World Happiness Summit 2024 (Day 2)

London tower bridge

Here is the second part of my report on the 2024 World Happiness Summit, which took place in London UK, on 19-20 March 2024. If you missed the first part, read about Day 1 here.

In case you are wondering, the World Happiness Summit is anything but a toxic positivity festival. If you think worrying about happiness only belongs to the rich, self-centered, and/or superficial, read my two blog posts attentively. Our ability to attend such a conference in person indeed denotes a certain wealth and freedom, which many do not have access to. And I believe it is precisely because we have that power to attend events like this one, learn from experts in many different fields, and get inspired and connected, that we can then influence (in small or large ways) the world for the greater good. To advocate for those who can’t. In fact, the vast majority of attendees is committed to serving others, in being the change we wish to see in the world. Are you?


Key takeaways from Day 2

Grab a cup and buckle up, that’s a long and worthy one 😉 where I share some of my favorite takeaways…


Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener (Author of Positive Provocation, Researcher, Coach trainer at Positive Acorn)

Dr Biswas-DienerHis talk was something else, just like last year. He starts with a story and you wonder where he will take you. This year it was an invitation to appreciation and connoisseurship. Connoisseurship is a form of expertise, having a vocabulary and depth of knowledge allowing an appreciation of details; it requires an emotional experience. He illustrated his point by dissecting the clever cover of a comic book, the interpretation of an abstract painting and its forgery, and the details of courtroom illustrations (what is chosen to be depicted and what is purposefully left out).

“Learning is the seed to expertise”. Expertise allows us to appreciate the meaning of details, which in turn allows us to have “more vibrant and purposeful lives”.


Karen Guggenheim (Author of Cultivating Happiness, Founder/CEO WOHASU®, Board of Director World Wellbeing Movement)

Karen’s talk was about the ripples of WOHASU. It all started after the death of her husband in March 2013, when her world and her identity collapsed. Her children were her purpose, they were the fuel to keep her going. So she chose happiness and made it her mission to inspire others across the world. And so WOHASU was born.

Another ripple is her recent book “Cultivating Happiness: Overcome trauma and positively transform your life“, where she shares her transformative journey of post-traumatic growth.

Karen Guggenheim

This was followed by yet another ripple I am personally proud of… our book “The Happiness of Coaching: Inspiring Stories from the World’s Happiest Coaches” being mentioned on stage. This book is a ripple of last year’s WOHASU in Como, as 17 of us, coaches, met there for the first time. 17 women who choose and create happiness to support and empower others. Our personal stories have the common theme of how we chose happiness in the face of adversity, grief, hardship, illness, and many other difficult paths. And each of us was excited and grateful for this public recognition (thank you Karen and WOHASU Team!).

By the way, grab your paper or Kindle copy here! 😉

The Happiness of Coaching Book


Human Sustainability Panel: Troy Armour (Impact Entrepreneur Redefining the World’s GDP, CEO & Visionary at Junk Kouture The World’s First Sport for Creatives) & Heather White (Founder & CEO of OneGreenThing, Author, National Sustainability & Climate Leader, Eco-Anxiety Expert)

Jen Fisher, Human Sustainability Leader at Deloitte, moderated this panel. She started by reading this:

“Humans. We’re born dreamers. Doers. Problem-solvers. We imagine a better world and we make it happen. This is something only humans can do, and it starts with our own wellbeing. But the stark truth is, our lives are no longer sustainable, not just for our planet, but for our people. Climate anxiety. Inequity. Distrust. Burnout. These are humans problems, and they’re all connected. But they have a solution. It’s called Human Sustainability.

It means organizations and leaders taking responsibility, prioritizing people and moving forward with purpose. It means treating human outcomes as a measure of success, tracking progress and finding ways to improve. It means redesigning systems with equity in mind, making them sustainable for everyone, now and in the future.

As dreamers. Doers. Problem-solvers. We can see what a better world would look like. Now we need to come together to make it happen. Human Sustainability. A better future takes all of us.”

