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in: A Man's Life, Podcast

• Last updated: March 26, 2021

Podcast #695: Sisu, the Finnish Art of Strength

In Finland, “sisu” is a concept that, while it can’t be strictly translated into English, roughly corresponds to a combination of bravery, resilience, grit, and determination. My guest today will help us unpack it further, and offers advice on how everyone can live life with more sisu. 

Her name is Joanna Nylund and she’s the author of Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage. Joanna explains what sisu is and how it was exemplified in the David and Goliath story of the Finns facing down the Russians during the Winter War. We then talk about what it is about Finland that birthed the quality of sisu and ways to develop it even if you’re not Finnish, including embracing discomfort, getting out despite the weather, and seeking silence and solitude as a way to develop inner strength. We also talk about the Finnish practice of retreating to a rustic cabin in the summer to reacquaint oneself with simplicity, manual labor, and nature. We end our conversation with the sisu way of communication, and how to foster sisu in children.

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Show Highlights

  • What is sisu? How long has the word been around? 
  • How the Winter War of 1939 exemplifies this concept 
  • Does sisu contribute to Finland’s place among the world’s “happiest” countries? 
  • How Finns embrace discomfort to cultivate sisu 
  • Embracing the contrasts of life 
  • The cabin culture of Finland 
  • How does silence cultivate sisu?
  • What’s the sisu way to communicate?
  • What can parents learn about fostering this sort of resilience in our children?

Resources/Articles/People Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Joanna 

Joanna’s website

Joanna on Instagram

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