20 Jan /15


Though we may all share some commonality, the fact remains that we, as individuals, are different. When put together, these subtle nuances which make us individuals, are today’s word: lifestyle. In origin, the word comes from the works of Austrian psychiatrist/psychotherapist Alfred Adler and may be a derivative of the German word/concept Lebensstil. Defined, the word itself simply means the style in which a person chooses to live their lives; however, the psychology behind the definition is vastly more complex and in depth. For example, have you ever given any thought to what makes you an individual and why?

Regardless of whether you believe that people are defined by their lifestyle choice or that people can choose their own lifestyle, our lifestyle both defines us as well as how we change over time. From small changes like getting into better shape or quitting smoking to larger changes like deciding when to start a family and with whom, they all define who we are. In 1974, approximately 45% of the British public smoked tobacco, but that number in 2013 fell to 18.7%: this represents a change in individual lifestyle. To see a larger, national impact of lifestyle changes, consider that, over the past 40 years, Britain has seen the average household size decrease from 2.91 persons to 2.35 persons, while the number of married/cohabitating couples has decreased from 92% to 78%, which shows a generational shift- Millennials don’t seem in as much of a rush to get married and have kids as their parents were.

For such a complex and far-reaching concept as lifestyle, the term has only actually been around since 1915. It first appears in volume 24 of the publication Mind, which initially said that, “This spirit of expediency…excludes any possibility of peace or rest in unity with the universe. The author applies to it, as the ‘life-style’ of our age, the term Impressionism.” Though, as stated before, the term originates from and has its basis in psychology, as time passes, we can begin to see it taking on more of a broader, social meaning, such as George Orwell in 1946 writing in his Critical Essays that Koestler was “true to his life style,” or The Guardian in 1961 saying that, “The mass-media…tell their audience what life-styles are ‘modern’ and ‘smart’.”

Overall, from the term itself to its applied usage, we can see that things change. From one individual to another, and from one generation, cultural group, or country to another, lifestyle is a constantly changing thing. While all of this constant change may be confusing, don’t fret- everyone else is just as confused, and our lifestyle differences predate the word by several millennia!