Become More Resilient by Taking the Finnish Approach to Sis
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that most people can handle much more than they thought. Over the past few months, many of us have experienced unprecedented changes in our work, home and community. And when you think you don’t have the ability to tackle something else, something happens, and somehow we manage. But at the same time, six months a year, it becomes a lot. This is why this is the perfect time to learn about the Finnish concept of sisu. Here’s what it means and how it can help.
What is Sisu?
If you’re looking for an exact English translation of sisu, you won’t find it here (or anywhere else). In fact, an article published on January 14, 1940 in the New York Times under the headline “Sisu: A Word Explaining Finland” notes that the word “is not easy to translate because no other language has an exact equivalent.”
Probably the closest thing to a definition of sisu we find in Joanna Nylund’s 2018 book Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage . This “action-oriented mindset” has been around for at least 500 years, according to Neelund, and can mean “steadfast determination, resilience, courage, courage, willpower, tenacity and resilience.”
And here is a helpful description of sisu from the University of Finland:
Shisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to maintain that courage. This word cannot be fully translated. He defines Finns and their character. This means the philosophy that what needs to be done will be done regardless of the cost.
Sisu is an integral characteristic of the Finnish people. You can call it spine, courage, endurance, courage, or energy and perseverance. It is a measure of honesty that overcomes difficulties and leads to the end.
Shisu is a quality that allows them to take something, move on and learn from past failures. It is their unyielding honesty that makes them pay off their war debts in full. In short, it is an indomitable will that distinguishes Finns and explains many of the incredible things they do.
How to use sisu
Given that this is a fairly broad concept that can be applied to almost every aspect of life, there is no simple sisu checklist. But throughout his book, Nylund provides readers with sisu-based tips to help you use action and strength to overcome obstacles. For example, her “top tips to help you regain strength”:
1. Truly disconnect
2. Embrace the silence
3. Plan some time with yourself.
She also gives some “top tips for getting back to nature,” namely:
1. Think with restraint.
2. Think know-how
3. Think about preparation.
Accepting a mindset of failure and error as opportunities for learning and improvement is an important part of sisu. However, at the same time, this combination of resilience and integrity can have a downside; namely stubbornness and indecision in showing weakness or seeking help when you need it, is explained in the BBC article . Emilia Lahti, a sisu researcher at Aalto University in Helsinki, tells the BBC that the key to avoiding this and using sisu to your advantage is combining sisu with compassion for yourself and others.