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True Quality of Life

I’m not proud of it, but I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from a major University. We basically studied abnormal behavior and then, with measures and statistics, tried to explain reasons for that behavior and create theories to help people through counseling. As a discipline, it was light on science and heavy on theory. Personally I have some problems with this approach, and we all know from experience that you can prove almost anything with statistics.

Of course, many statistics have real value. However, there are some statistics that come out of some very expensive studies that have what I call a major “duh” factor. As an example, one extensive study found that adults with diabetes reported experiencing two times as many unhealthy feeling days per month compared to adults without diabetes. Duh!

true_quality_of_life_work_picThere is a major governmental agency that has an ongoing scientific study called “What is Quality of Life?” This Quality of Life, or QOL, study utilized long questionnaires and detailed interviews to measure both the positive and negative aspects of life. The challenge, of course, is that quality is very subjective; it means different things to different people and spans everything from employment to housing to spirituality.

One of the major components of QOL is labeled the Health Related Quality of Life or HRQOL. To determine your status, there are several standardized measures like the SF-12 and SF-36 Medical Outcomes Study Forms, the Sickness Impact Profile, and the Quality of Well-Being Scale. The Healthy Days Measured Questionnaire asks questions like “Now thinking about your mental health, which includes stress, depression, and problems with emotions, how many days during the past 30 days was your mental health not good?” and “During the past 30 days, approximately how many days did poor physical or mental health keep you from doing your usual activities, such as self-care, work, or recreation?” Dozens of these questions later and we are well on our way to a wealth of statistics.

I like the World Health Organization’s definition of health. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The disease part is fairly measurable, but the well-being portion is very subjective and is more difficult to make into a statistic. Let me share with you some of the CDC’s findings based on statistics from the HRQOL studies:

1 – Americans say they feel unhealthy (physically or mentally) about 6 days per month.

2 – Younger American adults, aged 18–24 years, suffered the most mental distress.

3 – Older adults suffered the most poor physical health and activity limitation. Duh!

4 – Adults with the lowest income or education reported more unhealthy days than those with higher income or education.

true_quality_of_life_family_image5 – Americans with chronic diseases or disabilities reported more unhealthy days than those without these diseases or disabilities. Duh, again!

I’m sorry, but do we always need these expensive governmental and university studies to measure what is quite obvious? Here’s what I do know. When you eat right, strive for worthy goals, do your best, love deeply, express gratitude, exercise regularly, and look on the bright side, you have the best chance to feel and look good. Now, that’s true Quality of Life!

I really like how country music star Reba McEntire summed it up when she said, “To succeed in life, you need 3 things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.” Now that deserves at least an honorary PhD in Psychology if you ask me.

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