How to be happy in a time of COVID-19 lockdown

The biggest challenge facing Filipinos nowadays is how to stay sane under a pandemic lockdown. Filipinos are suffering among the most severe restrictions to their movements in the world as well as facing the prospect of several more months of uncertainty around whether or not the spread of COVID-19 will be under control soon. Indeed, one of the biggest sources of worry is the lack of any sort of evidence that anyone of consequence is thinking these things through properly and, as such, people are not confident that their fortunes will change over the foreseeable future.

A traditional source of comfort for Filipinos is religion. This is likely because religion takes accountability over one’s future off one’s hands by deferring to the “mysterious ways” of a higher power. In this way one need to worry about whether one is doing enough or too little to fix things that make one unhappy or dissatisfied. Everything that happens is “God’s will” and, therefore, my happiness or suffering is through no fault of mine. And as to the question on why God does things or allows things to happen? We’ll, no need to worry about that either. God, after all, works in mysterious ways. It’s not for mere mortals to know why these things happen.

You’d think then that religion offers the perfect pathway to happiness. When the future is way beyond any one’s ability to influence and is all up to the “mysterious ways” of God, then why worry, right?

What then does that leave one to spend their energies on in life if no problems are worth worrying about on account of the Almighty having all future bases covered by the power of His “mysterious ways? After all, in life, we still can’t help being happy or sad. And being happy is way better than being sad, so happiness remains a worthwhile pursuit and sadness a condition to avoid. People have brains after all. Religious people will insist that these brains are “god given” and therefore should be put to good use “for His greater glory”.

We perhaps then rationalise a personal pursuit of happiness as being one underaken for that “greater glory”. To be happy for God’s greater glory is, if we are to pursue this line of thinking, a noble pursuit that gives meaning to that happiness we are then enjoined to pursue. God’s greater glory is therefore, what gives religious people’s lives meaning. To be happy under that context is what it’s all about.

Under that light, it should be easy for Filipinos to be happy even under a lockdown with no end in sight in the midst of a pandemic that they are helpless against. After all, at no time in history have Filipinos ever exhibited any foresight to prepare for even the garden-variety typhoons and earthquakes that hit their country every now and then. What more a once-in-a-generation pandemic, right? It seems Filipinos are perfectly happy just lying around waiting to swallow whatever Mother Nature dishes out to them despite being equipped with their “God-given” brains to think a bit further ahead than their next meal or the next episode of their favourite teleserye.

Happiness is therefore a choice. We all have the power to decide to remain in a poker round despite being dealt a bad hand. It is in recognising what part of what lies ahead we have influence over and focusing on influencing that part of it. The key to happiness, therefore, is to not be unhappy.

* * *

Epilogue

The 2022 elections are just around the corner. As of this writing, no evidence of an Opposition credible enough to put up a worthy challenge to the administration camp has emerged. Instead, we are seeing a shrill fragmented rabble focused on whining about what they claim was not done well enough to “manage” this pandemic. All that highlights is what the leaders of this Opposition — the bloc loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan, a.k.a. the Yellowtards — did not do while they were in power and whether or not they have a plan to do what they think should be done given the chance to be in power again. Then again, it raises the question of what they are doing now to increase their chances of achieving even the latter at least. What part of what lies ahead can this Opposition do now?

Let us pray…

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34 Comments on “How to be happy in a time of COVID-19 lockdown”

  1. Religion does offer the perfect pathway to happiness.

    I was unhappy all my life until I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Once you do this, every unhappy thought–every fear, goes away and your life is filled with purpose: to Glorify our Loving GOD!

    1. Jacko,
      Now I always thought that religious people are always god-fearing people. Now to me, your claim “every fear, goes away” sounds a bit paradoxical.

      1. Awareness of the infinite necessarily provokes both. I’m sure you can relate with the saying: The way to overcome fear is to face it. It’s a simple way to experience such thing.

        1. Albert,
          Yes, I do know that saying and I also agree to it. Face it. But how can I face my god-fearing fear? (BTW: I am an atheist). Do I need to wait till I die?

        2. That depends. How do you define atheism? Clarifying things for yourself also lessens fear..

  2. The fact of living and striving indicate you have some kind of faith. The truth, the way and the life are not meant to be mere abstractions. Your influence is your responsibility that will steer probabilities that affect everybody’s lives. So yes, we all try to be happy not just for ourselves.

