Quality of Life
Author: Byron Pulsifer, © 2016
It’s hard to read a newspaper or listen to a television program that at one time or another dedicates considerable print or air time to the issue of quality of life. You will hear or see this term applied to the conditions in which elderly people live, or to those who are nearing the end of their life lying in a hospital bed.There is talk about quality of life in both of these situations going on in many thousands of households right now. But, what does quality of life mean to you?
Does the quality of life question only reserved for those seniors living in squalid or devastating poverty conditions or for those confined to their death bed?
I’m not suggesting, for a moment, that quality of life for the elderly living in poverty or for those dying in hospital isn’t important to consider or to address. I am suggesting, however, that quality of life is also or should be also of concern to everyday folk. What do I mean?
Is There Only One Definition
I believe that the issue of defining the quality of life is much like defining what constitutes success. But, before we utilize this rather oblique answer, let’s further explore what quality of life may look like in certain situations.
Many thousands of articles have been written concerning the issue of lifestyle. For some, this means that they are able to afford a luxurious home comprised of several thousand square feet, a summer vacation home on a beautiful lake, or a mountain retreat mad from hand hewn logs, or able to take several vacations a year to exotic locations all over the world. These folk drive several fine cars, belong to the most prestigious golf clubs or social organizations, or they also entertain celebrities and dignitaries.
“You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being, not because anybody says so, not because you’re successful, not because you make a lot of money, but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason.”
For others, it means that they own a comfortable home in a very prestigious area of a city or a large country property outside of the hustle and bustle of the big city. They probably enjoy visitations from friends, acquaintances or colleagues and bosses. They have enough money to equip there outdoor in or indoor pool, and drive the newest vehicle. Their home is equipped with all the latest gadgets, a well-appointed kitchen and a great hall for enjoyment and entertaining. There are the yearly sojourns to vacation spots that vary from year to year.
On the other hand, there are those folks who have an adequate house with all the standard amenities. They enjoy sports activities and take their children to their soccer, basketball, hockey or baseball games. In the summer, they pack their family into their van and off they go camping for several weeks exploring different parts of the country.
Ask yourself, do any of the above examples demonstrate more than any other what quality of life looks like?
“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Leaf through any of a multitude of magazines, or watch a variety of television shows and you will see a vast array of different types of careers. Some of these careers are noted professionals like doctors, lawyers and dentists. Some careers focus on a variety of businesses including those who hold the most senior of positions, to consultants, accountants, I.T. professionals, or senior human resource positions.
Other noted careers are those dedicated to public service including local Mayors, Councillors, or at the provincial or state level, while others choose to focus on federal level politics including the leader of a party or the most senior position of President or Prime Minister.
“Happiness is the reward we get for living to the highest right we know.”
Then, there are a host of different career options that cover any facet of employment you can think about. These could be your middle managers, nurses, small business owners, electricians, plumbers or any trade, and those whose careers are focused on support roles.
And, there are also those who specialize in the service industry or sales and customer service providing the in demand services known as front line workers.
Which of the above mentioned demonstrates a quality of life more than any other?
Service To Others
Within the mix of services provided to others, we can find the dedicated senior roles in social organizations like the Salvation Army, hospices, hospitals and seniors homes. And, under the umbrella of social services you will find heads of a variety of non-profit organizations. In addition, many of the aforementioned could only function effectively if they retain an army of dedicated volunteers.
Do any of these above examples demonstrate a quality of life more than another?
I know there are many other examples I could relate about different aspects of life. However, the above examples will give you an idea about what some people would indicate meets their quality of life definition. Quality of life for some is wealth; quality of life for others is having the means to meet family obligations,; and others believe that the quality of life hinges on their service to others whether that be as a health professional, a social services professional, or the multitude of other service to others categories.
“If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.”
Some would also suggest that the real meaning of the quality of life means that you are blessed to have a place to call home, enough food that you or your family doesn’t go hungry, a safe community or country to live in devoid of civil strife or war, enough water to drink and for proper sanitation, enough clothes to wear so you aren’t cold, or enough money to be able to help others who are in great need.
Quality of life has many meanings as you understand. We all need to decide what quality of life looks like. It is more than just living to a ripe old age. To live long doesn’t necessarily mean that you enjoy quality of life. As well, I’ve met younger people who act and speak as if they are in their last days.
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus
Quality of life also does not equate with money. Sure, money can buy you a lot of stuff but it’s only stuff. Quality of life has more to do with the inner self, the giver, the compassionate, the humble, the kind and the mentor. Quality of life means to me that one’s impact in life exists long after one’s death. The specific impact on other people who have been blessed by your earthly existence leaves a legacy that goes forward with those you have touched.
“Heaven on Earth is a choice you must make, not a place we must find.”
In the final analysis, we all have a choice. We can choose to live a miserable life if our goal is set only to acquire earthly possessions. Out option to live a life full of richness doesn’t depend on fame and fortune. It depends on the riches we have inside. And, those riches aren’t there just so you can enjoy life; they are there so that you can bless others by sharing in your joy. A smile, a laugh, a shoulder to cry on, a friend who welcomes you no matter what happens, a parent who loves you unconditionally despite your failures, are all examples of a life filled with goodness and quality.
Take a simple step to improve your own quality of life. How? Start by giving; the simple smile rides along with your morning greeting to a colleague; by leaving an unexpected, small gift of thanks for someone who has shown you a kindness or extended a helping hand without being asked; by volunteering a couple of hours a week to a social organization dedicated to assisting the less fortunate.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
“They serve best who give most of themselves. Self is forgotten by the one who serves, for such a one rejoices to see success coming to others through his or her efforts.” James Cash Penney
“We can slow down. We take the time to appreciate life more, to do more and to keep improving ourselves.” Kellie Sullivan
“The remarkable thing we have is a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.” Charles Swindoll
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