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Simple Joys

This pandemic caught us all off guard and it has impacted us negatively in so many ways - physically, financially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Our time to be in each others' company was abruptly cut short - meet ups with friends in your favorite hangouts, quick getaways to the nearest beach, or even your weekly quality time with your family. The events that have transpired over the pandemic have forced many of us to make changes in the way we live, and certainly in the way we look at things.

On the other hand, this almost 2-year pause has also led many to realizations that they may have otherwise never picked up on and worked at. Realizations such as giving importance to our health and well-being, making the most productive use of our time, and most importantly, valuing and nurturing relationships that are important to us.

People found ways to entertain themselves during this containment period and discovered things they maybe wouldn't have otherwise, whether it be discovering a new talent, taking up a new hobby, or just connecting with old friends online.

Finding things that make you happy while having a grateful heart, instead of focusing on the negativity we are exposed to everyday, is an easy hack to enrich your life during these tough times, contrary to having a pessimistic point of view and always letting the weight of the world bring you down.

Before the pandemic, it was easy to get caught up with careers, the latest trends, gadgets, and luxuries, only to find out during this crisis that what are really important to us are the simple things, which are more fulfilling than you'd think. Remember that so much of our happiness depends on how we choose to look at the world. It is indeed just a matter of perspective.

We asked some people to share with us what their simple joys have been, living amidst this pandemic.


Willie Anne Yu, 26

In my 26 years of life, I realized it’s the simple things in life that gives me the most joy. I spend most of the week at the office so I really appreciate time I get to spend time with my family (pets included) and friends. My simple joys include grocery runs with my dad (even if he just hurries me most of the time!), fun deep chats with my mom (she’s the funniest when she’s not scolding me), cuddling with my pets, playing games with my nieces and nephews when they’re around, basically just getting to do something fun with people I love brings me so much joy. Although I also enjoy my solo time aka self care days when I’d just work out, read a book, listen to music, clean my room, watch Netflix (beer/wine in hand), or go shopping. I feel that as you get older you appreciate all these “small” things more and when you do finding joy becomes more natural. When you start each day being grateful to Him, the rest just follows.


Carla Tabuena, 40

Being based abroad, my simple joys include discovering something yummy in the supermarket, finding something from back home available in my area (I miss Pinoy food!), and exploring an area for the first time - and taking photos of course.


Brian Sotelo, 38

I would say finishing a K-drama series is one of my simple joys nowadays, but I realized it’s actually finding myself ogling at the items in a Korean supermarket. While I find my weekly grocery shopping very therapeutic, it’s going to a Korean supermarket - and being able to buy the ingredients I need to make that Korean dish I have been craving for - that gives me that pleasurable feeling. Aigoo! (insert Korean heart)


April de Leon, 37

In general, it really doesn’t take so much to make me happy. But the ongoing pandemic only affirmed the universal truth that joy can be found even in the smallest or mundane things. For me, these are some of what I consider to be my own simple joys:

1. Discovering a good podcast episode or show!

2. Waking up in the morning feeling like I’ve had enough sleep.

3. Being able to catch the sunset from my window after ending another WFH day.

4. Going to my favorite coffee shop even if it’s just ordering take out.

5. Curating my own playlist on Spotify.

6. Finishing an actual book, which pre-pandemic seemed like an impossible feat for me.


Frances Pangilinan, 28

The past year has made us reflect that even if the world around us goes to a halt, we still have to find joy and appreciate the simple things in life in order to achieve a peaceful inner state despite the circumstances. In order to be happy, we must choose to reflect on what we should tolerate in life. Before, we keep on chasing happiness in material things but then actually come to realize that there’s more to life. There are moments of pure joy that stay with us forever as beautiful memories and these are far more valuable than what money can buy.

