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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Calidad de Vida

In any discussion with someone from Spain about lifestyle they will always mention “calidad de vida” or quality of life. The reason that I’ve used the Spanish phrase in the last sentence isn’t to show off my fluency in the language but because it seems to mean something completely different here in Spain than how we define it in the USA—if we even bother to bring it up at all. By “quality of life” people here—both rich and not rich—are talking about things that they feel are absolutely essential for happiness. What the Spanish are talking about are things like spending time with friends and family, sitting on a terrace in the evening having a drink, sharing great food, and mostly having the time to enjoy all of these important activities.

When the Spanish talk about “quality of life” it has nothing—or almost nothing—to do with material things. It’s not as if people here aren’t materialistic but they seem to be able to distinguish pretty well between the things they want to buy and the things that make their lives worth living. People here like nice houses and cars but most people I know have a firm grip on what is non-negotiable when it comes to their personal happiness.

People will say that they work to live, they don’t live to work. I heard this in Spanish my first week in this country from the guy cutting my hair. As much as people may covet material things they aren’t so eager to give up the things they view as crucial for quality of life to get those store-bought pleasures. Most people in Spain will choose taking a vacation over working as time off from work borders on the sacred.

I think the take-away point of this is that it’s extremely important for people to accurately identify the things they need in their road towards their personal pursuit of happiness and those things rarely coincide with the obstacles the folks in marketing place in our way. Our path in this direction isn’t necessarily the road less taken but I’m almost sure it isn’t toll road.

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