Standard of Living

Standard of living as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary, “the necessities, comforts and luxuries enjoyed or aspired to by an individual or group.” Standard of living is entirely material. Standard of living is based on what you have materially and of what type it is. What kind of house do you live in? Which neighborhood is it located in? What kind of vehicles do you drive? Which brands of clothes do you have? What kind of recreational things do you enjoy or vacations do you take?  As the price and amount of these things rise up the ladder then we say that a person’s standard of living has increased. Remember, standard of living is entirely material.

Quality of Life

Quality of life as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, oh wait, the Merriam Webster Dictionary did not have an entry for “quality of life”. Must be a more elusive thing. You need to go back to a Webster’s 1913 dictionary to find a definition for “quality of life,” apparently it is not considered a modern term any more. Quality of life is defined as, “Your personal satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the conditions under which you live.” Notice that the general term “conditions” is used. The conditions are not described in detail. The reason is because your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your conditions is not a material thing, but an intangible feeling, that have to do with your heart and your emotions.

If standard of living is material then quality of life is spiritual. We have all heard stories of celebrities or other wealthy individuals who have committed suicide. The question is often asked, “How could he be so unhappy when he had everything he could want?” The answer is that they did not have a good quality of life. They had a good standard of living. There are equally as many stories of poor and impoverished people who commit suicide. The modern mind looks at these deaths and says, “Well, that is sort of understandable. He/she was desperate and helpless and had nothing.” We justify the death based on his standard of living.

Questions to as yourself

Why do we think like this? Why do we rely so heavily on our standard of living to make us happy?  Why do we understand the poor being depressed but not the rich? Why have we entangled standard of living and quality of life up so tight that in most of our minds we can never separate them? 

Self Evaluation

Evaluating how we feel about what we have can help us balance our quality of life with our standard of living, and thus help us find a greater sense of peace and acceptance in our life.