We can start by doing things that keep your mind and body happy. Your mind has to be pre-occupied in order to wash away all the anxiety and worry. Going for a nice jog on a sunny afternoon helps boost the happy hormones. We can also learn a new hobby. I have started to enjoy the painting by numbers kit. This helps keeps my mind pre-occupied for countless of hours. I also started taking up classes to further improve my knowledge on my profession. During weekends, I have also found the time now to enjoy my favorite books while keeping cozy with a nice warm cup of coffee while enjoying a lovely view of the Taal Volcano.

The most important thing that also keeps me happy nowadays is the time I am able to spend with my family and special someone. It can be as simple as having a picnic in our backyard or inside the car while watching a heartfelt movie with my family. Going for a swim in a nice warm pool. Having long drives out of town for a change of scenery. Playing board games or Nerf guns with my siblings. Going on bike rides with my little brother. Going for long walks while holding the hand of my special someone. These are the moments I wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world. I want to watch my siblings grow into beautiful human beings. While it saddens me terribly that this was only made possible by the pandemic, even if I cannot practice my profession yet because of this circumstance, times may be tough for all of us but I’m still choosing to be grateful. I still choose to look on the positive side. There is and always will be hope for better days to come.


Julie Ann Vogt- Fernandez, 35

Other than getting home early from work for some family time - I find joy when people in the office give me a cup of iced white chocolate mocha.


Marianne Neri, 42 years young

Amidst the pandemic, my simple joys are waking up to another beautiful morning and spending special moments with my Loved Ones. Recently, I have committed myself to have exclusive dates with God every waking morning. In spite of all the challenges thrown at us, the joy of being grateful changes one's perspective about life. And I must admit a little nibble of chocolate or sweets (here and there) is a simple joy I will always look forward to.


Dru Pasturan, 42

Our simple joys nowadays really changed as we are fearlessly facing this pandemic and clinging onto the brighter perspective of it. As a career corporate outgoing fearless guy, I used to travel for work and for personal inclination to climb mountains around the country and abroad for a much-exciting solo exploring of less traveled places I’ve never been to. And as a father of 3 boys, and as a faithful husband, every time I’m home on a weekend, our simple joy is hanging out with wife and kiddos- food tripping, watching movies and some outdoor camping and trekking. Pandemic came in as a surprise. We locked our doors and we stayed indoors for a couple of months, scared. We did zumba in the morning and other home online workouts and even did our DIY repainting of our house interior to get away from the negative thoughts out in the news and other media platforms. We kept ourselves busy for our mental health. Plantito-Plantita craze came. We took advantage of it by selling plants, baskets and accessories via online. It was really fun while earning too. Fast forward this year 2021, we found our simple joy at the farm at which we can bond together (just us with kids) without mask and face shield. Our weekend simple joy escapade at the mountain, planting native trees fruit bearings and not, vegetables and spices made our life during this pandemic a lot more interesting. It is the simple joy of having more time with nature, with family around.

Simple Joys is being able to do the things you love- your passions, aspirations, career - and being able to share it with your family and friends.


Jezliah Kinah Baliling, 28

With the lockdowns and social distancing protocols due to the COVID 19 pandemic, maintaining social connections is very crucial nowadays. That's why what gives me simple joys are zoom meetings/video call with my friends and loved ones. It's the only way I can maintain and nurture my connection with them. May it be as short as a 3-min call, to as long as 3-hour conversations with them. We need to look out for our Mental Health in these trying times and one way to eradicate depression and anxiety is spending time with those who are close to us.


Honey Lacsamana, 34

I guess going through this pandemic has taught me a lot of things in life, one of those is to be joyful at any situation I'm in. Good or bad, grand or small, simple or extravagant. Seeing God's goodness in it is what really gives joy to my heart. It makes me grateful and appreciate everything I have even the simplest ones, because I realized that everyday is a gift from the Lord, most especially during this time when it seems like what is happening around us can sometimes be overwhelming. Just waking up in the morning everyday brings me joy to be able to thank the Lord for another day to enjoy His wonderful and overflowing blessings, to be with His presence and to know Him more and His goodness is something I am joyful about. I believe that we can only find lasting joy if we have Him in our life.

