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Asking The Heavy Question: Quality or Quantity?

Asking The Heavy Question: Quality or Quantity?

Quality or quantity is one of the most discussed quandaries amongst us when deciding what’s more important in our lives. Whether you side with quality over quantity or vice versa, what exactly motivates us to rationalise choosing between the two?

Is it better to opt for an all-you-can-eat buffet or go to a Michelin star restaurant that serves fine dining? Is it better to spend limited time with your partner after work every day or spend the whole weekend doing something together? Is it better to have 10 pairs of cheap jeans or one pair of well-made designer jeans?

While our decisions are based on particular situations at any given moment, it’s interesting to find out how our perception of defining what is best for us has changed over time.

The Evolution of Quality vs. Quantity

Since the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, consumerism and the idea of quantity over quality has increased dramatically. Suddenly, having more meant being somewhat better off and showing higher status and wealth. The creation of ‘the more the better’ way of thinking fed into the minds of the consensus and so was born the idea of quantity over quality.

This can be seen in the mindset of ‘if I have more clothes, I have more choices and people will see me as rich, popular or fashionable’. It’s also seen in the perspective of believing that the more you buy for your spouse or partner, the more it shows your love for them. In other words, the short term instant gratification of giving material items is suddenly symbolic of love. Equally, the idea of getting our money’s worth is another example of the need for quantity like going to the all-you-can-eat buffet to eat as much as you can for a smaller amount of money.

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But this narrow mindset is slowly changing with people’s views of satisfaction, and what is defined as ‘the best’ has significantly hit a turning point.

The idea of minimalism and ‘less is more’ is becoming a more common way of thinking with the value and worth of something being more important than having large quantities. Spending more money on a pair of designer jeans with emphasis on the better brand and quality now instantly means this pair of jeans is better than 10 pairs of cheap jeans. Spending $100 on a Michelin star fine dining experience may mean you get less food than the $20 all-you-can-eat buffet but the value of that fine dining experience is worth more in terms of quality.

    How Has the Quality Mindset Overtaken the Quantity Mindset?

    The increase in education and literary skills together with better peace and prosperity and, therefore, stability amongst nations has meant that the generation today aren’t focused on the need for survival. In other words, there is generally a lesser worry about food, water or shelter that past generations have had to go through. Instead, people today are more exposed to the finer things in life and have the luxury to be able to focus on this.

    Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was a psychological look at human curiosity and motivation. In his theory, Maslow explains that we need to go through stages of deprivation in order to create motivation and subsequently level up. In terms of quantity and quality, acknowledging the importance of quality can only come from the experience of vast quantity and its lesser value in our lives.

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    We’ve now learnt that it’s no longer about survival (quantity) but rather how we can live well (quality).

       How Does This Impact Our Behaviours?

      The idea of quantity and quality is very situation-specific. While the idea of appreciating the concept of quality over quantity is a positive change in our society, it’s really down to our own individual preferences and what we consider best for ourselves.

      You may be someone who loves to go to the all-you-can-eat buffet because it gives you a wide variety of foods and you can eat to your heart’s content. This makes you happy and you don’t perceive it as a bad thing. Or you may be someone who loves fine dining and paying through the nose for less food because the whole experience is something that you consider ‘worth it’.

      Is it better for you to spend every day with your significant other where both of you are tired from long days at work and therefore not able to give each other undivided attention? For some, maybe, but others may feel spending a full Saturday together where you’re both rested and focusing on each other as a better option.

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      Quality and Quantity: What is the Ideal State?

      As with everything, moderation is key and this goes for the concept of quality versus quantity. The present generation are working towards a more cultivated mindset of measuring worth where quality is seen as the best option for balance and overall happiness. But it’s important to think about the circumstances in which someone find’s themselves and making the decision that best reflects that situation.

      In today’s society, peer pressure and self worth is ever more fragile due to social media and this makes it challenging for people not to play the comparison game. This means there is a conflict when it comes to certain situations around quantity and quality.

      Ideally, we ought to strike a balance of quantity and quality in different areas of our lives. The idea of quantity is good if, for example, there is a sale at the supermarket and you can stock up on needed products. Whereas, the idea of quality is positive when you spend 2 hours in a relaxing spa with your loved one and enjoying each others company rather than 2 hours every weeknight in a rushed and tired state.

        How To Strike The Best Balance

        Quality and quantity can be a very individual thing depending on what you consider your worth and value is. Only once you’ve done this can you decide which is more of a priority in any given situation. So if you feel having options is important, then quantity is good for you but if you value stability and durability then quality will carry more importance.

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        • Make a List of Your Most Important Qualities and Values: Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to see more clearly whether either quality or quantity is more aligned with your values and personal needs. Alongside this, you must also know what the sacrifices are or actions you need to take in order to achieve the quality or quantity you want. So if, for example, you value quality and want to buy that expensive watch, then ensuring you’re financially capable to do so by saving up or stop buying endless cheap watches until you have enough money to buy it.
        • Learn To Appreciate What You Have: This is an important step because playing the comparison game or feeling pressured by others can cause you stress when pursuing the idea of quality or quantity in different areas of you life. Finding out your life’s purpose and creating goals can help you find out whether quality or quantity is important to you.

