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  • Writer's pictureElisabet Lahti

Summoning Inner Mountains: The Research Paper on Sisu Gets Awarded!

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Lifeforce and the human spirit, in lack of perhaps more graspable words, are constructs that carry such a thick air of ambiguity that most sane researchers might know to stay far away. Philosophically complex, multifaceted, unmeasurable, and intangible through our current instruments, concepts like these can be nothing short of a "science nightmare" as the Finnish psychiatrist Eero Riikonen writes in his 2013 book Työ ja elinvoima (Engl. Work and Life Force; only in Finnish for now).

It is my thinking, however, that by rendering visible the abstract through embodied practices and also through language that we can begin to understand it more and find more support in it as we engage in the mysterious dance of life with its ups and downs.

Sisu, as an experience of living beings tapping into their ability to remain alive and transform barriers into frontiers, has been part of my life since the very first days of my life but in 2012, it also became a more formal and systematic focus of my existence through a series of academic undertakings. First, as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania under the grit researcher and professor Angela Duckworth and later, as a Ph.D. candidate at Aalto University in my native Finland.

It's with arms full of surprise and humility over the immense capacity of humans everywhere to learn and overcome (including myself), and gratitude for the care and help I have received from the supportive humans in my life, that I paste here the link to our research paper on sisu, as well as the articles from Aalto University celebrating it as the Article of the Year 2019 by the International Journal of Wellbeing.

To publish the research paper was a long process, just like birthing anything usually is, but now the joy of having it out there keeps multiplying as the months and years go by.

Receiving the acknowledgment was such an unexpected treat and it will undoubtedly carry me during the final stages of finishing the Ph.D. dissertation itself.

So, below are links to articles on the sisu paper along with the latest news on the research:

and you can access the PDF of Embodied Fortitude: Introducing the Finnish Construct of Sisu here.

(Quick citation key: Lahti, E., (2019). Embodied fortitude: An introduction to the Finnish construct of sisu. International Journal of Wellbeing, 9(1), 61-82. doi:10.5502/ijw.v9i1.672)

When we connect with our hearts and join our hands, there are few things that remain impossible to overcome.

With sisu and suppleness,


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Research on sisu - links, material, articles

Most downloaded Lahti, E. E. 2022. Sisu as Guts, Grace, and Gentleness: A Way of Life, Growth, and Being in Times of Adversity [Download PhD, Aalto yliopisto]. Press release here. Lahti, E. E. 2019. E

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