A Belgian delegate at the recent International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City lauded Filipinos during a news conference for their “incredible sense of joy, despite suffering hardships.” Marianne Servaas, the church worker from the Archdiocese of Belgium, said that by being joyful, Filipinos are bringing about changes in the places where they live and work abroad.
The recent 2015 Social Weather Stations survey shows public morale at a record high in the Philippines, noting that net satisfaction with life is the highest it has ever been since the pollster first started measuring it in 2002. Optimism about personal quality of life and about the Philippine economy-at-large has, likewise, stayed consistently high since 2010.
Last year a Deloitte survey noted that Filipino millennials—the generation born between 1982 and early 2000s—are generally more ambitious than their counterparts in the developed world. According to the survey, eight out of 10 working Filipino millennials want to be their own boss, compared to four out of 10 in developed countries, like France and Germany.
Our positive and optimistic disposition appears to be ingrained in our culture and is well-known throughout the world.
Here at home, such positivity helped generate the momentum for deep and far-reaching reforms—from the rollout of the K to 12 system under the Enhanced Basic Education Act (Republic Act [RA] 10533) to the recent creation of the Philippine Competition Commission under the Fair Competition Act (RA 10667).
Positivity and optimism had also been found to be a winning formula when it comes to elections. A seminal study by University of Pennsylvania psychologists on US presidential elections between 1948 and 1988 found that candidates whose nomination acceptance speeches were notably positive won 18 out of the 22 elections covered.
The study also found that the more positive a candidate was, relative to his or her opponent, the wider is the margin of his or her victory.
The unprecedented victory of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a recent case in point. The young leader of the federal Liberal Party rode to victory on a positive message, overwhelmingly trouncing his conservative counterparts. In his victory speech, Trudeau promised a new way of doing politics, saying to his supporters: “We beat fear with hope…. We beat cynicism with hard work.”
Here in the Philippines, candidates in the upcoming elections would wisely campaign on a positive and hopeful platform. But, more important, whoever emerges victorious must be able to galvanize and meaningfully harness our people’s positive energy to push through with even deeper reforms.