World Happiness Forum Collaborating for Global Joy

July 14, 2010

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’.

Promotion of Collaboration is Vital Says Vijay Govindarajan in Harvard Business Interview

March 22, 2010

How do we stay an active participant in the emerging markets of the global economy?

The future is based on innovation and collaboration according to Vijay Govindarajan, a Professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. In this interesting quickie interview by Harvard Business, Govindarajan explains how we can be an active participant in the ever-changing business world…

Steven Strogatz Explains Natural Cooperation on TED

March 12, 2010

Have you ever wondered how or why flocks of birds seem to fly together in perfect unison? It has always amazed me how their ingrained ability to work together can create beautiful waves of motion in the air.

In a great speech about nature’s collaboration, mathematician Steven Strogatz, offers a reason for Mother Nature’s synchronized acts. Then, taking it a step farther, he applies it to other aspects of life, as well. Strogatz helps to clearly verbalize that the interlacing of natural cooperation is truly right before our eyes.

Snow Sports Coalition Visits Washington

February 3, 2010

Snow Sports Coalition Visits Washington to Discuss Implications of a Warming Environment

Generations, a short film about climate change and winter, viewed by Congress

Boulder, CO (Feb. 1, 2010)-Jeremy Jones, eight-time Big Mountain Snowboarder of the Year visited one of the most world renowned hills in the world, this time without a snowboard. On Wednesday, January 27, Jeremy Jones along with a coalition of winter sport filmmakers and industry representatives shared a new perspective on climate change with lawmakers on Capitol Hill: the economic, social and intangible values of winter.

Jones represented Protect Our Winters (POW), the environmental non-profit he founded in 2007 as a voice for the winter sports community in the climate change discussion. Jones was joined by Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director of POW, Steve Jones, Founder of Teton Gravity Research (TGR), Elysa Hammond, Director of Environmental Stewardship of Clif Bar and Elizabeth Burakowski, PhD student in Earth Science Complex Systems Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

The two-day agenda included a screening of Generations, a short film about climate change and winter released this fall by TGR and Protect Our Winters and sponsored by outdoor industry leader, The North Face. Generations discusses climate change through the perspectives of those for whom snowy winters have a deeper personal significance. Featuring former ski resort developer Bill Jenkins, climatologist Elizabeth Burakowski, and some of the world’s most accomplished ski and snowboard athletes, the film humanizes and contextualizes the debate on climate change by exploring the intrinsic value of snow to people across generations and cultures.

In addition to the numerous awards won by Generations on the film festival circuit, the film received hearty congressional applause Tuesday evening among a theater of Congressmen, aides, staff and local environmental leaders, after being introduced by Congressman Jared Polis. Following the screening, Jeremy Jones, Steve Jones, Hammond and Steinkamp hosted a Q&A on their experience with climate change in the field and how winter sports enthusiasts everywhere can be part of the climate change solution.

The coalition met with key lawmakers and staff largely from U.S. mountain states who are also leaders on climate change and in key positions on the hill to influence the direction of this issue. Together, they shared their experiences, illustrating first-hand how climate change has had direct effects on the winter sports culture and the $6 billion winter sports industry. Participants included Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA), and senior energy and environment staff for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). The members and staff that the group met with are all key players in the climate and energy debate, most holding senior positions and even chairmanships on the central committees of influence.

The film showing, combined with one-on-one meetings, provided the Capitol Hill community with a fresh perspective of climate change, through the eyes of those on the front lines.

“When we started production of ‘Generations’ with The North Face over a year ago, the goal was to communicate the climate change we all see every day, to as many people as possible. Being here on Capitol Hill a year later, talking with the individuals who are literally deciding how climate change will effect us for generations is one of the most important things I’ve ever done,” said Jeremy Jones.

