World Happiness Summit 2024 (Day 1)

World Happiness Summit 2024

This annual conference brings together impressive global experts in the science of happiness, positive psychology, sustainability, economics, mindfulness, leadership, coaching, and communication. The style reminds me of TED talks, short 20-30-minute presentations, accessible to anyone. It targets those who are interested in personal development, wellbeing, those who care about the world and the people in it, and/or those who work with other people – so, everyone!

Originally based in Florida for the first four editions, they decided to come to Europe in 2023. So last year, I had the great chance to go to Como Italy for the fifth edition of the World Happiness Summit (WOHASU). Not only did I get to attend the two-day conference, but I was selected to be a Facilitator Coach for “Tribe Time”, helping participants bring the content to life and connect at a deeper level.

It’s funny because the theme that year was “Connection”. And I did exactly that! I connected with beautiful people, some of whom have become (very likely lifelong) friends. We subsequently trained in Positive Intelligence and wrote a book together. So there was no doubt I would go back to this year’s World Happiness Summit if it took place in Europe. And it did! So a week ago I headed to London UK for the sixth edition of WOHASU, where I got to meet again all my friends from last year.

This year’s theme was “Purpose”, which is the force behind intention and mission. It’s what motivates our life and its meaning, both personally and professionally. A subject I’m particularly passionate about!


Key takeaways from Day 1

I will share with you some of my favorite takeaways from the many and diverse speakers.


Dr. Arthur C. Brooks (Harvard Professor, Atlantic Columnist, Social Scientist specializing in happiness, Speaker)

Happiness is not a feeling, it’s a direction. Happiness is made of 3 macro-nutrients, which we can purposely feed:

  • Dr. Arthur C. BrooksEnjoyment = pleasure + people + memories (you need to combine all three to really enjoy something)
  • Satisfaction = joy after struggle. If we avoid struggle, we will never experience satisfaction.
  • Meaning = our life and our sense of identity need to feel coherent, significant, and have a purpose.

Some questions to ask ourselves:

  • Why am I alive? (find the transcendental reason for existence)
  • For what would I give my life today?


Alla Klymenko (Psychologist, Author, Motivational Speaker)

Alla KlymenkoWhat does it mean to feel lost? Being lost is a fabulous thing, it means you’re moving, you’re in the best place, and you can learn to trust.

  1. Realize it’s OK: work with the resistance instead of trying to get out of it.
  2. Bring your power back: when you know your ‘why’, pain is OK = connect to the bigger purpose
  3. Have fun with yourself: don’t take yourself too seriously
  4. Find the connections: connect with others, share your wildest dreams, and find out about theirs. You’re never alone.


Prof. Lord Richard Layard (Emeritus Professor of Economics at London School of Economics & Political Science)

Prof Layard quoteAs per his LinkedIn profile, “Richard Layard is an economist who thinks there is more to happiness than just the economy. In 2005 he wrote the best-selling book Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, translated into 20 languages, and in 2014 a follow-up on mental health called Thrive. He has had a huge influence in making psychological therapy more widely available in Britain’s National Health Service. But most important of all he is co-founder of Action for Happiness, an international movement to promote a happier way of living.”

Prof. Layard made the case for including wellbeing in global policies. He urged us to reach out to and influence all economic and political actors, to put wellbeing first. The United Nations is holding a Summit of the Future in September 2024, where Prof. Layard believes the Como Wellbeing Manifesto must be considered. You are welcome to sign this manifesto and share it if wellbeing matters to you.

Prof Layard 2


Dr. Michael F. Steger (Psychology Professor, Author, Speaker, Director of the Center for Meaning and Purpose)

Dr. Steger offered this perfect image: “Purpose is throwing an anchor into the future”. Purpose is not the destination; in fact, we may never reach our purpose. Instead, it is our guiding star, the energy, the momentum toward a destination. Purpose is the arch that connects and supports where we are to where we want to go.

Dr. Steger pupose bridge Dr Steger - Building purpose 2 Dr Steger - Building purpose 1


Dr. Vivek Murthy (19th and 21st US Surgeon General)

Dr. MurthyDr. Murthy’s inspiring talk was about the importance of purpose and connection in fostering happiness and building resilient communities. Social isolation and loneliness are an epidemic with heavy consequences on health and society. It is a societal issue and responsibility to “stitch back together the fabric of society”.

The most treasured resource we undervalue: friendship! “The friends that give you love are the most useful friends”.

