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Cummins' Quality of Life domains


Explanations > Needs > Cummins' Quality of Life domains

Health | Safety | Material well-being | Community well-being | Work/Productive activity | Emotional well-being | Social/family connections |  So what?


While needs are commonly defined as basic essentials that motivate us, we can also view the topic from other direction. In particular the general area of 'happiness' has become of great interest to many, including governments who measure factors such as 'Gross Happiness Product' (as opposed to GDP) and look at ways of improving individual well-being and overall quality of life. There are models of Quality of Life other than that offered by Cummins, though most of these are variations on very similar themes.


If people are healthy, they are happier. Health is a fundamental need as it is a prerequisite to actions that allow you to achieve all other needs. To be healthy means adopting healthy habits, such as in eating and exercise, and being able to access medical services when hurt or ill.

From a governmental position, a healthy population leads to far lower healthcare costs and increases productivity as people spend more time in work.


Along with health, safety is a basic need for staying alive and it is no surprise that 'health and safety' is a common workplace concern. If you are safe, you need not spend time and energy watching out for threats. Safety includes a warm/cool home that protects its occupants from the weather, and being able to avoid accidents. It also means protection from the threats of other people, both at home and on the streets.

From a governmental position, safety is often a political basic, with sound policing being high on the list of essentials for most voters (and especially those who feel unsafe). Safety can be viewed at national, as well as local and person levels. Safety is expensive for governments when the cost of military, policing and judiciary are taken into account.

Material well-being

Beyond the basics of health and safety, we also seek to have the things in life that we want, from essentials such as cooking equipment to more luxurious items such as fashion clothing and the latest technology. Money is an intermediate form of material wealth that lets us put a delay between earning and spending. Just having money also gives us a sense of control and status that makes us feel good.

We live in a capitalist, consumer world, where national prosperity requires everyone to keep on buying things that keeps other people in jobs, and governments will encourage this by managing such factors as interest rates.

Community well-being

Our tribal nature means we consider not just ourselves, but also those with whom we associate. We enjoy feeling a part of various communities, from local groups to work teams to geographic regions. While we like to feel we are better than others, we also want others to be socially and economically not too far away from us, as this can lead to problems of dependency, revolution or hierarchical control. Having a good sense of 'we' makes us feel good, and that we could call on others to help us when we are in need.

Governments are less interested in individuals than in entire communities, however these are defined. For example they want both a thriving business community and for poorer people to be helped (or at least to not cause political problems). This leads them to focus their efforts towards separate community groups, seeking to bring up the bottom while helping those who are pushing forward.

Work/Productive activity

While many of us moan about work, it is often very important to us. Firstly, of course, work gives us money to live the rest of our lives. It also gives many of us satisfaction in achieving greater goals than we could gain alone. Work is often a social task and we feel a part of work communities. We also get satisfaction from the praise and esteem we receive there when we do things well.

Governments are often very interested in businesses as they are employers of the population and, importantly, payers of tax. If people do not work, they often fall to the responsibility of the government. If they do, then much of what they earn ends up in government coffers, one way or another. It hence makes much sense for politicians to work hard to minimize unemployment.

Emotional well-being

Whether we feel a sense of well-being or not has a lot to do with our emotions, and whether we feel more happiness than sadness or other negative emotions. While it is not essential for living, life is so much better when we are happy (or at least not feeling negative).

Governments have for a long time used 'Gross Domestic Product' (GDP) as a measure of national success. Yet some have recognized that the well-being of the country may better be measured by the overall happiness of its people. While this can seem a rather utilitarian view, it also seems better

Social/family connections

Happiness has been shown to be related to how many and how strong our social relationships are. The closer people are to us, the greater their potential in making us happy or sad, which makes friends, and particularly family, especially important for our well-being.

From a governmental position, while this may be difficult to affect directly, social policy and general attention to families can have an important effect on happiness and hence contribute to national well-being.

So what?

When seeking to influence people, consider their well-being and show how doing as you suggest will improve their situation in any of the areas discussed above.

See also



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