An engaging and practical guided tour of the simple and nature inspired ways that Finns stay happy and healthy including the powerful concept of sisu, or everyday courageForget hygge it s time to blow out the candles and get out into the world Journalist Katja Pantzar did just that, taking the huge leap to move to the remote Nordic country of Finland What she discovered there transformed her body, mind and spirit In this engaging and practical guide, she shows readers how to embrace the keep it simple and sensible daily practices that make Finns one of the happiest populations in the world, year after yearTopics include Movement as medicine How walking, biking and swimming every day are good for what ails us and best done outside the confines of a gym Forest therapy Why there s no substitute for getting out into nature on a regular basis Healthy eating What the Nordic diet can teach us all about feeding body, mind and soul The gift of sisu Why Finns embrace a special form of courage, grit and determination as a national virtue and how anyone can dig deeper to survive and thrive through tough timesIf you ve ever wondered if there s a better, simpler way to find happiness and good heath, look no further The Finns have a word for that, and this empowering book shows us how to achieve it


10 thoughts on “Finding Sisu: In Search of Courage, Strength, and Happiness the Finnish Way

  1. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    Ended up ill again, put back on Prednisone, sometimes I think I can feel my bones crumbling from all the steroids I have been prescribed over the last five years Anyway, always trying to find a different way of managing my flare ups, and so I am drawn to books that show people handling things in different ways SISUPronounced see su A Finnish concept that dates back to the 1950 s.A unique type of fortitude, of resilience, of not giving up in the face of a challenge, big or small, that anyone c Ended up ill again, put back on Prednisone, sometimes I think I can feel my bones crumbling from all the steroids I have been prescribed over the last five years Anyway, always trying to find a different way of managing my flare ups, and so I am drawn to books that show people handling things in different ways SISUPronounced see su A Finnish concept that dates back to the 1950 s.A unique type of fortitude, of resilience, of not giving up in the face of a challenge, big or small, that anyone can develop.See, I needed some or all of that, and I quite enjoyed this book Much common sense but also some little things with big health benefits Cold water swimming for mental health and pain relief Well, I don t live where that is a possibility, I live near a river but not fond of river snakes so.I tried a cold , few minutes shower, I am very suggestible, and I think it helped a bit, made me feel relaxed anyway Will try again Good tips on diet, exercise, just moving, and much on a positive mental outlook I ll keep practicing, can t hurt and may help


  2. Temi Panayotova Temi Panayotova says:

    Most boring book I have ever read on this topic Except the pretty cover, there is nothing interesting about it


  3. Paula Paula says:

    I enjoyed reading about sisu and the various explanations on the word Since the Finns are known to be one of the happiest populations in the world it s worth taking a look at their simple life style and maybe even trying something new such as winter biking Another fun fact about Finns they are the world s leading book borrowers, with 67 million books borrowed a year from the public library system.


