Lifestyle is a collection of the collective habits, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of an individual, social group, or society. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous book, The Case of Miss R. with the literal meaning of “the general character of a person as established early on”. Lifestyle has greatly expanded to include such aspects as dress, grooming, language, and habits. A social class system is generally seen as the basis of a set of standards that separates the haves from the have-nots in modern society. There are many aspects of a lifestyle that can be directly related to an individual or family’s economic status.
Lifestyle as it relates to an individual psychology is not the same as a biological makeup or a genetic disposition. Rather, there are known and unknown environmental factors that contribute to individual patterns of behavior and these in turn influence an individual’s level of well-being and subjective well-being. For example, some psychoanalysts view habitual behavioral responses as a defense mechanism for dealing with stressors in life. This in turn leads to patterns of thought that are deeply rooted in cultural assumptions and behavioral conventions.
There are two main perspectives on the study of lifestyles: the role of culture in determining individual lives and the impact of genetics on individual lives. Researchers who emphasize the role of culture in determining individual lifestyles point out that human cultures are dynamic and are constantly changing in relation to changing environments and external pressures. Studies on the effects of genetics on lifestyles show that humans exposed to various forms of stress and conditions are more susceptible to unhealthy lifestyle conditions such as obesity, smoking, and alcoholism. While this might appear to be a blanket definition of a healthy lifestyle, it is important to remember that the definition of a healthy lifestyle is most often influenced by personal preferences and the need to adhere to social norms. Therefore, healthy lifestyles can also be influenced by environmental factors as well as external pressures such as family members, communities, and other groups that one comes into contact with.