What will bring about the most substantial increase in happiness?
Well, that is a pretty giant question, but one thing is for sure, if we were to start working together with happiness specifically in mind, that energy being given in the name of joy will help it increase.
And that is what is happening at the World Happiness Forum. WHF is a non-profit organization that sponsors a yearly conference in places such as Davos, Switzerland and Sydney, Australia…
Through this impressive collaboration, peoples of all walks of life, degrees, and experience are joining forces to consciously spread contentment through WHF.
I was able to chat with director of WHF, Sasha Kahan. Here’s what she had to say…
EoC: Why was the World Happiness Forum originally created?
SK: WHF was launched following the enormous success of the Happiness & Its Causes conference, which itself was launched in 2006. The conference attracted people from a wide cross section of the community – different professional groups, religious denominations and interests. We became interested in setting up an organisation that such a diverse group could identify with, which was secular, non-profit and aligned to the clear goal of enhancing human happiness. In the world of business and finance, there is much interest in the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos. So we thought, let’s create an organisation focused on what is arguably an even more important theme, the World Happiness Forum!
EoC: What aspects have been most vital in helping fulfill the WHF’s mission statement?
SK: WHF is very focused on delivering events that feature the world’s top people in their respective fields. That might sound cliched but it is actually what we do – whether it is Nobel Prize winners, scientists, philosophers or humanitarians. We’ve continually working to bring the world’s best to our events. So the speakers and content that we deliver is unparalleled.
EoC: Can you describe some of the research that WHF is doing to understand happiness?
SK: Our focus is not on our own original research. Rather our focus is finding those working in the field who are doing the research and bringing them to our events.
EoC: How often and where does WHF hold conferences on happiness?
SK: The original and still the main conference is Happiness & Its Causes in Australia, which has run annually for the past 5 years. In addition, from time to time we run conferences in overseas locations. Over the last two years, we have run two conferences in London and conferences in Singapore and San Francisco.
EoC: How can a person become involved in a conference or educational program held by WHF?
SK: They can contact our Director directly by email or telephone and let her know what they have in mind.
EoC: Is there one specific technique that has shown itself to be more beneficial than others in the research of happiness?
SK: It seems that happiness comes through actions and thoughts that are focused on others, rather than ourselves. So the best ‘happiness enhancers’ are things like being generous, volunteering and other ways of engaging with others.
EoC: Are there certain parallel aspects in the research on why certain societies are happy and others are not?
SK: I think the major finding of the international happiness studies is that beyond a base level of economic development, which serves to meet the basic necessities of life, happiness is not linked to a country’s economic standing.
EoC: Can you share an inspiring story that has come from the creation of WHF?
SK: Our work has become known in Bhutan of all places. One of our Directors, Renate Ogilvie, has represented WHF in Bhutan twice in the last year and she has met with many senior officials from the government, including the Prime Minister himself. They are really interested in ways that they can share with the world their own experiences with happiness and to learn how the country can enhance economic development without bringing the type of social problems that are prevalent in the West.
EoC: What advice do you have for people that want to increase their happiness?
SK: Come to Happiness & Its Causes! Really, get to know the many facets of human happiness, work through the different approaches and adopt ways of thinking that are appropriate to you. There is no ‘one size fits all’.