What Does Quality Over Quantity Actually Mean? 5 Key Lessons

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If you’ve ever found yourself in a really tough place in life—maybe you lost a loved one, went through a tough breakup, or perhaps you got really sick–you probably know the value of having at least one high-quality friendship. These are the times when those one or two out of your 1,000 friends on Facebook surface to be by your side.

 “Quality over quantity” is a common saying that relates to this. The phrase means that it’s better to have a few high-quality (fill in the blank)s instead of a lot of cheap or less valuable versions.

This age-old lesson is often ignored in our materialistic society, and although sacrificing quality for quantity may grant you a few short-term rewards, you'll quickly lose that momentum or level of excitement that you feel as you gain more “things” in life. People are constantly looking for instant gratification, and often, gratification comes from quantity over quality. But the ultimate sense of contentment that’s being sought after is never found.

Favoring quality over quantity can help increase your satisfaction with life as you’ll be able to place more value on the things that you have. When your focus is on quantity, you lose your values as you chase more short term means rather than focusing on the things that ultimately matter to you.

In this article, we will look at 5 ways that you can apply this principle to your life to increase your happiness and satisfaction.

Let’s take a look.

5 Key Lessons From the Saying “Quality over Quantity”

1. It Can Save You Money

I think we have all been guilty at some point of buying for quantity over quality.

Here’s a weird, yet practical, example: I go to the dollar store around Christmas to buy wrapping paper because, hello, it’s a dollar and I can get all of the wrapping paper I want. But year after year, I come home with $12 worth of really thin wrapping paper that is not only slightly see-through, but also tears as I’m wrapping presents, so I go through it really quickly.

However, when I go to a store that sells wrapping paper at $3.99 (which seems exorbitant at the time), it’s thicker, more durable, and lasts a lot longer.

While you’re putting forth more money initially, buying quality items over quantity will save you money in the long run because you will have to buy fewer things, and with certain items, you won’t have to worry about costly repairs in the future. Finally, you will be buying things that you will value for much longer than a bunch of cheap things you purchased on a whim.

2. Reading

Choosing quality over quantity when deciding what books to read is also critical if you want to be able to get the most out of your reading time. Often, people who are interested in reading want to read as many books as they can–and while some of the books may provide a little bit of value, others are simply a waste of time.

Reading one high quality book can teach you more than reading ten mediocre books. High-quality books often offer some sort of lifetime value, which makes them worth your time to read. This is not to say you shouldn’t relax with some casual fiction on the beach from time to time, but when you’re reading to learn, be picky about the books you choose by doing your research first.

3. Ahh, Relationships

This was clearly the first thing that came to my mind when thinking about quality over quantity. As with other things, relationships are a huge area of life where quality has to be valued over quantity.

Choosing high quality friendships and romantic relationships require work–and it’s often tempting to take the easy way out and settle for whoever is conveniently in front of you. But it’s absolutely worth it to search for relationships in your life that are more than mediocre–those that are meaningful, stable, and bring you joy.

If you choose quantity over quality, you will have many relationships that stop at the surface level and lack any depth. I believe that if you do some reflection on your current relationships, you will quickly realize if the people you’re spending time with will be there for you when things get tough or they’re just a character in your life for the time being.

4. Working Out

I’m sure you’ve heard of people hitting plateaus in their workouts by continuing to do the same thing every day. But these same people also often think that because they run for an hour every day, they are in tip-top shape. I’ve been one of these people, spinning my wheels and wasting time by engaging in inefficient training methods.

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Engaging in high quality exercise rather than less challenging and lower quality workouts will produce more results.

A study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology, describes how researchers divided a group of 57 overweight volunteers into three parts–one of which did an intense resistance training routine for a month, another engaged in a diverse exercise program including endurance and resistance training in addition to high-intensity interval training and yoga, and a control group.

The group that did the “high-quality” exercise routine that incorporated a variety of different activities engaging various parts of their body showed much greater improvements in their health and the composition of their body, including a decrease in weight, waist size, and percentage of body fat.

Engaging in high quality exercise rather than less challenging and lower quality workouts will produce more results. Knowing this can certainly save you time–as doing 20 minutes of intense sprints will be more effective for your body than jogging for an hour.

5. Your Diet

What you eat is a prime example of an area in your life in which quality should come before quantity. Eating a small amount of food that is high in quality, rich in nutrition, and satiating is always going to be the better choice when compared to eating a large amount of food that’s low-quality with little to no nutrition in it.

When you eat higher quality food, your body will be healthier because it will be getting the nutrients that it needs to function. If you eat processed food all day that is filled with sugar, your body will continue to need more and more food because it’s seeking those important nutrients that it needs to survive.  

Final Thoughts on Quality Over Quantity

It can be really tempting to choose quantity over quality, but if you raise your standards for your life and place value on your choices, you will reap the benefits of choosing the highest quality relationships, habits, routines, etc.

Alternatively, you will find it hard to feel a sense of satisfaction with your life. Start by looking at one domain in your life and analyze the quality of your choices. Then start making small changes every day that favor quality. If you value yourself, you will be able to make one high quality decision after the next, and doing so will immensely improve your quality of life.

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.

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What Does Quality Over Quantity Actually Mean? 5 Key Lessons