Sisu Featured in the Scientific American!

A huge thank you to Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman for featuring sisu in his latest piece for the Scientific American Mind! You can find the article here: Are You Mentally Tough?

Understanding Sisu as psychological capacity arose from a simple need to understand it better, and to hopefully help unlock the full potential of this age-old construct. When starting my research (a bit over a year ago) I learned that sisu was incredibly solid in how it permeates this one culture and manifests itself in the lives of its people, yet at the same time it rendered itself incredibly elusive and was rather poorly defined. Everyone and their grandmother in Finland could give you an example of displaying sisu in their lives! However, at the same time there were questions such as, is sisu a character trait, a tendency, a genetic quality (do only Finns have it!?), is it some kind of a spirit, or is it perhaps merely a myth? One of the smartest people of our collective human history once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” From this ‘alluring mess’ something is starting to emerge and things have snowballed beautifully. Indeed, last year has brought a lot of ‘first times’ for this relentless and badass newcomer midst the old-timers of mental fortitude (e.g resilience, grit, perseverance).


Language is the foundation of how we communicate. It affects our thinking and the way we view the world and ourselves. It gives birth to constructs which become our mental imagery and help us describe and define our lives and the world we live in. This is one of reasons I felt such an imperative to study sisu: to create conversation around it as a psychological capacity, and to thus unlock its potential within anyone interested in harnessing it (especially to those who have suffered some kind of trauma in their lives). Re-framing something from “untranslatable” and “unfathomable” to a word or description which carries meanings, can be a potent game-changer.

Life must be lived forward yet can only be understood backwards. Only now I can connect the dots and I see how Sisu has been part of my personal narrative way before it became such a central theme of my ‘ life’s ultimate mission’. Sisu has kept my head above the water, fueled my ambition and was also the catalyst that enabled me to turn my barriers into frontiers few years back. It has been (and continues to be) a construct that fascinates me entirely! Thank you, Scott BK, and everyone who has been there to support me. (Especially my love, Saad, whose contribution has been unspeakable.) Feeling so much gratitude and joy.

Yours in sisu, Emilia

2 thoughts on “Sisu Featured in the Scientific American!

  1. You are doing great stuff Emilia! Sisu is one of the true identic Finnish characteristics and in my opinion it deserves more ‘ fame’ in the world. It is the second wave feelibg and action What people sometimes , well a lot, are missing. Live forward and connect the dots from the past.. Keep this up Emilia!
    Sisu greetings from The Netherlands.


  2. Wow, Susanna! What a lovely and truly elevating note. I will keep it in my ‘favorites’ folder for the years to come (we know that when even ‘sisu’ begins to falter, the caring connections in our lives (may it sometimes just a kind note from a ‘stranger’) are the ultimate mental dynamite that help us push through the most adverse of situations. Nothing exists in a vacuum and outside human connection, not even sisu.

    Thank you for your support. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can ever be of help to you in any ways.

    Yours in sisu,


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