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

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.

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.

So we have an immense power to open doors for each other and also close them through our actions, through our gestures, through our words. And I believe that when sisu, this inner amazing, beautiful power that we have, when that is met with social support, compassion, and love, there are very few things that are impossible to us.

And this sculpture here is one of my favorite ones. It was created to celebrate triumph over a massive sea battle. It depicts the goddess Nike, “Nike” meaning victory. And she is over two and half meters tall and 2,000 years old. And one of the most beautiful, moving things about this sculpture for me, and why it is my favorite, is that, despite this significant damage and incompleteness this sculpture is one of the most celebrated and valued masterpieces of our human history. And I believe that’s something that we can transport to our daily lives. How, if we see each other, despite some imperfections, some bumps, but with that potential and beauty, maybe we can help create a world where we are able to heal, and flourish, and exceed ourselves.

So I strongly believe that there is so much more to us than what meets the eye, and I’m not just talking about carbon atoms, but I’m talking about this other kind of life-giving ingredient called sisu. I believe that if we acknowledge and we celebrate this amazing potential within all of us, this universal potential which goes beyond cultural boundaries and geographical boundaries, if we include sisu in our collective conversation of our future, maybe, not only are we able to empower individuals here and there but perhaps, we are able to bring this human family a bit closer together. And that, I believe, is an idea worth sharing.

Thank you.

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By Pangambam S

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