Lifestyle is the general attitudes, interests, behaviors, and personal orientations of an adult, group, or nation. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous 1929 treatise, The Case of Miss R. with the broader meaning of “the general characteristics of a social being established early on in childhood”. Lifestyle is a more inclusive term now, including attitudes, beliefs, customs, values, habits, and practices. Lifestyle may refer to behavior or to a personal style. The word has also come to refer to the general attitude of individuals towards their own kinds of communities (urban, rural, linguistic, sexual), and to other cultures and people.
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Max Weber developed the theory of the three Lifestyle elements: Lyceum, Rationalization, and Activity. Lyceum is the outer, rational, symbolic, cultural aspects of a lifestyle. Rationalization attempts to justify and incorporate the destructive influence of ritual in Lyceum lifestyles.
The next element, Behavior, assesses the ways in which people respond to their environment and others, particularly themselves. It focuses on the mechanisms by which individuals affect each other within the framework of the lifestyle structure. Finally, Adorno adds the third element of mobility to the model. This is the ability for a lifestyle to be affected by the social structures of the time.
Max Weber distinguished the elements of Lyceum, Rationalization, and Activity into two main components, namely, inner and outer culture industries. Weber believed that these three elements generated the basic differences between what he called the “modern” and the “traditional” life-style. Weber’s distinction is important because it helps to explain how the so-called modernization and the decline of the traditional culture affect each other.
For instance, while the modern lifestyle of Lyceum enables people to express their sexuality and to build a strong sense of self-worth, the traditional life-style, on the contrary, involves a more passive lifestyle and a lack of meaningful expression. These two opposite life-style aspects are then combined in the mass-culture cultures of the United States.
In my own perspective, Alfred D. Anderson is one of the three founders of the discipline of psychology. His work on individual psychology has had a profound impact on the field of social psychology and on the development of social network analysis. Anderson was a pioneer in the study of cultural patterns as they relate to social media and the increasing globalization of the internet. A pioneer in the development of computerized psychological methods, Anderson offered an alternative to behavioral genetics research and offered a framework within which to understand and measure personality.
Charles Seligman, along with Anderson, is another of the three founders of the field of psychology who has also had a profound impact on the development of this discipline. Seligman built upon Anderson’s foundation by offering a more psychologically centered approach to studying lifestyle. His emphasis on finding underlying meanings in symbols and gestures, as opposed to quantifying personality using a questionnaire or rating system, made a significant impact on the field of personal style.
Lifestyle, according to the work of these two eminent psychologists, is largely shaped by the values and beliefs of the individuals who we come into contact with. The three books that I have mentioned above all deal with this aspect of lifestyle.
However, in addition to these works, there are many other works on this topic. In The Lifestyle System, JoAnn Simmons provides a great description of what she terms the “Lifestyle System” and a description of the seven pillars of life style. In her book, The Positive Code, she describes nine lifestyle principles that help to explain who we are, what we want to be, how we process our feelings, how we use language, and how we organize and live our lives.
Estilo de Vida and the work of Seligman and others have helped to refine the meaning of human life in such a way that it is easier to understand why we act the way we do. It is easy to see why many people would read this work and adopt its conclusions into their own lives.
There is a large body of literature on the meaning of life and the concepts of estilo de vida. A simple Internet search will bring up some of the best websites dealing with this important subject. As these explanations of lifestyle prove both correct and helpful, it is worthwhile for us to take a closer look at the concepts described in this article.
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