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Pillars of Harmony: 'The One Truth'?

In the field of people consulting and well-being, there is a tendency to assume that there is some sort of "One Truth" in a method or assessment system, and maybe there is indeed a comprehensive method or framework out there serving this purpose.

The pillars of harmony, however, do not aim to be "The One Truth", but are simply a conceptual point-of-view on the patterns behind well-being, based on our observation, philosophical studies, and empirical results.

The idea of conceptualizing ideas isn't new and the objective of this short article is to better illustrate and explain the concept of the pillars of harmony by making an analogy with an area also very closely related to well-being: health.

Health Pillars in the West

The health of our bodies is suspended upon a natural intelligence that governs the behavior of our cells, organs, systems, and maintains a dynamic state of equilibrium which we generally perceive as health.

In 1948, the establishment of the World Health Organization and as part of its constitution it adopted a definition of health based on three pillars: "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". The definition was the result of extensive international collaboration and consultation among health experts and diplomats from around the world, who were involved in the formation of the WHO.

These pillars, for the most part, reflect how what can generally be called "Western Medicine" is based on, and constitute a general guideline that doctors can refer to when assessing and evaluating health, holistically speaking.

Health Pillars in the East

This convention is simple, actionable, but is not necessarily exhaustive or substitute of other complementary frameworks. A more detailed framework, for example, could further breakdown physical health into the various systems and organs of the body, and social well-being could be broken down by the various groups in which we participate and interact with, thus expanding on the framework. Moreover, while this definition is broadly used by the medical community, it doesn't specifically highlight a pillar which is central to "Eastern" medicine, which could perhaps be called "spiritual".

Indian medical practices such as Ayurveda or Eastern medical practices such as Chinese medicine, not only recognize the existence of a spiritual dimension to health, but place the spiritual pillar as a central health dimension - and they are not the only ones. The Brazilian Cardiology Association ("Sociedade Brasileira de Cardiologia, SBC) does the same. The SBC not only recognizes the importance of the spiritual dimension as part of health but states that: "Not discussing spirituality in medicine signals scientific outdatedness and, therefore, a limitation in the quality of care provided to patients."

Health Pillars: Comprehensive Framework

So if we're willing to assume that the definitions of East and West are mutually exclusive, we have a problem - either health does or it does not have a spiritual dimension. If, on the other and, we're willing to assume that they complement each other, perhaps a more comprehensive framework would then have four pillars, instead of three, recognizing the physical, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions of health.

So what is the truth?

The analogy of understanding how we conceptually interpret "health" illustrates the fact that health - whatever it is - is one and the same across the globe, yet the lenses which we use to read it and analyze it vary according to many factors, such as: our perspective, the nuances of our time, our biases and aptitudes (scientific, religious, spiritual, etc.), our experiences, our ability to measure and interpret that which we see, feel, and observe, or even our intention on creating a simpler or more detailed framework to serve our purposes.

So even though we do have a large operating medical platform in the world, the framework to conceptually describe health is still a work in progress - and it might always be. That doesn't mean we don't know anything about health and it doesn't mean one understanding of health is "better than the other", it simply means that: health is; and our effort to conceptualize is limited to our cognitive ability to develop the vocabulary and a general system of ideas to translate that which exists.

the 10 pillars of harmony

Pillars of Harmony

Along the same lines, the ten pillars of harmony are simply a reflection of our way of looking at and interpreting well-being, based on 15+ years of experience, and our background in philosophical studies.

It does not mean - by any means - that it is a "one version of the truth" and it also doesn't mean that it should be accepted from "East to West". It only means that some of the elements we observed are translated into 10 conceptual dimensions which we consistently measure and observe and which we theoretically propose to be connected with the perception of trust which boosts the levels of engagement and creates a state of well-being.

The key philosophical concepts which comport with our empirical observations can be traced back to 4,500 years ago, when the first evidence of wisdom literature is found, and were perhaps more clearly elaborated by by Plato (c. 370 BCE). The reason why these patterns seem to have endured for so long is a mystery, yet our interpretation of such coherence is the hypothesis that maybe they do reflect something indeed timeless about well-being and our ability to make progress in harmony.

When Hilel, the Elder (10 CE), was asked to summarize the Torah in one sentence, he said: "Do not do to others what you wouldn't like others to do to you. The rest is an explanation of that. Go and study!". Similarly, the essence of many other creeds seem to also boil down to the eternal themes of "love, compassion, and respect", and in Platonic philosophy it is not different. These themes can be found in art, music, philosophy, religion, spirituality, psychology, business, and ultimately they also gain expression in the unique individuality of each one of ourselves. Therefore, the essence of well-being can perhaps be described in just one, or a few words even. The rest is elaboration.

The elaboration of the 10 pillars aims to provide an actionable framework and a common language to discuss, promote, assess, evaluate, and restore harmony and well-being, by means of a consistent method, that creates trust, engagement, and consequently elevates performance. It is a tool, not a summary of everything, and it is a perspective on the topic - based on our point-of-view, studies, and understanding - not excluding other frameworks and methods available to the general business community.

Our consistency allows us to track the pillars and KPIs across regions, sectors, stages of life, different corporate models and types of business, thus creating a universal standard and a methodical approach to managing well-being in any business context, and relate it to tangible business aspects, with measurable results. Moreover, we don't solely base our method on the numbers, but use the numbers as a support to then work and adjust the objective and subjective causes related to disharmony, combining both art and science in the promotion of well-being.

Curious to know more? Contact us, and let's schedule a discovery call to understand if the pillars could provide your company with the valuable insights you need to elevate your levels of trust and engagement in your business. Stay strong in your purpose and take care!

-Vocalis Team


c. 2400 BCE

"Do not boast of your knowledge,

but consult an illiterate man as well as a scholar —

one cannot reach the limits of art

and there is no artist who has (completely) acquired mastery!

— a good word is more hidden than green feldspar,

yet it is found even among slave women at the mills.”

Quoting from the Instructions of Ptahhotep, c. 2,400 BCE. Translated to English by the author, based on the French translation by Zbyněk Žába, in “Les Maximes de Ptahhotep” (1956), who, in turn, translated directly from sources in Ancient Egyptian - mostly from the Prisse papyrus.

Green feldspar: the beautiful amazonite gemstone, believed to carry unique healing abilities, also traditionally known for instilling hope.

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