Style of Life

Adler's fifth tenet is: The self-consistent personality structure develops into a person 's style of life.

Style of life is the term Adler used to refer to the flavor of a person's life. It includes a person's goal, self-concept, feelings for others, and attitude toward the world. It is the product of the interaction of heredity, environment, and a person's creative power. Adler (1956) used a musical analogy to elucidate style of life. The separate notes of a composition are meaningless without the entire melody, but the melody takes on added significance when we recognize the composer's style or unique maimer of expression.

A person's style of life is fairly well established by age 4 or 5. After that thne, all our actions revolve around our unified style of life. Although the final goal is singular, style of life need not be narrow or rigid. Psychologically unhealthy individuals often lead rather inflexible lives that are marked by an inability to choose new ways of reacting to their environment. In contrast, psychologically healthy people behave hi diverse and flexible ways with styles of life that are complex, enriched and changing. Healthy people see many ways of striving for success and continually seek to create new options for themselves. Even though their final goal remains constant, the way in which they perceive it continually changes. Thus, they can choose new options at any pohit in life.

People with a healthy, socially useful style of life express then social interest through action. They actively struggle to solve what Adler regarded as the three major problems of life—neighborly love, sexual love, and occupation—and they do so through cooperation, personal courage, and a willingness to make a contribution to the welfare of another. Adler (1956) believed that people with a socially useful style of life represent the highest form of humanity in the evolutionary process and are likely to populate the world of the future.

Chapter 3 Adler: Individual Psychology 79

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