  3. If you decide to be happy…just think of positive things, get away from the negatives. Your thoughts affect your happiness.

    If religion makes you happy, then be a member of religion of your choice.

    With Lugaw Robredo, at the head of the opposition; there is no hope they can offer us alternatives to Duterte…

  4. Albbert says: April 11, 2021 at 11:17 pm
    That depends. How do you define atheism? Clarifying things for yourself also lessens fear..

    @Albbert,
    From birth I was not raised religiously by my 2 parents (neither were my 2 sisters). Its basically very simple for me: Why should I worship/folliow a thing (bible and/or god) that I think is a stupid thing (again bible and/or god).

    1. That’s all right Robert. Do whatever works for you if you’re trying to find some guidance. Make yourself happy, go read some literature.. anything!

      1. Albert,
        I’ll admit that I didnt read the bible from A to Z. But that what I do know – from things that are written in the bible – doesnt appeal to me at all. That book – like all other books used by other religions – were written +/- 2000 years ago (if they ever were truely happened).

        You use the word ‘guidance’. Interesting. That what I think of what raising and bringing up should be about. Give kids (practical) tools. Dont raise them in a naive and ignorant way/manner. I dont see how the bible can be used to find answers to solve problems with.

        I once spoke with a Filipina of my own age and she told me she missed her mom (she died) because of she still needed her mom’s guidance. Wow.
        If I still – today – must rely on my parents’ guidance then something went terribly wrong.

        1. There are many ‘practical tools’ around if you’re really interested. Materials aren’t always available, and other people can only teach you as much as they know from their own experience. I’m curious.. Since you claim to be an atheist, what’s the best argument so far for that concept?

  5. @Jacko,
    Thanks, but you really dont need to pray for me. I will go my own way. So I also dont need god’s blessing(s). But thanks nonetheless.

  6. Mr. Robert Haighton, what are your thoughts about the following down below?

    An Atheist from filipinofreethinkers.org wrote:

    “Remember, when a God believer face an atheist or plans to disprove atheism, the issue is not to slander the atheists but to show that not believing in a god or gods is unreasonable.”

    And here’s what the late Bro. Eli Soriano of The Old Path had written of what he thought about Atheism.

    “The Laughable Belief System Atheism Is”

    “Think of it, readers! Atheism is not a science or even a sub-branch of it.

    “Atheism is not a religion nor can be considered one in any aspect!

    “Atheism is not an organization because atheists are disorganized!

    “But Atheism can be considered a belief system – one without any definite foundation, but theories, speculations, and miscalculations. There is no set of rules or dogma to follow but that there is no God.

    “The belief system includes accidents like the theories of the Big Bang, Evolution of Species, the accidental and purposeless coming forth of organic matters from inorganic materials without any scientific proof and explanation. The list is endless as long as it denies the existence of God.

    “What a laughable belief system!”

    Read the rest here:

    https://www.elisoriano.com/atheism-is-a-belief-system/

    1. Atheism is not a belief system. It’s a starting position you stay in while the existence of God or a supernatural being that wields power over nature is still in the process of being proven.

      1. @benign0

        Well, how would you prefer to call your temporary “stay”?

        I don’t know how do you intend to do that when His thinking is far more superior to our thinking.

        (Isaiah 55:8-9) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

        Before you even go into that, think of a process to achieve that goal, first, how do you intend to scientifically explain these facts?

        That even before science has proven that the Earth is round, facts about the spherical Earth and the concept of gravity had already been mentioned in the Bible- the sensibly scientific filled scripture.

        That the earth was spherical in shape — or round.

        (Isaiah 40:22) “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in…”

        That it is hanging on nothing….

        (Job 26:7) “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”

        That it has exact measurement!

        (Job 38:4-5) “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

        1. In the past, I am reminded of what benignO has written (not sure if it’s an article or in a comment) about how through some mathematical formula of calculation/computation, if applied, this process will bring us closer to finding/knowing God himself. But I’ll leave that him to explain.

        2. This is the article I believe you refer to: Mathematical proof that the Ateneo “AMDG” slogan contributes ZERO to God’s glory.

