Sanna Marin And The Finnish Concept of Sisu
Why the Prime Minister of Finland is the embodiment of sisu and how you can embrace it too.
Sanna Marin, the Finnish Prime Minister
There’s been much written about Sanna Marin recently, most of it bordering on the ridiculous. The fact the 36-year-old partying with friends at a private event became such a talking point, not only in Finland but the rest of the world, says more about us than it does the Finnish PM.


Political rivals called it undignified, with some critics suggesting illegal drugs were involved. All the while Marin stood strong, constant and dignified. “I haven’t missed a single day of work,” she explained. “I haven’t left a single task undone, and I won’t leave this alone [her premiership] in the middle of things either, because all this will pass and we need to build a stronger country together … I’m doing my job.”


Some say Marin is the walking, talking embodiment of demographic change. We’d also like to think she’s the embodiment of sisu; the Finnish art of inner strength.


Sisu; the Finnish art of inner strength.  


Though the word is untranslatable, anglicised interpretations include determination, guts, courage and willpower. It’s a positive thinking framework for even the toughest times; a reminder that you have so much strength, value and resilience inside you, even when it doesn’t feel like it.


Speaking to the BBC on the Finnish art of inner strength, Emilia Lahti, a leading researcher of sisu from Aalto University in Helsinki explains, “It is a special thing that is reserved for especially challenging moments. When we feel that we came to the end point of our preconceived capacities.” How she continues to explain sisu is particularly fitting for what Marin is currently experiencing: “Sisu is energy – determination in the face of adversities that are more demanding than usual.”


How to embrace sisu in everyday life

Daily sisu is about practising self-care by doing simple things such as getting some fresh air and exercise, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting enough rest. It’s about seizing opportunities and exploring new hobbies, activities and practices.


And according to the experts at Happiful, it also involves taking moments to show yourself some kindness. “Recall moments in your life when you embraced your inner strength,” the website advises. “Overcome that critical inner voice by remembering past times when you exceeded your own expectations in order to get through.”


Be it through mindfulness, journaling, therapy or meditation, this time for meaningful introspection can also be helpful to find and maintain this resilience. And when all else fails, dance like no one’s watching, even when the world is.


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