MEASURING LIFESTYLE

Lifestyle

Aurora Liiceanu

26.10.2007

Anyone who searches on Google will see that there is a huge amount of information about this concept; I have found 214,000,000 search results which, of course, can give us an indication of how much lifestyle is of concern for various fields.

To put it in simple terms, lifestyle refers to our way of living. If we elaborate further, we can say that lifestyle refers to the main areas of our life: work, relationship, leisure time, how we spend our time in general and how we spend out money.

Maybe we did not have this concern if we did not live in a world with so many temptations, where consumerism is obvious and the pressure between adapting to this world and creating your own system of values finally shapes your identity.

One could say that people have always been different: some are very balanced and restrained, living in moderation, while some others have an inclination for excesses and behaviors lacking any form of self-control, living life on the edge and being always exposed to the risks they rarely assume in full awareness. However, modernity and post-modernity have brought along an unimaginably wide offer of temptations of any kind (almost any fantasy can come true), which implicitly generate unmeasured behaviors, excesses with often dramatic consequences upon mental and physical health.

In the classification of violence, the World Health Organization also includes violence against oneself, which is considered to be a self-destructive behavior. From this standpoint, excesses, lack of control and rationality and ultimately lack of responsibility towards oneself can be considered as a form of violence. Thus, in addition to the old-fashioned addictions "such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling" new or modified forms have appeared nowadays: addiction to drugs, shopping, sex, Internet, extreme sports, political extremism, fanatic orientations, work etc. It is hard to resist in a world where criteria and values are not established from the outside, but from the inside. You are told that you are free to do whatever you want and to choose, but you have to bear the consequences. Therefore, it is more important than ever before that you know yourself, reflect upon the offer and the temptations of life so that you finally have a balanced life, lived in moderation.

Compulsive behaviors which appear when you can no longer fight your addiction to something - addiction can appear in relation to anything - are those which affect the life of an individual in all its dimensions. The identity disorders which appear in this world we live in can often be alleviated by drugs, thus altering our ego and becoming somebody else, somebody bearable and yet somebody different. What is missing, what is wrong with us that we no longer want to be ourselves? This is a problem of identity which is tormenting today's society.

A French sociologist, Alain Ehrenberg, tried to step into the complicated and ambiguous realm of modern psychiatry, in his attempt to define addictive behaviors. He claims that the modern individual is faced with a series of difficulties specific to modern society, which generate depression, anxiety, indecision. In his view, addictions are just new lifestyles, which do not lead to balance but to self-alienation and identity disorders. It is hard to live, but resorting to addictions in order to go through life is a way of recognizing our weakness.

Drugs and sex - say behaviorists - are the two biggest addictions of the modern world. To go against the mainstream means to develop a personal philosophy of life, self-control and immunity to excesses and unhealthy behaviors - starting from the construction of a system of values. Lifestyle is what indicates whether we are responsible towards our own life or not. It is symptomatic of our own value system.

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