Standard of Living: Does it address the Quantity or Quality of Life?

Over the last year, I have been meeting a number of very “successful” people who are beginning to look more closely at the choices they have made thus far in life and those they are yet to make.  I believe this stems from a gnawing feeling of unease that arises in the background as they reflect on their life, their family, their possessions, and their accomplishments.

Relax with lots of moneyOne of the key metrics of progress and growth has been the “Standard of Living.”   I believe, however, that it tends to capture more of the material side of life rather than the intangible aspects of life.  Since one cannot measure the charm of life easily, the rational mind dismisses it’s importance.  Too much weight is placed on the level of income, type of employment, quality of home, exotic nature of vacations, etc.  This preoccupation only seems to increase the pressure on people to work more and make more income to pay for the things they think they need to feel successful.  Many have bought into the myth that money buys happiness and improves the quality of life.

Several studies have shown that while money does help raise the quality of our lives up to a point, more money does not further improve it significantly.  On the other hand, the hours and energy required to generate the additional income does chip away at the time that they could have used for social interaction, recreation or just living — being a human and using the time to connect with nature and observe the magic of life.

Children have the capacity to teach us how to appreciate the simplest of things.  They live in awe of the tiniest details of life.  A few months ago, I went to pick up a framed picture at a store.  It was raining outside and my family waited in the car while I went into the store to see if it was ready.  They needed more time to complete the framing, so I returned to the car.  My daughter, who was eleven at that time, was beaming with joy as she pointed with great excitement towards the next car.  I asked her, “What is it?”  She said with a big smile, “Look at those two birds near the tire, they are so cute.  And just a little while ago, a drop of water fell on the bird and it shook it off like this.”  She demonstrated how the bird got rid of the water.

I was amazed with the amount of joy she experienced merely sitting inside a car in a parking lot watching two sparrows hide underneath the tire well to stay dry from the rain.  I said to myself, “I want to make the time to watch such things and the best part is that it’s FREE.”

It is very important for us to define the dimensions along which we measure our own “Standard of Living.”  We have the choice to define it either by the quantity of stuff we own or by the quality of the life we live every day.  Just last night, I met a successful doctor who asked me what I did.  I told him that I was a life coach and that I help people who are caught up in the doing of things and lose the charm of life in the process.  He quickly identified himself as one of those people and shared with me that ten years ago he made less money, but his quality of life was much better.  He was curious to learn more about how to get off the habit of being caught up with doing and making more as it was not improving his life experience.

A statement I heard from the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, famous for his “The Rest of the Story” segments, has stayed with me for years.  He said, “Modern medicine has increased the quantity of life, not necessarily the quality of life.”  While some may argue to the contrary, many would agree with him.

Would love to hear your approach to defining and raising your standard of living.

Peace and be well,


About Krishna Pendyala

Author of "Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing SUCCESS and true HAPPINESS". I am a life coach, speaker and workshop leader. My vision is to enhance life on our planet by raising awareness of the ego, in a simple manner. My commitment is to empower men and women make better choices to achieve joy and fulfillment, without protracted struggles or huge personal crises. I believe we can create an enlightened society where inner awareness empowers people to thrive in harmony.
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4 Responses to Standard of Living: Does it address the Quantity or Quality of Life?

  1. Nagaraj says:

    This is a great topic. I myself have realized recently that the kind of energy and enthusiasm at the beginning of my career has waned in the recent past. With the money culture set in, businesses do not think of workers as human beings anymore but bodies that can be displaced for maximizing profit and thus the company loyalty has been kicked out of the door. The most common phrase these days has become “At least you have a job”. The awe, the wonder, the job satisfaction, and the pride of having achieved something of importance seems to be down.
    Unfortunately, the cost of college education in this country traps a person into a job even if it is not the most satisfying. Personally, I do not like loans, even so called good loans, so I strive hard to teach my children to stay away from getting trapped in a debt. Best way is to show them that it can be done.
    People say when they see something magnificent (and large in scale) it shows them how insignificant we human beings are. I have never felt that way when standing on top of Mountains or in front of Ocean, or Grand Canyon etc. I feel one with the nature and lose myself in the experience. “I” disappears in those moments from my thought. There is no ego, no PIG, no APE. Wish we live more in those moments.

  2. Ned Renzi says:

    Good post. Less is more regarding material items. Focus on wealth of selection and not wealth of accumulation.

  3. Joe Stafura says:

    Success is to get what you want.

    Happiness is to want what you get.

    We are measuring a set of attributes that correlate to “happier” lives, amd hope to provide some small help to people working towards the goal of a life with meaning. Owning things has no meaning internally past Maslow’s lower levels,a place most people who are considered successful have never been.

    Changing the focus of one’s life so that walking past a newer German sedan without feeling inadequate is not simple, precisely because so many of the desires provoked by the billions in annual advertising are simple. No different that any historical display of gaudy wealth and material worship than in the past.

  4. YVR Vijay says:

    Once the basic requirements of food, shelter and clothing are met, quality of life is a state of mind. Quality of life can then only be enhanced by meaningful and enriching relations with people.

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