The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment: Joy.” For millennia, human beings have been trying to distill the ephemeral essence of this fleeting state as if it were possible to bottle it like a fragrance. All too often in our stressful, chaotic world, achieving happiness seems as unattainable a goal as catching a scent wafting on the breeze. Luis Gallardo, founder and president of The World Happiness Foundation, wants to change that.
The dynamic Gallardo boasts an impressive resume. Born in Madrid, Spain, his interest in human behavior led him to study International Relations and Sociology in the U.K., a master’s in Peace Studies and an MBA. His work as a journalist, combined with his role as an international observer with the United Nations informed his developing ideas about the importance of community building initiatives to further collaboration and well-being across the globe. His marketing and finance background—having interned in Paris at a marketing agency served as a stepping stone to becoming Global CMO of Deloitte—combined with his idealism, and his experience as a world-class handball coach and player, made for a fascinating mix in his personal and professional life.
While at Republika Srpska, through his work with the U.N., Gallardo realized that the combination of fear and hate can bring war among neighbors and families who had previously lived in peace and harmony. For him, that sparked an understanding that world happiness can only be achieved from a state of inner peace that flows outward.
In the course of his travels, Gallardo has spent many days with Nobel laureates such as Kailash Satyarthi and holy figures such as Khedrup Rimpoche in Bhutan. “From those intimate moments,” he says, “I have been able to see the resilience and the focus on being of service that defines good people.” And, he has incorporated that message into his life and work.
So why The World Happiness Foundation, which would seem a quixotic enterprise given the hardships and sorrows many across the planet endure on a daily basis?
“The idea of ‘synarchy’ is it,” says Gallardo. “It means creating ecosystems that benefit the whole, with the higher purpose of realizing a world with freedom, consciousness and happiness for all.”
The World Happiness Foundation’s mission, in short, is to bring individuals, communities and organizations together in striving for happiness and well being vs. fractiousness and conflict. The Foundation has become “the most comprehensive global platform that hosts and amplifies the leaders, institutions, and initiatives committed to realizing a world where all people are free, conscious and happy.” Their numbers are growing because their message is universal…and, well, positive.
Gallardo is the perfect spokesperson for his foundation. Married, with two teenagers, he is inspired and renewed by “beauty, peace, nature, and good people” as well as the music of Norah Jones, the writings of Lao Tzu and Gandhi, and “the resilience of beings who pursue their dreams.”
When asked what his favorite quote is, Gallardo says, impishly, “There is no life to compare with pure imagination. Living here, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” A highly accomplished citizen of the world quoting lines from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Suddenly, it makes perfect sense that he’s the founder of the World Happiness Foundation.