Insight: Selecta and Wall’s, official partners of the UN Happiness Index, conducts global survey on happiness

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Choose Happier Together: Selecta’s Manifesto for a Happier World, a global study on happiness conducted last year by Selecta found that the meaning of happiness across the world has changed. More than individual financial success, status, and personal possessions, people now place a higher value on social connections and community togetherness as key factors extremely important to being happy. 

For decades, Selecta has lived at the heart of communities; spreading moments of happiness from street corners, pavements, and local stores. In the Philippines, many people see the value in sharing happy moments together. Of all Filipinos surveyed in the study, 66% say they find happiness in human connection – interacting with family, friends, and loved ones. However, that all came to a halt early last year when the pandemic caused one of the biggest disruptions to life in modern history. Across the globe, people retreated into their homes, causing distance and disconnection. 

But something changed in 2020. All over the world, communities came back. Even during lockdowns, people unlocked social connections and found moments of happiness. From taking time to catch up with distant loved ones, helping neighbors in need, to sharing simple joys with family at home over a tub of ice cream – these types of connections are critical to help power people’s happiness moving forward. 


As happy communities are home to happier people, where kindness, selflessness, and altruism thrive, Selecta is committed to reminding people that it’s still possible to spread happiness in a socially distant time. By celebrating togetherness and social connections, #SarapNgSamaSama can take hold once again in our own homes and extends to the communities we belong to. 

The study surveyed over 12, 500 people from 12 different countries and discovered six key findings on the role of community and social connections in the lives of people: 

65% say “interactions with people during lockdown” changed their “outlook on happiness”

From new interactions with neighbors to restarting conversations with old friends, people have unlocked a new perspective on what happiness looks like. With many countries reporting a change in outlook on happiness, the highest shift happened in the Philippines, where 83% of people reported a new perspective on happiness due to simple things such as forming social connections and maintaining community togetherness. 

There is now an opportunity to seize the moment and build on these findings to change the future and put happiness at the center of people’s priorities. 

78% now feel strongly that happiness and well-being should be prioritized over money.

Economic focus and the pressures of modern society have taken people too far away from some of the very things that are essential for happiness. 

Beyond monetary needs, people are keen to prioritize their personal well-being and happiness. The demand for change across the globe is being championed by the younger members of society, with the 25-34-year-old age group representing the highest percentage of responses in favor of change.

63% want their government to take action and put “happiness before economic recovery”

There are even several governments that have piloted the happiness approach in various forms. Take, for instance, New Zealand where the government has passed a Wellbeing Budget, the UAE where the government has appointed a Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, the UK where a happiness index was launched by the government, or even in Bhutan where GNH (Gross National Happiness) is used over GDP (Gross Domestic Product). 

It’s time for people to learn from parts of what these, and other countries have done and take this to the next level.

66% of Filipinos said that human connection is what really makes them happy 

The pandemic put social connections in the spotlight. As Vanessa King describes – “Socially connecting is for life not just for lockdown. When we nurture constructive connections with others it boosts everyone’s happiness. It’s mostly about small actions – for example small acts of kindness, saying hello or offering a smile, showing we’re thinking about someone, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, picking the phone up rather than only messaging, showing appreciation and saying ‘thanks’. These small gestures add up”.

Our closest relationships and feeling we have someone to turn to when we need it is most important for happiness but feeling connected in our communities matters too. 

86% of Filipinos said they would offer social support to those in their communities.

Findings from the study showed that the lockdown created opportunities for people to appreciate and invest in their communities again. In the Philippines, bayanihan, the local tradition of communal unity, work, and cooperation to achieve a particular goal is alive and well – as demonstrated by community pantries and other efforts to help people in need. 

With this greater sense of community togetherness, it is reassuring that more than half (52%) of people around the world agree that their neighbors play a more important role in their lives than ever before.

62% said that lockdown had made them feel more part of their community. 

This increased sense of community was most felt in particular by younger generations, with 67% of 25-34-year-olds agreeing that they feel more a part of their community now more than ever before. There were also geographical distinctions, with Asian countries being far more likely to have this increased sense of community. The Philippines was revealed to have the greatest number of people (83%) saying that they feel more part of their community, followed by Pakistan (79%).

Academics and activists believe people should prioritize what evidence shows is the way to a more fulfilling, healthier life over what people have focused on in recent years. Happiness is a movement that is gaining momentum, and Selecta is here to help make more people across the globe happy.

Younger generations are showing us the way forward, and these findings can serve as guidance to build the future that they want to see. One where happiness brings to life the #SarapNgSamaSama spirit not only in our homes, but also in the communities we belong to. 

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