Junk Kouture: Competition winner who crocheted video cassettes

Junk Kouture: Competition winner who crocheted video cassettes

Troy Armour created Junk Kouture, which is a sustainable fashion competition, that is “open to 12-19 year-olds and challenges young people to design, upcycle and create high-end Kouture from recycled Junk, before showcasing their design and representing their school on stages across the world”. But truly, it’s more than that. It’s what Troy would have loved to have access to when he was a teenager: somewhere where struggling kids, bullied kids, introvert kids, outlier kids, can use their creativity to express and be seen for who they are. He shared moving stories of life transformation through the Junk Kouture program. Troy said, “No one changes the world by being like everyone else, and if we’re seen for who we are, it changes everything in the world”. His challenge is to get investments for a business where the product is not about consumption, but impact!

This was followed by a beautiful fashion show by several very creative teenagers who had won various competitions. Each costume and each girl had a meaningful story.

Junk Kouture Fashion Show

Heather White, Founder of One Green Thing, a mother of eco-engaged children, “helps tackle the mental health impacts of the climate crisis. After more than two decades leading environmental organizations […] she is bringing her know-how to help turn the anxiety and overwhelm of the climate emergency into daily, consistent, personalized action.” She shared the sad statistic “1 in 4 young people don’t want to have kids of their own, not by choice but because of climate anxiety”. She also quote Arianna Huffington “burned-out people will keep burning up the planet”. The feeling of powerlessness for such a massive global issue can paralyze us. How can we step out of paralysis (or denial), by adopting “One Green Thing” in our daily lives, one sustainable activity that gives us a sense of agency. By taking an assessment on their website, based on Myers-Briggs test, we can get a personalized recommendation of where to start.

Troy also shared the story of a young woman who was interviewed at a fashion show and was asked about her generation being “the voice of the future”. She replied “We are not the voice of the future, we are the voice of now!” We better be listening to the young generations, their needs, their fears, and their dreams, and act on them!


Dr. Raj Sisodia (FEMSA Distinguished University Professor of Conscious Enterprise and Chairman) & Dr. Neha Sangwan (Physician, CEO, Corporate Burnout, Mental Health, Wellness, Leadership, Communication, & Culture Transformation Expert)

This conversation was moderated by Elina Teboul (Former Lawyer, Speaker, and Leadership Expert Driving Business Success with Purpose and Social Impact).

WOHASU_Raj Sisodia-Neha SangwanBefore the talk started, we had the chance to learn how to dance in case we were ever invited to an Indian wedding! On some Bollywood music, we first had to hold the ceiling, then imagine the ceiling wasn’t flat, we then proceeded to screw a light bulb while petting the dog while spinning. Now I’m ready – I think… 😄

Dr. Sisodia had already inspired me last year in Como, as he shared stories on conscious capitalism. He wrote several books on the topic and made a strong and convincing point that we need to “rekindle the heroic purpose of business”. Everything we create, every business, every product needs a purpose: to bring more joy, to ensure the wellbeing of all stakeholders, and to embody conscious leadership and a conscious culture at work. He asked, “Do we have to hurt and kill people to make money?” – or maybe we can be inspired by his many examples of conscious capitalism and change how we do business.

He argued that our world revolves around profit, but all of life must be at the center of our universe and the rest to revolve around it! “We need red blood cells to live (money), but it’s not our purpose to produce red blood cells, nor is it the most important”.

Dr. Neha Sangwan was also present last year. As a medical doctor in the ER, she had burned out and is now on a quest to prevent burnout. This year, she invited us to

  • be mindful of the signs of burnout (exhaustion, cynicism, and ineffectiveness)
  • question if people, situations, or activities are draining us or energizing us (emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually)
  • know our body map (where do we feel our emotions, where is our body signaling us what is going on)
  • examine the top 3 repeated thoughts we have day-in-day-out
  • examing the top 5 people we spend time with or get inspired by (they feed our thoughts and influence our lifestyle)
  • know our values
  • define where we would take risks

Their common quest is to encourage humans and corporations to become whole, by combining a tough mind with a gentle heart, and by loving and caring for ourselves and others. It is also about embodying and balancing both masculine and feminine energies, which all of us carry regardless of our gender. Our world and our bodies need the feminine energy to take its rightful place. Think of yin-yang equilibrium.


