So I've been asking myself this question a lot recently.
The wiki definition for the 'Standard of Living' is the quality and quantity of goods and services available to people, and the way these goods and services are distributed within a population.
The wiki definition for 'Quality of life' is the degree of well-being felt by an individual or group of people.. It consists of two components: physical (e.g. health, diet) and psychological (e.g. stress, worry, pleasure) and other positive or negative emotional states.
In an ideal world you would have the best of both worlds but unfortunately the two are often at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Happiness and success are also potentially worlds apart.
When I was growing up the following rather simplified guidelines to achieving happiness and success applied:
- Study hard in high school so you get enough points to get into a good College/Uni
- Study hard to graduate from said good College/Uni so you can get a good job
- Get a good secure job with prospects to advance so you can be 'successful'
- Work hard and try and save as much as possible so you can eventually settle down
- Get on the property ladder and keep climbing cos 'there's gold in them there hills'
- The better you are at this, the bigger your house will be.
- The bigger the house, the more cars, gadgets and toys for the kids.
Let me introduce the Sucker Family.
Mr Gaylord Sucker commutes 2 hours and works 10 hours a day in a high stress environment. Half the time, he makes it home in time to tuck the kids into bed, half the time he doesn't.
Missus Sucker works locally but juggles dropping the kids at expensive day care and running her own business. The kids are spoiled with all the clothes, toys, gadgets and everything and anything they need except enough attention from their exhausted parents.
The family spend 2 weeks in LottsaFunland each year but Mr S is constantly checking his Blackberry and is called away to conference calls 2 to 3 times a day. Mrs S has to check up on her business by phoning her liason for long conversations 3 times a day and checking on emails in the evening. The kids have a great time but the parents find it difficult to relax while juggling the work demands and keeping the kids happy.
15 years of this continues and seems to fly by and they move twice into bigger better homes. Mr S is now the proud owner of a top of the range blue BMW and Mrs S has an identical red one. Mr S is a bit burnt out but the kids still need to go thru college so he must persist. The kids have become a bit of a handful and ungratefully resent Mr and Mrs S's lack of quality time over the years. Rebellious outbursts are frequent. They rarely eat dinner together anymore and when they do get together, arguments typically ensue.
With the downturn in the global economy Mr S gets laid off but with a decent redundancy package there's no immediate need for alarm. Mr S starts to remember what it was like NOT to dread Monday mornings and wants to spend more time with kids, but they are now grown up and indifferent to his newly rekindled interest.
Mrs S's business also takes a nose dive and stress levels in the home rise as she is now the sole bread winner. Mrs S's mother visits but this only adds to the stress as she never got along with Mr S and they are not on civil terms. Mr and Mrs S wonder where the years went and how, even though they have all the material possessions anybody could want, they wonder why the family is not quite 'a Unit' and happiness has somehow eluded them.
Best case scenario - With a bit of luck they all live long and healthy but not necessarily happily ever after. Thankfully my own story is far removed from this nightmare, but it is something I have observed in friends and colleagues too many times.
Alternate case study - I've seen entire families here in Argentina (on or close to the poverty line) - grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren sitting around an Asado (BBQ) on the side of the road, who look more family functional, happier and healthier than the messed up wealthy family of 'The Suckers' above.
Being part of the rat race facilitates a certain standard of living but at what cost to your quality of life?
How do you define your 'REAL' Quality of Life and Standard of Living?
What REALLY makes you happy?
Yes - there's nobody else here - I am talking to YOU?!!
If you like what you've read, why not subscribe to updates click here