A major concern is how social media is replacing person-to-person social connections, especially among children and young people. “What’s happening in social media is the equivalent of having children in cars that have no safety features and driving on roads with no speed limits, no traffic lights, and no rules whatsoever. And we’re telling them: ‘you know what, do your best – figure out how to manage it.’ It is insane if you think about it.”


Dr. Kelli Harding, MD (Psychiatrist, Public Health Doctor, Author, Medical Educator)

Dr. HardingShe shared this quote from Victor Frankl: “Those who have a why to live can bear with almost any how

A high life purpose is shown to lower inflammatory markers, increase cardiovascular health (72% reduction of stroke, 44% reduction of heart disease), and increase life expectancy.

How do we find purpose when we feel lost? The doctor’s remedy:

  • Take a dose of trust/faith
  • Take a dose of creativity
  • Take a dose of learning


Alberto Nobis (CEO of VTG) & Jackie Henry (Managing Partner People and Purpose at Deloitte UK)

These two corporate figures highlighted how much “profit with purpose leads to a thriving business”. Purpose is not just defining a nice catchphrase, but it must be a commitment, a moral agreement at all layers of the company.

How would you know your company is living its purpose?

  • Define KPIs and measure purpose
  • Measure it in leaders too
  • Measure customers’ happiness every day (your detractors will tell you exactly what you can do to improve)
  • Measure how much the interventions and innovations are coming from the bottom up, value that!

Nobis & Henry


LaFawn Davis (Environmental, Social & Governance Executive at Indeed)

This beautiful lady with the most stunning flowery dress offered us this quote: “Life can feel random and chaotic. Awareness, intentionality, and an unwavering sense of purpose are the foundations for hope in navigating your life’s journey”. To find harmonious alignment with our purpose, we have to define our purpose and how aligned we are in our personal and professional lives, with the following:

  • Authentic introspection
  • Know thyself, trust thyself
  • Progress over perfection

LaFawn Davis- Annan's quote


Dr. Amit Sood, MD (CEO at The Global Center for Resiliency and Wellbeing)

Dr. Sood

Such a fun and witty presentation from Dr. Sood! The average person has 150 pending tasks in their brain. We also get brain fatigue after 60-90 minutes on a task. Our brain is hungry for RUM, every 60-90 minutes, take “RUM” 😄

  • Rest
  • Uplifting emotions
  • Motivation

RUM practices: morning gratitude exercise, welcoming a cute 360 feedback from our kid, accepting one annoyance from our loved one, etc. Be creative!


Dr. Sandro Formica (Positive Organizational Psychology, Luxury Hospitality Human Sustainability, Chief Happiness Officer Certificate Program Director, Engagement & Retention Adviser)

Dr. Formica offered a generous and interactive workshop. The theme was “Discovering purpose at work: a journey to fulfillment”. And so we got to work, answering the questions below and sharing with our fellow participants.

  1. Dr. FormicaSelf-knowledge: who are you truly? is your purpose aligned with “your being” at work?
  2. Self-determination: what are you truly doing? how aligned are you at work and in general?
  3. Self-regulation: can you stay on purpose? what behaviors will support your purpose?
  4. Measure purpose: scope (narrow or wide), strength (the power manifested in thoughts, words, and deeds), awareness (are you and your colleagues constantly aware of it?)
  5. Take a final look at your purpose: what’s behind it?
    1. Your intention: to pursue it or not
    2. Your commitment: are you all in or not?
    3. The pro-social nature of your purpose: what impact do you want to have on others

Write it all down, and when you have a clear statement (starting with an action term + through the what and how), share it on your website, on LinkedIn, etc.

A synchronized aha-moment in the audience happened when Dr. Formica said “Spend your life or invest your life, choose wisely”!


End of day 1

As you can tell, day 1 was packed with so much insight and wisdom, punctuated with music and dancing thanks to workplace wellbeing campaigner DJ MoodSwing (Rob Stephenson), and this is not even a full review of everything and everyone. Stay tuned for the key takeaways of day 2…

London 19-03-24-5 London 19-03-24-3 London 19-03-24-2 London 19-03-24

If you enjoyed this blog you should know, I offer life coaching to people on an existential journey, as they wrestle with their desire to find hope and their feeling of powerlessness in what can seem to be a broken world.

I love to help my clients embrace hope and purpose, so that they can find a new way to look at and move through the world that feels meaningful.

With curiosity and altruism, I use my heart-led approach to expand my clients' perspectives and resilience, and generate harmony and growth.

If you want a better world, it all must start within yourself to then spread out and make a magnificent ripple effect across humanity. Each of us is a thread in the fabric of life, interwoven, interconnected. Everything we do matters beyond ourselves! Let's rekindle your soul's spark and feed the world's light.