Robert Kennedy on Measuring Quality of Life


“The gross national product (of a country) does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
— Robert Kennedy, March 18, 1968

How are we measuring a life well lived?

Is it quality of life based on a personal assessment of what makes us happy? Or are we allowing media and popular culture, systems that know nothing about us, to steer us to false measurements?

What are the things that need to be happening for you to feel great? Making enough income so you don’t have too much financial stress? Spending lots of time with family for personal enjoyment plus the sense of harmony that comes with a house “in order”? Helping others less fortunate? Making time in your life to count your blessings? Having adequate alone time so you can assess things in your life, work and personal? Spending time in nature? Doing things you love whether travel, going to the movies, listening to music, playing sports, watching a ballgame on TV? Having a short commute? The list goes on.

You might not have arrived yet at your ultimate quality of life. For example, you have a goal of working within five miles of home and perhaps right now it is not practical. The point is to know what your quality of life drivers are so you can arrive at them as soon as possible but reckoning with

So going back to 30,000 feet, what does quality of life mean to you?

Quality of Life Perspectives: Mario Morino on Deprogramming Yourself When You Leave the Office

Mario Morino

Mario Morino

Mario Morino is a man for whom I have great respect for.  He is one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs and philanthropists I have come across:  he cofounded and built Legent Corporation and Venture Philanthropy Partners, his latest creation.

However, the reason people have great respect for Mario is the person he is.  Despite all of his accomplishments, you will not meet a more grounded person.  You can tell he is the same person he always was and that he treats people based on their character and not their station or resume.

In my interview with Mario he made the following comment which I think is a great bit of wisdom we should all think about for a minute.

“Sometimes the characteristics that served me in the business world—a hard charging, driving force — tend not to be  the best characteristics for husband and father. So I have made strides in deprogramming myself from the characteristics that are not great to use around the house.”

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The Hero’s Journey (On Living in the World) by Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)

I hadn’t read Joseph Campbell in awhile.  When I came across this essay last week, I got sucked in.  This is inspiration.  Please share.

The Hero’s Journey (On Living in the World) by Joseph Campbell

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
What you have to do, you do with play.
Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it.
The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.

Being alive is the meaning.

The warrior’s approach is to say “yes” to life: “Yea” to it all.

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
When we talk about settling the world’s problems, We’re barking up the wrong tree.
The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess.

We are not going to change it.
Our job is to straighten out our own lives.

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Essay by Norman Lear, More Reflections on the Meaning of Life


Norman Lear

I came across this essay that Norman Lear wrote in Life magazine in 1992.  It is great. I mean really great.  For those of you that have not heard of Norman Lear he is a hugely talented entrepreneur and humanitarian.  Best known for creating All in the Family and The Jeffersons.  He’s also the founder of People for the American Way.

More Reflections on the Meaning of Life

Published by the Editors of Life Magazine, 1992

Rome fell, according to historian Lewis Mumford, not through political or economic or military ineptitude.  Rome collapsed through “a leeching away of meaning and a loss of faith.”  Mumford might just as well have been speaking about our culture—a society afflicted by cynicism, selfishness and an erosion of civility, a society that has lost faith in its leaders and institutions and hungers for a greater sense of human connectedness.

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Top Ten Quality of Life Contributors by Gil Gerstein

fQuality of life to me is living and loving consciously, embracing life’s experiences, making small yet attainable goals and enjoying all the little moments that life brings.

1.  Think Positive
I believe that people are inherently good, things are always getting better and all challenges can be turned into accomplishments. By embracing struggle as a learning experience, all events can be positive.

2.  Honor Thy Sleep
I take sleeping very seriously. I get about eight hours every night and much more on the weekends. It is so vital for our health and happiness yet so overlooked. It heals the mind, soul and the body. It keeps you young and happy. Respect pillow time and you will feel the difference.

3.  Find Your Soulmate

Being with the right partner is the best feeling in the world. I waited to find my true soul mate and she only came when I was ready and felt truly deserving. She enriches my life, gives me purpose and fills my days with serenity and love.

4.  Verbalize Gratitude

Being grateful is a wonderful quality but verbalizing gratitude has a much more powerful effect. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy and when you express your gratitude towards others they often strive to attain even higher levels of the qualities you admire.

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Walt Whitman On Why Nature Brings Out Our Best

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons.  It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”

– Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road.”

This passage is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  The poem is called “Song of the Open Road.”

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Strong and content, I travel the open road.

The earth—that is sufficient;

I do not want the constellations any nearer;

I know they are very well where they are;

I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

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The Wisdom of Dichotomies: The World is a Mess and Life Optimism Reconciled

Photograph by eNil via Flickr

Photograph by eNil via Flickr

I was talking with our housekeeper Fany this morning about an earthquake that hit Honduras the day before.

In non-negative way, she was saying how this is just another example of all that is happening in the world today.  I made a joke, something to the effect of “El fin del mundo esta muy cerca!”  She sort of shrugged and mentioned that she does think the end of the world may be not too far out.

The next thing she said was what struck me.  She said this belief makes it easier for her to live each day to the fullest.  The feeling that the world is a crazy, unstable place meant for her a greater sense of calm and day-to-day optimism.

