WWB Book Wise Club

The WWB Summer 22 Book Wise Pick is ‘Everyday Sisu’ ~Tapping Into the Finnish Fortitude for a Happier, More Resilient Life

Summer 2022 is just getting started, and the year itself so far has been a challenging one for people across the planet. Now more than ever we need a road map for overcoming obstacles and creating a brighter way forward. What better place to start than with an author and journalist who resides in a country that has been voted #1 as the happiest people on earth for five years in a row. Finland! Yes, you know the place where Santa Claus and his reindeer live! I’m not kidding, Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus in Lapland, Finland. Just in case you are thinking of writing Santa this year, you can feel confident there is an official post office where Santa picks up your letters! Okay I digress, so now back to the Summer 22 Book Wise pick.

I am thrilled to select ‘Everyday Sisu’ ~Tapping into Finnish Fortitude for a Happier, More Resilient Life by Katja Pantzar as the Summer Book Wise pick! This the second time Katja’s book has been selected. Her first book ‘The Finnish Way’ ~Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu was the WWB Winter selection in 2019. Go take a peak at her photo (via the link) swimming in the icy baltic sea! Today at 90 degrees here on the East Coast of the U.S, I could definitely consider it!

“It’s Okay Not to be Okay.”

What I really appreciate about this wellness guide is the author’s willingness to share her own personal journey finding sisu mindset, and employing it through several wellness practices to overcome her own struggles with clinical depression. People that have experienced clinical depression and fight for their mental health are people you can learn so much from. To come out of the depths of despair and function in the everyday world is no small feat. We need to begin to think of depression and mental illness in general as like ‘hurting one of our limbs’ and having to gain our strength back to move forward in life. It is not until we lose our ability to move physically or emotionally, do we understand how important resilience and fortitude is. Katja doesn’t spend too much time on her illness in the book, but you can tell from both her books that she fought to develop her sisu muscles and her own personal fortitude.

What we learn in Katja’s new book ‘Everyday Sisu’ is that the power of Sisu is more than just ‘bravado’ or ‘pulling your bootstraps up’, it is about building a daily sisu/wellness practice, so your mind, body and spirit can endure life’s storms better and even flourish despite them!

So the next time you face a challenge in life, no matter how big or small, try the following Sisu inspired mind-set on. Your perspective will change and you will feel more empowered almost immediately.

“Instead of “I can’t or “I won’t”  how about “How Can I?”

This is not to say we deny our difficulties or pain while working through the hard stuff, it means we have inner resources that can we can rely on, and everyday sisu habits we can draw strength from. I highly recommend this book for anyone at any age! It’s for you, it’s for your teenager, it’s for your grandmother. We all are living through challenging experiences life presents. There is no need for comparison, but just try to have an awareness that we all don’t always have the same tools ( internally and externally) to persevere. The Finnish culture and government gets this and we can glean so much from them as we think about building a healthier society here in the USA. Read on for my Q&A with Katja Pantzar. 


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Laura Connolly, Founder of World Wise Beauty, CHC



Lauroly Q- Welcome back Katja to World Wise Beauty. I am thrilled to select your new book ‘Everyday Sisu’ as the “Summer 22 ‘Book Wise’ pick. So much has happened to the world since your last book and I believe we all can benefit from the Sisu philosophy and practice. To refresh those who did not read your first book ‘The Finnish Way’ can you give the WWB readers a simple sense of what Sisu is?

Katja Pantzar: Thanks, I’m honored to be back! So, sisu is a Finnish word that means a unique type of fortitude in the face of challenges big and small that just about anyone anywhere can adopt. Sisu is often described as a mixture of grit, resilience, and courage.

The Finnish concept dates back more than 500 years. While several of the often-cited historical examples of sisu feature bravery and resilience by men during war or sporting events such as the Olympics, a more modern and up-to-date definition of sisu is inclusive (Hello feminist sisu!) and can also be less extreme. In other words, you don’t need to win a war or run a marathon!

Tapping into sisu can be pulling yourself out of bed and going for a short walk, when you’re really struggling with your mental health because even though it’s hard, you know it will make you feel a bit better to get outside. Or sisu-ing it up can mean initiating that difficult conversation with your spouse or boss instead of putting it off and looking for solutions to problems rather than burying your head in the sand and hoping they’ll just go away.


