The word “lifesty” derives from the word “lifestyle.” Lifestyle is an overall description of a person’s attitudes, behaviors, interests, and orientations. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous essay, The Case of Miss R. in 1929. His definition of lifestyle had the implication of “the guiding principles on which a human group directs its interactions.”
Most people would agree with Adler’s contention that LIFESTYLE must be a positive attitude or a clear commitment to live a healthy life. According to one widely quoted dictionary, the word lifestyle is, “an attitude of continuing concern for the future, which includes knowledge about current conditions and possible future outcomes.” Living healthy, as defined by this standard, is one day at a time and should include one’s daily food consumption, exercise, relaxation, social interaction, personal hygiene, recreation, time for reflection, personal growth, and involvement in one’s community. Lifestyle is not as strict as this standard, but the point is that all these aspects are vital to a person’s health and well-being.
Adler believed that the key to a healthy lifestyle was self-acceptance and commitment, but he also suggested that certain personality traits were conducive to healthy lifestyles. Self-acceptance is one important aspect of LIFESTYLE; it means accepting the self as you see yourself. This requires accepting that YOU, not the world, are the author of your life style and experiences. It also involves accepting that YOU, not the world or other people, determine what is good, bad, valuable, and harmful in your life. Self-acceptance is a state of mind, and like all states of mind, it can be consciously managed. It can be achieved through setting aside negative thoughts, replacing them with positive thoughts, exercising regularly, doing things you enjoy, communicating with others, and simply loving yourself.
The fourth component of LIFESTYLE is stress management. Adler stressed that a person must be able to deal with stress, whether it is mentally or physically, and develop a coping mechanism for any stress that may occur. He recommended doing things such as yoga, mediation, exercise, stretching, taking time out for a hobby, or simply being around other people who make you feel relaxed and happy. Another aspect of stress management is relaxation, and Adler again stressed the importance of finding ways to relax during the day, whether it is simply taking a hot shower, going for a walk, listening to music, reading, meditating, watching TV, spending time with pets, playing games, talking with friends, or sleeping. All these aspects of lifestyle changes are necessary to achieve stress management, which will, in turn, promote healthy lifestyle changes.
The last component described in this book is life style change. What kinds of life styles do people live by? Adler asked this question of his readers and he received a lot of different answers, some of which were very surprising. For instance, some of the responses he got were from people who believed that LIFESTYLE was about being an entirely different kind of person, an android who performs without giving much thought to others, a robot who only thinks of himself but not of others, and a person who only believes in themselves and their capabilities. One of the responses was from a woman who said, “It seemed like LIFESTYLE was about having the right kind of attitude, about being in control of your own life and your own future, rather than needing to impress anybody else.” Other responses came from women who said that they felt LIFESTYLE was about finding real, honest friendships and sharing those friendships with others, that it was not necessary to live by someone else’s lifestyle, that there is much more to having a good life than material possessions, that they do not need to be perfect, that they can have a fulfilling life even if they have imperfect qualities, and that they believe that their happiness is intertwined with their childrens’.
The purpose of this book is to provide you with a framework to help you determine whether or not you have a healthy lifestyle and, if so, what kind of lifestyle you have. If you are someone who lives by a particular lifestyle, this may be a great time to consider changing it. There are many kinds of healthy lifestyles, after all, and this book provides a useful starting point for you to explore the choices you have available to you.