Technology Is the Great Amplifier of Our Humanity : Emilia Lahti, PhD student, systems thinker, entrepreneur and exponential tech enthusiast
Updated on: 18 Nov 2015
Emilia Lahti: M.Sc., MAPP (Master of Applied Positive Psychology), Entrepreneur Graduate Studies Program 2015 Graduate Finland and the US
When faced with extreme adversity, why do some people persevere and grow from the challenge, while others call it quits and never make it to the other end of the tunnel?
"That's the sisu thing. It has the potential to elevate you to your best self. And so it's not that despite adversity we become something, but often because of it." –Emilia Lahti.
Over the past few years, Emilia Lahti has been dedicated to researching the Finnish wordsisu—a word embedded in the country's culture, yet lacking a clear translation. In English, it is often translated as "perseverance" or "maintaining determination through challenging times," though these interpretations fail to paint the profundity of sisu.
Emilia holds a master's degree in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a PhD at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology in Helsinki, where her dissertation focuses on sisu as a psychological capacity.
Beyond academics, however, uncovering the full meaning of sisu has also been a personal journey for Emilia. "Research is often, in fact, me-search," she says.
When investigating how humans triumph against all odds, it's only appropriate that the investigator has accomplished this very thing. For Emilia, that is undeniably the case.
Alison:You start yourTEDx talkby saying, "Research is often, in fact, me-search. We tend to get interested in the things which have some personal significance for us." How has this idea played a role in your work and life?
Emilia:A lot of my work revolves around understandinghow humans endure extreme adversity, what enables us to strive through this, and what enables growth. Sometimes the things that happen to us, the good and the bad can be very transformative. There's a lot of research on post-traumatic growth.
That happened to me five years ago. I was in an abusive relationship for a while and as a result of that, when it finally ended, I felt completely lost. But as a result of that time period, my eyes were opened to this horrible problem of domestic violence that is just everywhere.