What Is a Lifestyle?
Lifestyle is generally the habits, opinions, behavioral orientations, and attitudes of an individual, group or society. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous book, The Case of Miss R. The concept was refined by American psychiatrist W. Clement Stone in his book, What Is Your Lifestyle? It became a major influence on the thinking of millions of the world’s population, even leading to the definition of the lifestyle that we know today.
The word lifestyle came into being through the efforts of two eminent figures who have largely impacted the course of human history. One of these individuals was Dr. Henry St. John Ambler who was an advocate of total materialism. His belief that money was the key to happiness caused him to work with the mentally ill throughout his career until his death at the age of 95. The other individual whose ideas are the bedrock of the modern day healthy lifestyle is Ben Franklin who wrote numerous articles on healthy living and presented various methods on how to live a long and productive life. These principles are still adopted by most modern practitioners of nutrition and exercise.
The health problems faced by people around the world can be largely attributed to bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy stress levels. The combination of these three factors has led to increasing incidence of chronic and incurable diseases across the globe. The key to preventing health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and high blood pressure is a healthy lifestyle.
How does a healthy lifestyle translate into everyday life? A lifestyle that is proactive is one that is made up of concerted action. This implies that it requires effort and commitment on one part -in this case, one’s lifestyle to achieve something. In other words, the person trying to live a healthy living will need to make an effort in making his or her life healthy. This is similar to saying that a person trying to stop smoking will have to put in efforts in giving up smoking.
The term lifestyle means that there are habits that are general and universal but which are not followed in every particular situation. A lifestyle which is considered ideal by one culture may be quite harmful for another. We see this example when an employer who is firm towards mandatory work hours puts his employee through long hours of work; this is considered good for an employer but disastrous for the employee who has put in all his/her efforts in building up his/her career hoping for a promotion or a raise. Such extreme examples are extreme examples but they represent the stark reality of lifestyle which has become so common in our present-day society.
It was Adorno’s belief that, to attain a sense of social significance one must adapt a “culture industry” which he called the mass culture industry. This lifestyle would in effect shape ones behavior and lead to the elevation of the masses over the individual. In his view, it was this rise of the masses that created a sense of responsibility and self-worth in the individual. As a result, the individual would come to realize that he/she was a part of something much bigger than oneself and that his/her actions had an effect on the direction of that something, which was his or her own personal destiny. This concept of individualism is at the heart of the work done by the Frankfurt School and is at the root of all later social theories.