Quality of life is one of the terms we often throw around as though it is an objective standard that applies to everyone. We think that just because certain things are valuable to us that they are valuable to others. When I began to look more closely at different people’s ideas of what quality of life meant I realized that it is a very subjective term, and that each of us has our own scale for what is important to us.
To look more closely at this concept, I interviewed as many different age groups and backgrounds as I could. I interviewed 3 groups of youth: young teens, teenagers, young adults, an executive, an economist, a stay at home mom, and a grand-parent. I asked everyone! And I found some incredible feedback.
The first interviewee was a twelve-year-old girl. For her, quality of life was about love- the relationship between you and others and the love that is gifted and received. I found it incredibly interesting how this young woman’s answer was so insightful, and something that can become less front-and-center as economic factors become important later in life.
An eighteen-year-old teenager found it of the utmost importance to know the difference in risks. He found that the quality of her life increased as his ability to acknowledge which risks were necessary to improve his life and which were foolish. He was interested in learning the difference between “what will help me or hurt me”. Positive results stemming from our choices were what he valued.
The economist and the executive that I spoke to stated that in terms of their industries, quality of life was about climbing the career ladder. They both measured quality of life on where each of them had accomplished their own movement up the ladder within their job and careers. For many other adults, the more common answer was work-life balance, creative and economic goals balanced with one’s family and relationship priorities.
I spoke to a mother who had an interesting experience with her relationship. It had been a very abusive relationship and for her, when I mentioned quality of life, the first thing she went to was safety. Feeling safe in her own home, feeling safe for her children, feeling safe for herself were her greatest factors for her quality of life.
Others shared with me via Facebook that waking up with no pain, making a difference in the lives of others and having lots of money to travel were important factors to their quality of life. Others found that a nice house to retire in or a nice car to drive were their main factors for quality of life.
The beauty of these interpretations is their diversity. There truly is no right or wrong answer. We all have different dreams and desires, different safety and love requirements. Everyone has his or her own definition of what would make a great life.
When exploring other possibilities with loved ones, employees, or others, it is of the utmost importance that we look at what it is they value, and remember that every single situation is
unique unto itself, because each person is unique unto his or her self. No two people are the same! We must be present and look into the lives of others to see how we can best contribute to them.
At the end of this exercise I became incredibly grateful for the diversity on our planet. I realized that when we tap into what is going on in the lives of those around us without assuming we are the same, we can be a light and an inspiration in the lives of others, based on how they are looking to improve their own quality of life. So what is quality of life to you?