4 ways to embrace Sisu, the Finnish spirit of resilience, perseverance and courage

Do you know that for the last 6 years Finland has been named the happiest country in the world?

And the Finnish concept of sisu is one of the main reasons for this!

I am not Finnish, but I wanted to learn more about sisu. I think we all need a bit of sisu in our lives when things get tough.  

First, what is sisu?

Sisu is a way of living that has been in the Finnish culture for 500 years. It’s what got Finland through tough times in history such as when Finland declared its independence from Russia in 1917, and the Finnish resistance against the Soviet invasion in 1939-1940. 

There is no direct equivalent for the term sisu in English but can be roughly translated as strength of will, resilience, perseverance, inner strength and having the grit to move forward.

Sounds like an effective way to live to me!

How can we incorporate sisu into our lives?

1) Cultivate a resilient mindset

Research shows that resilient people are happier and more fulfilled even during chaotic and uncertain times.

When we’re resilient, we can bounce back more easily from those challenges and in fact move forward in our lives.  

Having a resilient mindset means we view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning rather than insurmountable obstacles.

We can learn from our experiences, become more self-aware and grow from the challenging situations we’ve faced.

Next time we’re in a difficult situation we know the courage and tenacity we showed that got us through and will get us through again.

At the end of the day, we’re either growing and learning from our experiences or staying constrained by our limiting beliefs.

To further cultivate a growth mindset, we can reflect on how we see failure and mistakes. A person with a growth mindset views them as challenges and opportunities to learn from their experiences. The saying, failure is the best teacher, applies well here.

By adopting a resilient mindset, we are more able to step outside our comfort zone and take risks, prepare ourselves for challenges knowing that we have overcome setbacks before and will again, growing from the experience.

2) Having purpose and being persistent about it

As humans, we crave a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, we can cope with a lot more when we work towards something that contributes to the world beyond ourselves.

Having something greater than ourselves to work towards, and being persistent about pursuing our goals and dreams, even when faced with obstacles or hardships is a key part of sisu.

In the face of adversity, persistence encourages us to maintain our focus, effort, and enthusiasm. It involves setting clear objectives, developing a plan of action, and consistently working towards achieving those goals

By incorporating persistence into our lives, we can increase our chances of success, experience personal growth, and ultimately find greater happiness and fulfilment.

3) Nurture inner courage

Nurturing inner courage is about embracing our fears, finding strength in vulnerability, and daring to step outside our comfort zone.

It requires acknowledging that fear is a natural part of growth, but it doesn’t have to define us.

To cultivate inner courage, remember these simple yet powerful principles.

Embrace your fears: Understand that courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act despite it.

Challenge yourself: Step outside your comfort zone regularly. Seek opportunities that push your limits and allow you to grow. Whether it’s speaking up in a meeting, trying a new hobby, or pursuing a dream, take small steps towards your goals.

Believe in yourself: Recognize your own worth and capabilities. Develop a positive mindset that encourages self-belief. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and use them as steppingstones towards greater accomplishments.

Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember that courage is a journey, and setbacks are inevitable. When faced with challenges or failures, be gentle with yourself, learn from the experience, and use it as fuel to keep going.

Visualize success: Create a vivid mental image of yourself embodying courage. Visualize yourself overcoming obstacles, taking risks, and achieving your goals. This positive visualization can help build confidence and strengthen your resolve.

Take care of yourself: Prioritize self-care to maintain a healthy mind and body. Engage in activities that rejuvenate and energize you. A balanced lifestyle, proper rest, and regular exercise contribute to a resilient and courageous mindset.

4) Connect with nature

A core part of the Finnish culture and sisu is walking and hiking in nature. It helps find an inner calm and sense of happiness that serves us during hard times.

Stepping into the serene embrace of nature allows us to escape the fast-paced demands of everyday life, providing a respite for our mind and soul.

It can be as simple as a walk through a forest, sitting down by the beach, observing the stars on a clear night. In our frenetic, connected world, many of us suffer from nature deficit disorder.

Being out in nature puts our own individual lives very much in perspective and connects us to something much bigger than ourselves.

As we stroll amidst the beauty of nature, we experience a sense of tranquility and inner calm. The gentle rhythm of our footsteps harmonizes with the soothing sounds around us, creating a symphony that calms our senses and rejuvenates our spirit.

Nature’s healing touch uplifts our mood, reduces stress, and enhances mental clarity. It also offers an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection, encouraging us to disconnect from technology and reconnect with ourselves and the natural world.

Additionally, the physical benefits of walking in nature cannot be overlooked; it improves cardiovascular health, boosts immune function, and promotes overall fitness.

Ultimately, the simple act of walking in nature is a powerful remedy that nurtures our mind, body, and soul, fostering a profound sense of well-being and happiness.

To sum up

Incorporating the unique Finnish concept of sisu into our lives is a lifelong process. It requires resilience, perseverance, self-reflection, and a willingness to embrace discomfort.

Embracing sisu, will help set us on a path of personal growth, seize new opportunities, and create a life filled with purpose and fulfilment.

I love this concept of sisu and following these steps above can make a profound difference in our lives.

Not only will it will enable us to face challenges head-on and navigate our way through life’s ups and downs, it will help us grow personally and emotionally. 




Picture of Jeanette Brown

Jeanette Brown

I have been in Education as a teacher, career coach and executive manager over many years. I'm also an experienced coach who is passionate about supporting people in finding real meaning and purpose in their lives, building a resilient, grounded inner self and achieving their desired goals.

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