Lauroly Q- How is Sisu different then let’s say the Anglican “pull up your bootstraps and carry on’ way of thinking?  It seems to me when it comes to human survival modes where we just muddle through, we also do a lot of repressing and emotional shutting down. Depression and ‘burnout’ are manifestations of this, which you explore in the book. There is always a cost to survival without the conscious effort of what I call ‘nurturing your nature’. It’s like we need to remember what nourishes our human existence. It’s not necessarily found at the bottom of a bottle of wine or a box of sugared donuts. Sadly some will die trying it!


Katja Pantzar: This is an excellent question – a good sense of sisu means knowing when to ask for help whether that be emotional or mental health support, or hands-on help at work or home. Trying to be too stoic can be detrimental to your wellbeing, especially if you take on too much and push yourself to exhaustion. It’s very much about ‘nurturing your nature’ – which means different things to different people. For some people, self-care may mean spending quiet time alone every now and then to regroup; as such, it can be good personal sisu management to not overbook your social calendar.

Taking care of yourself can also be actively choosing to spend time with people who support and nourish you over those who don’t and are toxic company. Over the years, I have learned that if I go for a quick dip in the Baltic Sea every morning (year-round!) in Helsinki where I live with my son, my mind and body feel stronger, and I start each day in a better place. This is a vital part of my self-care sisu routine.

Lauroly Q– Continual learning in all its forms is another key to resilience, vitality, and happiness. You say in the book ‘Everyday Sisu’ that an invaluable resilience building skill is training ourselves to be in the current moment, without worry or concern for the next moment. We can relate to you when you say, “this is easier said than done!” What aspect of the Sisu practice did you find allows not only for people to survive difficult times but to flourish as well?

Katja Pantzar: This is another excellent question, as it is very hard to relax or be in the moment if we’re feeling anxious, stressed, or tired. As so many of us need to deal with ongoing stress and anxiety about the world situation (climate change, politics) and health, family, work, or financial concerns, it’s helpful to find the practices that help us to take a break, re-set, restore and ultimately build up or maintain strength.

My example of my morning dip in the sea is something that I try to stick to no matter how tired or overwhelmed I feel because I know that if I invest the time (about 30 minutes) to practice my morning self-care routine, I will feel better all day and be better equipped to deal with whatever stressors and potential setbacks come my way. While I do think some sort of physical activity offline in nature is one of the keys to maintaining a sense sisu, everyone is unique and has a different set of life challenges and circumstances. Sisu is about finding what works best for you.

Lauroly Q- With a great interest in culture and specifically wellness culture, I loved how you drilled in to explore the overall mindset and culture of Finland. People should know that Finland has topped the World Happiness Report for fifth time in a row, highlighting trust, well-being, and freedom as key driving attributes. You mention your current Prime Minister Sanna Marin quite a bit in the book and she deserves the acknowledgement from my perspective. A young female (age 36) representing the social democratic party is an amazing feat even in a Nordic country. You shared the following quote from her New Year 2020 address:

“The strength of a society is measured not by the wealth of its most affluent members, but by how well its most vulnerable members can cope.”

Fortunately for your country, this Finnish mindset  prepared the citizens of Finland for the covid crisis that was still yet to come after her speech. Tell us more about how ‘wellness values’ anchored your country through a crisis like Covid.

Katja Pantzar: Our wellness values such as an appreciation for nature and easy access to it – for the average person living in Finland the natural environment is 200 meters away, and the doors are open 24/7 – were very useful for helping to maintain personal wellbeing at a time when indoor gyms and pools were shuttered during the pandemic. Add to that a Nordic lifestyle approach that embraces simple daily activities such as walking, cycling, or swimming in natural waters (Finland has thousands of lakes, and the capital, Helsinki, is almost surrounded by the sea).

This meant that even during the height of the pandemic, it was possible to go for a walk, bicycle ride, or jog with a friend while maintaining social distancing at a time when many people were really suffering from social isolation. When your daily life is built around easy, free, and accessible wellness practices, it can be much easier to maintain them in the long run – no matter what challenges crop up.

Lauroly closing: Thank you so much for joining me at World Wise Beauty Katja! There is so much wellness wisdom to be found in your books and I hope the readers begin to connect the dots for living a more resilient and happier life. Happy Summer to you and it may be filled with “blue’ and ‘green’ wellness therapy!

Katja Pantzar closing: Thanks for having me, it was a pleasure!