When we talk about something that will improve our quality of life, it implies that something which will increase the sense of satisfaction of well being. This is a condition resulting from combination of the effects of complete range of factors such as those determining health, happiness, education, social and intellectual attainment, freedom of action, justice and freedom of expression. This is a composite measure of physical, mental and social well being as perceived by individual or a group of individuals.
There are three indices of quality of life – happiness, psychological well being, and life satisfaction.
Happiness is a mental state or condition that occurs when one’s subjective desires and aspirations are relatively met. Psychologists consider it as the ratio of material consumption and desire. Happiness, not only refer to material well being, but is also concerned with personal judgments in economic matter, family considerations and health. Life is considered as happy when it is more meaningful and purposeful.
Psychological well being is one’s own perception about their everyday life activities. Such feeling may range from negative mental state to positive outlook.
Life satisfaction is the degree to which one reports satisfaction with the salient features of one’s life and space. It refers to the judgmental processes in which the individual assesses the quality of life on his unique set criteria. This is individual’s subjective evaluation of the degree to which his or her most important goal, wishes and needs have been fulfilled.
The above three concepts are inter-related. Life satisfaction generates a feeling of well being which in turn produces happiness.
There are a number of factors which influence the quality of life.
Demographic factors like age, sex and socio-economic status are known to affect the quality of life.
Personal variables like education, health, home environment, occupation, recreation also influence the same.
Social variables like interpersonal relations, neighborhood and strength of civic agencies too decide the quality of life.
The simplest definition of ill health is that it is opposite of health i.e. it refers to any deviation from normal functioning or the state of complete mental, physical and social well being.
Disease, ill-health, illness and sickness need to be differentiated as they don’t imply the same meaning.
The term ill health refers to diseased condition that prevents an individual’s optimal physical, mental and social well being and functioning.
The term disease primarily refers to physiological dysfunctioning, though, these days, the term has been expanded to include within its purview, psychological dysfunctioning as well.
The term illness is a subjective state of a person who feels aware of not being well. Thus, it refers to not only the presence of a specific disease, but also to individual’s perception and behavior in response to the disease as well as the impact of the disease on the psycho-social environment.
Sickness is a state of social dysfunctioning i.e. it is a role that a person assumes when ill. It is therefore quiet possible to be victim of disease without feeling ill and to be ill without having any physical impairment.
This feeling of illness depends upon a number of personality variables like pessimistic outlook, jealousy, hostility, insecurity, lack of self control, inferiority complex, suspiciousness tendency etc.
In recent years, the term lifestyle diseases have been coined to refer to the disorders that are caused by many health damaging personal habits. Psychologists have identified a number of behavioral risk factors that increases the chance of illness. These include overeating, lack of exercise, unsafe sexual practices, drug and alcohol abuse, violence etc. Cognitive variables like attitude, beliefs and value system too play an important role in determining sickness. Interpersonal relationships, neighborhood and person’s socio-economic status are also the major determinants of this psychological state.
Mind power is the main antibody against any disease which needs to be nurtured in a fashion, so as to give an individual , an ultimate state of fitness.