  4. Brittany Brittany says:

    How I Came to Read This Book I was curious to learnabout Hygge a little while back, so I read a book on it This in turn led me to learn a bitabout some other similar tomes focused on different cultures, like Swedish Lagom and Finnish Sisu I borrowed this one from the library.The Plot Katja Panzar moved from Canada to Finland she is the daughter of Finnish immigrants as a young woman She ended up getting married and having a child there, all while becoming immersed in Finni How I Came to Read This Book I was curious to learnabout Hygge a little while back, so I read a book on it This in turn led me to learn a bitabout some other similar tomes focused on different cultures, like Swedish Lagom and Finnish Sisu I borrowed this one from the library.The Plot Katja Panzar moved from Canada to Finland she is the daughter of Finnish immigrants as a young woman She ended up getting married and having a child there, all while becoming immersed in Finnish culture One particular notable aspect of the culture is a term known as Sisu , which like Hygge, doesn t have a direct English counterpart It s essentially a mixture of iron will, practicality, a belief in picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, and weathering the elements It might sound a little bland, and compared to the warm and cozy vibes hygge is all about, I guess it is, but there s still some interesting stuff to be had for incorporating a little sisu into your life.The Good The Bad When I read the Little Book of Hygge I thought it was a fun if frivolous read The challenge with this book is it s trying to be muchserious And really, sisu ISserious than hygge, so that sort of makes sense But where the hygge book was very much illustrative and descriptive and ultimately a lifestyle guide, this one comes off a bit like a memoir supported by some weak research conducted largely among the author s friends or some very theoretical professor types Part of the issue but also a strength is the fact Pantzar isn t a native Finn As a result, the book doesn t feel like it speaks on behalf of the Finnish people Rather, it seems like capitalizing on this trend of understanding other cultures and adopting their seemingly superior ways into your own life And emphasis on the word superior there, cause Pantzar s tone is another issue I had with this book She has a very us vs them vibe going on in terms of comparing her lifestyle in North America to what it is in Finland something I never saw in my hygge book or the lagom one I ve paged through that s sitting on my nightstand It really started to make my eye twitch as I actually felt, in a lot of spots, that elements of the Finnish lifestyle are comparable to how myself and many other Canadians live Not all, to be sure, but it wasn t quite the black and white dichotomy Pantzar tries to paint inthan a few spots Not all is lost though There were some things I liked about this book In some ways, Pantzar s outsider stance makes for an interesting read as she tries to hone in on what makes Finland so fantastic Her Canadian background also makes for an interesting comparison and contrast although notably she only lived in the nation s two largest cities, so yeah, she s going to have a limited view of what lifestyles are like in other parts of the country I also really enjoyed the little checklists at the conclusion of each chapter that encourage you to adopt elements of sisu into your life somereasonably than others And some of the truly unique aspects of Finnish culture, like winter swimming albeit even Pantzar acknowledges that many Finns don t partake in this extreme winter sport and visiting the sauna are explored well In all though, it felt prettylight Which is weird because it was a waytechnical book than the hygge one I read, or the lagom one I have to read Pantzar s ten chapters cover all manner of Finnish lifestyle, from fitness to nutrition to parenting, with a large emphasis on wellness in general with chapters dedicated to nature therapy and movement as medicine the latter of which was a particularly problematic chapter that suggests many mental health issues can be cured by engaging in physical activity or spendingtime outdoors Each chapter follows a similar format, as she details her experience with that element, looks at how it aligns with the broader Finnish population, and then speaks to her friends and or experts forinsight I m not saying it had to be like the hygge book, but the result is less of a lifestyle guide andof a lightly researched anthropological textbook of Finnish culture and values I DO get what sisu is though the closest word I can think of is hardiness and for that, I tip my hat to Pantzar The Bottom Line A well intentioned look at Finnish culture and how much of it can be tied back to the concept of sisu, that offers tangible direction on how to addsisu to your life The book suffers, however, from being overly technical and a bit repetitive seriously, winter swimming makes it into almost every chapter.Anything Memorable I have actually adopted an idea or two from this book I m trying to spend at least 30 minutes a day in nature, and thinking of ways I can addincidental exercise to my life I ve actually visited a Nordic spa and tried an icy pool before I d love to try it again with a better understanding of how to approach it and would be keen to try real winter swimming one day I ve even tried dousing myself in cold water via the shower I liked the tips on diet in terms of the balance your plate should be 50% veggies, 25% starch, 25% protein Even stuff like mentions of garage sale day and restaurant day were cool Oh, also, the epilogue was a bit of a sad shocker as you find out something revealing about the author s life Hope she s taking care.2018 Book Challenge Book 37 in 2018


