Lifestyle is a set of values, opinions and behaviours that make up an individual’s way of life. It is formed in a particular cultural, economic, social, political or religious context. The lifestyle can be considered as a combination of intangible factors such as preferences, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and patterns of consumption.
While it is hard to pinpoint a precise definition of lifestyle, some researchers have attempted to define it as a pattern of thought. Earlier studies focus on the analysis of the socio-cultural structure of a community and on the study of an individual’s position in that community. Other researchers, however, have used the term to describe how individuals choose to live their lives.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, lifestyle is a “way of living”, a way of life, and a pattern of thought. As of 2010, the term is also used to denote an artist or writer. Some people use the term to denote a healthy way of life.
Adler, an Austrian psychologist, was one of the first to define the concept of lifestyle. In his book, The Science of Living, he explained that the same kind of tree can have two different life styles.
Lifestyles are viewed as a type of behavioural orientation, or a set of behavioural habits. They are associated with interests and opinions, and may involve health, self-identification, religion, politics and more.
While there is no definitive definition of lifestyle, it is a term that has become tangled in the tangle of conspicuous consumption on social media. This includes the trend of posting the same photo in front of a beautiful sunset.
The lifestyle as a’system of judgement’, as defined by Alfred Adler, was one of the earliest uses of the term. He argued that a lifestyle is an individual’s system of striving towards a goal. However, he also stated that the sense of superiority that the term entails is something that cannot be seen.
Max Weber, in his 1922 work “The Sociology of Personality”, used the term to refer to a style of personality. His intent was to explain the ‘distinctive elements of status groups’. For example, a person with an upstanding lifestyle would be considered to be an important figure within his society, while a member of a lesser social stratum could be regarded as a second-rate figure.
The concept of lifestyle has evolved over the years. It is now used in sustainable development discourses. At a global level, it has been equated to environmental issues. Although there are differences between the world consumer class and the nations within it, the overall influence of a consumerist lifestyle can be problematic.
Lifestyles have a significant effect on health. A healthy lifestyle is characterized by wise choices and a balanced life. On the other hand, a poorly chosen lifestyle can lead to genetic diseases and other problems. Consumption of excessive goods and services depletes natural resources and energy.
The idea of a lifestyle may be a solution to an individual’s problem. But it can also be a symptom of a larger societal issue.