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Happier

The annual United Nations-sponsored World Happiness Report showed Filipinos to be unhappier in 2020 as disruption and deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected lives.

With an average score of 5.8880, the Philippines fell from 52nd to 61st place in the 2021 World Happiness Report where researchers used Gallup data asking people to rate their own happiness, also taking into account measures such as gross domestic product, social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption to give each country a happiness score which is the average of the past three years.

The authors of the report also compared this year’s data to the average of the previous years to gauge the impact of the pandemic. Using this method, the Philippines ranked 74th out of 95 countries with a much lower score of 5.080. This is a drastic drop from 42nd place in the 2017 to 2019 surveys.

The drop in happiness is no surprise as Filipinos have been living under the shadow of one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns that has shut down businesses and schools and forced a significant chunk of the population to stay home. This happiness might not recover easily with the country still dealing with the current surge in COVID-19 infections which health authorities arbitrarily blame on Filipino’s decreased compliance with public health protocols and the circulation of more infectious coronavirus variants.

Although a drop in happiness is assumed to happen during a pandemic, the report found “significantly higher frequency of negative emotions” in just 42 countries. The good news is the expected decline in well-being when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives did not take place and a possible explanation is that people see COVID-19 as a common, outside threat affecting everybody and that this generated a greater sense of solidarity and fellow-feeling.

As much as Filipinos would like to be happier, the many challenges we have been facing and continue to face has been dominating our thoughts and affecting our well-being for the most part of 2020. With that general sentiment looking like it is going to extend to 2021, it is now upon us to try harder to be happy during these difficult times. Looking at the bright side of life despite the dreariness of our situation will be tough but we cannot allow external factors like frustration in government sidetrack our pursuit of happiness.*

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