In English, we have direct meanings for most of our words, but that is not the case for other languages. One such language is Finnish, and I tend to love single words that embody a very lofty, “liquid” meaning (Japanese is another such language).
This less-is-more perspective applies to the theme of “sisu,” which indirectly translates to:
“The mental strength to continue to try ever after you feel you’ve reached your limits of your abilities.”
In other words, mentally persevering in the face of extreme adversity, even when it seems absurd to do so. This is the backbone of Live Better’s performance mantra.
We find this concept played out in many endurance sports, physical professions (elite military and first responders, for example), and survival situations; human beings are capable of seemingly insane physical feats far beyond their (self-perceived) mental limits.
Thankfully, our brains stop us before we go too far (note: if you gave a 100%, all out no-limits physical effort, you’d likely die…), but there are many situations where our brains stop us too soon. This is often a decision: “I need to quit because this is too hard.”
The Idea of Sisu
I think this idea of “sisu” is so important to have explored in your life. It’s better to know how far you can push in times of “peace” than have to figure it out when the pressure is on. This applies to our emotional resilience, like in relationships. This applies to our mental fortitude when people are depending on us; can we push on just a little bit further?
The real knowledge is gained when you realize that you can never reach the end of the road — you will always be able to push a little bit further, and that every time you do so your boundaries are also stretched.
This is what it means to “get comfortable being uncomfortable;” no one actually likes the discomfort itself, but it is the confidence that finding and pushing through discomfort will make life easier and make it easier for you to help others.
When is the last time you embodied “sisu?” Have you ever needed to? We firmly believe this is a muscle that can and should be flexed. Your mindset is malleable; what are you doing to fortify it?
Our hope is that when the day comes where you are challenged beyond your self-perceived limits, you can rely on the concept of sisu; you have the inner strength to push beyond your current limits and explore new ones.
This is the “best day ever” mindset, packaged in Finland called “sisu.”