Now more than ever we need the constant positive reminders that all will be well and that we can emerge from this pandemic victorious. Living in quarantine in not a natural state for humans and we need all the mental, emotional, and spiritual support that we can get our hands on. Enter Sisu, the resilience concept that has hailed all the way from Finland; the country that continues to be ranked as the happiest country in the world! The concept of Sisu is about our ability to adapt, recover, and to persevere no matter what. How can Sisu be learnt and applied to help us through these difficult times?
Sisu is not a new concept, in fact it has been around since the 1500 when it was associated with bravery. But the concept evolved and changed over time to become a lifestyle or a mindset of resilience. And if you think resilience is just about overcoming the tough stuff, you’re slightly off mark. Resilience is a fundamental concept in mental health and well-being. We do understand resilience but really how can we put it into practice, especially now that humanity is facing what I think of as WWIII?
Push Yourself Just A Bit More
The Finnish believe that we all have hidden reserves that can help us handle just a bit more than we think we can! But within reason of course! When life gets back to normal you can train yourself to lengthen your stride but always aiming to go just a bit further than what you think you can. Let’s say you’re training for a marathon, or to run four kilos, just push yourself a little bit extra everyday. It’s about finding the small ways to move past your presumed limits; going for those tiny extra steps or doing that extra repetition if you’re working out indoor. Keep finding ways of pushing yourself a little, on the condition that you don’t burn yourself out.
The Finnish people are trained in educated optimism; in fact it seems to be a normal mindset there. Educated optimism is optimism that is firmly grounded and based in reality; it’s about having a realistic plan to deal with things. It has helped the Finnish people stay happy by allowing them to build realistic plans and accomplishing them, and hence be happier. In Finland they have trained themselves to view any situation no matter how dire as a learning opportunity. They take in the bad, accept and acknowledge the situation and then think to themselves, how do we move forward? Having a plan and drawing on past experiences lowers anxiety and helps you navigate anything.
Stoicism is explained as being impassive to pleasure or pain but this is not the definition the Finnish embrace. Stoicism is associated with Sisu and it’s about trying to stay calm in the middle of the storm. It’s about not reacting through your emotions but instead taking a step back to observe your feelings, and then allowing rationality to push through the fog of feelings. This is easily done by guess what? By taking a deep breath before you react so you can think clearly.
These are simple measures that you can undertake but ones that will make a world of difference when applied each time you’re not feeling your best. In a country that is dark for eight months of the year, being the happiest is phenomenal and it is a mindset that we can and should all adopt.