Ways of Living: Work, Community and Lifestyle Choice

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Health is a basic human right and a driver of social and economic development" World Economic Forum, Other definitions are more adequate to our contemporary society and take into account the importance of age: "a dynamic state of well-being characterized by a physical and mental potential, which satisfies the demands of life commensurate with age, culture, and personal responsibility" Bircher's, Youth is, in this sense, a moment in life where "mortality is still low and severe chronic diseases are rare".

How much do lifestyle choices really matter for health?

The younger population 18 to 24 also show a lower proportion of reported unmet needs for medical examinations than the older population 1. Young people also show higher levels of life satisfaction, although it tends to decrease with age Eurofound, Nonetheless, this period of life also requires a considerable awareness towards risky behaviours that can damage young people's social position and their health World Youth Report of A healthy living is indeed "influenced by social and environmental determinants as well as specific risky behaviours — especially tobacco use, unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity.

The lack of access to basic prevention, treatment and care further inhibits healthy living. All these factors are interconnected and influence everyday decisions" World Economic Forum, Health should also be understood as an instrument for social inclusion, empowerment and active citizenship of young people European Commission White Paper of 21 November Not only health itself, but also access to health care "is an important aspect of social inclusion".

The self-reported unmet need for medical care was, therefore included among the EU youth indicators important to approach social inclusion Joint Report Youth has been taken into account in "a number of policies, of which anti- discrimination and health are the most prominent. In , the European Council, through the Resolution of the Council on the participation of young people with fewer opportunities , also encouraged the member states and the commission to "support young people in adopting a healthy lifestyle and include this specific target within their health policies, with a particular focus on young people with fewer opportunities".

Bibliographic Information

Accordingly, the European Pact for Mental Health and Well-being , defined the following priority: prevention of depression and suicide; mental health in youth and education[2], mental health in workplace settings, mental health of older people and combating stigma and social exclusion for some of these issues see also the Consensus Paper on Mental health in Youth and Education Young people are considered a special target for health initiatives, in particular in what concerns the unhealthy practices of smoking, alcohol related harm see European Commision, Special Eurobarometer , , nutrition, obesity and drug- use see European Commission, Flash Eurobarometer, Joint Communication, In this sense, the major EU indicators of health and well-being selected are European Commission, :.

More indicators could have been added to this list, specially taking into account the current European economic scenario. Health and well-being can and must be discussed in their relation to the labor market, both in terms of occupational health — work conditions while the individuals are integrated in the labor market - and in terms of long-term consequences of periods of unemployment Global Employment Trends for Youth, ILO In fact, health and well being has always been a consequence, among other things, of the work conditions regarding security and hygiene at work, which in fact and in large portion justifies the well-known correlation between social background and life expectancy.

The fact that young people are one of the most vulnerable population to work precariousness and to poor work conditions, it could be then stated that working conditions among this age group could also be an important indicator to be added to the previous list. Deterioration of health and well being is also, on the other hand, a short, and more importantly of all, long term, consequence of unemployment, which is, and always has been, more frequent among young people.

This is an underlined idea by the Global Employment Trends for Youth, ILO , which basing on recent researches, states that youth unemployment "may hurt happiness, job satisfaction and health for many years thereafter Morsy, ", "up to two decades later", some say Bell and Blanchflower ". Unless these ideas are incorporated as concrete indicators, the amplitude of these consequences cannot be measured and ultimately targeted by youth policies.

There is a really crucial problem here and we need to do this together. None of us acting individually has the levers to influence lifestyle choices; we are coming together to pool our respective strengths as stakeholders, to overcome our boundaries and mobilize together for action, in line with our respective roles and responsibilities Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General DG SANCO, European Commission World Economic Forum, Besides this, in the paper prepared to support and provide background on the White Paper "Together for Health: A Strategic Approach for the EU " , it is stated that "it is important to promote health and prevent disease throughout the lifespan, including by tackling health determinants such as nutrition, physical activity, alcohol, drugs and tobacco consumption, environment and socioeconomic factors.

To promote healthy lifestyles, sports has an important role. In this sense, the topic of "Health and sports" constitutes one of the fields of action for "improving access and full participation of young people in society". Other aspects related to physical activity can be found in Special Eurobarometer on Sport and Physical Activity, Lifestyles and living conditions policy framework Introduction Family and housing transitions Leisure time Health and well-being Introduction Lifestyles and Living Conditions are fundamental fields to the understanding of youth specificity and culture, of their concrete social conditions of existence, and also of the close relation between their behaviours and the structure of opportunities and constraints - defined both at a national and at a European level - in which they occur.

Young people are, thus, both subjects and objects of these analyses, and therefore: " Young people need to be fully recognised as important stakeholders in all levels of decision making processes that affect them, not just because they will have to endure the extreme economic and social consequences of climate change and the depletion of natural resources, but also because they can help find solutions to current problems by contributing a new and fresh perspective " pp. Resolution for the United Nations Conference on sustainable development , Living conditions and Lifestyles must also be taken into account as being highly affected by other spheres of life.

