We’re Finally Talking About Global Happiness—This Is Why It’s Important

I recently had the amazing opportunity to join The World Government Summit’s pre-summit in Dubai, where world leaders openly discussed how to keep people happy. In retrospect, this event is rather remarkable. Here we are in 2017 and we are finally discussing humanity and happiness.

Related: 5 Ridiculously Easy Things You Can Do Every Day to Feel Happy

During the event, we heard from a variety of successful academics, government officials and corporate executives. The open dialogue was insightful, empowering and eye opening.

This is the global dialogue on happiness from global leaders.

Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, UAE Minister of State for Happiness

We’re Finally Talking About Global Happiness—This Is Why It’s Important

Her Excellency Ohood Al Roumi opened the summit by giving us a brief description and set of expectations of the day. “The role of the World Government Summit is to answer the key questions facing society by bringing together scientists and officials from public and private sectors to exchange views and seize the opportunities to come up with effective solutions for these challenges,” she said. “The Global Dialogue for Happiness is one of the most important events on the agenda. More than 300 experts have converged to exchange views and spark a conversation on trends and happiness for people of the world.”

Her Excellency also said that 20 percent of the world’s population is affected by conflict. Her belief, and the belief of the UAE, is that it is the government’s duty to create an environment for the people that nurtures and promotes happiness.

Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan

In his main address at the opening session, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said, “If the basic purpose of development were changed from the pursuit of profit to the pursuit of well-being in all its dimensions, the true level of happiness in the planet would certainly go up.”

Related: TED Talks: ‘The Surprising Science of Happiness’

Tobgay’s speech was not just an opinion piece, but more of a request—to other governments to focus on the pursuit of happiness instead of the pursuit of profit. Tobgay has implemented this theory into his own governing in Bhutan, replacing the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with GNH (Gross National Happiness).

During his speech, he showcased a number of images of the people of Bhutan and introduced the four main elements of GNH: equitable social economic development, protection of culture, preservation of environment and good governance.

Robert Waldinger, Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry

We’re Finally Talking About Global Happiness—This Is Why It’s Important

Robert Waldinger presented on a 78-year-old study from Harvard Medical School on what makes people happy. The most interesting part of this presentation and the study was that over the 78 years of data, the results were mostly the same. According to Waldinger, “None of it was about wealth, none of it about fame. None of it about how much they achieved in the world. Close relationships were the strongest predictor of what kept people happy throughout their lives.”

The study also reveals that loneliness has the most negative impact on our health. Being less connected is toxic for health and happiness. But being connected doesn’t mean more time on social media. In fact, social media distorts our reality and can have a negative impact on the personal relationships in our lives that make us happier and keep us healthy.

Helen Clark, Administrator of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand

Helen Clark held the position of Prime Minister of New Zealand for nine years, and during her tenure, she made significant investments into health and education. She believes that happiness is a balance, and that although technology can help us with happiness, a balance between technological advancements, well-being and human progress is necessary.

“The UNDP welcomes this interest in happiness as a way of broadening the conversation about human progress,” she said. Quoting the English saying man does not live on bread alone, she also said, “While economic progress and income generation are important, they certainly did not encompass the whole aspect of growth.”

Gross Domestic Product alone, she pointed out, is not enough. “It is important to broaden the conversation beyond the tyranny of the GDP indicator. There is much more in life than the interest in how much money is generated per capita.”

We now have more information, technology and connectedness than we could have ever imagined. What this summit is trying to do is inspire world leaders, educators and progressive thinkers to increase the knowledge, awareness and dialogue on happiness worldwide. Because if we are a happy world, we are a healthier world. It’s all about progress.

Related: 17 Quotes to Help You Find Your Happiness


Cynthia Johnson is an entrepreneur, marketing professional, author and keynote speaker. She is co-founder at Ipseity Media. Previously, she was partner and director of marketing for RankLab, a digital marketing agency listed in Inc. magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2015. In July of 2015, RankLab was acquired by American Addiction Centers, where Cynthia worked as their director of brand development. She is an advisor to a social good company, DIVONA, as well as nGage.social, an influencer advertising startup.  Cynthia is on the Forbes Agency Council, and a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Cynthia was listed as top social media people to follow by Inc. magazine, top 50 marketers on SnapChat by Mashable, top 12 Female Entrepreneurs that Inspire by Darling Magazine and top 20 people in SEO by Guardian. She has been interviewed in Forbes, Huffington Post and Chicago Planner Magazine. She is also a social media influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Doris Sunaz on May 3, 2019 at 9:53 am

    For many years, people’s suffering grows ceaselessly. According to her excellency Ohood Al Roumi, 20% of the world’s population is affected by conflict. People are so engrossed with their work they are so pre-occupied with the idea that they have to work hard in order to improve their well-being. Due to economic priorities, people are trying various ways of making both ends meet. Along its way, by all means people would do anything which ended up to more conflicts.

    The real essence of well-being is not about money and other economic needs. Well-being is simply the state of having happiness. When we are happy we don’t get stressed much. When we are happy we enjoy our work or whatever we are doing. It is a misconception that the wealthier you become, the happier you will be. Money is not Happiness. When you are enslaved by money , you lose your sensitivity over the people and things around you.

    Happiness is what we need now. Happiness promotes good health and well-being. People could stand the challenges in life with a positive outlook since, A happy world is a wealthy world.

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