That little Finnish sisu inside you

Do you recognize the feeling? You know, feeling your stomach shrink a little bit and strength flowing through your body? Imagine trying to solve a difficult exercise but your first couple of attempts are no good. Or when trying to fix your car but it turns out much more complex than expected. Or, in a more general context, when you want to achieve a very ambitious goal and you know that the odds may be against you, yet you keep going.

It’s all in our gut. You know its literal meaning right? It means stomach or belly. Since ancient times, people believed that our insides are our power centre. The place where our strength resides and can help us tap into our best potential. This is why the term “gut feeling” has been coined. And this is quite honestly the story behind the Finnish concept of “sisu too. Today we will explore how tapping on your inner sisu power can help you overcome difficulties and achieve your goals.

We all have it!

Sisu or the grit, perseverance, determination and capacity to endure hardships to achieve our goals are things we all have inside. At least the potential of them. It comes down to our own decision if we apply it or not in our everyday lives. There is something more though. It is not only being persistent and keep on doing your thing until you make it. Honesty, integrity and humility are part of the sisu concept too. Speaking of humility, maybe sisu is the reason why the Finns are not so talkative but reserved. They prefer fewer words but to the point. Actions matter, not words. And if you practice sisu and succeed, don’t brag about it. Let your doings shine!


Sisu is not only for people. It is a much wider concept that can apply from the individual to whole nations. Look at Finland. You may wonder why the Finns were the ones who brought this to the spotlight and made it their own national icon. If you look at Finland’s history it is full of wars and invasions from the East and West (clearing throat… Russia and Sweden). Not to mention the harsh climate with long, dark, freezing winters. The Finns had to hold on to something to survive and thrive. Sisu was that thing. Finland has reinvented itself as a nation and country many times in the past. We will explore this in a future theme.

Do it the Finnish way!

Sisu is like Sweden’s lagom or Denmark’s hygge. But due to its nature (more internal and less extrovert), it has not been picked up by the world yet. Still, it is something deeply ingrained in Finn’s character and culture. If you ever go to Finland and they call you “sisukas” it’s a good thing, meaning you are full of sisu.

They have also come up with plenty of expressions to show sisu. Like this one “Läpi harmaan kiven”. No, we don’t expect you to learn Finnish or even try to pronounce this tongue twister. Focus on its meaning; it literally means through the grey stone but metaphorically it shows you can even go through the grey hard granite you can find in abundance in Finland. There is nothing that can stop you.Finns are proud of their 3 S’s: saunasisusalmiakki. They gave sauna to the world. What about sisu? Will it be the next big thing?

PS: chances are that their beloved salty liquorice, salmiakki,  will hardly ever make it!