Family and housing transitions Leaving the parental home, entering a partnership, having children: these are all both important demographic events and meaningful social markers in one's life. As is stated in the Joint Report : 1 "The risk of becoming poor is closely linked to the timing of departure from the parental home. This is also why "the creation of new cross-sectorial partnerships and development of joint projects and initiatives in the youth sector should be supported" Joint Communication, Family-work conciliation arrangements are influenced indirectly by the Lisbon targets, by the housing and education systems and also by an intergenerational support and relation stated namely in The Social Policy Agenda In this sense, "supporting young people's transition from education to the labour market, for example by strengthening possibilities to reconcile private and working life" and also "supporting young people's autonomy and well-being as well as their access to decent living conditions" were highlighted as issues that should be regarded as priorities for the Council of Europe youth policy and action Declaration on the Future of the Council of Europe Youth Policy — Agenda The European Youth Pact , also strongly encourages the member States of European Union to produce measures for reconciling family life and working life.

Commune of 6 Families - Living in Community - Sharing Life

The access to affordable housing is not only linked to the specificities of national housing markets, but also to the "burden of sustaining their own household" and the financial resources to carry it. Therefore, it is highly related with the level of difficulty of entering and staying integrated in the labor market. Having said this, there are at least two arenas where the discussion of lifestyles, on a policy approach, can be and is made: Culture and Creativity is one of the main fields of action in which the objectives of European cooperation in the youth field should, be developed.

It thus can constitute a mean for enhancing public health, strengthening the prevention of and fight against racism and violence and promoting volunteering, active citizenship and social inclusion and solidarity among other. There are many dimensions that can be studied on the leisure topic: Leisure Culture leisure time spent, preferred activities, budget , Media Culture cinema attendance, magazine audience, radio audience , Body Culture practicing sports, expenses in clothes, expense in cosmetics and Music Culture production, reproduction and consuming.

A presentation of a typology of leisure activities is therefore discouraged by the multi-referential identity of our contemporary society, as was highlighted in the European Youth Trend Report : "young people can no longer be defined as an age group, a culture, a music style, a picture, a story A fragmented society has complex cultures. Young people regularly switch cultures and mix different cultures simultaneously.

The combination of cultures is structured, but the choices within them are not. A presentation of a typology of leisure activities is therefore discouraged by the multi-referential identity of our contemporary society, as was highlighted in the European Youth Trend Report "young people can no longer be defined as an age group, a culture, a music style, a picture, a story Healthy lifestyle's importance and constructive role in young's people lives has been emphasized by the World Youth Report of The aspects will be developed in the next section, dedicated to health and well-being.

Health and well-being "A healthy mind in a healthy body" Joint Communication, Since the WHO's definition of health, this may be a good way of describing a good state of health. Health is a basic human right and a driver of social and economic development" World Economic Forum, Other definitions are more adequate to our contemporary society and take into account the importance of age: "a dynamic state of well-being characterized by a physical and mental potential, which satisfies the demands of life commensurate with age, culture, and personal responsibility" Bircher's, And most likely we'll never know — or even see — who we are impacting.

But they are out there, nonetheless, suffering — or thriving - based on our choices. Because we live in such a global, profit-at-all-costs world, the number impacted is astounding — hard to grasp really. One detailed life cycle analysis of aluminum cans , for example, documents the steps required to manufacture, sell and dispose of an aluminum can and the resulting impacts:.

At every stage in the life cycle of this product, humans and other animals and plants are negatively impacted — through destruction of habitat; exposure to land, air and water pollutants and, for humans, potentially low wages and unsafe working conditions. In all, the production of an aluminum can requires over 60 different types of raw or processed materials and creates over 75 different types of pollutants.

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The material inputs and manufacturing equipment also have their own life cycle impacts. Manufacturing an aluminum can causes increased global warming, acidification, eutrophication, low level smog, and ozone layer depletion. Story of Stuff author, Annie Leonard adds:. Aluminum smelting requires more energy than any other metal processing on earth.

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It's estimated that more than a trillion aluminum cans have been trashed in landfills since So choosing a life of love requires a lot of work — a lot of rethinking — a lot of soul searching. The question we have to answer in every choice we make is: how loving do we really want to be? And how inclusive do we want to be in our love?

Living, of course, involves impacting others — all of life impacts others. But is our impact unnecessarily harmful — or is it based on a conscious choice which minimizes harm done and maximizes benefits? Looking back at the Golden Rule, we all want our homes protected, our neighborhoods unpolluted, a plentiful supply of safe drinking water and food — and knowing that our future is secure. And we want others to make choices that ensure we have these things.

The loving approach to life, then, is to offer that same level of care back to others. It quickly becomes clear then that choosing a life of love requires us to change just about every aspect of our lives — to change how we spend our days. It involves shifting our lifestyle away from consumption and toward more sustainable activities such as:.

