Finnish Sisu | Never give up, perkele!
Finnish Sisu | Finns are born with Sisu
Finnish Sisu article | 16.02.2023

What is Finnish Sisu?

What is Finnish Sisu? | Finnish Sisu
Image: From the movie Here in the North Star

According to Finnish researchers, the concept of the Finnish sisu was born around the time of Finland´s independence. At the time something was needed to define the new nation. With the help of Sisu, Finns also survived the winter war, and with the help of sisu, Finland´s success in various sports is explained.

The concept of Finnish sisu is part of the Finnish national identity. Sisu is above all related to physical strength, tolerating the cold and surviving in extreme weather conditions. Many Finnish adventurers, like Gustaffson, who was the first Finn to climb Mount Everest, talks about these qualities in the public.

Finns are born with sisu

Finnish sisu is so simple and straightforward that sometimes it takes a whole book to explain it.

Etymologically, “sisu” comes from a Finnish root word that implies “inner” or “inside.” This is one reason it is sometimes translated as “guts” or “inner strength.” Finland is a bilingual country where both Finnish and Swedish are well represented, and there people speaks both languages. Regardless of language, however, everyone living in Finland can lay claim to sisu. In addition, people all over the world are showing interest in the concept, as well.

“Sisu is a word that has been around for hundreds of years, so it’s very integral to the Finnish vocabulary and the Finnish cultural vertebrae,” said Emilia Lahti, who has pioneered research into a concept that many Finns see as a core element of their cultural identity.

With Finnish sisu, you never give up!

In Finland, sisu is very linked to qualities such as integrity and honor. That’s also part of what sets sisu apart from, say, grit or perseverance. Sisu is something to carry in our hearts to help us and give us the guts we need. So, it’s not a specific strategy, a Band-Aid or all-purpose medicine for tough times. The Finnish take this attitude as a philosophy of life. They see it as a psychological muscle to be exercised daily.

The Sisu is good as well it can be bad

Sisu has a multidimensional characteristic. At its best, it enables people to grow into their hidden strengths and progress tenaciously towards their goals, even when this means outdoing themselves. At its worst, it can also lead to harmful behavioural and operating models. For example, it can make people accept overly difficult challenges, demand too much of themselves and their loved ones, or plough stubbornly onwards in the wrong direction.

Train your inner sisu

The sisu is something that we all already have inside of us, but Finns are naturally aware of it. If you want to cultivate your sisu, try the following:

  • Reflect on your most sisu-filled times. Finding the evidence of your own ability to overcome long odds will embolden you the next time you need that strength
  • Think about historic examples of people going beyond their limits. It helps to show the real range of human possibility
  • Run long distances. It gives you a chance to practice pushing yourself
  • Travel to wildness of the Northern Finland, meditate under Northern Lights and finally have a hot sauna where to relax

We can all find sisu

Yet despite the fact that Finns see sisu as such a uniquely Finnish trait, it’s a strength that exists within all of us. The capacity for sisu is in everyone, and we can cultivate the kind of environment where it’s more likely that someone will show sisu. To show everyone that you have Finnish sisu in you, now it is possible to wear it with attitude! Finnish Sisu Shop sell clothes to everyone, all around the world.

It may be easier for Finns to access their sisu because they are already aware they have it, and that self-knowledge is the first step to finding it. First of all, start with pausing and acknowledging that there is this indestructible, unbreakable life force. There is this strength within me!

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