          Thus…

          The trouble with the Roman Catholic Church is that it sets its flock off to do impossible tasks and teaches them that they will be condemned to eternal damnation if they fail to succeed. That’s absolute nonsense. People are wasting their time believing the drivel they get subject to everytime they open their ears to these men in robes.

          Read the full article here.

        3. I’m afraid that’s not it because it’s written in the first person, by yourself. The gist of which, as you said, in a matter of mathematical calculation, if applied, will bring us closer to finding out/ knowing God Himself. The discussion, if I remembered it right, was about space time, science, Stephen Hawking(?)… It’s in a science article. It’s not the ‘main thing’ though but as an added thought about the main discussion.

        4. @benign0
          Can infinity exist without the finite? Isn’t math the finite part? Sincerely asking.

        5. @Juan: Infinity is a concept within the current scope of our mathematics, as far as I know and is used extensively in integral calculus among other fields within it.

        6. This is so true! The Earth’s position is exactly measured, a bit closer to the sun and its inhabitants will have been burned to death, a bit farther away and they will freeze to death. No purposeless accidents like the so called ‘Big Bang’ will have placed the planets in the solar system to their exact positions and their proper alignments that prevent them from colliding with each other.

          Having said what they said, it would have been interesting to read how those in denial would react to the above with their free-inquiring minds, along the lines of- how to reconcile their denial of the existence of a Higher Being with the paradoxical presence of an advance knowledge not yet known to man at that time already written many years ago. It’s a let down.

        7. It seems the ancients were ahead of their time. “The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself. It gives life to others as it transforms.” -Lao Tzu

        8. @StrangeLoop: that the universe seems to have been designed around the needs of human life is a flawed argument. The better explanation is that the evolution of life on Earth was shaped by the conditions already in place on Earth and its place and behaviour in the solar system. In short the environment came first and life evolved to survive within the conditions offered by said environment.

          Also, it would seem that the way the planets behave in the solar system was a perfect and unlikely state that could only have come about by a higher power’s design. Then again consider that an infinite universe (or given an infinite number of universes coming and going or existing simultaneously) even the most improbable event WILL happen and, not only that, will happen an infinite number of times.

        9. @benign0: That “the environment came first and life evolved to survive within the conditions offered by said environment” is flawed.

          Evolution is simply a theory that’s trying to compete with Creation.

          Up to now, no convincing scientific explanation can be laid down on the table of atheists and agnostics proving that from inorganic elements there sprouted living organisms like bacteria, fungus, viruses, and the like. With all the present state-of-the-art scientific instruments available, no recorded scientific proof that an experiment was successfully conducted to produce living organisms from inorganic materials and elements. To the contrary, only organic or living materials can produce its kind, like plants, animals, birds and humans produce their kind.

          Everything that exists was created in wisdom with a purpose. The created are entangled and knitted in a broad web of symbiotic existence. Consider then, animals and plants are connected to each other by the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle.

          Mathematical exactness cannot be determined by mutation and evolution. Mutation in science is considered accidental. How can it be logically and scientifically possible that the billion cells in the human body have exactly 46 chromosomes each – if there is no designer? Half of that number being 23 chromosomes coming from both the mother and the father for a combination of 46 chromosomes creates a new life.

          The idea of evolution cannot put all things together with mathematical preciseness!

          Scientific information from the Bible has been long recorded in this ancient book about 4,000 years ago when man had no knowledge whatsoever about microbiology, stem cell, cloning, DNA, and the like.

          If you believe what you have written then, you may regard this Book as that ‘medium of pattern’ that continously recurs infinitely as a ‘persistent mind’.

          “If our consciousness — our ability to experience stuff firsthand — is indeed an outcome or by-product of the existence of a pattern that describes our mind in a device such as our brains (if I interpret Douglas Hofstadter in his book I Am a Strange Loop right), then the recurrence of this pattern sometime (and most likely infinitely) in the future will result in that consciousness recurring as well.”

        10. The idea of evolution cannot put all things together with mathematical preciseness!

          @StrangeLoop: And the Bible can? Show me where.

        11. @benign0

          Describing infinity as a pattern makes much more sense . It is after all what represents quality and meaning. It also has to do with probabilities- since information that is meaningless (the improbable) will not express itself, while probability is (logically) higher in deterministic/deliberate conditions. In practical terms and application, the scope of your awareness is the scope of your involvement and influence. In this perspective, an “infinite universe” must essentially be generative.

