1. Mirrors and windows in town for more happiness
  2. 1. Mirrors and windows
  3. 2. The criteria for a Hap Spot
  4. 3. The framework
  5. 18 pillars of happiness
  6. 9 mirrors
  7. 9 windows
  8. 4. A Hap Spot in every town or village
  9. 5. Cities of happiness
  10. 6. How do you recognize a Hap Spot?
  11. 7. Coordination

Mirrors and windows in town for more happiness


We can look for happiness everywhere, starting in our own neighbourhood. Find inspiration by reframing the way you look at ordinary places, surprising details and unknown backyards. Open your mind for a new way of tourism, driven by feelings that really make us happy: curiosity, appreciation, courage, meaning,  passion, gratitude and satisfaction …

By creating Hap Spots in cities, we focus on strengths, keys and conditions for a happier life. In our universal quest for happiness inhabitants become tourists and tourists become inhabitants.

Strong indicators predicting our happiness are: the place we are born, the appreciation of our roots, the way we look at things, our ability to “reframe”, connecting, learning,  open-mindedness … Happy Spots offer a mirror and a window to find and develop more happiness.

1. Mirrors and windows

Tourism can improve happiness by offering mirrors (for attention and reflection) and windows (to broaden our mind and to stimulate us to come into action).

According to research in positive psychology (Martin Seligman, Sonja Lyubomirski) some 50% of our happiness is a fixed set (a combination of genetics, nature and nurture); 10% depends on our practical circumstances; 40% depends on our mindset, the way we look at things and the small actions we take to improve our happiness. This is the focus of this project: to improve our happiness by discovering a new way to look at reality and to undertake small actions in that direction.

The ambition: connecting and strengthening people (inhabitants ànd tourists) in their quest for happiness, to improve their happiness feeling with something like 5%.

2. The criteria for a Hap Spot

Every place can be a Hap Spot. We take special care of leaving the expected roads and go for the unexpected. This can be a well-known tourist attraction but in that case we focus on some unknown or more specific detail, aspect or story linked to the framework of the pillars of happiness. It can start from an individual experience but it should be more than something personal for one individual. The place should inspire others as well.

A piece of art, a corner in a monastery, a traditional carrier of good luck, a detail in a painting, a place of silence or beauty in nature, the backside of a recycling shop, a well-hidden secret, a home for the homeless or the elderly, an inspiring fountain, volunteering, a statue of gratitude or courage, a place of history linked to the happiness framework, a craftsman shop, a part of a school, a painting on a playground, a gallery …

The action-tip is crucial. On a specific place of silence, people should be encouraged to keep silent for ten minutes and to feel the effect. On a specific bench in a park, people should be encouraged to talk to someone about what makes them happy. In a playground for kids, people should be encouraged to engage in the game or to try to make a goal. A statue is used to reflect on their own gratitude or courage. Etc.

3. The framework

The framework of the Hap Spots is based on the insights of “The World Book of Happiness”, research of 100 experts in 50 countries. Co-ordinator Leo Bormans constructed for this project the “18 pillars of happiness: 9 mirrors and 9 windows”. The mirrors start from reflection, the windows are attitudes to come into action.

18 pillars of happiness

9 mirrors

  1. Appreciation of beauty, simplicity and excellence
  2. Gratitude, for others and for life itself
  3. Satisfaction, acceptance
  4. Emotion, love, feeling, expression
  5. Courage, resilience
  6. Meaning, sense of purpose, spirituality, silence, harmony
  7. Justice, honesty
  8. Modesty, discretion, prudence, humility
  9. Forgiveness, mercy

9 windows

  1. Wonder, Curiosity, love of learning, interest, open mind
  2. Relations, friends, family, other people, community
  3. Giving, sharing, volunteering
  4. Health, physical and psychological health, well-being
  5. Joy, humour, play, pleasure
  6. Passion, enthusiasm
  7. Hope, optimism
  8. Goals, perspective, acting, undertaking
  9. Freedom, personal choices, responsibility, active citizenship

The framework is used as a guideline for the choice of Hap Spots. And each spot is accompanied by four elements of the pillars.

4. A Hap Spot in every town or village

Each town or village can offer at least one Hap Spot. Inhabitants can nominate the spots at Once a spot is selected, it comes online. Included The tips for reflection and action included. In the future it might be possible to make the spots and the information more visible.

Of course you can nominate places outside your own neighbourhood, linked to good memories you want to share with others, everywhere in the world.

5. Cities of happiness

Cities that want to collect more Hap Spots are encouraged to do so. The tourist office can take the initiative. They get help, support and guidance in creating the project.

The neighbourhood and the inhabitants become ambassadors of their own Hap Spot. The project starts with an open call to all inhabitants to give suggestions for their Hap Spots in their town or village.


Volunteers in the neighbourhood of Hap Spots can make themselves known with a sticker or a pin, showing people they are “approachable” about this spot and about happiness. They will get a small training in the basic ideas of the project and in how to handle with the framework, questions, opportunities, interventions and feedback. That’s the way Hap Spots become a living network. The places will be well-kept, the neighbourhood is involved and feedback is followed up.

6. How do you recognize a Hap Spot?

Either the Hap Spot is only found online and then information is not visible on the spot itself. Or there is a plaque with a logo, supporting text and an activating tip.


In Cities of Happiness the spots will be clearly visible and supported by a leaflet, a box, a website etc.

On the central website people can give their reactions and experiences.

7. Coordination

Initiator and overall coordinator of the project is Leo Bormans, Ambassador of Happiness & Quality of Life, author of “The World Book of Happiness”. He has the intellectual ownership and copyright of the project.

The selection of the Hap Spots, the realization and the overall coordination is in the hands of the team ‘The Embassy of Happiness’ under supervision of Leo Bormans.

The website offers more information, background, inspiration and a link with cooperating cities all over the world. People can add their own suggestions for their personal and inspiring Hap Spots, all over the world.

Leo Bormans  –  – [email protected]

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