(SISU is a Finnish construct generally meaning determination, bravery, and resilience. However, the word is widely considered to lack a proper translation into any other language. Emilia Lahti the founder of SISU talks about “determination and resoluteness in the face of extreme adversity.)
When my book was published in 2006, I started getting letters from people who had read it telling me how very strong I was. To still being able to move forward with my life in the condition of which I was. Before that, I did not think about this: strength, perseverance, resilience, grit and all that. I knew that I was somehow strong, but not in a special way, and God knows I never felt so strong.
The comments made me think, and I ask myself; “how did I do this?” “How did I move on when I am not able to move at all?”
As I recalled the events after the stroke and the sentence of the doctor, who said that the possibility of me being anything more than a vegetable was minute. At that moment I realized that, there was some kind extraordinary strength within me. A kind of strength that you do not know you have until the moment that you are in a situation that there is no other choice than to have such strength.
There were moments when a lot of determination, perseverance, resiliency, grit, etc. was required. There were even moments when blind optimism or dumb positivism were required. However, there was a moment before this all, a moment when I was thinking, “Why can’t I just die!”
Right after the stroke, I felt like I was floating powerless through space. My conscious mind gave up on life, yet my unconscious mind did not. That was Sisu! When I was going through my post-trauma depression, my conscious mind was telling me that there is no reason left to live. I could have easily faded away like a dying flower, yet my unconscious mind did not let that happen, that was Sisu!
There is a saying; “If you stand still you are moving backwards” It may be so in a business environment, yet in physics that is not true. In reality, even if you stand still you are still moving forward. Simple physics, time always moves forward and with every breath you take, you move forward, you move on.
Sisu transcends, it can be defined in a spiritual way and it can be defined in a scientific way.
Sisu is the human spirit itself. Sisu is the light that floats out of the body only when its time on earth is expired. Sisu is the human spirit that defines all logic and break rules and barriers. Sisu is a power that all humans have, a power that can take us far beyond the visible horizon.
Sisu is a single cell organism that can survive and thrive in the harshest conditions. It is at the beginning of life itself; Sisu is evolution.
If a disaster may occur and all life on earth would be swept away. A thousand years after there will be life roaming on this planet again because Sisu always survives.
Sisu is in all of us. Sisu does not have an energy source, nor does it need it. Sisu is energy itself. Sisu is life.
I think that Sisu is one of those things, like a certain instinct that humans seemingly lost as they brain grew, and they got intelligent. However, that does not mean that it is not there, and we can use it when we need it.
Sisu is always there; you cannot see it because it is the light in your unconscious mind. Sisu keeps you alive until you are ready to bounce back and start living and thriving again.
“Sisu is the Finnish pride, when things are at its worst we still do not subside, we refuse to just die. Sisu is our flexible strength. It is how we are able to adapt and still progress when everything is holding us back. Sisu is what makes an average person into an extraordinary human”.