The Plutarch Project

Besides studying how individuals and organizations not only survive despite of adversities but flourish because of them, I am an avid systems thinker. I’m especially passionate about the cultivation of virtues and to understand how it may be leveraged on a systemic level to promote global change. Alongside with the writings on sisu and positive psychology (in Finnish, here) you will find posts tagged as ´Plutarch Project´and ‘systems intelligence‘, which reflect this interest of mine.

I created the Plutarch Project in October 2012 (website is no longer online but a FB group exists) in order to share what I have learned during my formal education, as well as through my own life experience. It is deeply inspired and influenced by a fascinating system thinking based field called systems intelligence created by Dr. Raimo P. Hämäläinen and Dr. Esa Saarinen at the Systems Analysis Laboratory at Aalto University School of Science and Technology (formerly known as Helsinki University of Technology). The Plutarch Project is a call for each one of us to acknowledge the power and responsibility we have to influence the world around us, by first changing our inner selves. The ultimate goal of the Plutarch Project is to be part of a larger social movement toward a more flourishing world. This blog will share insights, ideas and positive interventions seeking to inspire the pursuit of excellence, both in ourselves and in our relationships. We are all part of a larger collective entity through the social networks we belong to. Each of us plays a crucial role in the context of the system we are locally embedded in, and our actions affect others around us –whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

You can follow Plutarch Project (and perhaps we can get the conversation going again) at Facebook/PlutarchProject


Alongside with Augustine and Aristotle, Plutarch was one of the most influential ancient philosophers. He considered happiness to be the result of our conscious effort in striving for a life of virtue. He also uttered the phrase: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”, which epitomizes the idea that our thoughts manifest themselves through our actions and thus, impact the world around us.The notion of virtue as the source of happiness may seem a relic of a distant past, but a closer look reveals its transformative power and crucial role in our pursuit of personal well-being. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of virtues. Practically speaking, they are attitudes, dispositions and character traits which capacitate us to act according to the ideals we have adopted.

Being virtuous is a state in which our emotions are guided by reason. Virtuous acts are habits, and therefore can be learned and acquired through practice.

Not only does pursuing a life of virtue increase our own well-being, but it also causes a ripple-effect of empowerment around us. We are all part of a larger collective entity through the social networks we belong to. Each of us plays a crucial role in the context of the system we are locally embedded in, and our actions affect others around us –whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.Our inner emotions manifest themselves in the physical world through the actions and gestures we perform. The systemic danger of individual dissatisfaction, distress and anger is that we do not keep these emotions to ourselves, but instead permeate them throughout the larger collective.

It may not be pleasant to discuss notions of responsibility or duty within the context of well-being and happiness. However, it is imperative to create social awareness of the significance each person has on the possible future of society, and of how sensitive the broader dynamic system is to each of our individual actions – both positive and negative. This is where the responsibility and leverage of each individual lies. My own experience has taught me that long-term happiness is indeed hard work, and unfolds itself only through conscious effort. This platform, The Plutarch Project, is my labor of love intended to create a more positive future. It is a call for each one of us to pursue a life of excellence – so you and others around you may flourish and experience a more meaningful life.

We all share a common purpose in striving for excellence in being human.

Emilia Lahti Plutarch Project Systems thinking Emilia Elisabeth

14 thoughts on “The Plutarch Project

  1. Emilia, I love the idea of using Plutarch as your platform. When people think of happiness, they are usually just thinking of pleasure; and as you said, pleasure often conflicts with morality and responsibility. But virtuous living can provide deep-seated happiness. Happiness is a work ethic, and by creating ethical actions we begin to enjoy being altruistic, honest and loving as much or more than being selfish and self-centered. The world– and academia– need more of your guidance and more MAPP grads attempting to change the very social script upon which we live our lives. Thank you for your work.


    1. Shawn, that was wonderfully written and I highly appreciate your insightful comments. I really liked the term ´deep-seated happiness´. I believe, that Instead of simply aiming to foster well-being in our society, we should turn to virtues as the path to sustainable happiness. Aspiring to live altruistically will create better conditions not just for you and me, but it will enable more opportunities and freedom for others. Striving for virtuous living for its own sake will ultimately create more well-being (as you wrote), and that, I believe, is a beautiful and possibly revolutionary idea worth inciting.

      The best part is that embracing virtues such as honesty, courage, compassion, fairness, self-control, and the like, will inevitably ripple beyond the individual herself. By initiating and creating systematic change in the network we are embedded in, we can perhaps dream of creating a shift in the current cultural discourse.




  2. I am writing from Australia. I congratulate you on your worthwhile project. I love your explanation of virtue and its really the way to go in life, despite being called a romantic and/or being victimised. If only we could spread the word that one must hold to their principles at any cost, family or personal. And of course its hard, that is because we have become societies of profit alone.



    1. Dear Yakos,

      Can’t believe I missed seeing your kind comment. Thank you so much. I hope you are doing well and setting off virtuous cycles wherever you go : )

      With gratitude,


  3. I am fascinated by the concept of systems thinking. It holds so much promise. At the same time, in my personal life, I have noticed that systems thinking is difficult. It requires awareness, which itself is a challenge. It requires effort to see things from many perspectives. It requires strength to see what one isn’t particularly excited to see. All this and more.

    Also, systems thinking is a radical approach. In any culture, in any point of history, it is radical to thrive to understand bigger picture past current conventions.


    1. Beautifully said, my friend. Do you mind if I share this thought? (and if it’s ok, can I use your real name or should I just stick to “Mörri” :-))

      Such a joy to have you in this world!


      1. Awww! You can use it, but if you do, please stick with Mörri. I am not anybody famous! It is nice to be acknowledged, but at the same time, the idea of being quoted is a little bit StRaNgE.


    2. “I am fascinated by the concept of systems thinking. It holds so much promise. At the same time, in my personal life, I have noticed that systems thinking is difficult.” Such a great, honest comment. I feel this way too.


      1. Fruits of 2014 thinking :)

        Since then, I have made a new observation related to systems thinking. Understanding requires knowledge and this applies also to systems. It is not only open and courageous mind, but one needs to study the system, learn the system. Depending on the system, getting into expert level might take years of dedicated study.


  4. Lovely inspiring site and concept.
    Question: What is the source of your Plutarch quote: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”?


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