“The perspective provided by “Generations,” and the teams in the meetings this week, provided valuable and often overlooked component of the climate change debate in Washington,” explained Congressman Jared Polis, (D-CO). “The ski industry is the lifeblood of my district and climate change is already taking a toll,” said Polis. “These athletes are on the front lines of this crisis, watching snow, ice and communities disappear all over the world. In sharing their story with Congress, they are sharing the stories of many communities who are all desperately watching their way of life disappear with the warming planet. While the loss of skiing isn’t the worst consequence of climate change, these individuals show us how we all stand to be personally affected by this global problem.”

Who is Protect Our Winters

Protect Our Winters (POW) is a tax exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to reversing the global warming crisis by uniting the winter sports community and focusing efforts towards a common goal of winter preservation. POW was founded in 2007 by Jeremy Jones, a professional snowboarder who is passionate about preserving winter sport industry and culture for current and future generations. Built on the snowsports culture’s inspired dedication to reversing climate change, POW has become an innovative leader in sponsoring effective renewable power, progressive environmental education, and organizing and enabling unique grassroots action.

Who is TGR

Teton Gravity Research (TGR) is one of the fastest growing brands in the action sports industry. Founded in 1996, TGR has produced 18 award winning feature length films, numerous television series for Showtime, NBC, Fox Sports, and Fuel TV, and is known for its cutting edge media and lifestyles clothing line. TGR films showcase the world’s top snowboard, ski and surf athletes including Jeremy Jones, Ian Walsh, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, and Seth Morrison. TGR is a proud member of 1 Percent for the Planet and strongly believes in protecting the environment in which the team works and plays. TGR’s online presence,, is one of the leading online destinations in the action sports industry.

About The North Face®

The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company’s products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.

For more information, please contact:

Helping Haiti Survive Together

February 1, 2010

It is widely known the devastation that Haiti is experiencing. It is tragic, horrifying and sad to see the living conditions for those survivors.

In spirit of collaboration I would like to give some exposure to two very worthwhile operations that are giving their time and energy to help the people of Haiti.

Stand With Haiti is a non-profit that was actually based in Haiti long before the earthquake. On the ground for the last 20 years, Stand With Haiti was originally recommended to me by a dear doctor friend, Dr. Alex. Dr. Alex is in Haiti now helping the injured and sick. This is her organization of choice to help…and, for me, knowing that she has put her life on hold to help the Haitians, I believe she is really putting her money (and time) where her mouth is.

The Water School

The second non-profit that I would like to offer a loud thanks to is The Water School. I originally came across this organization via a friend that is doing a benefit climb up Mount Kilimanjaro in March to help bring clean water to people in Africa. Created in 2007 by Bob Dell, a water scientist, and Fraser Edwards, a businessman with decades of experience in partnering with indigenous leaders to implement lasting change, the two collaborated to make an ingenious piece of equipment that easily and cheaply disinfects and cleans water for thousands, if not millions, of people throughout Africa. 

The system is easy to teach and The Water School goes from village to village educating the people on how to give themselves the gift of clean water.

Now with the devastating effects of the Haiti earthquake, they are taking their life-saving purification system to another continent and nation.

Both of these non-profits can use our help. Even $5.00 makes a difference. In support and hope for all those in Haiti, thank you.

Robert Wright Talks About the Evolution of Cooperation and Our Future on TED

January 29, 2010

A tad cynical with a mixture of dry humor, author Robert Wright gives an entertaining speech about how “non-zero-sumness” — the network of linked fortunes and cooperation that has guided our evolution to this point, as defined by TED — is the basis of collaboration and creating a better world. Through his “grim inspiration” he defines how expanding our moral awareness is the founding factor in the growth of tolerance.

But why may surprise you…

Katherine Fulton TED Discussion on Collaboration and Regular Heroes

December 25, 2009

Discussing the importance of working together and how regular people are the new heroes, Katherine Fulton, an expert and activator of social change, gives an inspirational, uplifting TED speech…so appropriate for the holidays…

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