  5. Natalie Carbery Natalie Carbery says:

    Biking A Good Way to Avoid Drunks and Those in Need is the proper title of this book This is by far the worst self help book I have ever read including the classist mess that is Hygge The Danish Art of Happiness which was written by a television actress Descriptions of people all follow the same format name, occupation, physical description and the rest of the writing is just as formulaic The chapters are poorly organized and often veer into strange directions In the chapter Peda Biking A Good Way to Avoid Drunks and Those in Need is the proper title of this book This is by far the worst self help book I have ever read including the classist mess that is Hygge The Danish Art of Happiness which was written by a television actress Descriptions of people all follow the same format name, occupation, physical description and the rest of the writing is just as formulaic The chapters are poorly organized and often veer into strange directions In the chapter Pedaling to Happiness and Heath there is a weird unconnected section about Finnish people being reserved that then goes evenoff the rails with bits about Michael Moore, education, and libraries She has interesting people to interview but Pantzar s personal narrative often clouds over cultural information that is farinteresting Most importantly the advice given by Pantzar in this book is, at times, dangerous Large parts of the book are incredibly ableist, classist, and show a deep misunderstanding for what life is for people with chronic mental health issues Pantzar says that she has suffered from depression in the past As a member of the mental health community, I feel for her But as a reader of her book I find that she lacks a deeper understanding of the illness On page 167 she talks about how amedical professionalin Finland suggested she get off her anti depressants and try movement instead On the next page she legitimately uses the phrase security blanket in pill form That may be all well and good for someone in a mild bout but Pantzar advocating for movement over medicine is dangerous and irresponsible She clearly does not feel the need to address people withserious mental health conditions in Finland She is not writing to address people who desperately need the medication that they are on because regardless of how many trees they see or healthy meals that they pack there is still the weight of depression on their every movement She clearly does not feel that she should concern herself with those of us who don t fit into her Finish Way Her prejudices are all theinteresting when you notice that Finland has higher suicide rates than the United States, Canada, Norway and Sweden in 2016 We see Pantzar s flippant attitude towards chronic mental health problems again on page 91 when talking with research professor Liisa Tryv inen who is quoted as saying, nature can help in the prevention of certain diseasestreating symptoms of mild depression The key words here are simple and mind but Pantzar later refers to that same bit of advice for severe problems Now where did my title for this review come from From Pantzar herself In a chapter about biking she actually talks about her friend Tiina who is quoted as saying on page 157, if you sit in a tram or a bus, there may occasionally be a drunk or someone less than pleasant to contend with She later contradicts herself about being in an isolated metal box My idea of a perfect hell would be interacting with anyone who is so afraid of people who may have an addiction problem or other needs so much I love biking but I don t bike to avoid people in need and the idea that anyone would include that as a reason makes me ill For Pantzar it is clear thatsisuis a purely physical thing She talks about how the only way to have a strong mind is to have a strong body How do I know this Because she talksabout winter swimming than she does about actually over coming challenges or standing up for causes that she believes in That is, until it comes to her book itself Thensisuis allowed to be somethingThis was supposed to be a book about the Finnish idea of courage and resilience but even then it must include the painfully boring and over used chapter about Scandinavian minimalism That has nothing to do with courage Also, it is an aesthetic choice that often makes the world less cozy andutilitarian Frankly, I think it would take sisuin Finland to not adhere to minimalist pressures and boring style guides Shopping smart does not mean shopping without personality After talking a bit about this book with a friend who has spent extensive time in Finland I would like to encourage all readers to find another book on the topic


  6. Jenn Jenn says:

    I m really fascinated by learning about other cultures and, particularly, Nordic cultures So the topic of the book a characteristic of fortitude that most all Finns possess, called sisu is really interesting But gah, the writing is bad It s repetitive It s boring It contains such ridiculously unnecessary sentences as as the years passed, my son grew from baby to boy Stab my eyeballs out, why don tcha I still finished it because there are a few nuggets I wanted to read about winter I m really fascinated by learning about other cultures and, particularly, Nordic cultures So the topic of the book a characteristic of fortitude that most all Finns possess, called sisu is really interesting But gah, the writing is bad It s repetitive It s boring It contains such ridiculously unnecessary sentences as as the years passed, my son grew from baby to boy Stab my eyeballs out, why don tcha I still finished it because there are a few nuggets I wanted to read about winter swimming, saunas, biking as transportation, and the prevalence of secondhand shopping I GREATLY preferred, and highly recommend There s No Such Thing as Bad Weather A Scandinavian Mom s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids for a look inside Nordic culture, particularly their tolerance for cold weather outdoor activity


  7. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    I m always keen to read books about Finland and I was really excited to read this one I enjoyed learning about several aspects of Finnish culture that relate to Sisu and I feel like a lot of these things can easily be implementedin my own life I think the one thing I found a bit off putting in this book is that the author is often comparing the Finnish lifestyle to the North American lifestyle and seemed heavily biased towards Finland Other than that, I thought the book was really inter I m always keen to read books about Finland and I was really excited to read this one I enjoyed learning about several aspects of Finnish culture that relate to Sisu and I feel like a lot of these things can easily be implementedin my own life I think the one thing I found a bit off putting in this book is that the author is often comparing the Finnish lifestyle to the North American lifestyle and seemed heavily biased towards Finland Other than that, I thought the book was really interesting and it gave me good insight into some aspects of Finland


