Recognise the problem, have a debate, win the debate. How would you describe quality of life? Think about it for a few minutes. It isn’t as easy as you first might think. This very question was raised and debated last week at a congress I attended. I was asked to be a moderator at a conference on “Growth in Transition” and it started my brain juices flowing. It was only a day event, but a day of being bombarded with information, an information overload. The theme was also connected to local communities and how they can and perhaps should be the key to success.
One quote stuck in my mind, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Of course the story of local boroughs and administrations in Croatia was brought up, I remembered the fact the island of Korčula, with a population of only 12,000, had five boroughs. It was then mentioned that Croatia had a grand total of 555 boroughs, a very large total, I think you’ll agree. I have to admit that I had my mind changed through the congress, I was convinced that the lower the number of boroughs the better. Think of all the cost of running these boroughs, or rather don’t think about it if you want to remain sane. However, with a bit of help from measures arguments, my mind was changed.
“Every community desires to be a location where people want to live, engage in meaningful work and pursue their passions. In short, every community wants to be a vibrant, safe and livable place,” read the opening line of the congress papers. How true! A full day of debate and then the panel discussion at the end of the day and the question of quality of life was raised. It turns out that a very similar question had been asked at a previous conference in Vienna. Out of all the answers they received only one was a material object, financial stability, all of the others were nonmaterial.
It was interesting to see the different answers in Dubrovnik. One of the panelists asked me why I lived in Dubrovnik; the answer I gave was because of the quality of life. “Are you honestly saying that your quality of life is better in Dubrovnik than in London?” she pressed. “Absolutely, in order to see the trees you have to move away from the forest,” I replied. “If you are saying that your quality of life was worse in London why didn’t you stay in London and try to improve the situation?” she followed up. “Just because I choose quality in the first position that doesn’t mean that I took the easy option, quite the contrary, I think I took the harder option in search of a quality life,” I answered. “It would have been much easier for me to stay in a familiar community rather than uproot myself and move to a new one…don’t you think?” I answered.
At the same time of debating with this lady I was answering the question about quality of life, at least from my perspective. As one delegate had said in the day, less income is not equal to less quality of life. “I have time for my family and friends and time for me,” I started to explain to the lady delegate. “In the life balance of standard and quality, I chose quality, but of course that comes at a price,” I continued. “Most people choose standard of life, and that’s fine, life is all about choices and everyone makes their own,” I concluded.
The Oxford dictionary describes quality of life as “Daily living enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from harm. Quality of life may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life's challenges.”
I think that they have just described how I feel living here in Dubrovnik! Every point on their list is covered living here; I have ticked all the boxes. So did you think about your definition of quality of life? Did I cover any of them? Are yours the same as mine? Think about it for a few minutes…it is worth it.