Marc van Lokven (Founder & CEO Marvalous Health – Brain Trainer & Coach)

Former pilot and squadron commander in the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Marc van Lokven became interested in understanding and improving the brain’s capacity for treating information. Not only does he train and coach high-performance teams, but he also helps people “recover from neurological disorders, stress, burnout, depression, and traumatic brain injury”. He shared this mind-blowing information: “Statistics show that today we receive as much information in 1 day as what people received in their lifetime 700 years ago…” The issue with that is the struggle to get in flow and be efficient. Too much stress is too much data for our brain to process. But when we find peace of mind and have more space in the bucket of our brain, time stretches as if we could slow down everything = think faster and act faster => that’s flow.

More brain capacity => more resilience => more room to reflect => more in the flow => more inner peace => more empathy => more connected! That’s how we can “be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Ghandi).

He also shared Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ quote: “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”.Marc van Lokven


Ricardo Sunderland (Transformational Coach for Experienced & Emerging CEOs, Leadership Development Consultant at Egon Zehnder)

“If you follow your energy, you get a deeper connection to your purpose”. And how do you do that? It’s about connecting the brain with the heart and body. Three questions help us get in touch with that energy:

  • what gives you energy?
  • what takes away your energy?
  • where is it in your body?

The more we pay attention to the energy in our body, the more we follow its wisdom, the more its awareness expands and creates a life compass to our purpose.

“Your body will always speak your truth”.


Sarah Cunningham (Managing Director of the World Wellbeing Movement (WWM), Host of Working on Wellbeing podcast, Co-author of WWM Work Wellbeing Playbook, Behavioural Scientist)

Sarah CunninghamSarah Cunningham is a great storyteller, but what she shared wasn’t just a story but the hard truth about the ineffectiveness of individual wellbeing interventions in the workplace. An important study from 2023 by Dr. William Flemming showed that “while the existing evidence is generally positive about these interventions, disagreement is increasing because of concerns that individual-level interventions do not engage with working conditions”. Because companies tend to burden their employees with finding inner resources for their wellbeing, by providing interventions such as resilience training, mindfulness, and wellbeing apps. However these companies are not taking responsibility for their structural and organizational issues that are usually the source of stress, unwellness, and even burnout. Breathing exercises and mindfulness work, but they are not enough when facing unrealistic deadlines and workloads, and demanding leaders.

Companies need a holistic approach to wellbeing. Sarah talks about the framework in this video of her talk. She then shared a playbook created by the Work Wellbeing Movement, accessible to all. Link here -> Workplace wellbeing playbook.


Mei Xu (Founder @ Bluemefragrance, Fragrance Industry Expert, Successful Entrepreneur, Design and Innovation) & Dr. Paule Joseph (Chemosensory Scientist, Nurse, Bestseller Author, Educator, Philanthropist)

This interactive talk was about the surprising fact that smell impacts our wellbeing. Smells can transport us to memories, and reassure us in difficult times, but they also do much more than that, as can be seen on the image below.


Mei Xu and Paule Joseph

Mei Xu shared that Target stores in the US noticed a pattern: large orders of scented candles are locally placed after a disaster (tornados, floods, wildfires, etc.) when people have to leave their homes and everything behind. They buy scented candles to find comfort in their temporary shelter. Smells impacting wellbeing, who knew? Well, now we know and we can use that to our advantage. Bluemefragrance has developed smells (“functional fragrance backed by science”) eliciting inner states (happiness, balance, romance, spirituality, nostalgia, renew), which we all got to test on little cards during the talk. And yet, we can simply turn to our favorite fragrance whenever we need to relax, and consciously use the power of smells for our wellbeing.


Prof. Richard Layard (Emeritus Professor of Economics at London School of Economics & Political Science), Prof Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (Professor of Economics & Director, Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford), Leoni Boyle (Graduate of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge), Dr Jose Marquez (Research Associate at the Wellbeing Research Centre)

WHR 2024As per the World Happiness Report (WHR)’s website, it is “a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the WHR’s Editorial Board. The WHR reflects a worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and well-being as criteria for government policy. It reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.” Its first edition was created in 2012. This year, it was released on the day of this talk, 20 March 2024, and presented at WOHASU by those behind this edition.


