"Will the presuppositions of lifestylism originate in authentic creativity, or status quo creativity? Much of the self-help speak is status-quo creativity in that the focus of the ideas are designed to find variations on living within the exisiting presuppositions of our society. An artistic perspective on lifestylism, however, would be something quite different in that it would seek creativity by questioning and challenging the presuppositions that establish social norms themselves."I kicked off this project with the question: What is Lifestylism?...and the answer was that it has its roots in anarchist literature. The true anarchist (one who would destroy or subvert existing power structures) views lifestylism as vacant escapism that can have no lasting positive effect on the evils and imbalances of the world. As I said then, I don't really buy the criticism -- I prefer Brian's question.
At the core, I think lifestylism is about how individuals make lifestyle decisions that match their core values. So right from the start, we have to acknowledge that our values are formed within the existing presuppositions of society. That fact limits our creative capacity somewhat -- if our values are aligned with the status quo, and we're making decisions that match our values, revolution is improbable.
But it also seems to me that we're coming into a time when many people's values aren't particularly in synch with those existing structures and paradigms, or even well-aligned with their own lifestyle choices. For example, if you ask people what's really important to them, most will say that they want to spend more time with their loved ones...but when given the option, they'll almost always choose to work more for more money, which reveals their actual priorities. Not that engaging in our work or pursuing higher incomes is inherently bad, but it doesn't reflect what they say they want.
I think that if more people actually aligned their lifestyles with their values, we'd see more creative paths showing up. What if 50 million north americans suddenly realized that the American Dream wasn't their dream at all, and that they could figure out new ways to live, work, play and create with less negative impact on the environment? What if those ways let them spend more time doing what they want, and less time keeping up with the Joneses? What if their global awareness and local focus got them more engaged in determining their political direction and structures? What if they stopped watching TV and started spending more time working with likeminded folks on fixing some of the most pressing problems of modern society?
Seems like every good question deserves...more questions.
As usual, I like to experiment with 'theory' in action. In this case, 'lifestylism' is the theory. Anyway, I'd like to take a crack at further exploration here:
"At the core, I think lifestylism is about how individuals make lifestyle decisions that match their core values. So right from the start, we have to acknowledge that our values are formed within the existing presuppositions of society. That fact limits our creative capacity somewhat -- if our values are aligned with the status quo, and we're making decisions that match our values, revolution is improbable."
I agree with the approach that values are formed within the existing society. Although, I think that values can be formed independently, as a rebuttal to what society has suggested to us. It is possible that one values something because it is not working in society - whether it be exemplified in a specific person or a group of people. This value formation is a beginning of independence and creativity which translates into a personal evolution.
Having said that, creativity can be formed and activated at an earlier stage. The impact can be that much more effective if one is able to consider and weigh their values at this earlier stage, before it is too difficult (although not too late) to alter one's current lifestyle in order to be in synch with one's values.
I agree, the potential of people to live out what they value is insanely positive. Imagine. In theory, the action of lifestylism will impact existing society, but it will also revolutionize the approach society can pursue, if it chooses. But, how can that action be measured - personally, communally, and globally?
You've nailed it, Esther. Our values can be formed as a reaction to the status quo, and influenced by other contrarian folks. It's when our values fall outside the norm that we're faced with the decision to live outside our values, optimize our lives within the system, or to use what Brian is calling "authentic creativity" to create a new/better way. The former options are certainly easier, because they don't threaten anyone's entrenched interests.
Real innovation is hard because there aren't good models (by definition, almost) or that it seems impossible to apply models from elsewhere without massive resources. This is what Tannis is looking at with housing options these days. In her case, there is a model that already matches many of her values (eco-village), but that's not something you can just decide to go ahead and do right away. And even if you could raise the funding, find likeminded souls and do all the applicable research...you're still constrained by archaic zoning laws, building codes that haven't been revised in decades, and builders with no experience with the methods you're proposing. That interface between the new and old is fascinating to me.
"...creativity can be formed and activated at an earlier stage."
I've often thought of the truth of this in terms of transition times, and particularly the ones that come earlier in our adult lives (althouhg a decade from now, we may look back and wonder why why we didn't believe we had more options at 30, but that's beside the point). When you're in lifestyle transition (between jobs, finishing school, while travelling, etc), it should be easier to be creative about unconventional options, but we're often constrained by the need to create some income in a hurry...or are paralyzed by too many options, a lack of vision, or the inability to reconcile many conflicting goals.
I love the question you ended with: "But, how can that action be measured - personally, communally, and globally?" I think you're asking about definitions of success. Success is such a loaded word, but it's at the root of this entire discussion. My first shot at oversimplification, but I welcome alternatives:
Personal: success is happiness, self-actualization, satisfaction with self and relationships
Community: success is contributing to the happiness and self-actualization of those around us...could be economically, spiritually, politically, environmentally...
Globally: success is helping those in need, minimizing ecological impact, repairing damage...
This is a great mind-bending exercise, all centered around our sense of purpose. Please continue my lame beginnings.
I would not agree that it is easier to be creative when in transition - if anything it can be more frustrating - particularly in regards to having too many options. Ideally, the concept of lifestylism, which should be a
routine in and of itself, can be the basis for initiating momentum in other undeveloped areas of life.
When in transition, the freedom to be innovative and creative, physically speaking, is a reality. Though in contrast, the ability to transition, financially, is quite difficult (always more $ than one expected). Any
costs of change, whether it be in home, job, or otherwise, is high.
