Million dollar theory of happiness

We know him as the genius behind the theory of relativity and awarded the coveted Nobel prize for physics, but thanks to a handwritten note he left for a bellboy, that fetched US$1.6 million at an auction in Jerusalem in 2017, Albert Einstein seems to have espoused another theory, though short, this time about happiness.

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

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Celebrating Easter at home

Embracing the beautiful sunset by the bay by CC Lozano

Today’s the second year in a row that we’re celebrating Easter Sunday locked down at home. I’m not complaining though. We’re not exactly devout Catholics but before this pandemic, my family would’ve attended an anticipated mass already, to avoid the crowd and also because it has been our practice to stay at home on Sundays. Nothing of that egg hunting sort, just a festive lunch and dinner with the whole family at home. So this year will be no different, just happy to have food at the table to share, celebrating in silent prayer. “He has risen!” and we continue to be hopeful even in these trying times.

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Be the better person

Angels in a fountain by CC Lozano

Not sure who authored this short quote: “Be the better person.” I’ve been hearing this line from my wife and have been using it since in almost all difficult situations I get myself in. You would think it’s part of a checklist of sorts from a self-help book but actually, it’s not. People usually react negatively to certain situations and this 4-word quote can be a helpful reminder to tackle situations differently. You’d think this quote encourages your superiority complex or that you’re a far, better person than say a co-worker, well it doesn’t.

It’s easy to get caught up in being the one trying to please everyone else. But being the better person starts with treating others with genuine kindness. It means to allow yourself to have more time to think about the opportunity to turn things around and work on better outcomes from even the most confrontational situations.

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Being the “alay” or tribute of the family

Queueing during the pandemic lockdown by CC Lozano

It was mid-March of 2020 when the first lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic was announced in Metro Manila. Days prior to the announcement I was nervously busy going out and about to prep up for the stay-at-home restrictions. Aside from ensuring we have enough supply of alcohol, disinfectant, and face masks, which by then were hard to find and with unbelievably high prices, I went out to stock up on food and a mix of things I thought we’ll need while locked down. I bought a new laptop, a printer, paper supplies, four walkie-talkies, a digital blood pressure monitor, extension cords, and sacks of dog food.

Much like in the movie The Hunger Games, being the head of the family, I was the “alay” or tribute. At the time, most barangays were closed or barricaded from outsiders to prevent the alarming spread of the virus. Entry and exit points were guarded and strictly monitored. And there’s only one in each household to be issued an all-day quarantine pass, which will allow you to go out either for work if you’re a frontliner or to get essentials. In my case I was the latter going out to buy my family’s day-to-day needs.

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My job search during the pandemic

Walking in solitude at the mall during the pandemic by CC Lozano

I was on an auto walkway minding my own business when out of the blue my mind sort of went on a throwback of how my job search journey was at the height of the pandemic. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park but it sure was an unforgettable misadventure. February 2020 would have been the usual love month celebration but turned out to be a prelude to the scariest months of quarantine and lockdown. I recall people already wearing face masks that at the time were already becoming scarce and expensive coming from January that saw the Taal Volcano eruption lasting several days, with the ashfall even reaching cities in Metro Manila including Caloocan where we live. I was already rendering my final weeks at my former job of almost 15 years, both excited and apprehensive. Back then I thought I was ready, thankful for the many years of professional experience, curious and hopeful that I was seasoned enough to move to a new and relevant role. Like me and so many others praying for better days, nothing could have prepared us for COVID-19 finally being declared a global pandemic and changing our career prospects forever.

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Kindled to going back to reading

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite by CC Lozano

Hey kiddos, look what I got myself last Christmas. This is one of two Amazon gadgets I bought from local sellers. Been wanting to get an e-book reader since the first Sony model came out but never really got the chance of scoring one. I’ve been pushing myself to go back to book reading, but aside from frequently forgetting to dog-ear the page, I’d forget the book entirely. And I guess age plays a big role now as I couldn’t last an hour reading without falling asleep, lols.

Of course, nothing beats printed books either old or new, the smell and the adventures of having to turn every page of each story, but the Kindle will allow me to bring as many titles as the device’s storage can handle, in my daily commute to work or during my free time.

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Presence, more than the presents

Who could’ve imagined that that scary virus outbreak we’ve been hearing about in China as early as January last year will turn out to be a global pandemic that affected millions of lives everywhere. COVID-19 may have infected and killed numbers unimaginable, but it’s as if the fluctuating stats and the discovery of a new strain weren’t enough to scare people away from celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve, especially here in the Philippines, where we have the earliest and longest holiday celebration.

Last December, people must have thought the pandemic is about to come to an end. The year’s last stretch saw the malls packed and with long queues of shoppers on a holiday rush forgetting to observe social distancing. Traffic went really bad leading to the holidays you’d think “what health crisis?” Churches were overflowing with catholic devotees both early mornings and nights not wanting to break the “Simbang Gabi” tradition. The only striking difference is that people were sporting face masks and face shields.

And if there’s anything that this deadly virus has changed in the most celebrated season of the year, is that we’ve come to really appreciate the presence — of being surrounded by family and friends, more than the presents — the gifts or stuff that we’ve been wanting to receive.

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Happy to be ghosted and rejected

My friends didn’t know, my relatives won’t believe it, but I was jobless for almost five months or during most of the lockdown period brought about by the pandemic. It was a personal struggle that kept me off the grid. And it would have been a terribly depressing situation, except I thought this can be an opportune time to finally get it rolling with starting our own business, which we did. And thankfully Camia Eats is doing well and kept me busy and my mind off my personal worries.

When the community quarantine became less stringent and companies started opening their doors to work opportunities again, that’s when I started sending out applications. I would almost always intro myself as having 25 years of professional experience but that didn’t prepare me for the onslaught of nonreplies. LinkedIn at the time was fraught with posts from budding and seasoned professionals being let go then getting frustrated from recruiters that ghosted them. Devastating to a candidate especially when one thought it was a promising lead. That’s several months of job hunting and some, if not most, are beginning to doubt they’ll get their careers back on track given the gloomy prospects of the health crisis that have yet to end.

Perhaps due to the global pandemic, there are a lot of companies that couldn’t do business anymore and too many people lost their jobs as a result and are now all looking, and recruiters are simply overwhelmed – I was trying to convince myself with this reasoning but the more I realized it was the same case for me as those frustrated posts on LinkedIn. I thought my 25-year career is already impressive but that ain’t a guarantee. It tested my faith and I was starting to lose my confidence. Until recently, I didn’t know job hunting was this tough and frustrating. Thing is, what if the job ghosting and rejections are actually pointing you in the right direction?

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