What is Quality of Life?

Q-Life is dedicated to improving quality of life in relation to the use of information and communication technologies. Quality of life is not so easy to define - although most of us think it is important and probably have a feeling for what it means for us. It can be related to (some versions of) the ancient Greek ideal of eudaemonia, or “human flourishing”.

Q-Life’s view focuses on the experience of living, rather than more objective aspects such as income or education. Here we list some factors that we see as important for a good quality of life:

Health – According to the WHO[1]: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” A good quality of life implies maximising health in this sense, but including in the presence of disease and infirmity.

Happiness – There is a lot of current interest in positive psychology, which is more or less the scientific study and promotion of the feeling of happiness, and positive emotions are known to have beneficial effects on health. The broader sense of happiness - a state of subjective wellbeing - could be regarded as synonymous with a good quality of life. This is not merely the more narrowly defined emotion of feeling happy, but a “good life”.

Social engagement – We should be engaged with others in the way and to the degree that suits our personality, usually in a variety of ways and types of situation. This is sometimes described as a feeling of social belonging, or of not being isolated from others.

Self-fulfilment – We should live in a way that allows us to do things we find fulfilling and enjoyable, that is, to achieve personal goals and realize aspirations.

Self-transcendence – This refers to some aspect of being alive that involves an experience of something beyond our individual existence. Perhaps a “spiritual” feeling we get from being in nature, or from meditation, or a system of religious beliefs, or something we get listening to music.

Self-sustaining – A good quality of life supports continued living with a good quality of life. This is closely related to the concept of “successful ageing” – and we are all ageing.

[1] Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.


Sidansvarig: John Waterworth

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