Lifestyle is one of the three elements involved in the definition of personality. The other two elements are: psychological composition, and situational design. These three components are interdependent, and each can not be defined without the other. The elements overlap in a variety of ways, and the mixture of all three elements is called a lifestyle.
Lifestyle is the general attitudes, interests, behaviors, and psychological orientations of an individual, family, group or society. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous article, The Case of Miss R. in 1930. He distinguished the three elements of lifestyle changes from ordinary personality characteristics by distinguishing between four different types: Healthy Lifestyle Change, unhappy or unhealthy lifestyle change, distressful lifestyle change, and negative lifestyle change. Adler believed that there were four main aspects that distinguished “healthy” from “unhappy” or “distressful” lifestyles.
Adler felt that lifestyle could provide important information about a person or family, including their physical and mental well-being, their potentials for achievement and their adjustment to environmental stresses and pressures. Adler postulated that healthy living and healthy lifestyle changes are necessary for the maintenance of psychological stability and adaptability, and for the maintenance of optimal life functioning. Adler believed that health problems such as depression, high blood pressure, poor diet, and substance abuse could be treated through changes in lifestyle. It was these changes in lifestyle that he called the essential aspect of health management.
A happy and healthy lifestyle is characterised by the right balance of need (the need to satisfy the basic needs of survival and physical well-being) and ability (the ability to use resources efficiently to meet those needs). According to the American Psychological Association, a good life balance comprises the right proportions of the two elements. The right balance between them facilitates the development of mentally and physically healthy individuals who are capable of dealing with life’s challenges and obtaining satisfactory satisfaction from their lives. Adler believed that people were usually happy when they had achieved their goals in life and that they rarely experienced unhappy emotions, unless they were the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices or poor health. Adler believed that most health problems were the result of negative lifestyle choices such as poor diet, exposure to negative environmental stressors, and sedentary lifestyle.
He labelled unhealthy lifestyle patterns as dysfunctional, unhealthy, and injurious to the welfare of the individual. Adler believed that people need a healthy life style and a healthy lifestyle changes in order to overcome health problems. An example of a lifestyle change is adopting the practice of meditation, which is an essential aspect of Adler’s five elements of living a healthy lifestyle.
While Adler’s health philosophy provides a basis for creating positive lifestyle changes, it does not provide a complete answer to the problem of how to get rid of health problems. It is necessary for health management to be coupled with lifestyle changes, in order to effect a transformation in the way one views, deals with, and practices health and fitness. This includes adopting healthy eating habits and a positive outlook in life. Health education and awareness is important to build on successful changes made in lifestyle.