Filipinos value social connection, togetherness to feel happy — survey

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
Filipinos value social connection, togetherness to feel happy — survey
Children enjoy playing at the Bernardo Park in Quezon City on July 10, 2021. Kids five years old and above are now allowed outdoors in areas under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine after the Inter-Agency Task Force approved the proposal.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the continuing lockdown with changing yet strict protocols in place, Filipinos still feel a lot more connected to their community and neighbors now more than they have ever felt in the past. Most also overwhelmingly changed their perspective of happiness, from its tangible forms like money to intangible ones like social connection and a sense of togetherness.

Filipinos underscored their happiness preference and index in the UN Happiness Index, a global survey on happiness in partnership with Selecta and Wall's.

The study surveyed over 12,500 people from 12 different countries and discovered six key findings on the role of community and social connections in the lives of people:

1. Social interaction is key to happiness.

Many countries reported a huge turnabout in their perception of happiness. 65% said that “interactions with people during lockdown” changed their “outlook on happiness.”

The lockdown doesn't matter, even at this time with the Philippines looking at another set of stricter lockdowns with expectations of surge in cases due to local transmission of the Delta variant.

Among all the countries, the Philippines registered the highest shift at 83% where many respondents said they see a new perspective on happiness due to simple things such as forming social connections and maintaining community togetherness.

2. Happiness and well-being over money.

A whopping 78% feel strongly that happiness and well-being should be prioritized over money. This is more pronounced among younger people, the millennials aged 25 to 35, who demand for this shift in perspectives and policies that could affect these factors.

3. Call of action for governments to prioritize happiness over economic recovery.

In connection to the previous result, a huge chunk, at 63%, want their governments to take action and put “happiness before economic recovery”.

There are even several governments that have piloted the happiness approach in various forms.

Take, for instance, New Zealand where the government has passed a Wellbeing Budget, the United Arab Emirates where the government has appointed a Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, the United Kingdom where a happiness index was launched by the government, or even in Bhutan where GNH (Gross National Happiness) is used over GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

4. Human connection makes all the difference.

With lockdowns and restrictions such as physical distancing, all the basic senses are bereft of their primary function to touch, taste, smell, see and hear. As it is often said, there's nothing better than face-to-face interaction, a crucial part of human connection where technology can temporarily address but never replace.

The survey found that 66% of Filipinos said that human connection is what really makes them happy.

5. Social support and establishing connections with neighbors is more important now more than ever.

No man is an island. The pandemic clearly reinforced this age-old idiom.

In the survey, 86% of Filipinos said that they would offer social support to those in their communities.
This is true all over the world with more than half, at 52%, of respondents from other countries saying their neighbors play a more important role in their lives than ever before.

6. The lockdown made people even more part of their community.

In a twist of fate, many felt a sense of belonging in their communities. Pre-pandemic, most have been busy with their careers and other similar engagements that often have limited interactions with like-minded individuals.  

The UN Happiness Index said that 62% said that the lockdown made them feel more part of their community. This is true for most of those aged 25 to 34, with 67% of them agreeing with the finding.

Again, many Filipinos revealed feelings of belongingness in their communities at 83%. 

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