Sunday, January 01, 2006

Have a Satisfying New Year

I was watching TV just a while ago when I heard Jessica Soho say that the Filipinos are the sixth happiest people on the planet.
This one’s for you, Prof Sioco.
How do you define happiness?
And by what standards?

Happy and Beautiful People
The survey conducted by UK’s New Scientist magazine ranked Nigeria as the happiest, followed by Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico. And then of course, the Philippines. The least happy nations on Earth are Russia, Armenia and Romania.
Also according to the survey, different countries have different tendencies to happiness. Say, in the US, it was found that success and material wealth define happiness while the fulfillment of social and filial expectations are what matters in Japan.

The Ten- Fold Path listed the following as the paths to happiness:
1. Genetic propensity to happiness
2. Marriage
3. Make friends and value them
4. Desire less
5. Do someone a good turn
6. Have faith (religious or not)
7. Stop comparing your looks with others
8. Earn more money
9. Grow old gracefully
10. Don’t worry if you're not a genius

A few comments: desire less? How can one desire less in this crazy world today when even inside your house you’re bombarded by advertisements of products begging you to want them? And succeeding? Just watch any TV commercial (ha--- my research paper topic. More of that in the future). A supermarket is a piece of intricate art, every stack and shelf placed so to hypnotize the consumer in buying them. So is a clothes store. So is a beautiful body.
Stop comparing your looks with others? Once again, a lot of humans will be hard- pressed in attaining this…this monumental victory. I once heard that magazines are the stuff to read when you’re in need of a major loss of self- esteem. There are also billboards and shampoo and cosmetic commercials screaming how the rest of the world is beautiful, while you, unfortunately, are not.
Don’t worry if you’re not a genius? In the harshly competitive place we live in today, being a genius more or less clinches it all. Else, what hope have you? A heart made of gold? Not impossible.
Just harder.

Happy New Year?
Everyone is fairly screaming ‘Happy New Year’, but by happy they mean what?
The Encarta Dictionary defined ‘happy’ as a feeling or showing of pleasure, joy, or contentment. Pleasure, according to the said dictionary, is extreme happiness. Joy is great happiness. Ah, contentment also means satisfaction. We may have something there.
However, how can one be satisfied with life?
Money and success for the Yankees, fulfillment of duties for the Japanese. These make a satisfying, and therefore a happy, existence for them. For the Filipinos, though, I believe that it is a mixture of both, one occasionally more important than the other. Of course we strive for accomplishment and a bigger pile of cash, but what most of us have, most of us do with. We also have our sense of obligation to our relatives and society, the well- off paying for the education of the impoverished second cousin and the broke giving alms.
Maybe that’s the secret to Pinoy happiness. Desire tempered by duty. Contentment is a hard thing to catch in most societies but the Filipinos seem to have gotten hold of the stuff.
Most of us, anyway.

Have a satisfying New Year.


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