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Christopher Isaac, 38

When I turned 30, I remember asking myself what happiness was and wanted to understand the true meaning of joy. I had an understanding that joy was an external motivation and that I needed to get it from people, places, and things. I became addicted to chasing “JOY” and keeping it and I did whatever it took to have it. But it became exhausting because my definition of achieving it was highly external and synthetic. I was afraid of looking within because accepting my true sadness was a weakness and a testament of how I was truly feeling and I was afraid to confront myself. Vulnerability was not an option and a sign of imperfection. Eventually, I gave in after seeking help from family, friends, and a professional. I started being honest and made amends with myself and to the people I have used to fulfill my selfish needs. It wasn’t an easy task being honest, my ego wouldn’t allow me to be truthful and honest but I had to do it because I was over living a lie and pretending that I have “JOY” on the palm of my hand. I did the work from, writing down what I don’t like about myself to what I love about myself. To calling people that I have hurt and making amends with them no matter what the outcome could be . Now, JOY for me is something I am truly grateful for. From enjoying the coffee that I made for myself in the morning. Calling someone I care about and letting them know that I was thinking of them. All the way to giving myself a hug and giving myself compassion when I feel alone and discouraged. Simple joys for me is a collective daily affirmations to myself and to people that needs it. Empowering the souls around me and giving love and light to anyone that needs it. For me, JOY is a state of being and staying grateful even if things are disproportionate to our alignment. It’s all about getting back in the vortex and choosing joy at the end.


Grachel Laurente - Presant

Dining experience with my family. Tasting food in the places we visit. We can eat from raw to roast. When you grew up in a household where food is celebrated, you learn not to eat because you need to, you eat because you receive this wonderful blessing God gave you.


Cris Pasallan, 66

Simple joys in life pre-pandemic is travelling with my husband and family.Now my simple joys are decluttering, general cleaning of the house with my buddy Rainbow vacuum, gardening and cooking for my family.


Arnina Aragones, 32

The pandemic has changed my perspective of what brings me simple joys. Before, it took a lot, or more specifically, I demanded a lot before I could even consider a thing or an event to bring me joy. However, when Covid – 19 entered history, it has completely redefined what makes me happy. From a night out with the girls to a simple cup of coffee in our pajamas, from travelling around the world to breathing fresh air in the morning and being mesmerized by the sun, from eating at fancy restaurants to revisiting childhood street food snacks that we couldn’t get enough of before. These past couple of years have taught me that happiness does not have a concrete defined value. It is how one defines it to be, which can be found on the humblest of things. And for me, it is: - A short walk - A phone call from a childhood friend/family - Folding my laundry - Checking off boxes from my to do list - A compliment - A hug - A smile - Seeing the sun set- Alone quiet time with God both to vent out and be thankful for the day. My simple joys nowadays encompass time with oneself, family/friends and most importantly, with God. Intangible yet, invaluable. Life is short. Carpe Diem.


Ileana Garcia Villavicencio, 37

Spending time with my kids and seeing them learn new skills like sounding out letters or learning about science for my 4 yr old daughter or learning about animals and their sounds for my 1 yr old son and even just doing chores or creating new activities like setting the table or baking banana bread since we’re together all day!


James Tolentino, 38

I get to spend more time with my sister, talk to relatives through technology, and I get to do business from the comforts of my home.


Nathan Manahan, 40

Getting a long sleep from a long night at work.


Gee-Anne Santos, 36

This pandemic made me appreciate more the little things that I took for granted before. I never thought that simply not wearing any face masks at home with my family and watching K-Dramas during these anxious moments will make me the happiest.


Chino Bustamante, 28

My simple joys nowadays is getting to spend time with my family. With all the stress and isolation that comes with the pandemic. It is always comforting that there are times where I can bond and share moments with my family.


Alonzo Castro, 36

Because of the WFH arrangement, I get to spend more time with my lovely wife and our cute little daughter Amarah. Plus being able to ride my bike to scenic places near the metro are my simple joys nowadays.


Photos property of contributors



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