This is where the true test of lifestylism comes to the forefront - if it is a purposeful approach to life, it wouldn't be dictated by the society around it. Therefore, it isn't static. It builds on one value and adds another. One value develops and is added to another previously formed value, ending up with a 'developing' theory.
Anyway, I am probably getting myself into more of a tizzy than getting out of one. Nonetheless, a question: what do you believe about lifestylism - is
it effective as a theory without any action within the constraints of society ? Or, to add to it, which ultimately introduces the idea of a better way?
Sorry about deleting your response Esther (and thanks for re-posting -- it wasn't because you disagreed with me. In fact, I think we're agreeing. I didn't say it was easier to be creative in transition...I said it should be easier (theoretically), but it isn't for some of the same reasons you've mentioned.
I love this line, although I had to read it a couple of times to internalize the truth: "Ideally, the concept of lifestylism, which should be a routine in and of itself, can be the basis for initiating momentum in other undeveloped areas of life." The personal example that springs to mind for me is music. I'd say that music was very important to me -- something I value on an intrinsic level. But it's a value that isn't manifested very well in how I spend my time. Although I listen to music a fair bit, it's always while doing something else. I need to do music as part of my lifestyle (playing bass, seeking out live music, finding new recordings...thanks for the mix tape, btw) if it's something I truly value, and the lifestylism perspective helps me see these things more clearly.
This leads into an idea that seems to be elusive for me, but you may have thought about it more, so input is welcome. It's obviously better (healthier, more engaging, satisfying) to make lifestyle choices (how we spend our time and money) that reflect our values -- that's the core of lifestylism. I know you've been thinking a lot about dreams -- I think dreams help focus our action and intent, defining the ways we plan to live out our values. But here's the kicker: what happens when your dreams are in conflict with some (or even most) of your values? Does it seem like values tend to reinforce a lifestyle while dreams tend to expand horizons and take a person out of their comfort zones? A thought experiment is in order, methinks...
Values: seeing how other people live, stepping out of routines, trying new foods, testing your limits
Action: travel might be the obvious one
Dream: why not shoot high -- Nepal and Tibet next year
So if I'm going to make the dream happen next year, I have to start looking at every other aspect of my life -- work, family, day-to-day lifestyle stuff, spending/budgeting, leisure, and friends -- and my associated values (less time working, more time with my family, enjoying eating out, exploring close to home, etc). Then I realize that the dream might require having my parents adopt my kids for three months, quitting my job, not eating out for a year, taking on more work to save up, deferring recreational purchases...all of which are in conflict with my other important values. At this point I have three main options: abandon the dream, modify the dream while still satisfying the most number (and importance) of values, or forge ahead on the dream, sacrificing or compromising my quality of life for the next year. Food for thought.
And your final questions:
"Is lifestylism effective as a theory without any action within the constraints of society? Or, to add to it, which ultimately introduces the idea of a better way?"
I'm not even sure whether lifestylism is a theory, or what exactly its uses and parameters are. That's sort of the purpose of the project, I guess. I think that if everyone aligned their lifestyles with their real values (authentically, not just lip service), more would find a better way, and wouldn't feel locked into status-quo living.
I can't answer the question about values and dreams. I know we've talked about this a lot (I often tend to go there), but I don't feel I can answer this question without a mutual statement being agreed upon. If you and I are willing to agree with the statement, then dreams could be a part of this conversation about personal evolution and/or collective revolution.
That statement being:
Dreams are values in action. Lifestyle, if deliberately lived in accordance with values, will support one's dreams. Therefore they - meaning values, dreams and lifestyle - cannot be in conflict with one another.
But, I think we're getting off topic here. In the end the question is, can one person be resilient enough to be creative in lifestyle (based on one's values) in order to integrate it into society, or possibly drive momentum for society to follow a fresh path?
Note, I think there are logistical struggles to create a dynamic lifestyle. Though, I don't believe it is impossible. Thus the creativity or evolution of lifestylism. Compromise is always part of one's creative and personal evolution. At least that's how I look at it, so far.
Ooo ooo, I forgot the quote I found that made me think of this post:
"It is crucial to continue to pursue reasonable belief, even if such a belief is never certain, because belief is connected to action. Responsibility for our beliefs stems from responsibility for our actions."
I found this while studying Intro to Philosophy. Neat, hey?
"Dreams are values in action. Lifestyle, if deliberately lived in accordance with values, will support one's dreams. Therefore they - meaning values, dreams and lifestyle - cannot be in conflict with one another."
Maybe that would be something to shoot for in an ideal utopia...and as you well know, I like thinking about ideals. But ask anyone a half-dozen questions about their lifestyle (how they spend their time), their values (what they think is important) and their dreams (what they'd like to be doing), and you'll see the conflicts and contradictions flying every which way. I might argue that most people's dreams are in conflict with most of their values, and often their lifestyles conflict with both (how they spend their time does not reflect their present values or future desire).
Your comment really made me ponder this stuff. One thing I uncovered was that I have a narrower view of dreams. For something to qualify as a dream for me, it has to have an element of unattainability, or at least unattainability in the near future. I tend to call more attainable dreams goals, either short-term if they're attainable within a month or two...or long-term goals if they'll take longer than that. What this line of thought led me to was the realization that we all have different ways of orienting ourselves to the future.
This is at the root of the lifestylism project, really: trying to identify ways for people to live out more of their values, both in the present and in how they envision their future. It's about alignment, right?
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