Sunday Lifestyle

So here’s what really makes Filipinos happy

COMMONNESS - Bong R. Osorio - The Philippine Star
So hereâs what really makes Filipinos happy
Of the hundreds of responses generated, the sources of happiness of the Filipinos continue to be generally equated with 5Fs: family, friends, food, fun and faith.

This writer took a second random survey among Facebook friends on “what makes Filipinos happy.” Of the hundreds of responses generated, the sources of happiness of the Filipinos continue to be generally equated with 5Fs: family, friends, food, fun and faith.

Family is still the number one source of happiness for Filipinos. Everything we do is anchored on it. It remains tight or even extended due to deliberate efforts to make it intact, notwithstanding the negative issues attached to the act.

Food remains very important to Filipinos. It’s entrenched in the Filipino psyche: having food on the table is equated with survival. Food likewise gives us comfort and happiness. It’s not fiesta every day, but still, we derive happiness from the contentment that simple, comfort food brings. Which is why it’s very important for most Filipino households to ensure that their family gets to eat at least three times a day. And to enjoy a meal five times a day is like the ultimate happiness.

Our facility for friendship develops by being available for people in our orbit to truly get to know us. And for us to get to know them. It takes time, but it makes Filipinos happy. We are aware of and we anticipate the needs of our friends, from the very basic simple things like some shared time to being there in moments of terrible grief and loss.

Unquestionably, Filipinos also attribute our general sense of happiness to our faith. The challenges that we encounter can be overcome by our faith, with the belief that God is watching over us, and with a higher power in the driver’s seat bringing us safely and successfully to where we go.

Filipinos are generally joyful. We know how to make fun. Happiness, real and genuine happiness, is the essence of a life well lived. The struggle towards happiness doesn’t end with lots of bank deposits and high earning investments, a thriving career or entrepreneurial success. Careers are small parts of large lives. Some of the happiest people we may have encountered don’t care for or about their careers at all. And material happiness can either destroy or amplify happiness. 

Filipinos must share the “7 Essential Gifts” listed in author and TV anchor Hugh Hewitt’s The Happiest Life, which exalt both the receiver and the giver who are best positioned in our lives to give and receive them. The “7 Gifts” are encouragement, energy, enthusiasm, empathy, good humor, graciousness and gratitude, and the “7 Givers” are your spouse, parents, family members, friends, co-workers, teachers and the church. Key takeaways from Hewitt’s work are abundant. Here are samplers.

Encouragement. You just need an eye for accomplishment — the effort and the willingness to remark upon it in a habitual, indiscriminate but truthful fashion. Encourage someone today. Genuine encouragement is almost everywhere and every time met with gratitude and joy. Sometimes sheepishly. Sometimes with embarrassment. But rarely insincere. The Epistle to the Hebrews says, “Consider how you may spur others to stir up love and good works.”

Energy is the secret to nearly everything that needs to be done. To many Filipinos, it is the means to any end, and it can be given in amazing amounts. If we have energy, we energize others. Proximity is all it takes, which is a good reminder for us to stay close to the spirited. “Whatever your hand finds to do,” The Book of Ecclesiastes states, “do it with your might.”

Enthusiasm is contagious and, like colds, it requires contact. Some Filipinos do their best to avoid infection, but this is where judiciousness comes in. A marathoner can take a friend for a mile walk-jog along a favorite path; a horseman can coach a newbie on a first ride; a hunter mentors a city boy on an early morning foray. The effort to share your passion makes the connection. The Epistle to the Romans reminds us: “Be… fervent in spirit.”

Empathy is not sympathy, but a relationship between individuals who have similar experiences of suffering. Filipinos can sympathize with almost everyone, but we can truly empathize only with those who are enduring that which we have ourselves experienced. Our empathy is born out of experience. It’s an action, not a feeling. Empathy is a very good habit of living, one that, once developed, will not easily wear out. The Book of Job declares, “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend.”

Good humor is embracing the truth that, whatever the circumstances, this, too, shall pass. “Good cheer” is much like “charitable giving.” The genuine good cheer of Filipinos can be very quiet and very sly, but always noticed. The Book of Ecclesiastes says, “I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice.”

Graciousness is practiced and intentional. It requires awareness of everyone in every day, from the person in front of us as we exit the street to the parking lot attendant that helps us park to every waiter or waitress that takes our order in every restaurant. It is what we may call “situational awareness” of everyone in our lives, and it is the beginning of the graciousness of Filipinos. The Epistle of the Hebrews proclaims, “Pursue peace with all people.”

Giving thanks is giving praise, and genuine gratitude is the sweetest thing to receive. It is a great way to start, grow and keep relationships, which are the foundation of success and happiness for anything we do, or any connection we establish and nurture. It is extolling a person or a group that has done something well. It is sharing success stories with others with the goal to inspire, to motivate and move them to action. It is letting our colleagues or underlings know what their work means, how it helps, and the kind of impact it creates. Saying thank you is not only a matter of good manners and right conduct between people, but an acknowledgment of decency as well. “In everything give thanks,” as The First Epistle to the Thessalonians bids us.

Friendship is one of our treasured gifts in life. Be aware of and anticipate the needs of your friends, from the very basic simple things like some shared karaoke time to being there in moments of terrible grief and loss. The capacity for friendship develops by being available for people in your orbit to truly get to know you, and for you to get to know them. It takes time. The opportunities for such friendships are declining as the devices in your life eat up more and more of the time that was even only 10 years ago devoted to conversation.  

Happiness is all about generosity. If we have forgotten that, recall it. If we have failed, start again. If we are happy, be thankful. And if we aren’t, we can be.

Hewitt’s thesis is basic and uncomplicated: the most generous people are the happiest people. As much as possible, Filipinos practice compassion and generosity. Sharing is second nature to us. We will dig deeper into our pockets to share whatever blessings we have with others. We are seen to be most generous. As such, can we claim that Filipinos are the happiest in the world?




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