LIFESTYLE is an ideology. It is a system of values, habits, behaviors, and attitudes that characterize a specific society. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous book, The Case of Miss R. with the word being refined to the modern meaning of “life-style”. The word has now become a popular term with a wide range of people from all walks of life.
For the purposes of this article, LIFESTYLE should be interpreted as the way of life of a particular culture or sub-culture. Even within a given culture, there are many differing lifestyles. Some collect a great deal of material goods while others live very affordable, simple lives. The key to LIFESTYLE is in the identification and recording of the unique behaviors, attitudes, and values of a group. These are then shared and evaluated by other individuals and even within a group of people to identify the “best” or “right” lifestyles.
Adorno first posed the question of LIFESTYLE in his study of modern pop psychology. He believed that human beings existed in a “bulk-dependent, repetition-defiant, essentially calculative” form, which motivated them to seek their sense of worth through accumulating and comparing their quantitative accomplishments against their qualitative appraisals. According to Adorno, the key to determining a good lifestyle was determining what the positive qualities of a particular lifestyle were. These qualities were then translated into a code or rule that could be used as a guide to live by, such as a religious code or a workable social rule.
The major premise of LIFESTYLE is that there is a dialectical relationship between the lived culture and the values and attitudes expressed in the culture industry. As such, one’s behavior becomes a gauge for determining that person’s worth as a human being, and this evaluation plays a role in determining the kind of relationship one has with the world. In essence, LIFESTYLE aims to bring about a change in how humans view and relate to the world around them through creating and nurturing a niche for the soul, rather than for the body alone. In effect, LIFESTYLE re-discover the true meaning of life.
Even within LIFESTYLE, there are two major approaches to the discipline. One is known as the reflective viewpoint, which is the subjective, emotional exploration of a person’s personal identity and individual choices based on self-knowledge and personal insight. This is more subjective than objective. The other is called the affective viewpoint, which seeks to uncover the affects of any given lifestyle and its consequences on an individual and his or her personal identity.
Ultimately, LIFESTYLE is about finding the balance between individual and community, which are the basis of a healthy lifestyle. The concept of “balance” refers to the fact that no single lifestyle or approach will be able to eliminate the complex web of causations that make up a person’s personal environment. It is also about learning to move with the flow of change, instead of standing still or reacting against what is happening. Through a careful and deliberate study of the lives of those who have come before us, however, we can learn a lot about how to live a healthy lifestyle.