        Why Finding Balance is Sometimes Hard

        If you’re struggling to know which different areas of your life involve quantity or quality, then you’re not alone.

        Often we want the best for ourselves but also the best for our loved ones which can result in conflicting notions on whether quality or quantity is more important. We may struggle giving up one thing for another – in the case of the expensive watch, sacrificing money to save up when you see affordable, cheaper watches you could potentially buy can be hard.

        However, it all comes down to priorities and being confident in your direction. Careful consideration is paramount on what your ultimate outcome is. For someone, working hard to provide the best for their family (quantity) may end up sacrificing their time with them (quality) but at the end of the day which one makes the family the most happy?

          So, think carefully about your values and ultimate outcome in each area of your life and consider whether quality or quantity is the best path in each instance. Doing this can help you plan and achieve your goals and live a happier and more content life.

          Featured photo credit: Alexandra Maria via pexels.com

          More by this author

          Anna Chui

          Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Chief Editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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          Last Updated on July 9, 2020

          How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want

          How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want

          Have you ever wondered what keeps you stuck in a state of passivity each day? You tend to know exactly what you need to, but you never have the energy, motivation, or willpower to do it. You know you need to learn how to stop being passive, but how do you do that?

          You are not alone. Being passive can leave you stuck in a bit of a rut that is difficult to escape from. This article will help to shine some light on your predicament by not just exploring the methods of how to stop being passive, but also the finer and very important details about what causes passive behavior, as well as an important distinction between positive and negative forms of being passive.

          Let’s dive straight in.

          What Causes Passive Behavior?

          Passive behavior is often the leading cause of people feeling stuck either at work or in their life. It occurs when your life situation is unhappy, but the only thing you “actively” do about it is complain. This, of course, doesn’t change anything. Passive behavior in this sense leaves people feeling stuck, hopeless, and miserable for the vast majority of their life.

          Passive behavior can emerge from a number of different sources, but there are three main ways that tend to be the most evident.

          Lack of Motivation

          Perhaps the most common and most obvious cause of passive behavior is the simple fact of being unmotivated. In the conventional sense, motivation gives rise to action. When you feel motivated, you go and do the things that you set out to do. When you don’t feel motivated, you don’t act.

          You might wake up one morning and be eager to get a nice, long, satisfying workout in, so you head to the gym. On another morning, or for a number of consecutive mornings, you might not feel motivated at all. As a result, you don’t get a workout done.

          Not being motivated and not always doing what you set out to do is fine. It is part of the natural ebb and flow of life and all of its contents. However, it is a myth that motivation needs to be preceded by action. The secret of successful and seemingly “always motivated” people is that they know that that is a myth. They also know that, quite often, it is usually action that leads to motivation[1].

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          Don’t believe me? You have probably experienced it many times yourself. You have forced yourself into your workout gear and then suddenly felt ready to go. You forced yourself to begin writing a report and then all of a sudden you’re in full flow. You forced yourself to meet friends just for one drink and ended up having the time of your life. Action, and then motivation.

          Motivation sometimes leads to action, but motivation only comes around every so often. However, motivation that follows action is always in your control. It may seem counterintuitive, but whenever you feel unmotivated and passive, just do something. Anything. And you will usually find that motivation and productivity follow closely behind.

          Lack of Goals

          Another common force behind passive behavior is the lack of any meaningful goals that you are striving towards. If your life consists of going through the motions, doing the same boring tasks every day, and eating the same sort of stuff, not only can it quickly begin to feel like Groundhog Day, but it can also begin to eat away at your life energy. Anyone with experience of these sorts of patterns will be able to directly relate.

          When your only goal is to make it through another day or make it to the weekend, that is a massive portion of your life that you are throwing away. Discovering and creating meaningful goals in your own life can radically change all of that.

          Ideally, because you spend large portions of your life at work, you will want to start by finding some meaningful goals within the work section of your life. You can strive towards creating something amazing and valuable for your customers or brainstorming ways that your business can become further integrated into the community. There are a number of ways to create meaningful goals at work. If you really cannot find any, then a goal might be to find a place or line of work where you can.

          Thankfully, though, life doesn’t exclusively consist of work. Meaningful goals can be spread out across all areas and interests of life. Maybe you set yourself a goal of setting up a local football team in your neighborhood. Maybe you volunteer for a charity that means a lot to you.

          Meaningful goals almost always involve other people, and this kindness, generosity, and good-will not only grows in others and your community, but it grows inside of you, too. The growth of these qualities in your life inevitably leads you out of passive behavior.

          Analysis Paralysis

          You might be shocked to realize that anything that involves analysis is one of the leading causes of passive behavior. Yet, it is this “analysis paralysis” that occurs to varying degrees in various people over time that is a big contributor to passivity and ultimately not getting what you want out of life[2].

