A mindful Miami gets set to host inaugural World Happiness Summit

Yoga will open each day of the World Happiness Summit and close the summit during the community party.
Yoga will open each day of the World Happiness Summit and close the summit during the community party.

Organizers of the upcoming World Happiness Summit hope to make history. They say the three-day event this month in Miami will be the first global gathering of world experts convened to explore the science, economic impact and practices of happiness and well-being.

The World Happiness Summit March 17-19 will feature about 50 speakers – many coming from around the world from government, academia, technology and the health and wellness industry – as well as a happiness village, daily meditation and yoga sessions, a farmer’s market and free community party. Attendees from the industries of healthcare, coaching, technology, education, mental health and wellness will unite and form tribes led by professional coaches to begin their journeys toward increased personal, societal and global happiness, and continued learning and goal tracking will continue after the summit through the WOHASU Collective app, said Karen Guggenheim, COO and co-founder of the summit.

“We’re going to expose people to the tools that can help them choose happiness because it is a choice and the science is proven,” said Guggenheim, who said she chose happiness when she was in “a very dark place” after her husband died four years ago. Last year she quit her public relations job and joined the co-founding team of the World Happiness Summit.

A recent addition to the conference: An invitation-only track for about 120 leaders in tech and entrepreneurship on March 17 that will explore technology’s role in the future of happiness.

The Future of Happiness Track will feature Romero Britto, the world-renowned artist of colorful, happy characters who will speak about why he chose to base his global business in Miami. From Google, Mo Gawdat, “Solve for Happy: Engineering Your Path to Joy” (2017), and Gopi Kallayil will talk about happiness from an engineering point of view and its interaction with the human body. Other speakers include the Brain Performance Institute’s Leanne Young; Amy Baglan of MeetMindful, a dating service for mindful people; Mikey Siegal of Consciousness Hacking who will talk about mindful technologies; Arnaud Collery of France, who will talk about storytelling and how to get in touch with your purpose; Kellogg Innovation Network’s Robert Wolcott; and TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher.

Speakers from Miami include media executive Adriana Cisneros of Cisneros Group, eMerge Americas’ Melissa Medina, Miami Marathon’s Frankie Ruiz, Knight Foundation’s Matt Haggman, eMindful’s Zev Suissa, Black Tech Week’s Felecia Hatcher, My Ceviche’s Sam Gorenstein, Powerful Yogurt’s Carlos Ramirez, Pincho Factory’s Otto Othman, CIC Miami’s Natalia Martinez Kalinina, III Points’ David Sinopoli and Sacred Space’s Karla Dascal.

Guggenheim said organizers wanted to make the World Happiness Summit more accessible to the startup community, many of whom were already practicing mindful techniques. Because space is limited, about 120 people will be invited and organizers hope to expand it next year, she said.

[READ MORE: Startups out to build a mindful Miami]

Speakers at the main event include psychologists Shawn Achor, Sonja Lyubomirsky and Tal Ben-Shahar, who created the most popular course in Harvard’s history on “Positive Psychology,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is the founder of The Art of Living Foundation and helped broker the recent peace accord in Colombia, Sri Dharma Mittra, yoga master and creator of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures, and Michelle Gielan, former CBS News anchor who will speak about the power of positivity in media. A Government Track precedes the conference on March 16.

“We are trying to create a movement that will change the way we look at prosperity and redefine success. But it’s really a village that will make this happen. It’s for all of us, and needs all of us,” said Guggenheim, who founded the conference with Luis Gallardo. Organizers plan to make the the World Happiness Summit an annual event in Miami, and also take shorter versions of the summit to international locations.

More information about the conference, being held at Ice Palace Studios in Miami, and tickets are available on Organizers expect about 600 attendees for the main conference. Closing out the summit will be a free community party Sunday afternoon at Margarate Pace Park in Miami with a farmer’s market, yoga and a Zumba dance party.

Guggenheim said Miami is more than sun and fun. “I think Miami is ready to be the capital of happiness and well-being, piggybacking on the work of eMerge, Art Basel, the Knight Foundation, Frost Museum, PAMM and the Arsht Center,” Guggenheim said. “We forget about the good in Miami.”