"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." -Socrates

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On Quality of Life

How does one define quality of life? Cities are rated being measured through air quality, cost of living, weather, etc. Hotels are reviewed for cleanliness, location, and overall value. Restaurants, cars, and products all have their own rankings based on various factors. But in looking at one’s life, how do we rate or measure the quality of the overall experience we have in this existence?

In asking a question of such monumental proportion, this takes a great deal of thought, as there are many elements that comprise life as a whole. Sensual stimulus (both pleasurable and painful), relationships, ethics, spiritual viewpoints, health, ratio of work and leisure, societal status, and personal fulfillment of goals are just a few of the things which make up our life; and how we measure that quality.

A combination of these things would provide an overall quality evaluation of life, just like a combination of measurements for a city or hotel. And all of them are equally as important. Just as a city with low cost of living could be devalued by poor weather, a person with high status and physical pleasures could feel unsatisfied due to poor ethics and suffered relationships. So quality of life is not measured by one standard, but by many.

The interesting thing about “rating” anything, be it quality of life or a vacation destination, is that it’s all subjective. When forming an opinion, we subconsciously use comparisons from previous experiences, and personal preferences which are directly related to one’s past. We’ve all used or heard the phrases, “I couldn’t be better” or, “Things couldn’t be worse”. In actuality, things can always be better or worse. In the instances where everything seems to be going right, or falling apart, we oftentimes cannot picture a better or worse scenario because we’ve never experienced it; and do not have the imagination to fathom a better or worse.

Quality of life is different for everyone, and it’s important to understand that our perception is often derived from our past; and the boundaries of our imagination. It’s also viewed differently by each and every person in the world. Things can always be better or worse, and by having that understanding, we may be greater able to celebrate the quality of life we have in the present.