The inevitable question arises then — 'but will I be happy living this new way? Happiness studies have exploded over the last decade and have found a great deal of evidence linking altruistic and sustainable behavior to happiness:. At least two studies of groups that chose to change their lifestyle to achieve personal values such as "environmental friendliness" and "voluntary simplicity" found that both experienced higher levels of well-being. Bok We share a big yard; we often eat meals together Once, after my daughter begged me to let her try skiing, I sent an email out to my community members asking for advice Because we share and borrow many of the things we need, we are able to consume less Stuff.

Because we provide one another with services like baby-sitting, repairing and listening, we pay less for services than others do. People whose primary life goals are intrinsically rewarding obtain more satisfaction and pleasure from their pursuits. Intrinsic goals are those that you pursue because they are inherently satisfying and meaningful to you, which allow you to grow as a person, to develop emotional maturity, and to contribute to your community.

Ways of living: work, community and lifestyle choice

Lyubomerisky Sustained pursuit of activities that you value is more happiness-inducing, with its ability to deliver a stream of positive events and regular boosts in happy mood. In other words, you are likely to adapt quickly to your new situation and begin to desire ever-higher levels of pleasure e. Lyubomerisky , Over the past decades, an increasing number of studies have documented that experiences in, or of, Nature can be beneficial for human health and well-being…More specifically, contact with Nature has been reported to have psychological benefits by reducing stress, improving attention, by having a positive effect on mental restoration, and by coping with attention deficits.

In addition to mental advantages, there appear to be direct physical health benefits, such as increased longevity, and self-reported health. There is solid evidence to support the perennial hypothesis that benevolent emotions, attitudes, and actions centered on the good of others contribute to the giver's happiness, health, and even longevity.

Post The "helper's high" [a pleasurable and euphoric emotional sensation of energy and warmth] was first carefully described by Allen Luks Luks surveyed thousands of volunteers across the United States, and found that people who helped other people consistently reported better health than peers in their age group.

Many stated that this health improvement began when they started to volunteer. Harvard behavioral psychologist David McClelland discovered that…"dwelling on love" strengthened the immune system. Altruism is associated with substantial reduction in mortality rates, even after differences in socioeconomic status, prior health status, smoking, social support, and physical activity are accounted for. Anthropologists point out that early egalitarian societies practiced institutionalized or "ecological altruism," where helping others was a social norm, and not an act of volunteerism.

There appears to be a fundamental human drive toward other-regarding actions. When this drive is inhibited, the human being does not thrive. So it's a lot of work and it will bring many positive benefits: increased joy and satisfaction and a sense of purpose and improved health. It will also bring a greater sense of community — a much wider community than we normally identify with.

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Shifting to a sustainable lifestyle may involve making radical shifts in how we spend our days. Integrating these changes into our lives involves first shifting toward wanting to make each change:. As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, you should keep it. If you were to give it up in a mood of self-sacrifice or out of a stern sense of duty, you would continue to want it back, and that unsatisfied want would make trouble for you.

Only give up a thing when you want some other condition so much that the thing no longer has any attraction for you, or when it seems to interfere with that which is more greatly desired. Mahatma Gandhi "Vishnu-Bharati" Reading sustainable blogs and books and watching videos see RESOURCES sections below , taking classes on sustainability and joining local sustainable communities are all effective ways to shift mindset.

Also making smaller shifts leads to larger shifts as the benefits of each shift becomes clear. What follows is an effective path for shifting into a sustainable lifestyle.


For instance, I quit my day job in early , started my own small business and moved to Portland, Oregon. Without simplicity, I would still be stuck in my cubicle. The rest is cluttering your space and time.

Donate unneeded goods to charity or a freecycle program. Getting rid of everything you don't need — and cutting out any activities that don't add value to your life — is one of the most effective ways to kick start a sustainable life. Your surroundings impact what your mind focuses on. By creating a de-cluttered home, you are declaring your intention every day to live sustainably. Simplifying gets rid of a lot of garbage including mental that you no longer need. It is a way to let go of the past and become focused on how you want to live your life going forward. Simplifying also leaves you committed to not re-clutter your life.

You end up buying much less at stores — which makes it easier to buy sustainably. Once you have cleared out as much clutter as possible, try out the great recommendation by the Joy of Less author Francine Jay.

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She recommends separating items in each room into three categories:. If you still find that you're buying too much, try the day challenge if you want to purchase something unessential, wait 30 days to see if you still need to buy it — and in the meantime see if you can make do with what you already have, borrow, or buy used.

Of course, you can! You just have to recognize what you have and enjoy it. For example, part of my happiness hinges on the fact that I am blessed with good health. I have good family and friends. This gives me a lot of reasons to be thankful and happy. However, I take pride in my inch high-definition view from my home on the mountain range.

I get to see the sun rise every morning and the moon rise every month…Once in a while, I get treated with a brilliant morning sky that is almost unbelievable. I truly cherish these and get immense joy out of them. They do not cost me a dime. No resources drained from the planet.