The Art of Resilience – How to Sisu

How to Sisu - The Finnish Way

If you couldn’t tell from previous posts, I’m fascinated by Scandinavian culture. So I was pretty excited when I heard about The Finnish Way, by Katja Pantzar. What is sisu, and do I want it?Sisu is a mix of grit, resilience, mental toughness, practicality, and fortitude that allows people to keep going through seemingly impossible odds. The book quotes a 1940 Time magazine:

“The Finns have something they call sisu. It is a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win. The Finns translate sisu as “the Finnish spirit,” but it is a much more gutful word than that.”

Reading that now, in the wake of yet another mass shooting, this time in a city not 60 miles from me that I’ve visited many times – it hits really close to home. My heart hurts for everyone affected by all these shootings, and I have so much admiration for their strength and compassion in the face of adversity.

The Finnish Way, by Katja Pantzar
This book was a combo of everything I’ve been reading, so here’s some of the gems I got:

Equity in saunas

Everyone’s naked, and you can see that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve never felt so much body confidence as when I’m at the Korean spa. No one is judging you for what you look like.

Eating well

The key to losing weight is to focus on increasing the healthy food you eat rather than decreasing the unhealthy. Your plate should be 1/2 veggies, 1/4 starch, 1/4 protein. When grocery shopping, your shopping basket should look like a rainbow (I love rainbows, I can definitely get on board).

Physical activities, not exercise

It’s easier to add physical activities into your daily routine instead of forcing yourself to exercise. Activities like cleaning the house, playing with children, taking the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator, walking or biking to work. It’s also important to do things for the joy of it instead of for exercise. I’m trying to get my bike fixed up so I can start biking to class, or to any of the places close to me that have horrible parking. But I also have problem with thinking of hiking as exercise instead of nature/forest therapy.

Experiences over material goods

Echoing lagom, it stresses minimalist and practical living, things handed down or just from generations past like antique furniture and family heirlooms, sustainable living like buying secondhand clothes (which I’m working on) and functional items. They have this thing called winter swimming where they dunk themselves in the ocean or lake or river in the middle of winter. Apparently, this experience builds character, and is good for your health.

Growth mindset

This makes sense because if you don’t believe you can grow and adapt, you wouldn’t be able to survive the tragedies that befall you. Beyond that, it’s hard to take advantage of all the opportunities and achieve your full potential if you don’t think it’s within your ability.


I liked this book, the same way I liked learning about hygge, lykke, lagom, death cleaning, forest bathing, and ikigai. Even though it was just a reiteration of everything I’ve been reading and trying to practice in my life, I still enjoyed it. I’m not very consistent with putting things I learn into practice, so I enjoy having the constant reminders of things I’ve forgotten about. But if you have had enough of all of the above, there’s no need to read this book as well. Or if you want to learn more about building resilience, I would recommend this book

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