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Standard of Living v Quality of Life

Many people view the terms ‘Standard of Living’ and ‘Quality of Life’ as meaning the same thing, or at least, interchangeable. I would have to disagree.

Yes, they may be interdependent, or be mutually reliant. However, they are quite different things. Standard of living focuses on material wellbeing, while quality of life is just what it says: how enjoyable, how fulfilling; how complete does my life make me feel?

Of course, abject poverty and therefore a very low standard of living, can make life totally miserable. This seems obvious and very easy for us to understand and accept. Yet, for many of us, especially those of us lucky to live in wealthy and affluent societies, we probably give less consideration to the ideas that:

• Being obsessed raising our standard of living and with being too acquisitive can, in fact, reduce rather than increase our quality of life; and
• There is usually a point where acquiring more has a neutral effect on the quality of our lives.

Does always having the newest gadget or up-grading your car every six months really improve the quality of your life?

Is continually aiming to acquire more and more, in fact, an attempt to make up for ‘quality gaps’ in our lives? And does always looking to have more and more really fill those gaps? Especially in the long term?

We are approaching the time of year which is supposed to be about celebrating in the company of family and friends and showing kindness to others, who are possibly less fortunate than ourselves. However, for many Christmas has become merely a competition to purchase as much as possible. Does parents buying their child a mountain of presents really improve their quality of life? In the long-term won’t your families benefit more greatly and have a better quality of life if they have your company and attention? How knows? Try it. Many people are coming to this conclusion and are consciously buying smaller presents for their families.

In no way would I suggest that people shouldn’t constantly strive to achieve more and more. As a coach I positively encourage it. After all, wealth is often one of the drivers for the creation of new developments, ideas and products that can often improve the quality of our lives. However, when we strive for greater success and achievements, they should not all be about just material wealth. We should also see successful aims as including:

• being better, happier, mentally and physically healthier people;
• developing better relationships with family and friends;
• enjoying the material wealth we have gained to do more of the things we enjoy and ensure that we do have quality of life;
• possibly, even trying to give something back to others; and
• just taking time to reflect on what we have already achieved, being thankful for it and thinking and planning for our hopes for the future.

So standard of living and quality of life are not the same things. It’s all about balance. So, if the focus has weighed too heavily on the ‘standard of living’ side of the scale, why not take more time to improve your quality of life?

If you are seeking balance in your life and need someone to move the scales in your direction, why not get in touch with us today.


Alamgir Khan

LIfe Coach & NLP Master Practitioner