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Quality of life is the term you often use to signify the goodness in life, or a good life. But have you tried to understand its deeper meaning and know what it’s all about?
If you did, then you’d probably know the ways to make your life more valuable.
Since I use this term in many of my posts, I decided to make an effort so that we can all understand it better. And in the process, I learned something that might surprise some of you.
For example, many of you might think that only affluence or richness can make your life worthy.
Do you also think so? Can money alone make your life better?
Yes, you all know that money can help a lot. But many people out there would doubt that it can provide you with real, long-term happiness.
In fact, there’s a research report that suggests wealth can make your life better to a certain level. Beyond that, the quality of life deteriorates even with the increase of wealth.
I know many of you’ll disagree, and I can understand your thoughts and feelings. After all, we attach so much of importance to money.
But you’d be more surprised to know that most of the definitions of “quality of life” completely exclude the reference of wealth!
Well, then why don’t we ourselves find out if it’s money or other things that really improve the quality of our life.
Let me remind you that we’re only trying to understand the quality of life of an individual, and not of a community or a place.
“The quality of life is determined by its activities.” ~ Aristotle
What is Quality of Life
First, let’s understand the meaning of the term as evident through these definitions.
One dictionary defines quality of life as your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort).
It is also defined as the general well-being of a person or society, defined in terms of health and happiness, rather than wealth.
World Health Organization (WHO) defines “Quality of Life” as an individual’s perception of his/her position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which he/she lives and in relation to his/her goals, expectations, standards and concerns.
From all the above definitions and the meaning of quality of life, you can conclude that –
a) It is not essentially related or proportional to money or wealth.
b) It is subjective and depends on your perception of life.
c) It is more about happiness and satisfaction in your life.
d) It is affected by your expectations, desires, and goals.
e) It depends on your well-being, including health.
Making a rational inference from the above conclusions, one can say that eventually if you’re heartily happy and completely satisfied with your life, you have a high quality of life.
In other words, can you then say that the quality of life is determined by the absence of suffering in life?
This suffering can be in the form of having negative attitude or perceptions, disappointments, regrets, anxieties, stress, anger, disputes, and physical pain or ailments.
Wouldn’t you love to have such a life characterized by optimism and peace!
But then does money make no difference at all? I’d say it depends on the individual.
Some like frugal living, being minimalistic, and are content with whatever they can get with the money they possess.
There are also people who want all types of material comforts and best of facilities to make life easy, and they desire lots of money for that purpose.
Whatever be the case, I think some amount of money is essential for everybody to have goodness in life – unless of course, you renounce worldly life and become a monk or a nun!
You need money to fulfill the basic necessities of life, which are food, water, clothes, and shelter.
The modern basic human needs are not limited to these and extend to health care, access to education, employment, and freedom.
According to World Bank, people deprived of any of the above basic needs are said to live in poverty and have a low quality of life.
To assess your life in terms of money and related factors, you can use the concept of “Standard of Living”.
Quality of Life and Standard of Living
Perhaps some of you might think that both these terms are similar and more or less mean the same thing.
However, there’s a big difference.
Quality of life is very subjective and intangible. It’s difficult to evaluate it in general or global terms, because its criteria vary from person to person, society to society, and culture to culture.
Your idea of having a particular quality of life might be different from my concept of making my life qualitative.
It may depend on some basic factors that you take for granted, that is, the basic freedom and rights of life and living.
Besides that, your attitude towards life, your relationships, and acceptance of life also matters.
Whereas, the standard of living is objective and it can be quantified. It denotes the level of comfort attained through necessities, material goods, and wealth.
Some of the factors that help assess the standard of living of any place are income, employment, affordability, life expectancy, leisure time, infrastructure, facilities, care, and safety.
Can we say that the standard of living is about external comfort and how easy life is, whereas, quality of life is all about internal satisfaction and how happy and peaceful you feel in life?
Ideally, it is expected that a good standard of living should mean a good quality of life. However, practically, a high standard of living may neither guarantee nor be a necessity to have a quality of life.
In other words, you can have a quality of life with or without a high standard of living.
But many people and organizations do consider the standard of living as a part of their concept of quality of life, and a life with low standard of living might not be qualitative for them.
Nevertheless, it’s not with just one aspect, rather you need to be happy and satisfied with all the aspects of your life to make it qualitative.
Social scientists have helped identify the various factors that account for and contribute to quality of life.
“The quality of life that you have is determined solely by the effort you put into giving your life value, purpose and a reason.” ~ Steven Redhead
Factors that Contribute to the Quality of Life
According to the WHO, your quality of life depends on the following aspects of your life:
1. Physical health and level of independence
2. Psychological state and spiritual level
3. Personal and social relationships
4. Environmental conditions
When you take care of and fare well in all the finer aspects of these broad categories, you’ll experience the richness in life.
Another term that closely identifies with the quality of life is wellness, which is the full integration of states of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
If you wish to have wellness in life, you should read my detailed post about easy ways to achieve wellness, where I’ve discussed about how you can achieve emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, occupational, social, spiritual, and financial wellness.
Well-being in turn is defined as a contented state of being happy, healthy, and prosperous.
Further adding to the factors that contribute to the quality of life are moods and emotions, happiness, and life satisfaction of the individual as described by the concept of subjective well-being (SWB).
Though a qualitative life is concerned with happiness and health, but it does not entirely depend on prosperity.
Do you think all wealthy and prosperous people enjoy quality of life? No, it doesn’t always happen so.
It’s the control over your mind and body, that mainly helps you avoid all the sufferings and makes your life worthwhile. You can take the help of money and comfort to achieve that, but you can also do without.
This is evident through the widely used comprehensive scale of the good life called the self-perceived quality of life scale (SPQL), which helps monitor the quality of life by taking into account the individual’s well-being, emotions, and physical and mental health.
“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.” ~ Mihaly
This knowledge of the meaning and factors of the quality of life will help you understand how to improve your life.
Life nowadays has become too hectic, busy, stressful, and boring for most people, isn’t it?
Well, except the life getting boring, the rest applies to me too – and that means I need to make efforts to improve the quality of my life. 🙂
What would I want so that my life becomes better?
I’d like to have more time to spend with my family, time for myself, less stress, and a full night’s sleep every day! I’m sure most of my other blogging friends would want all of this too. 🙂
Blogging or your work may earn you money, and money can buy you comfort, but there is something that money can’t buy.
What is that – you might ask! Well, money cannot bring you long-term happiness and peace of mind, which are needed to make your life worthwhile.
The quality of your life depends on your physical and mental health, happiness, well-being, relationships, work, personal constitution and the environment.
In one of my future posts, I’ll be writing about the ways to improve your quality of life – so stay tuned for that!
Till then, try to be happy and satisfied with life to enjoy it. 🙂
Over to You –
What is your concept of quality of life? What place do money and standard of living hold in your life? Share in the comments.
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