The oil painting known as Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, features a young woman wearing an exquisite earring. Her bare face and turban-wrapped hair, bring focus to the pearl earring and, more importantly, the simple beauty and elegance of the girl.
I think of my own jewelry box and note the painting is not named Girl with a Bunch of Cheap Earrings. My jewelry is just one area that I could apply the concept of quality over quantity.
Quality can be defined as the standard of something as measured against other things of its kind. For example, Godiva chocolate is considered to be of exceptional quality. For about the same price, one could indulge in a single Godiva chocolate or a whole bag of M & Ms.
Quality over quantity means choosing better over more.
We don’t live in a time that supports this lifestyle. Fast food means we can get a big greasy meal for less than the tip at a sit-down restaurant. Fast fashion means we can buy ten shirts for the cost of one cashmere sweater. We can get the kids a cartful of plastic toys from the dollar aisle, or one classic board game.
There are many good reasons to adopt the idea of quality over quantity. It reduces clutter. It’s more sustainable for the planet. It saves money in the long run. It honors fine craftsmanship and design. It helps us gain more clarity about our personal preferences.
I’ve long been a believer in quality over quantity; however, glancing around my bathroom, I see evidence to the contrary. There’s a shelf of half-empty bottles of hair and skin products that didn’t live up to their promise. There’s a drawerful of makeup that isn’t exactly the right shade or formula. There’s a basket of gloppy nail polish I’ll never wear.
I’m committed to eliminating the clutter, forgiving myself for the waste, and finding a single high-quality version of the products I need and want. I’m not going to stop there.
Here are just a few areas where we can more consciously apply the philosophy of quality over quantity ~
- clothing and accessories
- food and pantry items
- furnishings and home decor
- cleaning products
- books and magazines
- toys and games
Quality over quantity doesn’t just apply to material things. We can think about quality when choosing our activities, our entertainment, our relationships, our conversations, and even our thoughts.
I need no convincing of the elegance, simplicity, and wisdom of choosing quality over quantity. As Steve Jobs said, “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” §