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“La Bamba,” a Mexican folk song popularized by Richie Valens in 1958, was the inspiration of the “Bamba Model” on happiness and fulfillment that is being promoted by Prof. Raj Raghunathan of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin.
Raghunathan outlined the elements of his Bamba Model that stands for “Basic needs, Autonomy, Mastery, Belonging and Abundance culture” in a recent webinar on “Finding Happiness in the Midst of the Pandemic.”
The event was organized by the Department of Science and Technology’s Mimaropa Regional Office (DOST-Mimaropa), in partnership with the DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).
DOST-Mimaropa Regional Director Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay said the webinar aimed at sharing research-based ways to be happy “as we try to navigate unfamiliar paths brought by the pandemic.”
70% of stressed due to pandemic
Raghunathan, who has spent years researching and understanding happiness, said that his recent research showed that “70 percent of people are more stressed or anxious due to the pandemic.”
The common reasons include “unproductivity, overwhelming feelings, loneliness, health problems and job-related insecurities, which topped the list.”
Consequently, this affected people’s creativity and productivity, he said.
“Studies have shown that people showed up more for work when they are happy. Happier people are better teammates and are more creative, objective and productive. Happier people even earn more money,” he explained.
Citing the study of Prof. Ed Diener, dubbed as the “Father of Happiness,” he said “happier people, on average, have higher salary by 32 percent.”
Basic needs are unmet
On “Basic needs,” Raghunathan, known as “Dr. Happy-smarts,” explained that in a material world, an individual could not be happy if his or her basic needs are not met.
Interestingly, in a Third World country like the Philippines, it is the usual scenario.
Moreover, this has become the major concern during the pandemic.
Raghunathan said the domains of basic needs—namely physical, emotional and mental needs—must be met to ensure the happiness of an individual.
“You obviously need your basic needs to be fulfilled if you want to be happy at work,” he said
In a paper, titled “Covid Economics for an Economy of Life and Climate Justice,” that was delivered at the recent World Social Forum 2021 online meeting, Rosario Guzman said the Philippines produced the largest economic contraction among its neighbors, and third among 25 countries in South, East and Southeast Asia.
According to Guzman, the problem has been exacerbated as the Philippines delivered the smallest fiscal response to fight Covid-19 in Southeast Asia that was equal to only 2.8 percent of its gross national product, compared to 14.7 percent for Singapore, 8.3 percent for Thailand, 6.2 percent for Malaysia, 4.9 percent for Vietnam and 3.7 percent or Indonesia.
She pointed out that it would be hard for the majority of Filipinos to achieve its basic needs as the country is not known to be pushing wealth equality coming into the pandemic.
“On the contrary, over time, we had had one of the most skewed income distributions in the region, with 66 percent of families earning below $438 a month, and another 29 percent earning between that range and $1,250 a month,” Guzman explained.
“This is while 0.04 percent of the families, the super-rich, have a monthly income of over $1 million,” she added.
Autonomy: Not micromanaged
Raghunathan said “Autonomy” enables a worker the freedom without being micromanaged by superiors. Having the freedom to make decisions will make the worker feel happy.
”Happy people are the most productive in an organization,” he said. “Having productive people will make the organization more efficient and profitable,” he added.
He pointed out that money becomes an important part of autonomy because it gives a person the power to do things he or she wants—such as to live in a place he or she wants and the career he or she aspires for.
Mastery: Getting better at work
Raghunathan said the “Mastery” of a certain disciple or endeavour makes people happy.
People are happy when they feel they are getting better at what they are doing, he explained.
However, a balance is needed as a person needs to determine if he or she can really excel in that field.
Belonging: Interact with colleagues
Happy people are in a better position to interact with their colleagues and friends is they have the sense of “Belonging,” he said.
Moreover, people with a positive disposition can easily blend and interact with their colleagues.
“People who can adopt in a warm disposition can lead to better teamwork in an organization,” he said.
Abundance sends positive vibe
Raghunathan said having an “Abundance culture” in the workplace will send a positive vibe.
He added that this fosters teamwork and harmony among the staff which will lead to higher productivity.
“Operating in abundance is a good way to start in times of uncertainty. It also makes other people happier and better off,” he said.
Pandemic or normal time; compassion and kindness
He noted that the sources of happiness would apply whether in the state of a pandemic or normal time.
“Happiness is not just a feel-good emotion. It is useful to be happy. Happier people are healthier, have better functioning immune systems, and live longer,” he said.
Raghunathan said that another key to truly feel happy at this time is to be “compassionate and kind to other people.”
“In this time of the pandemic, the more people we can help with our resources, the happier we become. In helping other people, you also help yourself,” he said.
In his speech, Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said he considers the achievements of DOST as the peak moments in relating to Raghunathan’s lesson.
These include the breakthroughs in technologies and research outputs, among others.
“There is nothing better than the feeling of happiness when you help somebody and be connected with the people,” de said.
“I learned that I can lose all my cash helping other people but still feel happy,” de la Peña said.
The webinar attracted more than 1,200 local and international participants via Zoom and Facebook among employees from DOST and other national government agencies, state universities and colleges, higher education institutes, civil society organizations and private individuals.