While I don’t agree about a pending cataclysmic event, it does make sense why these two seeming opposite mindsets actually interplay so well.    I can see how a doomsday philosophy could simultaneously someone a more passionate, optimistic person.

This exchange is also a perfect illustration of the power of an optimistic mindset.  A negative person would let a doomsday belief translate to apathy and cynicism, while an optimistic person works off of the belief to introduce more passion into each day.

All of this (both the “world is in constant flux” theme and the dichotomy concept) reminds me of a Joseph Cambell quote:

“When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree.  The world is perfect.  It’s a mess.  It has always been a mess.  We are not going to change it.  Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”

The more I experience life the more I come across the wisdom of dichotomies.

Top Ten Quality of Life Contributors by Avil Beckford


Quality of life for me is doing the things that bring joy. Over the past five years I have learned a lot about what does not work for me and I have turned over a new leaf.

1.  Reading

I am an avid reader, and reading is one of the simple pleasures in my life. I go through phases where I will focus on one genre until I am ready for a change. Right now, I am reading books across genres, and one of the unique things is that I have the ability to make connections among disparate pieces of information. I am an active reader so I get emotionally caught up with the words on the pages as I interact with them.

2.  Meditation

Twice a day I meditate, which helps to bring peace to my life. I retreat to the quiet place within, where I listen to hear what my inner voice is trying to tell me. This practice helps me to become the person I was meant to be.

3.  Raja Yoga

I recently discovered Raja Yoga, the highest form of yoga and it has made such a difference in my life. I have received tools to help me to achieve self-mastery. I see simple yet profound changes in myself. Things that used to bother me no longer do, and I view difficult people as my “Tests.”

4.  Flourishing

I have been in many situations, both personal and professional where I felt a piece of me wither and die each day. Now I know how to quickly identify situations where I flourish and blossom. This allows me to be my best self, which contributes to contentment and happiness.

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Top Ten Quality of Life Contributors by Cynthia Chin

rWe live in a time when more and more people realize that life is not just about existing but absolutely be about living to the fullest. Most of us perceive ourselves to be stuck in whatever rut that we cannot possibly get out of at the moment, for whatever reasons. I’d like to think otherwise. Quality of life is something that I experience, pursue and maintain at all costs because I believe that if we don’t love, enjoy and LIVE life, than our short time on earth will be sadly wasted.

So, what drives me? These are 10 contributors to what I especially love about my life, in no particular order. I’m working on all of them. Doesn’t mean I don’t fall off the wagon. But as with all things, we need to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and jump on again. Enjoy!

1. Discovering and Rediscovering Passions

When I was 14, all I wanted to do was to study abroad, get a degree in something wildlife or environmental related, and save the world. I did that (not the save the world bit, but I’m still in the wildlife conservation industry). I’m 36 and I’ve realized it’s time for me to discover, rediscover and pursue other passions in my life. I’m in the process of doing this, and I’m excited about it. I thrive on the process of discovery. I have a lot of things I can be passionate about. I just haven’t found one I want to pursue just yet.

2. Exercise and Keeping Healthy

I don’t look super fit. I’m not in great physical shape and I certainly am not drop-dead gorgeous Miss Athlete. But I tell ya, I looove working out, I loooove getting out in the jungle and trekking around, I loooove swimming, and I loooove sharing these activities with my friends. Exercise and activity keep me focused; eating well (as much as possible, anyway) makes me feel good about myself. I come to a place of quiet and inner reflection during a trek in the forest, on the treadmill, with every stroke of my swim. My focus is always on the exercise and fitness. Whether I lose weight or anything else is never the goal. I believe that’s the key philosophy on exercise.

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Top Ten Quality of Life Contributors by Paul Mallory

Hi Everyone, this is the first of many future submittals.  This one comes from Paul Mallory, a fan of the site for some time.   We were introduced through Arvind Devalia a few months back and Paul is now doing some volunteer work for Quality of Life Project as well.  We will be publishing submittals from friends of the organization every two weeks going forward.  If you haven’t sent yours yet, we would love to receive it.


By Paul Mallory

People often talk about work/life balance. I realized one day (in middle age) that my work life is a huge percentage of my time on earth, and that I wanted my life to be as meaningful, contributory and joyful as I could make it. The key for me is to have work that feels like I am using my gifts to the full, and making a difference. That’s when I formed my company, Soul Work, to coach people on finding more fulfillment at work.


I have four beautiful, bright, happy and hilarious children, ranging from a school leaver to a middle-school starter. These are my favorite people in the world, and they are the people who bring joy to my weekends and through their aspirations and achievements, some huge, some tiny. They come before everything else for me, but I also realized that to support, mentor and make them happy, I needed to be happy in myself and that I therefore needed to feel good about myself and find fulfilment in my work.


I am happiest when I feel ‘on-purpose’, i.e. that my daily work is me being who I authentically am, at my core, and using my unique strengths for the benefit of others. When we’re lost in our work, we are ‘in flow’, and that’s a great feeling. I formed my company ‘Soul Work’ to research the question of how we can increase our fulfilment at work, by either changing our mindset around our current role, or by finding a new role that allows the possibility of alignment to our life purpose.

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