LIFESTYLE is a term that has been around for a long time. In its most common usage, the term refers to a psychoanalytic theory about the development of personalities. However, the concept has also had the meaning of describing the four stages of human development from the beginning of life up to maturity. According to the LIFESTYLE model, humans adapt their behaviour to the conditions they find themselves in as they progress through each stage of their life.
Lifestyle is the attitudes, values, interests, orientations, and behavioral patterns of an individual, family, or group. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous article, The Case of Miss R, with the precise meaning of “the general outlook of a person as established at birth”. The original model implied that human beings formed stable, recurring patterns of behavior when they reached adulthood, whereas a variation was made by Charles Schwabing in his later work, Thematic Analysis.
In addition to the theory of enduring structure, Schwabing added the term “consumption” to define the things people did to enhance their lives. He believed that people needed a healthy amount of wealth, but beyond this he felt that desire and need for wealth could undermine personal health and lead to over consumption, or excessive consumption. In his model, a number of factors influenced an individual’s level of consumption, including personality, environment, leisure time, goals, resources (such as education, skills, money, housing, personal possessions, etc), and a variety of other factors. Adler expanded on Schwabing’s model, adding elements of psychology, sociology, and motivation to the model. Lifestyles then had to be considered as a part of the self-fulfilling prophecy – that is, the things people do to better their lives will affect how they perceive themselves and the world around them.
Today, the Lifestyle model continues to find usage, even outside of the study of psychology, as people attempt to make sense of the world around them. The word lifestyle has entered into many conversations because it is considered a general umbrella term, which covers all kinds of behaviour that people engage in to enhance their quality of life. As such, it has become a useful term, not only to describe what people do to enhance their own lives, but also as a description of contemporary cultural trends.
One major influence on modern society is the internet. Increasingly, we live in a culture which is obsessed with efficiency and with reducing costs. As a result, we have lost sight of the idea that life can be meaningful and fun and have substituted the reduction of costs and convenience for qualities such as social media, efficiency and the pursuit of a worthy lifestyle. This trend has affected all areas of life, from consumption to leisure and from one-to-one personal interactions to global business and multi-cultural travel. The Lifestyle model has been co-opted by those who seek to promote efficiency and the reduction of costs and has been widely adopted by the media and advertising industries in order to sell products and services.
In this context, the phrase “Lifestyle – a word that sells” is highly appropriate. It describes not just a particular set of ideas about how to live, but a whole paradigm of contemporary culture – a reversal of the previous generations’ belief in materialism, whose followers embraced lifestyles based on working to the point of being uncomfortable and spent their days sitting in front of the TV. The Lifestyle has become an essential aspect of contemporary life-styles because it validates the value of every person’s capacity to contribute to their own welfare and to the wider community. In essence, Lifestyle offers a vision of a modern human community that has left behind the old-fashioned idea of individualism. Instead, contemporary culture embraces the idea of a community that looks after each other and that encourages social interaction, a sense of responsibility and a sense of community.