Since writing about Sisu a few weeks ago, a Finnish concept that is somewhat akin to grit and willpower, I have moved on from removing snow from the deck and driveway to removing snow from the roof. The view is better but the snow is heavier. And it is a wonderful place for contemplation. How do we cultivate Sisu and have more power that we thought we had?
I’ve been reading a lot lately about Sisu, a Finnish word without a literal translation into English, and it’s also been snowing a lot lately. Snow that we are measuring in feet, not inches. It is taking more and more effort to rally, get my gear back on, and move the latest white stuff from the places that I don’t want it to the places where it might still fit. So, what is Sisu. It has been defined as stoic determination, tenacity, grit, resilience, hardiness.
As I stood in the driveway in the cold dark hours of Wednesday morning looking up at the lunar eclipse I wondered about wonder. When we let ourselves have a WOW moment, feeling the wonder and excitement of the event, it helps make that positive memory something that we can hold on to. And something that can bring us pleasure again and again.
Be careful what you wish for - Just a few days ago cultivating equanimity became my intention for 2018. Little did I know that I would almost immediately have a great opportunity to practice the ability to maintain mental calmness and composure in a difficult situation. It was like the Hotel California - you could check out, but you could never leave - at the airport. Another holiday snowstorm and airport chaos for days provided lessons and practice opportunities..
We need to address the attitudes, perspectives and reactions we bring to situations and relationships because that is what brings anger, contributing to anger in ourselves and generating it in others. We can develop our tolerance 'muscles' just as we gradually grow accustomed to the cold as summer turns to fall.
Unfulfilled expectations are a frequent source of anger for me. I presume that people will do the job they were hired to do, companies will provide the services promised, products will work as designed. When these expectations are met with a disappointing reality an irrational rage bubbles over. A video from The Book of Life, "How Not to Be Angry All the Time" does a good job of explaining how optimism is tied to anger and yet the solution that it proposes is one I am unwilling to accept.
The other night I had a moment of clarity standing at the United Airlines lost baggage help desk. My son had a difficult time getting home from college for the holidays. With snow falling over half the country and a trip that routed him through both Chicago and Denver it didn't come as much of a surprise that his flights were cancelled and that his luggage was lost. As I watched people yell at the agent it made me want to never be one of those angry people again.