Home » Sisu: Transforming Barriers into Frontiers by Emilia Lahti (Transcript)

Sisu: Transforming Barriers into Frontiers by Emilia Lahti (Transcript)

And sisu is that something that pushes us beyond the boundaries. So in short, you could say that sisu is more about the short term intensity in that moment, and not so much about the long-term stamina. So this is a very important distinction. And sisu also — at the same time when it’s this power capacity, it also seems to give rise to what I call ‘an action mindset.’

So an action mindset is this consistent, courageous approach toward challenges. It’s so beautiful to think that if this represents your opportunities and the limitations of the current moment, so there is something that evokes this vision of you in the future where you might be able to go if you dare to reach. So there is something that elicits hope in sisu what is one of the most exciting things to me about this construct, honestly.

But at the same time, as you can see from my slide, it’s kind of scattered around. And I was trying to find a way to describe sisu in a way that would pull everything together because it seems to be so multilayered and so nuanced, and so extraordinary. And one evening when I was watching Cosmos, I started thinking that, well, actually, I realized that maybe the solution to this is right in front of my eyes, exactly. I thought of the carbon atom and how carbon is this unique, otherworldly amazing atom because it’s the only thing that’s able to bond with up to four atoms at the same time and with itself. So in that way, it creates some kind of a system which enables the bigger entity to function.

So if you look at this molecular diagram you can see that maybe, sisu is like the carbon atom would be in this diagram. Something that is this life-enabling agent or creative power. Something that helps build a bridge between this moment and the next one. I think that’s one of the core ideas, and why I feel like sisu could be something that could help us maybe see we can use that in the future to empower people.

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But the thing is that sisu is nothing new to you if you’ve encountered adversities in your life. It’s just that you might have not had a word for it. And we could say that future is first an idea, or it’s a story that we tell each other. So as long as we don’t have a word for some phenomena or a construct, we sometimes fail to tap into its potential that it withholds.

So we are a sense-making species, and we try to understand the events in our lives through these constructs, and we pass on knowledge through using the stories. And we also learn and we find meaning in our lives through reflecting on these stories. So I found sisu through this similar self-reflective process, I found sisu through my struggle. And what I am doing today is it all began as this one woman’s quest to make some sense of what had happened and how she somehow survived.

So after a while I realized, though, that whatever I was doing in trying to figure my own shit out, was actually helping other people as well. And that was a wonderful discovery, how you can see people come together when we inspire each other, because we are all in this together. So as a result of that, I quit my job, which I had for a very long time, and I went back to school and studied psychology, which always was my first love. And I wanted to see what we could possibly do with this thing. And today, this sisu and the topics around it is really the reason why I wake up each morning.

So with my amazing team at Filosofian Akatemia, we are really excited to bring sisu to the world because there is so much amazing potential in it. So next year will be ‘the Year of Sisu’ globally, and February 28th will be the ‘Day of Sisu’ in Finland, which is actually already in our calendars; if you check you will find it.

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And the reason why we are doing this is because we all share collectively adversities, we all encounter them. But what we also share is this amazing ability to overcome them. And that’s in the core of this idea of the ‘Year of Sisu’ to inspire people to transform those barriers into frontiers that they are facing, and more importantly, to support each other in this process, to see that the strength within them is stronger than the adversities that we often encounter.

Since sisu is such a powerful thing it’s important to remind that we shouldn’t be fooled to think that it’s the only thing we need, and sisu alone. Just push hard; that’s it. To answer the question what enabled me to go through my own experiences was definitely yes, I had sisu. I kept on showing up for life, and I didn’t give up, although I felt like doing so many times. But there is one thing which just cannot be left unsaid, and it’s that I had someone who believed in me before I believed in myself, and who saw this angel in that raw piece of marble before I saw it, and who also stuck around long enough to discover it. That person is my best friend and now husband.

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