STUDENTS' CORNER -46
This week we shall study another indicator of quality of life with regard to GDP: Overall experience of life.
In one sense, all the quality-indicators we saw in some detail can be included in this indicator of Overall experience of life.
How to measure, how to assess and study and rank the life of an individual? Very complex task indeed; however, studies have been carried out by many researchers and they have come out with some categories that help assess the life of an individual and rank it.
To begin with the very phrase, ‘quality of life’. Often, it is correlated with one’s ‘Well-Being’. The sense of well-being is richly subjective in the sense that what is well-being for one need not be the same for another. All the same, some qualities have been arrived at to measure the level of one’s well-being and those qualities are classified as three sub-dimensions: they are a) life satisfaction b) affect and c) eudaemonics which means ways of finding happiness, or, science of happiness.
Let us briefly look at each of them so that we know what it means. Once again, all the three are not quantifiable; they are profoundly subjective, too personal to argue against.
When a need is fulfilled, there is satisfaction. When a hungry man takes food, he experiences satisfaction. And one who gives food to a hungry man also says he is satisfied. When you solve a problem, you feel satisfied. When your expectation is met, you get satisfied. From these examples, we can see that satisfaction is a kind of comfort one experiences. Comfort implies absence of conflicts and confusion.
Now, the questions that come to the mind are: Are you really satisfied with your life in the sense that you enjoy your everyday living with the things you have, with the people you have to move about, with the ideas that appeal to you most, say, belief? If one tries to answer these questions honestly, he may find it difficult to give quick and immediate answers. But, people feel that they are generally satisfied. It means that the individual is not fully satisfied; there are some elements which have escaped him or have not come to him the way he wants them approach him.
Very often, satisfaction is felt as a result of experience of comfort; remember, there is physical comfort and more significantly, there is psychological comfort. Feeding the hungry stomach is physical comfort but the same physical comfort will not be spontaneously experienced if the food given to him is not tasty or is not what he likes. Hunger is met with food, there is physical comfort but his mind does not experience comfort in the sense that he is not pleased. Hunger is not there, but happiness is also not there. See, how the experience of satisfaction gets complex defying easy generalization.
There is one more aspect to satisfaction. Common observation tells us that satisfaction is not permanently linked to any one object or even any one person. People keep changing cars, houses, even jobs on the score that the same car does not give him the satisfaction he was able to derive from the possession of the car. For satisfaction to sustain itself, it requires newer and newer objects.
Once again, with regard to satisfaction, the pertinent question is: Are you satisfied truly with the things you happen to have or you want a different order of things about you? Generally, most of the comfortable people are not genuinely happy people, satisfied with their total living.
Since comfort commands the top position in living, people with more money can possess better things of life compared with those who do not claim to so much of money.
We will look into the other aspects of well-being in our next session.