January 26, 2022

Sisu - an Awakening in Finland

Travel designer and artist Nishant Badami on how the Finnish concept of Sisu has helped reshape some crucial aspects of her life.

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Nishant Badami


It was September. It wasn’t “cold” but for a Bombay-ite, I was very happy to wear my boots and jacket. The wind was crisp, fresh and yeah, it was cold. But as we drove passed the docks, I saw numerous people jumping in. And trust me. Plunging into an icy cold Baltic Sea definitely seemed crazy to me!


But a couple of days later, I was there. Climbing down the metal ladder, feverishly. The water stung! Cold shock! And then? It was complete Euphoria! I was in love with that feeling of being alive! And also, cold water boosts all those feel-good hormones, in addition to reducing stress, enhance circulation, burns calories and improve the immune system!


I stepped out and walked to the showers and changing rooms. I had left the humdrum, the stress and the aches and pains of my life in the sea! And of course, I magically didn’t feel cold anymore! I was greeted with nods of “yeah, we got that feeling” and ear to ear smiles! What was that stereotype about somber Finns again?

I felt invincible. Well, almost. That feeling came in at the end of my trip to Finland. But I felt that inner strength – like I had woken up something within me.

Boom! SISU.

An ancient Finnish concept that dates back to the 1500s.

It is all about an attitude of turning challenges into opportunities. Where you have the fortitude to not give up in the face of a challenge, big or small.

And anyone can do this. Trust me.

In addition to helping with a ‘functional’ lifestyle in terms of well-being (the chilled sea dip which I went for again, the walking around and cycling as opposed to other modes of transport) Sisu helped me organize other aspects of my life too. I met designers, musicians, guides, chefs, bar tenders, the whole gamut. And everywhere in one way or another I saw an aspect of that Sisu.

Today we have all been leveled. All facing what we are, at the same time. Rich or poor.

When I returned from Finland the metamorphosis, or shall I be brave and say, evolution, had begun.

And today, with life in lockdown, this less-is-Zen attitude has become all the more relevant and stronger.


I consider my consumption. I recycle or donate almost all that I can. I haven’t got to buying second-hand yet. But that’s probably because I have learned to live with less. And I will only invest in quality, durable products.

My choice of things is aesthetic, but functional. I can do so so much more, with so much less.



Over the months, there has been a shift in my affinity and appreciation of things. Away from possessions and towards experiences and connecting with people – likeminded or not.

Inner strength on so many levels. Acceptance on so many levels. I have never felt more awake.

I think we all have so much more within us than we give ourselves credit for. You have reserves in there. You know you can tap into those when all seems hopeless right?

Well now you do.

Earthtones partner Nishant Badami is a transformative travel designer and visual artist. She is the Founder of Ubuntu.

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