When I learned about a conference solely dedicated to Happiness, I jumped at the opportunity to go. A little digging unveiled that the World Happiness Summit was in its first year and was slated to be held in South Florida in March, a destination I haven’t been to in probably twenty years, or close to it.
I also used to live in Florida, so a return visit was long overdue. And, it was Miami after all, the city of fun and sun with swaying palm trees, great bars, bistros, restaurants and beaches.
The event spanned across a few days so I split my time up between The Langford and EAST Miami, both located in downtown Miami and around a ten minute Uber drive away from the venue, which was the trendy ICE Palace, known for hosting creative events.
When I arrived, people were already buzzing around and a few of the morning sessions had already started. It was a gorgeous sunny day and part of the conference was held outside on the ICE Palace’s lawn, where they set up comfy cushions for meditation and yoga sessions, chairs and tables and bright red hammocks. Oh joy!
Inside, the very urban and modern space was split between a main stage in the rear, a space with food, drink and organic chocolate tables, as well as a swing, art installations and smaller areas for break out sessions.
Lounge pop-ups were great for chatting with speakers or getting product demos from vendors. The #WOHASU hashtag was life size in the middle of the arena; fun pink cloud formations and green balloon balls surrounded it, which only added to the warm and fun atmosphere.
There were also people knitting, swinging, meditating and at times, dancing. The energy of Buddha was there in more ways than one, including in the DNA of the speakers, attendees, artists, yoga teachers and beyond.
They held yoga classes daily and on the last day, there was Zumba outside in a park a 15 or so minute walk away. (refer to the video at the end of this article – also posted on our YouTube Channel — for snippets on speakers, attendees, the crowd and the oh so fun Zumba class)
On the far left, as you entered the pavilion, vendors set up tables and booths, which ranged from happiness clothing, books, and literature to tea ceremonies, aromatherapy, jewelry, organic clothing lines, mindfulness technology and meditation apps.
Below, modeling one of the garments from Bask Miami which offers an array of hand woven Turkish towels, throws, blankets and cover ups, as well as baby blankets and cushions for one’s home, beach and boating needs. This was an absolutely perfect choice for my after Miami beach escape to the Caribbean.
The speaker line up was top notch and ranged from doctors, scientists, healers and yogis to educators, musicians, technologists and entrepreneurs.
Frankie Ruiz, Karla Dascal, Manuel S. Pietra and Natalie Martinez-Kalinina talked about Happiness initiatives and projects in the city of Miami.
Below, Maureen Healy, Award-Winning Author of Growing Happy Kids and a speaker at the event (she is also in my video below) #HappyKids
Lynne McTaggart, award-winning author of seven books, spoke on the law of intention and mindfulness, using The Clean Water and 9/11 Peace Intention experiments as examples. #PowerOfIntention
Canadian Para-alpine Champion, 2014 Gold Medal Sochi Paralympic Winter Games Josh Dueck inspired the audience with his story. Anything is possible when you want it badly enough and get that negative energy out of the way. #Inspiration
Ismael Cala, Media Personality, Motivational Author and Speaker, shared his experience and the importance of developing tools to promote what he refers to as emotional intelligence. #MindfulLiving #UnlockingEmotions
Michelle Gielan talked about her happiness experiment with her husband at CBS News.
A panel addressed Living in the Practice of Happiness. Meet lululemon, who was all over the show and a sponsor — they spoke on more than one occasion on their leadership in incorporating happiness from all corners of business. As part of the company’s ten year vision, lululemon is committed to a culture of mindful performance and supporting its people, its guests and its global communities to embrace a life of happiness. #HappinessAtWork
Below, Lord Richard Layard in the middle, an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and to the right, Mark Williamson, Founder of Action for Happiness.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian and spiritual leader: “Happiness is when you want nothing, and you want to give”…..need I say more?
So true, right? In other words:
Other notable speakers included Jennifer Moss, author of Unlocking Happiness at Work, Luke Iorio, President of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, Ecuardo Masse, expert in the Science of Integral Well-Being, Kike Santander, Doctor and founder of Santander Music Group, Saamdu Chetri, Director of the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan, yoga master Dharma Mittra, Emma Seppala, Stanford’s Science Director for Compassion and Altruism Research, yoga master Dharma Mittra, Smart Dubai’s Office’s Dr. Aisha Butti Bin Bishr, Corporate Trainer Shawn Achor, and Dr. Jeffrey A. Martin and Nichol Bradford of the Transformative Technology Lab at Sofia University (TTL) — LOVE what these guys are doing btw.
There was also Natalia Martinez of CIC Miami, nutritionist and holistic health coach Susan Duprey, HeartMath’s Howard Martin (have friends who are huge fans), Google’s Gopi Kallayil, who’s been on our TEDxBerkeley stage, Mikey Siegel of Consciousness Hacking, Black Tech Week’s founder Felecia Hatcher, Producer and Host of Speak Miami Robert Lee, TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher (who I know and adore, and can’t believe I missed altogether), Powerful Yogurt’s Carlos Ramirez, MeetMindfu’s Amy Baglan, eMindful’s Zev Suissa and The Sacred Space’s Karla Dascal among others.
Behind the scenes at World Happiness Summit are founders Luis Gallardo and Karen Guggenheim. Chairman of the Advisory Board is Manuel S. Pietra, Chief Mindfulness Officer is Suzanne Jewell, Director of Partnerships and Community Engagement is Katelyn Gimbel and Arianna Ayala is a Marketing Associate.