What’s new this year is they included teenagers and children and focused on generational differences, which give a very different picture. While Central Eastern Europe is climbing up the happiness ladder, the rich Western countries have young people less happy than older people, an unusual feature. In fact, some of the richest countries (USA, Germany) are falling down the ladder. Happiness is not just a “first-world” luxury. Or maybe it used to be for older generations. But now it’s different when looking at the ranking of young people under 30. This report not only looks at “happiness”, but it drills down to other contributing factors: social support, loneliness, negative emotions, benevolent acts, freedom to make choices, perceptions of corruption, healthy life expectancy at birth, etc.). A really interesting read!


Dr. Laurie Santos (Yale Professor, Scientist, Podcast Host) & Dr. Rangan Chatterjee (Host of Europe’s #1 Health and Wellbeing Podcast, BBC Media Doctor, Author)

Dr Santos & Dr ChatterjeeThis wasn’t a WOHASU talk like the others. This was a (partial) podcast recording that we participated in! (hear my cheering voice and clapping in the background?😆) Dr. Santos invited Dr. Chatterjee on her podcast “The Happiness Lab”. Dr. Chatterjee discussed the importance of happiness for health: “Happier people will generally make better lifestyle choices”. And also “groups of people with generally lower mood got 3 times more sick by COVID”. The good news is that happiness is a skill we can get better at, it is a three-legged stool:

  1. living in alignment with our values
  2. living in contentment (= calm & peace) by wanting what we have, instead of wanting what we don’t have and imagining it will bring us happiness
  3. having a sense of control over one’s life

A suggested exercise is to write down our own happy ending. Imagine being on your deathbed and reviewing your life. What are the 3 things you would want to have spent time on? Write them down. For example:

  • Spend quality time with loved ones -> define a weekly habit for it (e.g. at least 3 family dinners per week, 1 phone call to a friend, etc.)
  • Spend time having an impact -> define a weekly habit
  • Spend time on something I’m passionate about -> define a weekly habit

These weekly habits need to be written down and displayed visibly. They enable us to set boundaries to protect what truly matters. They enable us to feel that sense of control, alignment, contentment, and therefore happiness.

This podcast recording was going so well, and it was so interesting… BUT… we only got to hear half of it. I can’t wait to hear the rest when it comes out. Check it out here!


Amy Blankson (Keynote Speaker, Bestselling Author, Chief Evangelist for the Digital Wellness Institute) & AJ Hess (Staff Editor at Fast Company)

AJ Hess - Amy BlanksonThe talk titled “Digital balance: the missing metric in workplace happiness”, resonated with some of what we had heard before. We heard multiple speakers talk about burnout, stress, brain fatigue, etc. Dr. Murthy, the day before, mentioned the damage social media can do to children and young people, and Sarah Cunningham talked about the modern workplace demands that include being spammed with work notifications 24/7. Amy Blankson shared that since the pandemic, our time on screens has increased by 30%! Digital wellbeing is something companies and individuals need to be mindful of and actively support. It starts with an awareness from measured data. Companies can and should measure digital use (e.g. how many hours we spend in front of a screen) and implement what is needed to protect their employees’ health and wellbeing. And that’s also something we can do at our individual level, by checking our phone settings and app usage for example.


Nick Katsoris (Founder and President of the Loukoumi Make a Difference Foundation) & Nadim Saad (Founder & CEO of The Happy Confident Company, Children’s Wellbeing Advocate, Speaker, Best-Selling Author & Coach)

“Happiness for future generations panel”, moderated by Elisa Juarez (Social Impact Strategist, Inclusive Culture Architect, International Speaker, and Best-Selling Author).

