friendly and loving, that approach will also affect my thoughts and feelings. It can be expressed simply: I want to save the Earth, not because I fear its demise, but because I love it.

To the extent that I want to change myself in order to – perhaps – change the world, I must first liberate myself from the ideals and norms that keep me trapped in a regressive approach to life.

I will stop allowing myself to be seduced and controlled by things that give status and prestige in today’s performance society. Instead I will interact with life attentively, kindly and lovingly. I will surrender to life. I will joyfully allow life to take me where it flourishes.


In connection with the launch of a new Danish ecological clothing label, I was invited to write three semi-philosophical reflections: You can only change yourself is the third.

A Smile for You

It is said that a smile knows no boundaries, that it is universal.

A smile can cross continents and time. It can overcome ugly ideologies, whether they are tied to race, religion, age or sexual observance.

A smile is more mobile than the internet. It connects. It is life’s messenger.

A smile can be decoded at a very early age. Children know whether what they are doing causes concern or earns approval – just by looking at their parents or other adults.

A smile is a language that connects, touches and penetrates because it confirms life. No less than life.

A smile is a smile is a smile. It can be said that simply. It can’t be misunderstood. Naturally, false smiles exist. But such smiles are not really smiles, but rather false smiles. They are assumed, like the Joker’s smile in the Batman comics and films – pasted on. A false smile can seem frightening, because it pokes fun at life. No one knows that better than best-selling suspense author Stephen King, who in his book IT has a clown represent man’s deepest fear. The false smile lacks respect.

A smile is something happy, as well as something serious. It is a love missile that does not seek, but gives, shares. A smile is generous.

A smile comes when it comes, as we say. And indeed it does. But it is possible to cultivate a more smiling approach to life, as when the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh encourages his readers to wake up with a smile on their lips. It is life you are smiling at, from and with. You have awakened, not died in your sleep. You can always smile, because things could be worse. You could be dead. A smile is what always makes us turn towards life, even when we feel that life has turned its back on us. A smile wills life.

A smile is disarming. You can go through most of a day without speaking to other people but still treat others with respect and kindness, if only you smile.

A smile is more than an upward curve on your lips. The smiling sun in children’s drawings always has a mouth turned upward. But even if your mouth were to be sewn shut, you could still smile with your eyes. In fact, you can smile with your entire face. Your entire body. You can have a smiling approach to life. Not a frivolous or unserious approach, but one that is life affirming. The French philosopher Michel Serres has said that people who age unattractively do so because they so rarely smile. Even your wrinkles can smile. Yes, even your frame can smile.

A smile always emphasizes three things: I have lived, I am living, and I want to live.
That is why you smile.



In connection with the launch of a new Danish ecological clothing label called Change yourself, I wrote three semi-philosophical reflections: A Smile for You is the first.

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