We are resistant to change because we are hardwired through evolution to stay in a state of equilibrium and preserve energy. In fact, we crave the comfort of positive emotion and familiarity so much that we have labeled adversities as things to eradicate at any cost, failing to recognize that they may offer us an indispensable opportunity for growth.
The strenuous moments of adversity which force us to reflect on the inner depths of our character, and to even ponder the very meaning of life itself, change us irreversibly and cultivate our sense of empathy for others, for the world, and for ourselves. Overcoming adversity may give us a newfound sense of self, and a sense of our own power and adaptability. It may also connect us to others in a deeper, more authentic way.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Recognizing That Every Action Matters
We all live embedded within systems, and our actions carry significance beyond our own lives. What follows is that cultivating sisu on an individual level, has the potential to impact and empower entire communities. When we ourselves act virtuously and see people around us glorify qualities such as sisu, resilience, compassion and integrity, or display action-mindset, we adopt this as the desired action and it becomes the norm.
How we behave and what we hold in reverence becomes part of the broader cultural narrative. To truly cultivate well-being in our communities, and to raise the entire average up, we must recognize the immense impact our actions have on others and strive to create an entire culture of sisu.The key to making this happen lies in the power of the collective and in this process we each play a part.
Seeing Obstacles As Opportunities
There is no such thing as a meaningless thought or action. Everything we have ever seen, heard, thought or felt is encoded in the gray membranes of our neocortex. What we focus our attention on becomes part of our consciousness and our reality; what becomes our reality, becomes our life.
Life, therefore, is the result of a series of moments and choices. How present we are for these moments, and what kind of choices we make, determines the quality of our experience on earth. Having control over this process is the most important tool we have in making our lives more meaningful and fulfilling.
The Courageous Life
Our biologically programmed tendency to preserve energy can lead to a bias for stability at the expense of exploring opportunities to develop ourselves and expand our action repertoire. 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, and build a bridge toward our best possible future self. I would describe having an action mindset as akin to signing up for a marathon or an ironman before you have any certainty of whether you have what it takes. We simply don't know how strong we are before we try.