Book #90 of 2020 | The Finnish Way by Katja Pantzar

Title: The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu

Author: Katja Pantzar

Thoughts: After spending a semester living and studying in Denmark—and visiting the surrounding Nordic countries—I couldn’t help but fall in love with the ethics and virtues of Scandinavian society. Hygge might be the most famous of these, and believe me, I practiced a LOT of it in Denmark. Sisu is a Finnish concept that, like hygge, doesn’t have a direct English translation, but can be described as fortitude, as resilience, as looking at hard things as opportunities rather than challenges. Pantzar describes her search for sisu after moving from the hustle and bustle of major Canadian cities for a new life in Helsinki, Finland. She outlines key sisu-building characteristics found in Finnish life—cold water swimming, the sauna, nature, the Nordic diet, biking, movement as medicine, and minimalism among them. While not all of these are characteristics I can implement in my daily life, many are, and I look forward to using the takeaways from this book to build my own sisu!

Favorite Lines:
“‘Sisu gives rise to what I call an action mindset; a courageous attitude which contributes to how we approach challenges. Sisu is a way of life to actively transform the challenges that come our way into opportunities.” (p. 35)

“‘Our sensory system was developed with nature in mind. Living in a type of virtual reality without a connection to earth is not good for human beings.'” (p. 56)

“‘When you stand in the forest and look up at the trees, your own problems seem small.'” (p. 88)

“She echoes what so many people who value nature seem to share—a childhood in the woods sets them up for a close lifetime relationship with nature.” (p. 94)

“I’ve also noticed that in focusing on finding meaning in nature, physical activity, family, friends, learning, and work, I’ve inadvertently found a place of contentment. My sense of peace has come from shifting my focus away from the pursuit of happiness in and of itself.” (p. 161)

“‘Sisu is when you discover your own strength.” (p. 181)

“If you were to ask me what sisu means to me now, I would reply that it’s a courageous mind-set that embraces challenges, small and big. It’s also the ability to act in the face of adversity. It’s an approach to life that is open to trying new things and new experiences and going beyond what we think might be our limits—whether physical, mental, or emotional. It’s also about looking for practical solutions and ways to move forward, to build up fortitude and resilience.” (p. 212)

Click here to purchase The Finnish Way

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