Getting Emotional / Sisu- with Clare Balding and Dr Hilary Virtanen

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Episode notes

Here in Britain, we're known for having a 'stiff upper lip'.But do other countries have an equivalent? Well, Finland certainly does! And they called it 'sisu'.


It's about grit, determination, and working toward a goal. It's a willingness to keep on going, even though you might not win the battle you're fighting. Hey, even if you don't win, the victory is in trying. There's no direct translation in English, so I've done my best to dig out the spirit of the word. And I've come to the conclusion it's about being gutsy, showing chutzpah, and just...keeping on. Pure determination through adversity.


I've had the best time researching this word, and finding out more about a country I (embarrassingly) knew very little about. My research took me to the Finlandia University in Michigan, where I found a Professor of Finnish and Nordic Studies- Dr Hilary Virtanen (@HilaryVirtanen on twitter). Not only did she give me more info on sisu, she told me about times she, or students on her campus, have felt it too. After speaking to her I got a real sense that sisu, and the Finnish community she works with, are something pretty special.


I also decided to ask around, and see if anyone else had felt this determination through adversity. And during a chat with Clare Balding about her new children's book, 'Fall Off, Get Back On, Keep Going', I realised this feeling extends to kids as well as adults. Her book is about giving kids the skills and belief they need to face struggles in life, and it's an absolute winner- I highly recommend it! And she very kindly told me about a very candid story from her own past- one that I'd never heard before- as an example of a time she's had to work through.


Sisu was quite the most intriguing word I've come across in a long time, and it gave me a chance to indulge my love of history too. If anything, making this podcast was quite the opposite of sisu- it was a joy to make! Hopefully you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed putting it together. And next time you find yourself going through something a little tough- dig deep, and you might find some sisu to help you through.


Oh, if you want to say hi, I'm on twitter, @GetEmotionalPod. Thanks!







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