Lifestyle is a broad description of the behaviors, attitudes, and interests of an individual, society, or group. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his widely-read book, The Case of Miss R. with the implied meaning of “the basic nature of a person as established at early childhood.” Today, however, the word has taken on a much broader connotation, including but not limited to such areas as personal choices and actions, social standing, and levels of achievement, which can vary from one culture and situation to another.
Personal choices are the elements of a lifestyle. For example, the choices made concerning what one wears, how one spends his or her leisure time, what one does for a living (professional or domestic), what one enjoys doing, etc. These choices affect the way a person conducts himself or herself in the world as a whole and therefore impact the quality of that life. The choices made concerning one’s lifestyle also play an important role in shaping one’s personality, which in turn affects one’s choices in other areas such as the family, relationships, health, career, and education. A person who is not able to choose wisely, or who does not have a healthy self-image, is likely to manifest unhealthy behaviors, which can negatively impact the quality of their lives and those of those around them.
In this context, lifestyle can also be considered to be central to the understanding of responsibility and the concept of agency. The meaning of the term implies that these choices are motivated by an interest in taking control of one’s life, an interest in being the master of one’s fate, in taking the appropriate steps to achieve a certain objective, or in taking desired corrective or preventive action. A person who makes bad choices, or does things that are out of his or her control, is responsible for those actions and is unable to escape the consequences of those actions.
The fact that most people live lifestyles that are characterized by the avoidance of conflict and the avoidance of pain and suffering strongly suggests that a person lacks control over some aspects of his or her life. Control over one’s choices and over one’s actions have a significant impact on the quality of life, which is closely associated with the quality of life. A person who believes they have free will or that they can control the way they feel but lack control over those feelings is likely to experience a variety of problems.
Living a lifestyle that is characterized by the enjoyment of bodily pleasures and the avoidance of discomfort is likely to lead to pain and suffering. The two basic choices in lifestyle are to indulge in pleasures for one and to avoid pain for another. There is a tension between these two basic choices, which are based upon the realities of pleasure and pain, respectively. Pleasure is frequently the means to release stress and the end product of pain. When a person chooses to avoid pain in order to indulge in pleasures, he or she is choosing a lifestyle that places him or her at risk for physical and mental health problems.
The choices one makes about how to live can have both short-term and long-term benefits. If a person chooses to make changes to his or her lifestyle, he or she can determine whether those changes lead to improvements in health, happiness, financial status, and an increased sense of well-being. While these types of changes do not always bring about immediate improvement, they do often result in improved conditions for the long-term. In other words, changes to a lifestyle can be both good or bad, depending on the choices and motivations that go along with them.