What Sisu means on a modern Finn?

The topic of Finnish Sisu aka grit is old and visited frequently. Maybe that’s why we usually see the same examples: Finns persevering in war, Finns running naked in snow, Finns looking satisfied even though it’s dark and gloomy.

But what is Sisu in the 21st century, in the land of led lighting, electric cars and mobile phones?

Sisu is three things: it is a state of body, a state of mind and a state of people.


Firstly, Finns need to balance out their work, children, home and love life. This seems like an easy task but never is; we have work, family and elderly relatives situated further apart than ever before. We carry our whole world on our backs and we do it because this needs to be done.

Secondly, Sisu defines our state of mind in midst of adversity and desperation. In cities that have more people moving out than in, in crummy jobs we work for the pay, in families that are dysfunctional or experiencing loss and sickness, we hang on. We stay true to our hopes, we dream through the dark winters and we know, not just believe, we know that things can turn for the better.

And finally, Sisu is the hand that we give to reach out for others. We as a people have grit, tenacity, belief, knowledge and the decisive way of looking at things. We feel the work in our bodies, we appreciate it, we make it our own and when we get over the hurdles, we help others.

Sisu is not just something in Finland, the same mentality is found in every culture. For us Finns, Sisu is an armor against hard times. It might be heavy and hard to carry but we know that tomorrow contains the possibility of success and that keeps us moving forward.