stoic determination SISU

The Finnish word which roughly translates to stoic determination has been touted as 2018’s most powerful word. Here’s why…

Perhaps the German soccer team could have done with some ‘sisu’ in their lives while playing South Korea in the Fifa World Cup 2018.

If they believed in the Finnish word ‘sisu’, the results could’ve been different… because ‘sisu’ denotes determination, guts, hardiness, courage and willpower; but not ordinary courage or willpower – ‘sisu’ is the last bit of strength that is lying somewhere deep within you – but difficult to draw out because you need extreme perseverence to reach that kind of strength.

Author Joanna Nylund made the word trendy this year when she wrote her book Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage. “You don’t brag about having ‘sisu’; you just let your actions do the talking,” she says. If your life situation is overwhelming, which is quite often these days, finding your ‘sisu’ within would be quite valuable. Although this philosophy is about developing a certain kind of mental attitude, it actually means your strength lies in your gut, literally. ‘Sisu’ originates from ‘sisus’, which means guts or the intestines, in Finnish.

The emotion associated with it has no direct translation though. In Finland, telling someone he/she has ‘sisu’ is one of the biggest compliments. It means this person encompasses extreme perseverance and dignity in the face of adversity.

To incorporate a ‘sisu’-like attitude, one must learn to truly disconnect, embrace silence and schedule alone time. That apart, it’s essential to get back to nature and think low-key.

Prepare yourself: Don’t let a crisis overwhelm you. If you are nervous, prepare yourself for things to come. Lie low: When you want to restore your life, lie low. Spend time to get your energy back.

Keep your friends around: There are some people who always stay strong and are around you in bad times. Keep them close when the going is tough. Self-care: When the going gets tough, don’t neglect yourself. Good sleep and good nutrition are key for survival. Stay centred: Enhance your wellbeing and find your focus. Try to silence your mind and practise deep breathing.


Yes, inner strength can be acquired. I don’t think you are born with inner strength. Some people do, which is great. But I have acquired inner strength over the course of my life and I am now a much stronger person.

—Amrita Puri, actor

Yes, there are certain ways you can train your mind, and therefore, you are focused in the eye of storms. How one does it depends on the individual. You can train yourself to stay very calm and focused. Admitting your weakness also shows strength, and people who face challenges in life usually come out stronger.

—Adhuna Bhabani, hair stylist

Inner strength can definitely be acquired. When you play a sport with a team, you become stronger and a confident player. Practice makes you more confident.

Similarly, inner strength makes you empowered.

—Dino Morea, actor

I think you have to work a lot on yourself to cultivate inner strength. It also depends on how you are raised and how inner strength is nurtured. Even though I’m strong, I admit to my breaking point when it gets too much; that’s important.

—Shibani Dandekar, actor

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