        12. @benign0: I will not pretend to be someone all-knowing… I have to admit, I still have to learn more.

          What’s being mentioned there as being “all these things” is the presence of significant numbers as given in the above example in the process of the creation of life.

          Though The Bible is not a book of mathematics, numbers used through out denote exactness and sometimes approximation.

          God being the only one in the universe who knows exactly the exact number of everything that exists!

          Matthew 10:30
          But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

          Even the innumerable stars are numbered and named!

          Psalms 147:4
          He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

          Why the Bible did not record the number of stars? There was no numerical figure during those times when the Bible was being written to sufficiently and exactly give us the number of stars in the universe.

          And even now with the advent of modern scientific instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope, stars, by human standards, are still innumerable. (The term googol (10 to the 100th power) was very recently applied by modern mathematicians. Later, another mathematician devised the term googolplex for 10 to the power of googol.) This only shows that the Bible is authentic as a scientific book!

          Hubble Reveals Observable Universe Contains 10 Times More Galaxies Than Previously Thought

          “It boggles the mind that over 90 percent of the galaxies in the universe have yet to be studied. Who knows what interesting properties we will find when we discover these galaxies with future generations of telescopes? In the near future, the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to study these ultra-faint galaxies, said Conselice.

          “The decreasing number of galaxies as time progresses also contributes to the solution for Olbers’ paradox (first formulated in the early 1800s by German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers): Why is the sky dark at night if the universe contains an infinity of stars? The team came to the conclusion that indeed there actually is such an abundance of galaxies that, in principle, every patch in the sky contains part of a galaxy.

          “However, starlight from the galaxies is invisible to the human eye and most modern telescopes due to other known factors that reduce visible and ultraviolet light in the universe. Those factors are the reddening of light due to the expansion of space, the universe’s dynamic nature, and the absorption of light by intergalactic dust and gas. All combined, this keeps the night sky dark to our vision.”

          https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/hubble-reveals-observable-universe-contains-10-times-more-galaxies-than-previously-thought

          Consider then, the number ‘Four’ as an example as it pertains to God’s creative works.

          4 corners of the earth (Revelation 7:1)
          4 cardinal directions (N, S, E, W)
          4 phases of the moon
          4 elements (earth, fire, water, air)
          4 rivers of Paradise (Genesis 2:10)
          4 winds of heaven (Jeremiah 49:36)
          4 Things that make up the universe (time, energy, space, and matter).
          4 Seasons (summer, autumn, winter, and spring).
          4 Divisions of the day (morning, noon, evening, and midnight).
          4 Major provisions for man (earth, air, fire, and water).
          4 Winds (Matthew 24:31)

          Can the theory of evolution, being an accident, bring about such exactness/pattern in numbers?

          We are only reminded of its legacy as being The Greatest Scientific Fraud of the 20th Century!

          https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/the-legacy-of-a-great-scientific-hoax

        13. @Phillippe: Unfortunately, I haven’t read it. Maybe, benign0, can help you with that.

    2. @Thijs,
      (BTW: that first name sounds very Dutch to me.)

      We (my 2 sisters and I) were raised non-religiously. What does that practically mean? Or I should say: what did that practically mean? The word god and/or religion were/was not taboo. We were even encouraged to read as much as we liked about all kinds of religions.

      Personally from what I know of the bible, is that it is very one dimensional.
      – Marriage is only between one woman and one man. Well lets see about that.
      – Go and multiply. Well, I will decide about that myself
      – Thou shall not covete the next door neighbour wife. Now what if she covetes me?
      – No abortion? Pls dont make me laugh
      – No divorce? Pls dont make me laugh
      – no sex before marriage? Wow, I wonder how that will look like. Two people who know nothing and then they will use marriage to become great lovers. I rather have an experienced woman/girl from the start of marriage who at least know how her own body works and what she likes and doesnt like (lust/libido/orgasm/egg cell/sperm cell/ovulation/menstruation/erogenous zones/oral)

      You get my drift?

  7. I bought some books before I came home and I couldn’t get myself to read them yet. benigno might know something.

  8. The book Morphic Resonance by Rupert Sheldrake has some interesting things to say about the fractal nature of evolution. The dialogue between Sheldrake and physicist David Bohm is particularly interesting.

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