Standard of Living Vs. Quality of Life

Standard of living is material. It’s the things you’re used to.

Quality of life is spiritual. It’s the relative fulfillment you feel.

When I first lived in Senegal, I was surprised by the level of poverty I perceived compared to my American standards.

In the six months that I lived there, most people I met did not own a car, nor a TV, let alone a computer. Many cooked over wood or propane stoves, ate from communal dishes while sitting on the floor, and slept on foam mats, often in the same room. Electricity was scarce, and hot water was a rarified luxury, that is if they had running water at all.

But despite the apparent poverty, the people of Senegal seem to be happy.

People have jobs they were proud of, communities they care about, and friends they see often. Families eat together, laugh together, and stay together. Pick-up sports leagues are as common for adults as they are for children. Night life is lively. Parties are frequent. Meals are cooked fresh every day. There is a strong sense of national identity. And most importantly, people have dignity.

How many Americans can say the same?