  8. Sara Budarz Sara Budarz says:

    Having a Finnish mother means that I have spent most of my life being reminded to draw on my sisu the Finnish notion of strength and stubbornness and perseverance to get through difficult situations It is in fact a word so fundamental to how I define myself that I have often thought of tattooing the word on my wrist as a constant reminder of the survivor that is in all of us Finns often speak of sisu, and anyone who has ever visited Finland in the winter will understand why they needed it Having a Finnish mother means that I have spent most of my life being reminded to draw on my sisu the Finnish notion of strength and stubbornness and perseverance to get through difficult situations It is in fact a word so fundamental to how I define myself that I have often thought of tattooing the word on my wrist as a constant reminder of the survivor that is in all of us Finns often speak of sisu, and anyone who has ever visited Finland in the winter will understand why they needed it culturally Finland is a breathtakingly beautiful country, but one that also happens to get almost no daylight in the winter and can be blanketed with snow for months and months on end Nowadays it is a country that is one of the most economically secure and wealthy in the world, but less than a half a century ago, when my mother was growing up, food shortages and poverty meant that she didn t eat anything but a porridge breakfast most days and being hungry and sick was the norm In other words, you had to be tough to get through that life But importantly, sisu isn t about being tough It is about drawing on strength but also learning to lean heavily on each other Sisu is a pretty brilliant concept So when I came across this book on sisu at the bookstore, I was intrigued and instantly took it home The result it was an easy read, although a bit unremarkable Perhaps I am just too familiar with the idea of sisu, and so expecteddepth, yet the book seemed to skim the surface of many ideas, but didn t often go deep Yet what it did cover get outside and into nature, daily No matter the weather It is good for your mental health Exercise Ride your bike, no matter the weather Swim in frozen lakes, or at least roll around in the snow, naked, between sauna sessions Sauna culture lets you bond with others and develop a healthy body awareness so true Growing up and seeing many shapes of bodies, naked, on a weekly basis helped me grow up with a sense of what real bodies look like and the amazing variation between bodies Eat well Rest Prioritize experiences over possessions When you do buy things, but quality and local, because they will then last a lifetime Do things yourself, like gardening or chopping wood Challenge yourself see ice swimming.Be respectful of nature For non Finns, the book would surely be a fun and easy read What I did like was that Pantzar covers topics such as the twice annual clean days that Helsinki has, in which every park and courtyard and street becomes a free, giant flea market, where you trade and sell things you don t need in your life for things that you do It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and in an era of minimalism and conscious consumption, such a great idea But as a Finn, I m clearly the wrong audience for the book


  9. Michelle Michelle says:

    Coming from a Finnish parent I was interested to read this book for not only wanting to knowabout my heritage but to see whether I see similarities within my own family and the Finnish community and Sisu.Sisu is a totally different concept from hygge it is about endurance and perseverance and getting outside amongst nature and being active for a healthy mindset I have never been to Finland but when the author described the Finnish people and their habits I saw that in my own family and co Coming from a Finnish parent I was interested to read this book for not only wanting to knowabout my heritage but to see whether I see similarities within my own family and the Finnish community and Sisu.Sisu is a totally different concept from hygge it is about endurance and perseverance and getting outside amongst nature and being active for a healthy mindset I have never been to Finland but when the author described the Finnish people and their habits I saw that in my own family and community here with their determination, hands on approach to life, getting things done and being part of nature wherever that is getting out walking everyday or camping when they can The author has done a lot of research into this concept of Sisu and how we can bring a little Sisu into our own lives so we can have a healthy mind and learn to endure whatever life may throw at us in a healthy way I really wanted to learnabout this concept and the Finnish way of life after reading this book and I can see how Sisu is a way of life not something you learn


  10. Katrina Katrina says:

    Not sure if it s the tiny amount of Finnish heritage I have, but I really enjoyed this book Interesting and well written, the book discusses different aspects of the Finnish lifestyle that contribute to a healthy and happy way of life Definitely inspiring