Nick Katsoris presented his “Loukoumi Make a Difference Foundation“, and children’s books he’s written. He inspires children to do good deeds and to contribute to their communities. Through the foundation’s work, now over 130’000 children “learned that philanthropy can be fun and it significantly improves their self-esteem, mental health and overall happiness. ”

Nadim Saad is “preparing the next generation to make this world a better place”. He wrote the book “Kids Don’t Come With a Manual”, as he learned firsthand that no matter our level of academic education, parenting solely on our instinct is mostly about reproducing our childhood dynamics (not always the best). As he didn’t like seeing himself as that kind of parent, he studied child psychology and neuroscience, to better equip himself and others. He has rolled out programs for schools, with 5-10-minute tools that are easy to integrate in busy classrooms, all to foster “happy confident” kids, and therefore future adults. He also offers transformational tools for children, for parents, and for the whole family.

Nick Katsoris - Nadim Saad


Dr. Fred Luskin (Faculty Stanford Executive Program GSB, Director Stanford Forgiveness Projects)

Last year, I wrote the following: “I was extremely moved by Frederic Luskin’s deep (and witty) take on forgiveness, which he qualifies as “making peace when life sucks”. Healing our own heart and connecting to human existential suffering with compassion is how we can heal humanity and contribute to the world. Many tears in the audience…”

I could say exactly the same this year. Yet again it hit me right in the heart and broke it wide open. Not in a bad way, but in a cathartic and healing way. I have so much gratitude for his message and his work.

Last year’s talk is available on YouTube, and I can’t recommend it enough!

Here are some treasures from this year:

“Happiness is an experience of right now, not the future, not the rewriting of the past, but now, wanting what you have. Stress is wanting anything else.”

When we don’t forgive and hold a grudge or stay in victim attitude, it’s like saying “Yesterday sucked, so let’s make sure we ruin today too”.

Forgiveness is “giving up hope for a better past”, it is acceptance we can’t change the past, not acceptance of what has happened.

“We blame others for removing from us our trust, love, and innocence, … but no one can remove that from us. We can lose it for a while, but we have it in us, we own our parts. We can trust our heart to recover and no one can take that away from us.”

“The wound is eclipsing the sun (goodness, love, hope). We put the wound in front of us and think the sun is gone. But it’s always there hiding behind our wound.” Instead of holding the wound in front of us, we can choose to pay attention to human kindness and catalog the goodness and love we already have. We can ask ourselves “In the last few days, who’s been kind to me? where is the kindness? Then pick one of those instances and from the center of our heart say ‘thank you’ and let it go’.

He shared the beautiful and impactful poem by Jane Kenyon:

I got out of bed on two strong legs.

It might have been otherwise.

I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.

It might have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill to the birch wood.

All morning I did the work I love.

At noon I lay down with my mate.

It might have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks.

It might have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls,

and planned another day just like this day.

But one day, I know,

it will be otherwise.

—Jane Kenyon

Suffering is inevitable in this life. Nothing is permanent. But we can choose kindness, trust, gratitude, and peace.


Ismael Cala (Life and Business Strategist, Bestselling Author, International Speaker and Entrepeneur)

Ismael Cala made us meditate throughout the conference, discuss with and hug our unknown seat neighbors, and dance ‘like bamboos’ on a song he wrote with the help of artificial intelligence. Then he shared the 11 principles of bamboo leaders (in the image below). Bamboos are known for being exceptionally strong (stronger than oaks), despite their flexibility.Ismael Cala


End of day 2

I returned home from WOHASU 2024 filled with awe and a renewed sense of purpose. I am thankful for the beautifully curated content by the WOHASU team, the wisdom and generosity of all the speakers, for our book “The Happiness of Coaching” being mentioned on stage, and for the most touching sense of belonging and community among the facilitators and participants.

This trip was also filled with meaningful friendships, mind-boggling synchronicities, soulful experiences and beauty. There will be happy ripples! Keep an eye on here…


Something magical happens at WOHASU, grab your next chance to go! Join the waiting list for WOHASU 2025 and be the first to know about all the exciting updates, inspiring speakers, and transformative experiences awaiting you!

Immerse yourself in a world of positivity, connection, and personal growth. Whether it’s engaging talks, interactive workshops, or meaningful connections, the summit offers something for everyone on the path to happiness and wellbeing.

See you at WOHASU 2025!



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.