Part II Learnings from the World Happiness Summit (WOHASU)

This past weekend, I attended the second annual World Happiness Summit, WOHASU for short, at the University of Miami. WOHASU’s mission is to make the world a happier place.

The theme of this year’s conference was Positive Disruption.

In this series of two articles, I am sharing the highlights of my learnings.

Is the pursuit of happiness moral, or are we being selfish?

We live in a world of “or.” It’s either black or white. Hot or cold. It’s not about happiness ORmorality, but about happiness ANDmorality.

There are three lenses to look at this through. 

  1. Time
  2. Being honest
  3. Giving 


Key to happiness 

– savoring (presence) and heartfelt positivity 

– time affluence and the slow movement

Key to morality

– absent of time, you do things you normally wouldn’t, you become immoral

– we become reactive to the lack of time

“When we don’t have time, we deviate from our best selves”


Honesty pays, there is an emotional and psychological cost. When we are honest, my words matter, I matter. When we are dishonest, my words don’t matter, I don’t matter. 

Honesty increases self-esteem and therefor happiness, which drives us to continue to stay honest. Honesty and happiness are two sides of the same coin, and we are the coin.

Honesty, or the lack thereof, can have a big impact on an organization. When employees are being dishonest or the organizational culture pushes them into this direction, the organization pays a high price. The top people will leave and it spreads like a tumor.


Generosity leads to happiness and success.  When we give, we receive. We get inspired by others’ happiness. Just like honesty, generosity increases self-esteem and happiness, which motivates us to continue to give. It’s an upward spiral of generosity. 

We can be egoistical and altruistic. We can be selfish and selfless.

We are SELFUL.

Constructing resiliency

Becoming more resilient will allow us to increase our levels of happiness and bounce back faster when faced with adversity. Below are six resilience building tools

  1. Capacity to choose: Focus on the good, the positive. The glass is half full, not half empty.
  2. Invest in strengths: We have a lot of strength already within us. We can decide how we show up. What internal strength can we tap into?
  3. Activate true hope: Face reality as it is. We cannot change it, but we can create a slightly better future every day.
  4. Construct meaning: We give meaning to everything but we don’t always pause to analyze the significance, the coherence and purpose and maybe we can reconstruct the meaning.
  5. Connect….like seriously: First, we need to connect to ourselves and then we connect to others. Interaction with others has proven to increase our happiness. 
  6. Live into paradox: We can be imperfect and magnificent. Falling apart and growing. Sad and hopeful. Vulnerable and brave. Broken and whole. Paradox is the root of health and resilience.

The power of stories

We are story making machines. It is a fundamental part of being human beings. Stories reflect and tell our life and they are our life. We create our identity through our stories and our interactions.

The stories connect the dots of our lives and writing has shown to have a positive effect on our cardiovascular system, immune system and other organs. Writing creates meaning.

Life is full of events and we filter and process them. 

We are also conditioned with cognitive negative bias. Positive thoughts pass through the brain like Teflon, negative thoughts stick like Velcro. The good news is that we can retrain our brain.

How do you connect the stories of the dots in your life?

Happy Humans

What choices can we make to be more happy? Take your MEDS!!!





These are pretty good, but might not all apply to you, and you can think of four or five things you need to focus on to increase your happiness.

Find more meaning and purpose. This is uniquely yours. You own the roadmap to your own happiness. 

Embrace being human. Our human experience is the pathway to happiness. Our life is just one giant experiment. We will never find out if we don’t try. 

  1. It has to go through your body
  2. All of your life expression has to come from your body

Broadcasting happiness

We are all broadcasters whether we work in the newsroom or not. We transmit emotions verbally and non-verbally. Here are some broadcasting happiness tips.

Power lead: What is the story you lead with in a conversation? Try to start by saying something positive and meaningful to start an interaction. It will change the tone of the entire interaction.

Now step: What is the smallest action you can take right now? If you are stuck in a situation and you don’t know how to solve it, what is one small thing you can do? Taking even the tiniest step in the right direction can create a more positive engagement and will motive you to keep going.

Notes of gratitude: Positively influence your life by bringing in more gratitude. Every day, for the next 21 days, send a two-minute email or text praising or thanking                              someone. It should only be a line or two to make it simple and impactful.

Are you up for the challenge?

Speakers included: Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, Dr. Maria Sirois, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Dr. Margarita Tarragona, Gopi Kallayil, Dr. Fred Luskin

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