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          Analysis paralysis is so common in the modern era due to the infinite sources of information that we have available to us via books, websites, podcasts, YouTube, etc. Because of this, a child who didn’t know any better would probably spend hours upon on hours watching YouTube videos, studying textbooks, and analyzing different expert’s opinions on how to ride a bike rather than actually just getting on one and learning through experience.

          It is common for you to slip into this same trap as the child in many other areas of life. You want all experts to agree on something before you take any action on it. You want to memorize the instructions front-to-back before you start on step one. You want a 100% guarantee that something will work from start to finish before you try it for yourself. Of course, that guarantee never arrives, and you remain in the same place.

          Forget all of that. Your brain is great for many things, but it is actually more likely to keep you stuck in the same place than it is to move you forward towards your goals. It will give you ten reasons why you shouldn’t for every one that you should. This is where listening to your intuition is important. There are countless examples of people living extraordinary lives and accomplishing truly wonderful things after they followed their intuition and ignored their “intellectual impulse” to have all of the details figured out first.

          Experience is not only the greatest teacher, it is the most direct route to experiencing, learning from and enjoying reality. Whatever goes on in your head is a projection. Whatever actually happens is reality. Spend less time reading about bikes (which is passive behaviour disguised as active behavior), and start getting on that bike for yourself.

          Is Being Passive a Bad Thing?

          As already highlighted briefly in the introduction, it is important to distinguish exactly what is meant by “passive” in this article. Here, we are talking about passivity and how it relates to things like boredom, frustration, unhappiness, feeling stuck, and all other connotations. The passivity that we are talking about is living a relatively unhappy existence and not really doing anything about it.

          Passive is not always a bad thing, though, and while the positive meanings of being passive aren’t the focus of this article, they are worth pointing out so that you don’t avoid passivity altogether.

          Passive can also relate to peace, contentment, and even things like creativity and inspiration. It is very rare for somebody who is in an active state all of the time to produce anything original and not completely burnout. Great individuals throughout history that put a lot of emphasis on stillness, reflection, and the “good” form of passivity include Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Mahatma Gandhi, and many, many others.

          There is an important distinction to be made between the passivity that is causing unhappiness and the passivity that is to be used in intervals to take your life to the next level. In this article though, we are focusing on the former.

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          How to Stop Being Passive

          Now that we have established some of the causes of being passive and the different faces of passivity, it is time to explore ways in which you can stop being passive (in the negative sense) and start to find effective methods of allowing more happiness into your life.

          1. Be Proactive, Not Reactive

          One of the most effective ways to stop being passive is to stop reacting to other people and situations as soon as they unfold. Your knee-jerk reaction is rarely the best course of action to take, and yet, it is a deeply-seated habit of all humans to respond angrily to anger or to see an unexpected situation as much more of an issue and struggle than it actually is.

          To stop being reactive, you can start being proactive. The best thing you can do in this sense, paradoxically, is to simply watch your reactivity as much as possible[3]. What feelings flare up and cloud your judgment in certain situations? How do you respond when things don’t go your way or to plan? The closer you can watch, and the more honest you can be, the less automatic your reactions become, and the more proactive and effective your responses to situations and people will be.

          You can also try to imagine different scenarios about how things might play out in the future. Thing about what might go right and what might go wrong so that you can anticipate and plan your action ahead of time. However, it can be difficult to predict the future, which is why I always emphasize starting with yourself.

          2. Consider the Future and Act in the Present

          Closely linked to the point above, while you can never accurately predict the future, it is always useful to give some consideration to how it might play out. What goals do you want to achieve? What circumstances do you want in your life? What obstacles might arise, and how can you either avoid them or be effective in dealing with them?

          Considering all of these questions and any others that are personal to you will give you an excellent basis for action.

          From this position, you can now focus all of your attention back into the present moment. The future is important to consider, but don’t live there because it doesn’t exist. All that exists is the present moment. You can only ever take care of the things right in front of you. Focus only on taking care of them, one thing at a time, and you will find that your entire future and life will fall perfectly into place.

          3. Address the Emotional Side of Passivity

          As we covered earlier when discussing lack of motivation and its direct influence on passivity, the reason that you are being passive is probably because you are invested in the story that you need to be motivated before you can take any action.

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          Being passive, unmotivated, uninspired, or any other great word that you want to throw an “un” in front of is often an emotional issue that needs addressing. For you, addressing the problem might simply mean taking action and letting the motivation follow. It might be attaching something emotionally rewarding (a treat of some kind) with action that you want to take that, for now, isn’t emotionally rewarding in itself.

          There is usually some sort of emotional gap that needs to be bridged before you can truly step out of being passive and step into the life that you want to live.

          Conclusion

          Hopefully, this article has managed to shine a bit more light on being passive, where it comes from, how it keeps your life stagnant, and what to do about it.

          As you already know, reading about riding a bike doesn’t teach you how to ride a bike. Even more sneakily, it is inaction disguised as action, because deep down you know you just need to do it.

          Going from passive to active living is exactly the same. You have read this article, you know what to do… now go do it!

          Your new life awaits you on the other side.

          More Tips on How to Stop Being Passive

          Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

          Reference

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