Is Your Lifestyle Content?

Lifestyle is a set of preferences, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of an individual, a group, or society. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous essay, The Case of Miss R. with the more specific meaning of “the basic nature of a human being as established at early childhood”. In this essay, Adler equated lifestyle with instinctual behavior. In his words, “Lifestyle has more to do with what the eye sees than what the brain understands.”

The writer, James B. Bekins, in his classic, The Importance of Lifestyle in Evolutionary Therapy, highlighted two opposing but complimentary lifestyles: instinctual and intellectual. Bekins believed that whereas instinctual behavior (such as eating, drinking, hunting, and sex) had a direct survival value in the face of danger, intellectual and social behavior had a value beyond their direct benefit. In essence, he felt that for the human species to thrive both instinctual and intellectual activities had to be balanced. For example, humans could survive without food, but could also thrive as intellectual beings if they had access to superior education. Bekins believed that by maintaining these opposing lifestyles, the innate tendency to form cliques and be polarized in terms of position and interest would be prevented.

The idea of a “lifestyle” has caught on over the last decade or so. The most prominent current advocates are psychologists Paul Sharp and Martin Seligman. In their widely accepted book, The Cultural Edge of Desire, Sharp and Seligman write that “habits are habits, which when repeated become integrated patterns of behavior, with potentially important, unseen, yet primary benefits”. A core component of their definition of a lifestyle is that it is “the manner in which people relate to and control their environment, including the people and situations in which they most experience happiness or fulfillment”.

Changing your habits is not easy. In order to change a lifestyle you must understand why you have those habits. By doing this you will be in a better position to make healthy lifestyle changes habits. Habits, in general, are habits, even if you are doing something completely different. So if you are trying to lose weight, then understanding that one macronutrient can do a lot of damage is necessary to make the change sustainable.

When you think of “lifestyle content”, one of the things that pops into my mind is “social media”. Social media sites are fast becoming among the leading lifestyle content websites. As social media becomes a core part of our lives, we begin to take ourselves out of our comfort zones, and view the world through the eyes of those outside of our social circle. This shift can be profound, and can have a powerful effect on how we are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially a healthy lifestyle content.

Recently, I went back to the “old times” (iron mountain, organic food co-op, etc.) and refreshed my perspective on lifestyle. It wasn’t a total transformation, but a slight tweaking, and I can say that it was an epiphany. Looking at the old haunts and putting them on a list of priorities for lifestyle content seems like common sense to me now, and it has had a huge impact on my life.