They even had a Happy Robot, which is a project by MIT Media Lab. Ognjen Rudovic, Javier Hernandez and Daniel Lopez-Martinez showed up to demo the MIT Happy Robot, which is developed using the existing Aldebaran Robotics NAO platform. The robot uses advanced computer vision techniques to automatically recognize human emotional states. It analyzes facial expressions to detect the number and intensity of smiles, hence assessing happiness levels in its interactions. It also dances btw.
The Bottom Line:
What made this event work for me wasn’t just that it had a long list of impressive speakers as noted above, although their wisdom, intention and warm energy certainly had a positive impact on the event. Nor was it that the event was held in lovely South Florida and boasted an interesting line up of vendors. Above and beyond, the event, which is only in its first year, was a success because of the mindful curation of attendees who not only had a positive outlook and willingness to participate in whatever came along, but they wanted to give back to whatever and whoever was in their path.
A healthy and happy mind stems from balance and being mindful every single day. Whenever you are not aware of being present, or are aware but simply not being present, is when you stray away from the path of NOW, which = happiness.
Giving back and committing to something bigger than yourself, is also core to happiness.
I loved that the Summit created an environment for people to slow down and truly be present. In that moment of being present, you become aware of how often you’re not in your day-to-day life. That awareness allows you to set up small acts each day to help get you back to as many NOW moments as possible daily.
The event attracted other like-minds and souls, so it was a great place to not just network with others who think like you but bond in ways that can be meaningful far beyond the conference itself. Meaningful relationships within a tribe that matters is instrumental in keeping you committed to leading a mindful life. In other words, community matters, especially if you haven’t had 20 or 30 years of practice walking that path alone.
There’s also incredible value in taking time to be silent, as hard as it is for the Type A personalities among us.
“The World Surrenders to a Silent Mind.”
The Summit not just applauded best practices I inherently know already work, like silence, yoga, a healthy lifestyle, balance, heart chakra meditation and more, but it guided you deeper into each of these aspects of our lives via smart coaches, mediums, intuitives, healers, artists and beyond. And, the attendees were as interesting, smart and inspirational as the speakers, a sign of an incredible conference.
And then there’s pure abundance and knowing that we are enough exactly as we are with no need to change or alter our DNA. Accepting ourselves allows others to accept us. Forgiving others allows others to be free and with that freedom is joy. Loving ourselves allows us to love others and to accept love from others.
Pure abundance is when we know that the universe is abundant and has plenty to provide and more importantly, will provide, when we only trust that this is a truth. There’s no doubt that there’s a source of abundance when our hearts are connected to giving and receiving. We also need to allow ourselves to receive and not worry when we let things go, something I continuously need to work on in my life.
The Power of Sound
Also discussed was the power of sound, which as a musician, I’ve been a fan of for years. Meaning…using sound everywhere in our lives including communication, as a way to relax, be connected and be present, while we work and play.
Sound can enlighten, it can heal, it can serve and it can create a sense of peace and belonging, whether it’s traditional music as we most hear it or sound therapy in other forms: chimes, the spoken word, gongs, wood instruments and beyond.
I have to mention breathe, because with mindful breathe comes mindful living in so many ways. Throughout the event, whether you participated in a breathing exercise or not, you were around others who were paying attention to their breathe, whether it was during a session in the main room or at a yoga class later in the day. It was amazing to be surrounded by a community who understood the magic of breathe and how mindful breathing can add vitality to our lives as well as joy.
Nutrition & Eating Healthy
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention food because food (the right food) is so instrumental to the vitality of our temples. Remember, garbage in, garbage out. Organic and sustainable food made with love in, then good health and love comes out. It’s the law of the universe.
We mirror what we are and we mirror what we eat. A healthy and balanced diet is critical to leading a happy and sustainable life.
In addition to healthy juice vendors exhibiting at the event, Full Bloom had a stand, which is one of the top vegan restaurants in Miami. Their eggplant pasta and jackfruit sandwiches were divine! More information at http://www.fullbloomvegan.com/ and they are included in our Miami Foodie Guide as well.
Video Summary of the Event:
Here’s a video compilation of the event, which comprises a mashup of nearly 3 minutes of talks, interviews, soundbites, music and activities at the World Happiness Summit.
Let’s hope they do this again next year – we’ll continue to cover this space and their event if the energy continues. We love what these guys are doing! See our write-up on Wisdom 2.0, a conference that is also dedicated to mindful living and consciousness in the San Francisco Bay Area.
World Happiness Summit Logistics:
Rather than fly into Miami, I opted to fly Jet Blue which has direct flights from SFO to Fort Lauderdale and wifi is free — can’t believe it took me this long to learn about their free wifi policy. Go Jet Blue! Plus, I was heading off to Aruba afterwards, so Fort Lauderdale was a more viable option and is the launching pad for many cruises.
They’re close enough that many people live in one and play in the other and vice versa. If you want to get a little downtime, I’d suggest starting your trip in Miami and ending in Fort Lauderdale, where things are less hectic and overall, more relaxing. Read my write up on two fun Fort Lauderdale Restaurant picks.
- Ice Palace is at 59 NW 14th Street, Miami, FL 33136 | (305) 347-7400.
- EAST Miami is on 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, FL 33131 | (305) 712-7000
- The Langford is on 121 SE 1st Street, Miami, FL 33131 | (305) 420-2200